AIBU to hate charity Christmas shoe boxes?

(315 Posts)
unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 17:55:58

We get asked to one from the school and from Sunday school ...2 Dcs that is 4 of them...last year I cut it down to 2 - doing the same this year
I really really really hate doing them...but DDs are upset if we don't ...
(at school they have an assembly where the people organising it talk to the DCs about them)...
We wander round the shops/supermarket making sure we get all the essentials on the list - buying the cheapest stuff there is ...kind of think hats/gloves/underwear are probably made by the people we send them back to..
I know I'm not on my own - everyone I know who does one says they do the same ...
Even then each box costs at least £30 ...could the money not be better spent directly by the charity buying good quality stuff that is going to last?
On the lists they say extras - like PJs - how the hell do you fit a pair of PJs for a teenager in a shoe box with all the other stuff...I find I can never fit much 'extra' in...usually just sweets as treats - good job they get toothpaste and toothbrushes or they'd have rotten teeth to add to their misery..

Then you have to find a box...then wrap the bloody things...
I just find it really difficult to wrap the box and lid separately and not get an end result that looks like it has been chewed by the dog...just spent the best part of 30 mins wrapping one that looks like a 2 yr old did it...

So am I being unreasonable to hate them and dread the leaflets coming home?

unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 17:57:05

I forgot to add - you even have to find/buy Christmas wrapping paper in OCTOBER - grrrrrrr

Euphemia Mon 30-Sep-13 17:58:10


But you are being unreasonable doing them - decide not to do them, stick to your guns, and explain why to your DDs.

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 18:00:06

YANBU and if you are spending that much on them, the money would definitely do much better going in cash to a proper charity. Can't you just say that this year you have decided to do something else?

MrsWolowitz Mon 30-Sep-13 18:00:26


Have you seen the videos of the kids unwrapping their boxes? You'll never begrudge making one again.

<warm and fuzzy inside just thinking of it>

CrohnicallyLurking Mon 30-Sep-13 18:01:28

YANBU. Even apart from the cost/inconvenience of doing them, I read a link (on here maybe?) that organisations are using them as bribes to get children to convert to Christianity. Very underhand tactics.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 30-Sep-13 18:02:15

I don't trust them ever since we were told we had to do them at school for 'operation christmas child', and that it was totally non-religious, don't worry if you're Hindu or Muslim or Sikh (or just not a massive evangelist tosser), it's fine. hmm

It wasn't.

I know some of the schemes genuinely get to the people in question without any proselytising, but I worry it's so open to exploitation.

picnicbasketcase Mon 30-Sep-13 18:02:42

Don't do them, and say that you order to donate to charities direct.

Renniehorta Mon 30-Sep-13 18:04:21

I always used to put one together when my ds was at primary, However I subsequently discovered that the organisation involved, an evangelical Christian one, used them as part of their proselytising. I was furious as we are atheists and I felt that we had been used.

So no don't feel guilty. Also it may be worth doing some googling and dig into the background of the organisation you are dealing with. If they had been up front and honest I would not have minded so much.

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 18:07:42

If it's OCC, there are also lots of objections to the way they operate (the shoeboxes are used as a way to get children interested in signing up for bible classes) and to the organisation that runs it (Samaritan's Purse) - see Alternatives to Operation Christmas Child and Reasons Not To Support OCC. If it's Rotary or one of the other ones, there aren't the same ethical objections, but it is still a very wasteful way of helping children overseas.

Floralnomad Mon 30-Sep-13 18:08:15

I have always refused to participate due to the religious aspects attached but as your DCs go to Sunday school I suppose that's not an issue for you .if it's just the cost and inconvenience I think its a bit unreasonable and you can get wrapping paper all over the place at the moment.

unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 18:12:17

I know the Sunday School one do put a Bible does make me feel a bit hmm
I'm an atheist (and the minister/church know it) -but thought it would be good for my DCs to find out about religion etc... but they like it and want to keep going - guess I would feel even more like a guilty hypocrite not doing it...
The school one isn't religious ....but I do think the children get to see videos of grateful poor children opening them - which makes them want to them...
If someone (a business) said for £35 each I'll do them for you I'd snatch their hand off...

