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Here we feature a collection of articles that expose the reality behind Operation Christmas Child. Selected quotes are shown below, for the full articles including source references please click on the article title.


Christian Leaders Speak Out

The Evangelicals Who Like To Giftwrap Islamophobia

Article by the Vicar of Putney, Rev Dr.Giles Fraser

But what many parents and teachers don't know is that behind Operation Christmas Child is the evangelical charity Samaritan's Purse. Their aim is 'the advancement of the Christian faith through educational projects and the relief of poverty'. And a particularly toxic version of Christianity it is. This is the same outfit that targeted eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and was widely condemned for following US troops into Iraq to claim Muslims for Christ. It's run by the Rev Franklin Graham - chosen by George Bush to deliver the prayers at his presidential inauguration - who has called Islam "a very wicked and evil religion..

Christian missionaries in 19th-century India used to describe those who came to the mission stations simply for food as "rice Christians". This became a derogatory term for those driven to accept Christianity out of hunger rather than genuine conviction. The accusation is that groups such as Samaritan's Purse are creating a new generation of rice Christians in the Middle East..

Shun 'racist' kids charity, says vicar

Rev Vernon Marshall, Unitarian minister at the Old Chapel, in Dukinfield and New Chapel, in Denton:

Millions of shoeboxes full of gifts are collected, but are then inserted with poisonous literature and leaflets thrusting an intolerant and racist form of Christianity on these poor Muslim people. This is not a normal form of Christmas charitable giving and anyone who usually helps this appeal should think carefully about the implications.


Teachers Speak Out

Evangelism By Shoebox: Exploiting Children's Generosity

Article by Dr. Darren Lund, an award-winning educator.

An Operation Christmas Child representative explains in a promotion video; "It's not just a big gift. It's not just humanitarian aid. It is a tool for evangelism so thank you for helping us evangelize our people.."

"Our outreach to these children and their families may begin with a shoe box gift," explains International President Franklin Graham, "but our ultimate goal is to open doors to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to open hearts to receive Him as Lord and Savior."

When I called their Canadian headquarters, I was assured that, regardless of their faith, all children receiving shoeboxes must register, attend a rally, and receive Christian literature where the government allows it. Graham is clear: "This project focuses on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them through Christian literature distributed with the shoeboxes.

But Samaritan's Purse ministers don't stop there. Their newsletter explains: "After the shoeboxes are distributed, we also provide follow-up materials to give children further opportunities to accept Christ and grow in their faith. One such discipleship program enrolls boys and girls in a 10-lesson Bible study. Hundreds of thousands of children have participated in this program."

Graham and his followers admit they hold no respect for other faiths. He calls Islam "a very evil and wicked religion," and talks of his travels to " India , with its hundreds of millions of people locked in the darkness of Hinduism…bound by Satan's power."

Giving Gifts With Strings Attached: Questioning Evangelical Programs in Public Schools

Another great article by Dr. Darren Lund, an award-winning educator.

Franklin Graham admits that the shoe box program is "not just about reaching children with a shoe box.... this project focuses on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them through Christian literature distributed with the shoe boxes" (Operation Christmas Child brochure). I was also assured by a supervisor in the Samaritans Purse Canadian headquarters in Calgary that, besides being given biblical literature translated into their native language, each child wishing to receive a box will attend a mandatory Christian 'rally' in which the word of the Lord is proclaimed, in every country where it is legal. Further, a majority of the boxes are distributed in communities that have a resident evangelical Christian pastor who can provide 'follow-up' ministering. This is gift-giving with strings attached.

In Bosnia , where the Samaritan's Purse has been helping refugees move into new homes, Graham explains their motive: "By helping refugee families... we'll be earning the right to preach Christ to these families and their Muslim neighbors." But isn't this taking advantage of people at their most vulnerable? Of course it is, according to Graham himself in his 1995 book Rebel With a Cause, because by responding to tragedies "we earn a hearing for Christ. When people are down and out and we stop and help, they will listen to what we have to say... you better believe I will take advantage of each and every opportunity to reach them with the gospel message that can save them from the flames of hell."

Headteachers Shocked By The Truth Behind Operation Christmas Child

Article by Patrick McCurry of the Guardian.

Tony Mok, acting head of East Whitby community primary school in North Yorkshire , says pupils and others in the community send about 200 boxes each Christmas. Told of Graham's comments on Islam, he says: "If that's true, it would not fit in with the values of citizenship for our pupils and we couldn't support it."

Shan Davies, head of Builth Wells high school in Powys, says her school produces about 200 boxes each Christmas, but that the charity has not informed her that the gifts delivered to needy children are accompanied by Christian literature. "I would have difficulty promoting the appeal if that were true," she says.

Samaritan's Purse International's website features links to a Samaritan's Purse newsletter from Graham, in which he states that God has blessed Operation Christmas Child "because it is about more than Christmas presents". He says: "It is about introducing children and their families to God's greatest gift - His Son, Jesus Christ. As long as evangelism is the focus, God will continue to bless it."

