Weaponizing testimonies, a leading humanist in the United Kingdom warned readers earlier this month about the evils of the annual Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child.
Learn more about Operation Christmas Child HERE
Since 1993, the Christian missionary organization has been packing shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts for children around the world, but Polly Toynbee, vice president of Humanists UK, argued in a column for The Guardian that the charity boasts a “pernicious, hidden agenda.”
It’s hard to believe that this is our 25th year of collecting @SamaritansPurse @OCC_Shoeboxes! Here’s a #TBT of my mother Ruth Bell Graham & me 22 yrs ago with our boxes all packed & ready to go. Right now is #NationalCollectionWeek—November 12-19. I hope you’ll #Pack & #Pray! pic.twitter.com/y3FAhEiqfp
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) November 16, 2018
I suppose it’s fair to say she’s partially right: Operation Christmas Child does have an agenda, but it’s neither “pernicious” nor “hidden.”
Both Samaritan’s Purse and the charity’s president, the Rev. Franklin Graham, are unabashedly evangelistic. In fact, Toynbee proved the organization’s transparency by using Operation Christmas Child’s own success stories against it, painting a testimony about a Muslim child from Malawi who received a shoebox before leading her family to Christianity as sinister.
The truth of the matter is Toynbee just doesn’t like the charity’s evangelistic mission (or Graham’s personal politics), regardless of the way its projects positively impact countless children around the world.
— Operation Christmas Child (@OCC_shoeboxes) November 16, 2018
“Most people packing up shoeboxes don’t know they are used for anti-Muslim proselytizing,” she wrote. “Or that they are backing a pro-Trump, anti-gay message. Some may be from churches sharing that evangelical brand — but I would guess most parents and children haven’t a clue what they are supporting.”
Toynbee included a statement from Richy Thompson, director of public policy and affairs for Humanists UK, in her piece. He wrote, “While those who donate are well-intentioned and want to make an altruistic contribution, donors should be aware of the nature of Operation Christmas Child’s activities.”
He encouraged people to donate instead to “reputable and inclusive” charities that have “no ulterior motives” and “children’s best interests at heart.”
What Toynbee and her fellow humanists seem not to understand is that, as is the case with followers of any major religion, most Christians aren’t interested in being “anti-Muslim.” They are, however, unflinchingly pro-Christian, because they’re confident of its truth and want to bring as many people as possible into the faith.
But she sees Operation Christmas Child as nothing more than a political strategy, one she argued “is unlikely to ease interfaith tensions,” given many of the shoeboxes are sent to kids in Muslim-majority countries.
During this year’s collection week, there were nearly 5,000 Operation Christmas Child drop-off locations. In 2017 alone, Samaritan’s Purse has shipped out more than 11 million shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts for children suffering from war, poverty, disease, famine and natural disasters.
Samaritan’s Purse has sent out more than 157 million shoeboxes to kids in more than 160 countries and territories since Operation Christmas Child began 25 years ago.