MmmmWhiteWine Mon 30-Sep-13 18:14:01


You don't need to spend £30 on the contents...I know I never spend anywhere that much. And I find it desperately sad that people in the UK would complain about the cost/inconvenience of doing a kind thing for an unknown poverty stricken child somewhere in the world. Will you explain to your children that the reason for not doing a shoebox is because it's a faff to and its just too inconvenient? Great example to set....

MeAndMySpoon Mon 30-Sep-13 18:18:24

Why not, if you're doing two for school and two for sunday school, just tell one of those bodies that you're just doing one per child? Seems entirely reasonable. I don't think they're meant to cost you £30 per box though! shock

Playing Devil's Advocate, if you do a little digging about Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child, you may decide that doing a shoebox for that particular operation is unreasonable in the first place ... grin

Custardo Mon 30-Sep-13 18:23:29

i volunteered at one. they didn't put religious material in, but they absolutley did open all the boxes to check the contents. for instance if one box had two sets of gloves, then one would be taken out and put in another box.

this of course is v. sensible - but i didn't understand why they were wrapped in the first place in xmas paper

Mightbemiddleaged Mon 30-Sep-13 18:25:00


I am actually almost speechless that anyone could get properly annoyed/ upset about 'having' to go to the 'inconvenience' of sending a sodding box of low cost items to impoverished kids!!

And I couldn't give a rats arse about the religious ideology behind it, those kids will probably do exactly as I am most of m peers did, make up their own minds as they row up and can put things into context etc.

If it bothers you so much just dont other, you have obviously missed the point entirely! ( and £30 a box, MADNESS!! - we do ours for a maximum of a tender usually less!)

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 18:25:09

Custards - if it was OCC, the religious material gets handed out at the destination rather than put in the boxes at this end.

CostaLady Mon 30-Sep-13 18:25:23

£30 per box? shock

MmmmWhiteWine Mon 30-Sep-13 18:25:35

Having said that YANBU to choose not to do 4 separate boxes...our school suggest one per family.

PrimalLass Mon 30-Sep-13 18:25:44

Blimey mine cost nothing near that each. I feel guilty now.

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 18:25:54

*custardo (sorry, autocorrect)

Floralnomad Mon 30-Sep-13 18:26:09

Personally I don't know how ,as an atheist ,you are doing them at all ! Why don't you just tell the relevant people that you are not doing them on those grounds ie your atheism and explain the same to your children . Surely if you want them to learn about religion you should also be wanting to explain your own beliefs ( or the reasons why you don't believe) to them as well .

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 30-Sep-13 18:28:34

'And I couldn't give a rats arse about the religious ideology behind it, those kids will probably do exactly as I am most of m peers did, make up their own minds as they row up and can put things into context etc.'

Um ... are you sure?

Have you read up on what OCC do? It's really shocking, to be honest, and incredibly patronizing. This is not comparable to being given a nice gentle exposure to religion and being encouraged to make your own mind up - this a group of religious fantatics exploiting very poor children.

eggyhead Mon 30-Sep-13 18:29:21

Don't do it then. Not as if you're going to turn into a frog or something.