The newsletter says the boxes are distributed along with evangelical literature and that the boxes "have led to salvation for tens of thousands of children and their families". It cites examples such as in Zambia , where "one shoebox prepared the way for nearly two dozen people to come to faith in Jesus Christ".

Follow-up materials "give children further opportunities to accept Christ and grow in their faith". Hundreds of thousands of children in developing countries are said to have participated in a 10-lesson Bible-study course run by the charity.



Toxic Shoeboxes Dumped

Co-op Cuts Christmas Box Link With US Charity

In a letter informing the charity of its decision to withdraw completely, the Co-op said "You are aware that we have received a large number of complaints regarding the comments of your trustee, Franklin Graham. Indeed, had we been aware of his views in advance, we would not have participated in Operation Christmas Child this year.."

Fire Service Dumps Christmas Charity Run By Fundamentalist Missionaries

South Wales Fire Service's director of corporate services, Norman Hillier, has "instructed that the brigade's normal involvement with this project be halted and any future involvement will be subject to an investigation of the .. organisation" .

Brendan Paddy of Save the Children told the same reporter that it was dangerous when charities mixed their humanitarian work with promotion of a religious or political agenda. He also doubts the economic value of sending boxes full of donated goods, when transport costs are going to make items more expensive than they would be in the recipient country.

DHL Cancels Support For 'Extremist' Group

International courier service, DHL, has retracted its financial support for an "extremist evangelical" organisation after concerns raised by Muslims.

"We find it appalling that the likes of Franklin Graham firstly supports invasion of countries including Iraq and then they are one of the first to go in for 'aid'" - IACN



The Man Behind It

Franklin Graham: Christianity Through The Barrel Of A Gun

Graham, who has called Islam "a wicked religion", views the US military and its wars in the Muslim world as the perfect vehicles for missionary work in the difficult "10/40 Window". The 10/40 Window is evangelical Christian-speak for the rectangle with boundaries of latitudes 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator; encompassing most of the Muslim World.

Graham and his Samaritan's Purse organization have a record of exploiting wars and preying on victims for their own missionary ends. They rode with IDF convoys into Lebanon during Israel 's 1982 invasion to reach Palestinian refugees, preached pretentiously to Kurds fleeing Saddam's forces in 1991 and sheltered and proselytized young Bosnian Muslim girls who had been raped by Orthodox Christian Serbs.

A thought that struck Graham in the Spring of 1991 shortly before the Kurds were betrayed by America and slaughtered in droves by Saddam's military is telling:

"What a time to preach the gospel to these people! America is number one with them right now. They're eager to listen to anything we have to say!"

In December 1990, Graham followed with a bolder campaign. His Samaritan's Purse organization helped send over 30,000 holiday gift packages to men and women in uniform that included a New Testament in Arabic.

Graham was later "touched most deeply" by a letter from an A-10 Thunderbolt "Tank-killer" pilot. "Just two weeks earlier I had been trying to kill those guys," the pilot told Graham. "Then I found myself in an army hospital talking with an Iraqi POW. I gave him the Arabic New Testament."


Its not just Muslim they're after

Preying On Catholic Earthquake Victims

El Salvador Earthquake March 2001:

Residents of several villages said volunteers from Samaritan's Purse, which has received more than $200,000 from the United States Agency for International Development and is to receive a second similar amount, has held half-hour prayer meetings before showing them how to build temporary homes of metal and plastic provided by the American government.

According to interviews with numerous villagers here and elsewhere in this predominantly Roman Catholic country, volunteers of the Protestant group have distributed religious tracts and asked them to accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

According to the group's Web page, which quotes its president and chairman, Franklin Graham, in one village where the group provided supplies, 150 Salvadorans converted ..


Dodgy Charity, Dodgy Practices

Charity Commission Investigating Operation Christmas Child

A commission spokeswoman has told the Guardian: "We are concerned about the way the charity might be representing itself, both in its fundraising and recruitment of volunteers."

Samaritan's Purse International failed to tell many supporters of its hugely successful Christmas appeal that the shoeboxes they packed with gifts for needy children overseas were often distributed with Christian literature. More than a million shoeboxes are sent from British schools and other organisations each year. Appeal leaflets sent to parents and teachers say nothing about any missionary aim, or religious affiliation, despite the fact that SPI's website has links to an Operation Christmas Child newsletter stating that the shoeboxes have "led to salvation for tens of thousands of children and their families".


Other Charities Speak Out

What Other Charities Say Of Samaritan's Purse & Operation Christmas Child

Senior Spokesperson for Save The Children, Brendan Paddy:

Questions the economic sense of shipping boxes full of donated goods, arguing that transport costs could make the items more expensive than they would be in the recipient country. "Also, because each box contains different items, that can create conflict among the recipients," - stressing that a key principle of emergency relief is equality.

President of Operation USA, Richard Walden:

More telling is Nicaragua's experience with Samaritan's Purse, which came in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch. It organized a religious music festival at which Protestant churches were pressured to spend what few resources they had...This took place in an atmosphere in which 20% of the population had been severely affected by the hurricane; the Catholic Church (80% of Nicaraguans are Catholic) was furious, and little of material good was accomplished.