Curt Flewelling, FISM News
A Pratt, Kansas, middle school has ended its collaboration with Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. Pratt Unified School District Superintendent Tony Helfrich announced that Liberty Middle School will be cutting ties with the charity project immediately.
Operation Christmas Child is a program that fills shoe boxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items and delivers them to children in impoverished, war-torn countries that are rife with sickness and disease.
The controversy was ignited by a letter sent from Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) attorney Christopher Line to Mr. Helfrich. In the letter, the group urges the district to take “immediate action to cease promoting and endorsing Christianity in its schools.”
Mr. Line contends that “organizing a donation drive that for all intents and purposes employs school staff and resources to convert people to Christianity violates constitutional principles.”
He asserts that Jesus and Operation Christmas Child have been promoted on the school’s morning announcements.
Despite Superintendent Helfrich’s admission that he was not able to corroborate some of FFRF’s claims regarding alleged statements over the intercom, the affiliation with the project was abruptly ended.
The school children who had expressed a desire to help kids throughout the world waded into this church/state debate innocently. The children who initially expressed a desire to help simply wanted to recruit their schoolmates to help fill shoeboxes. That’s when FFRF got involved.
Samaritan’s Purse has been targeted before as other atheist groups have threatened school districts with legal action if they did not end their relationship with the charitable organization. Rather than fight the constitutionality of their involvement with the group, they decided to sever ties to avoid a legal hassle.
Reverend Franklin Graham was saddened by the turn of events and encouraged the students to send their gifts directly to the ministry. The Samaritan’s Purse President told Fox News host Laura Ingraham, “I think we are in a moral freefall in this country.”
He continued, “The only hope for our country, I believe, is God. For that to happen we’ve got to come to Him in repentance, turning from our sins and putting our faith and trust in His son, Jesus Christ. And I think if we do that, then God will hear our prayers, and He’ll heal this country.”