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 18:30:12

Why not send pick a gift from Oxfam unwrapped or Good Gifts instead? Or spread the money over the year and sponsor a child through Plan? Your DCs would learn a lot more about helping a child living in real poverty by sponsoring through Plan than by putting together a box full of bits and pieces.

unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 18:31:10

How can you do it without spending £30? (I usually do teenage boys as they seem to be a neglected group) -
cheapest Primark hats are £2, gloves £1, Scarf £1, Pants £5, Socks £2 £11...toiletries are all about £1 - so another £10 - then pens/pencils etc - £3-4 and then about £1.50 worth of sweets - and then a £2-3 special item - eg cheap tool set/windup torch ...
Maybe I just put too much in????
BTW DDs already have a good example to follow ...
I do lots of voluntary work (accounts for 4 local charities) ...I (and they) help at fundraising events etc...and they don't get presents at birthday parties but do charity collections for a local charity (eg the local hedgehog rescue centre - this year (her 6th birthday) we collected for the children's ward in the local hospital - we raised £80ish pounds - made up to £100 we spent ages choosing the toys and craft stuff £60 of baby/toddler toys and £40 craft stuff for older children -(the nurses wanted 'stuff' rather than cash because they would have to 'apply' for the cash - I would rather have given them the cash cos they know what they need better than I do ...)


There is no need to spend £30. I sped about a tenner and that has always been fine.

A few years back DD got a letter back from girl who had recieved the box we did. It was a lovely letter and exciting for DD to recieve as well [smie]

Mightbemiddleaged Mon 30-Sep-13 18:33:23


I went to a Roman Catholic church school and that's full blown religious fanaticism sadly. Indoctrination on a daily basis ( some of the things the 'staff' did and said will stay with me forever and not in a good way!)

I am now a very happy atheist but I can tolerate and see the good and the bad in nearly all religions!!

Whatever my personal views on individual religions I do believe that many do in fact do good works and this (OCC) I feel does fall not that category.

Mightbemiddleaged Mon 30-Sep-13 18:35:17

Sorry DOES fall not that category!!

Mightbemiddleaged Mon 30-Sep-13 18:36:19

Oh flipping autocorrect I give up confused

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 30-Sep-13 18:38:03

Not the same, not even remotely comparable, might.

MammaTJ Mon 30-Sep-13 18:38:18

I am willing to bet that each of the boxes you do gets divided up in to three boxes, there seems so much stuff in them.

I do it and I do it gladly (the only way to do charity,imo) and put in less than you. I do think they would still be gratefully received though.

I do it for the equivalent child to my child, iyswim, so this year will be doing for a 7 year old boy and an 8 year old girl.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 30-Sep-13 18:38:30

Someone used to organise them at our work and I have very mixed feelings about them.

On the positive side, people were incredibly generous, much more so I think, had they just been asked for cash. I know that lots of them used it as an opportunity to get their family involved, and when I made mine up I encouraged DS to think of less fortunate children. So that's all good.

However on the other side, they do seem a very cost heavy way of raising money. Ours were being transported to Eastern Europe and even though they were being taken in a lorry, it was obvious that petrol and ferry costs were going to add a lot - so much so that we were also encouraged to donate cash to transport as well.

Secondly they were a lot of faff. They had to be wrapped in a particular way, not include certain items and have proper two piece shoe boxes. I spent about 3 day basically rewrapping and distributing stuff for a hundred boxes.

Thirdly - yes they were expensive, and you never know if you are buying the right stuff. I reckon you would struggle to fill it for less than £15-20 and that's with buying everything at a pound shop.

Fourthly I believe religous tracts go into them once they are made up - that bit makes me really mad.

Last year, when the person who was the organiser had moved on, we did a different christmas charity instead, which involved bringing in one wrapped up gift for a local child. Bit easier to administrate, but at least we were still doing something.

Mightbemiddleaged Mon 30-Sep-13 18:40:17

LRD I'm sorry I beg to differ, I could give many examples but it would not be appropriate on this thread.

ravenAK Mon 30-Sep-13 18:40:45

Operation Christmas Child utterly disgust me, they really do. Dodgy as fuck.

Lots of decent charities (including some religious ones if that's your thing) would be glad of your £30.

Have a look at exexpat's links for ammunition if anyone questions your not doing them.

<feels all Xmassy at the thought that the annual OCC bunfight is kicking off before it's even October...did I blink & miss Hallowee'n or something? grin>

I won't do them because of the religious aspects - which I hadn't realised until I started posting here.

