Guest post: Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

A Facebook friend posted some very useful information that needs to be widely known, and gave me permission to share it here. Guest post by EP.

Dear local friends – there was a letter sent home with the kids today about Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Please, PLEASE do not participate. Although the info presented seems lovely, this is deliberate and cynical marketing ploy. The scheme is run by Samaritan’s Purse, one of the most criticised religious charities in the world. The founder, Franklin Graham is one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters and donators. His Twitter feed just spews racism, homophobia, misogyny and plain old madness constantly. He is a vocal supporter of the idea of building a wall between Mexico and America and of the idea of not allowing Muslims into the USA. Other delightful things Samaritan’s Purse do or have done:

  • Was involved in the training of contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • Was involved in the training of Israeli groups which invaded Lebanon.
  • Is one of the biggest opponents of gay marriage and LGBT rights in the USA and was (is) one of the biggest financial backers of the anti-gay marriage campaign.
  • Openly and continually describes Islam as an evil, satanic religion.
  • Describes Hindus as ‘bound by Satan’s power’ in its literature.
  • Claims that domestic violence is caused by women not submitting to the will of men.
  • Is indicated (although not yet proven) in the illegal removal of children in disaster zones to be trafficked to the States and elsewhere to be adopted by rich white Western Christians.
  • Spent every cent/penny they raised to help the crisis in Haiti on holding a huge evangelical event that locals were co-erced into attending on the false promise of aid. They also did the same with the Nicaraguan hurricane in 1999, and used money for prayer meeting in El Salvador that had been earmarked to build homes for desperately poor locals.
  • Many organisations, including Christian ones, will have nothing to do with them. This includes Save The Children and the major teaching unions of the U.K. (The NASUWT is particularly worried about the scheme being run in schools). DHL refuses to deliver any of their leaflets or shoeboxes.

And apart from all of that, it’s racist and deluded to think this scheme helps. It’s incredibly offensive to decide that people in other cultures need to change their religious beliefs to yours. In fact, converting someone to Christianity could put their life at risk in other countries. Most of the contents of the shoeboxes are culturally irrelevant or inappropriate: children do not need winter accessories in countries where there has never been snow. Little girls do not need hair accessories and cheap toy make-up sets in cultures where all children have very short hair or hair types where hair clips made for Caucasian hair won’t work, and where cosmetics are frowned upon. It also takes away work from local people who make or sell many of the items included, such as toothbrushes or school supplies. These sellers and makers are often widows, single mothers or older women, and the shoeboxes take away their chances of making what little money they can. And the idea of trying to bribe children to believe things they wouldn’t otherwise with conditional gift-giving is abusive in any language and any culture.

One Response to “Guest post: Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes”