Kansas Middle School Ends Operation Christmas Child After Atheist Complaint

Kansas Middle School Ends Operation Christmas Child After Atheist Complaint By  for Faith Wire

A Kansas middle school has decided to stop its participation in a popular Christmas program that collects toys, school supplies, and hygiene products for needy children after an atheist organization told the school such an effort was unconstitutional.

Liberty Middle School located in Pratt, Kansas was to participate in Operation Christmas Child, an annual program of the Christian nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency led by Franklin Graham. The shoeboxes are filled with gifts and distributed by the charity to children around the world. In addition to the gifts, they receive a small booklet that tells of the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) notified the superintendent of the Pratt school district that a concerned staff member complained to them about the middle school’s Christmas project.

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“The District must cease participation in Operation Christmas Child or taking any other actions promoting Christianity like including religious references over morning announcements,” the FFRF said in their Nov. 3 letter.

“While it is laudable for a public school to promote student involvement in the community by volunteering and donating to charitable organizations, the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to fund a religious organization with a religious mission,” FFRF wrote in their letter.

Founded in 1978, the FFRF claims to represent 33,000 members across the country. It describes its members as “free-thinkers (atheists and agnostics).”

On Nov. 7,  Superintendent Tony Helfrich responded to the group, writing the district was discontinuing its students’ participation in Operation Christmas Child.

In addition, the FFRF also alleged in its letter that a school vice principal had promoted Christianity and had invited students to participate in the annual “See You at the Pole” event.

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