They always make me feel slightly uncomfortable in the same way harvest festival did as a child - in my experience people used to empty their cupboards of the stuff they weren't going to use, or whatever was cheapest in the shop which seemed to be missing the point. I know this isn't widespread (before I get told off) but it was rife in my school as a child.

MrsWolowitz Mon 30-Sep-13 18:43:32

Have you read up on what OCC do? It's really shocking

Yeah. Giving kids presents and telling them about the bible.

Shocking. confused

There's nothing 'underhand' about it, they are very open about being Christian based.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 30-Sep-13 18:43:47

Ok, I apologize.

I didn't realize you were starving and being refused basic necessities of life until you got baptized, in a culture where your parents religious was not Christian and that would separate you from them.

That must have been really hard - I had assumed you meant you just went to a Catholic school.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 30-Sep-13 18:45:09

MrsW - they used to claim (and maybe still do, I just don't trust them at all) that they were motivated by Christian values but didn't force religion on children by bribery. Then someone demonstrated that they did, in fact, do just that.

I don't want to dominate this thread with OCC, which may not even be the scheme the OP is doing, but if you don't know about them, do read up.

ravenAK Mon 30-Sep-13 18:46:12

Try this link more OCC horror stories.

quoteunquote Mon 30-Sep-13 18:47:12

Nasty, used as a bribe to indoctrinate disadvantaged children into a religion.

Musicaltheatremum Mon 30-Sep-13 18:49:36

I help at a sorting centre for blythswood care in Scotland.
We check about 5000 boxes over 2 weeks.
We remove chocolate and sweets that expire too soon. Not all boxes get Christian material it depends which country they go to.
The very large boot boxes some people use have to be split up as they are too large to fit into the containers. We have to get 12-13 boxes in a container as the boxes go by volume so larger boxes take up more room and that costs more.
The items people need are very basic. I used to find them difficult to do but now I have seen what a really good box contains it isn't so bad. Toiletries, hats scarf gloves sox pens pencils and toiletries. All helps.

unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 18:50:03

I'm not sure what OCC do - these are two smaller charities - and one isn't religious...
I sent my DCs to Sunday School cos I went - and made up my own mind later in life ....guess if it is full blown indoctrination it might be a bit different but our church is quite mild (Church of Scotland) and do actually do good things for our community - so while I can say I don't believe in God myself if it brings comfort and does no harm I can't see the problem - and that's what I wanted them to learn about ...

unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 18:51:09

Ahhh Musical the religious one I do is for Blytheswood ...

HeySoulSister Mon 30-Sep-13 18:57:59

So most people seem to be doing them wrong anyway, according to those who help?

OldRoan Mon 30-Sep-13 19:00:00

My school does them, but asks each child to donate a small toy/pound shop item instead of food at the harvest festival. They bring in any empty shoe boxes and the teachers wrap/assemble. They can also bring a fully done box if they want. I think that is a nice compromise - the boxes get done, the parents don't feel too pressured to spend a fortune and the children get to see how when lots of small things are combined one wonderful thing results.

unlucky83 Mon 30-Sep-13 19:04:31

I've just thought that - Why have I faffed around wrapping the bloody things in paper if it isn't going to be sent in the box anyway???
And would places like Blytheswood not be better getting the money and buying the stuff really needed in bulk - or even sourcing it locally?
If you send one toothbrush -it is supposed to last a year? Or shampoo? how do people feel if they can't afford to buy stuff like that - get it, use it, like it - but never get it again until the following year ...if at all?

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 19:05:52

Raven - you've already missed the first OCC thread of the year - it was last week, and the PR chief of OCC UK came on and told us that if OCC was banished from UK schools, British children would never learn about compassion and self sacrifice... hmm

They seem to have started doing presentations in schools last week - maybe earlier than usual?

ancientbuchanan Mon 30-Sep-13 19:06:22

Every year we have this concern, about the prosetylising.

Personally I don't like OCC as they are pretty hard sell. And I agree economically it doesn't make sense.


-- you can find softer versions,
-- it is a brilliant way for small children to realise that not everyone is as lucky as they are, makes it a reality for many of them,
-- one MNr said last year that she had had them as a child and they made a huge difference to herself and her family.

I'm afraid I am far meaner.

We are asked for a scarf and or hat. These are often home made. Cost of one beanie, 90 p ie the yarn. If I make a scarf as well, comes to about 3 quid in all.

Plus toothbrush, 50p from Tesco/ Wilco, toothpaste , 25 p ditto. Soap 20 p ditto. Flannel 50 p.

Game, often good quality second hand ( one of Ds's) or playing cards, and ball of some sort. Prob about 2.50. Sometimes a plastic mug or water bottle.
Pencils and pad, prob about 1.50.

Sweets about 1.50.

10 l overall.

When it's the church one, we get the congregation knitting and there is a huge pile of scarves and hats and all the elderly members if the congregation feel really involved and useful..and actually we put out a plea to the congregation to contribute, so it's not just the children. Then on Shoebox Sunday, everyone gets together, the Bleep boxes are wrapped, children go round in pairs filling a box, overseen by adults, and coffee is provided. It makes it much less painful. But we also do conventional charity find raising, eg using Good Gifts or a local charity.

80sMum Mon 30-Sep-13 19:07:30

YANBU. The "Operation Christmas Child" boxes are run on a vast scale by a global organisation called Samariran's Purse. There have been numerous bad reports about them, including accusations that they are only interested in indoctrinating children into their brand of Christianity. Every box has religious material added to it, as their primary purpose is evangelism.

ravenAK Mon 30-Sep-13 19:09:23

exexpat - linky? I luffs a good OCC thread...grin.

finallydelurking Mon 30-Sep-13 19:09:33

Exexpat and ravenAK, thanks for the links - interesting reading. I do them every year, each of my children do one for a child of the same age/gender. We write to the child and enclose pictures/photos. I do it just to get my kids thinking and to try and develop a social conscience. I'm not religious and it's always been at the back of my mind that it's a bit 'iffy' to be handing these over to traumatised children with the 'Jesus loves you message'.

I shall do them again this year, but perhaps look into it more thoroughly next year. We also buy gifts for UK children through a local charity, does anyone know if they're any concerns with those schemes?

Tavv Mon 30-Sep-13 19:11:09

YANBU. I'd rather just send money to a charity as it saves a couple of hours going round the shops.

Brokensoul Mon 30-Sep-13 19:11:29

I didn't do them for the past 2 years and my 2 DD's complained at first but we donate to McMillan
Charity and to a food shelter here in London 3-4 times a year when they do colections at our local Asda.
My DD's are 9 and 10 yrs old so they understand that we give but to our chosen charities which are very close to my heart.
Another thing- £30 per box! Really?
My boxes were always £5 per box and not some expensive items. On the paper should say about things like. - soaps, pencills, rubbers, gloves.... You can buy bunch cheap but still good and divide them.
Don't do things if they are not done with love and meaning, please.

exexpat Mon 30-Sep-13 19:14:50

OP - sorry if your thread now turns into another OCC bunfight (this is last week's thread - maybe people should adjourn over there?) - it's just that they are the biggest shoebox scheme, with a very controversial reputation, and they are just firing up their annual campaign at the moment, so I assumed you were probably talking about their scheme.

To get back to your question - I am sure you can fill the boxes more cheaply (bulk-buy, use Ebay, knit your own etc) - but I still think that shoebox schemes are a very inefficient form of charitable giving.

For a start, 20 per cent of everything you spend on stuff to go in a shoebox goes straight back to the government in VAT, but if you donated money to a charity instead, they could reclaim gift aid and actually increase the value of your donation. And charities can spend the money in the target country, therefore supporting local industry, handicrafts, agriculture etc, rather than sending out a load of made-in-China stuff that has already been shipped halfway round the world once already.

rumbleinthrjungle Mon 30-Sep-13 19:16:14

YANBU for not liking them personally. It's a personal issue.

I love making them up and looking for whatever kids might enjoy that can be squashed in there, it's something not uniform or the same for every child. Several family members do it and we do try to do it as if we were buying for any child in the family. A year or so ago there were a lot of comments by the charity about children in hospitals for months on end, desperate for things possible to do in bed. I'd far rather give items that a child will get some comfort, pleasure and spoiling out of than stick coins in a box. Actually I'll do that too, but a few dinosaurs and cars and tennis balls certainly aren't going to end up paying for some administrators' salary.

As far as religion goes - I'm not sure many of the children will worry about being patronised.

0utnumbered Mon 30-Sep-13 19:27:37

I wouldn't care about the 'faff' as I enjoy stuff like that anyway but I really don't think I could afford £120 on it! After I paid all my bills, rent and food shop plus nappies & milk for my littlest child I have about £25 to spare which I'm currently saving for my children's christmas presents when I can if we don't need anything else urgently! I know it sounds quite horrible like I'm saying 'it's not my problem' but I see it as it's my responsibility to look after my own children before anything else and give them the best I can possibly give them. I would be keen to give to charity when I'm older and my children have left home, like my parents do.

I don't think you are being unreasonable. I think it's unfair to guilt the parents into doing things that they may not be able to afford to do by going through the children.

ravenAK Mon 30-Sep-13 19:30:43

Thanks exexpat. Informative thread.

Pachacuti Mon 30-Sep-13 19:39:37

The other thing about Operation Christmas Child/Samaritan's Purse is that they don't necessarily give the boxes to impoverished children -- I remember a thread a few years ago from a baffled Mumsnetter who lived in Eastern Europe whose DC had been given an OCC shoebox at his terribly naice private nursery. So even if you don't mind their religious agenda there's every chance that you aren't "sending a sodding box of low cost items to impoverished kids".

finallydelurking Mon 30-Sep-13 19:45:15

Thanks for the link to the other thread exexpat, I will be reading through that.

Serialdrinker Mon 30-Sep-13 20:10:48

We did these when I was a kid and it was just decent second hand 'pressies' there were suggestions like hats and gloves but the point was just to give a child something to open at Xmas. If its necessities (sp) then surely a fundraiser eg muftie day would be better so as has already been suggested bulk buying could happen.

I'm not ok with religious propaganda being hurled at vulnerable people- surely being a 'good' Christian *insert whatever religion means being selfless- no motive like recruiting would be needed?

Serialdrinker Mon 30-Sep-13 20:12:27

Also at £30 per box so £120 for OP I would suggest you donate that money elsewhere far better spent feeding or educating someone surely?

Serialdrinker Mon 30-Sep-13 20:14:03

Wouldn't it be good if I could use grammar correctly!

Beastofburden Mon 30-Sep-13 21:13:46

I bloody hate them as they always tuck a Christian book in, and there is no option to say no. So the kids get the message that only Christians care about them. I donate direct. Every Christmas i say we have to give 25% of what we spend on ourselves to charity and the DC go online and do the deed before i will even consider lists of stuff they want for themselves. We probably work the figure out wrong but it's a start.

GatoradeMeBitch Mon 30-Sep-13 21:17:36

I won't say what I've heard, but it's not something I want to be involved with. I tend to shy away from any big charities now. I donate directly instead. For the last three years I've donated to my local women's shelter.

Mouseranuptheclock Mon 30-Sep-13 21:58:07

I used to do them but read about some of the downsides of them ie what happens when the toothpaste runs out, them not always ending up with a child in need (someone on here said their child's private and expensive nursery got given them) and sending things effects local trade. In the end I stopped doing them and am doing a children's home sponsor thing

thanksamillion Tue 01-Oct-13 07:04:29

If you're looking for an alternative to OCC then I can heartily recommend Link to Hope (formerly Link Romania). Their boxes are for families or elderly people so you can add a wider range of things, you can wrap them up completely so no faffing with doing the lid separately grin and they don't add any literature at all.

They are a broadly Christian charity but they are very specific that the boxes are not to be used for evangelism.

I live in E Europe and we distribute boxes for Link to Hope so obviously I have a slightly vested interest! I do understand the criticism that it might be more cost effective to purchase things here, but there is something very special for people here to feel that they are receiving a gift which someone a long way away who doesn't know them has prepared for them. OK so the toothpaste might not last all year but it will last a good while, and you'd be amazed at how many people are now still eeking out the shampoo they received last year.

If you don't like doing them, then don't and do your charitable giving a different way, but they are appreciated (where I am anyway) and they can be a good way of getting children involved in a tangible form of giving and thinking about other people.

macthecatsmum Tue 01-Oct-13 07:14:11

Where are you shopping - Harrods? smile
I agree with exepat there are a lot of other charities out there doing worthwhile stuff. In our little town there is an older man who spends his time gathering up donations then twice a year visits Romania and takes it to an orphanage (yes they still have them and they are still hugely underfunded and under resourced)
Our sixth form did shoeboxes last year-when the teacher organising it left they were all found in his storeroom-fuckin livid.

QueFonda Tue 01-Oct-13 07:25:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WeeHelena Tue 01-Oct-13 10:17:05

I remember they done this when I was at school.
I don't know what they ask for but it might be worth going to local oxfam o and buying supplies there.
They get new over stock/last season stuff from marks and spencer now and hats scarves,school shirts,shoes etc
And oxfam flog their own stationary stuff for dead cheap at times as the stock room is full of it.
Think cancer research get stuff from tesco as well.
Worth looking in any charity shop to see what they have.
I wouldn't recommend heart foundation though overpriced and they have targets/set prices so no real savings to be had there.

Do teachers/school actually look in the box?
Maybe divide a multi pack of stationary between you dc shoe boxes.

CandidaDoyle Tue 01-Oct-13 10:40:09

YANBU. I used to love doing the shoeboxes, gave me a warm fuzzy feeling of self-righteous smugness.

Then I calculated each box was costing me £30 (I refuse to fill a box with cheap tat from Primark, why exploit child labour in one part of the world to give a child in another part of the word a "treat"?)

Rather than giving profits to Primark's shareholders, 20% in VAT to George Osborn, then incurring huge transportation costs shipping the tat back out to poorer countries, it's much more efficient to give the money directly to charity & gift aid it. Charities can make the money go much further, taking advantage of economies of scale of scale in sourcing purchases locally.

This is all aside from the insidious nature of OCC, which I had no idea until I read about it on mumsnet a few years back. As a result of that thread I did more research, which I shared with the headteacher. Our school now supports the local children's hospice at christmas.

Feminine Tue 01-Oct-13 10:56:57

Why do those that do it, but do it cheaply, bother?

If you are unhappy with the religious content ...why tarnish it further with tatty bits from pound land?

Would you want your children to receive it?

Pachacuti Tue 01-Oct-13 11:00:18

I buy my children stuff from Poundland, yes. Their Christmas stockings this year will have been brought to them largely by the words Pound and Land, with an assist from the cheaper end of the MN Christmas Bargains thread.

Feminine Tue 01-Oct-13 11:05:10

Maybe its improved in recent years then?

Last time I went it was just a bunch of tat!

I'm on a strict budget also, I buy second hand smile

tombliboouun Tue 01-Oct-13 11:13:25

All these Atheists. Do you stand for anything?? I'm not religious but I don't begrudge giving a disadvantaged child something to look forward to & possibly the highlight of their year or childhood. Geez, get a grip all you ''middle class'' prats who live in a fish bowl with no idea of real hardship or the real world.

Viviennemary Tue 01-Oct-13 11:17:50

If you feel strongly then don't do them. It's v. unreasonable to expect people to pay up to £30 per box so for you that's £120. But it's a nice idea and a lot of people do like doing them and that's fine. But if you don't then you shouldn't be made to feel guilty.

tombliboouun Tue 01-Oct-13 11:21:16

It begs the question, are there any NON-religious/Christian organisations doing a similar scheme?

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Tue 01-Oct-13 11:22:19

I'm not an atheist. I'm Christian. And it's nothing to do with 'begrudging' - did you not actually read any of the links?

What some of these organizations do is horrible. You are the one with no idea of the real world if you believe some sentimental nonsense about 'the highlight of their year' withough questioning it.

Feminine Tue 01-Oct-13 11:23:23

Do they actually get the boxes at all?

Beastofburden Tue 01-Oct-13 11:33:10

tombi we do actually donate, you know. More, in fact. And more effectively.

Read the thread before insulting others.

This atheist stands for a number of things that are not immediately apparent in your "christian" post.

tombliboouun Tue 01-Oct-13 11:33:56

£30 does seem excessive. Couldn't you just spend what you can afford? Pyjamas for instance are useless to a child in Africa. (if that's where your donation is going). They have no concept of European customs. Eg. of things that an African teen might appreciate: A set of pens & notepad, a t-shirt or shorts, flip flops, simple toy, a mug or water bottle with an English premiership team's emblem on. A combination of a few of those things is ample.

However, if you're really unhappy about giving, just don't!

tombliboouun Tue 01-Oct-13 11:35:49

Ok but putting that aside. It does seem as though a lot of people are unwilling to give.

tombliboouun Tue 01-Oct-13 11:40:32

Why are schools supporting this charity if they're so shocking? OP, can't you decline the schools request, telling them you'll be donating elsewhere?

Beastofburden Tue 01-Oct-13 11:43:44

No, tombi I dont see any evidence that people are unwilling to give.

If they were, I agree that this would be unacceptably mean and selfcentred. Though I would say that giving all year round, and giving things that really help, ought to be our first priority. I am sure you and I both already do that.

What people object to, is the these organisations are taking people's goodwill and abusing it to deliver their unpleasant ideology around gay love and other issues to a vulnerable population. It's unethical. Not all Christmas box charities do, but enough do that I wouldn't touch them.

I felt slightly sad about your suggestion of a mug with an English premiership team on. I am sure you are right, and I am not blaming you, rather, I am uneasy about our footie culture. I know it's only a bit of fun. But there is something- I don't know- creepy about the way that we have exported our football branding across the world, to kids with their own culture and serious immediate needs. Playing football- good, fine. Supporting a team in another country that you will probably never see play live, being persuaded as an adult that you ought to want to buy expensive (fake) replica kit etc with your very limited funds- hmmmmm.

unlucky83 Tue 01-Oct-13 11:50:49

macthecat - not Harrods - primark, the poundshop, home bargains!
Actually I think I do probably get too much - I do everything on the list that is appropriate...I have now worked it out properly and it is less than I thought -about £24.60 including a £3 windup torch -which I know wasn't necessary blush...
I know about how much I spend in each shop but usually get a few bits for us at the same time - eg I knew I spent 20 odd quid in home bargains but I when I looked I spent £4 on us!
And I have now discovered what a difference getting supermarket home label even - or 'everyday value' makes to what things cost...
I always thought supermarkets were expensive for toiletries but not if you get the cheapest stuff! The Addidas shower gel I got in Home bargains was £1 - 15 p cheaper than the equivalent in Tescos - ...but the Tescos home label stuff is only 70p! And two value toothbrushes for 18p!!! (I paid £1.20 for a three pack of 'Wisdom')....
Problem I guess is I always buy the same things - eg Aquafresh toothpaste - and in Tesco's it is usually more expensive...and never get men's toiletries ...
You live and learn...
Still bloody hate doing them though - I think it might be wrapping the boxes I hate most...fiddly horrible job ...
(And I know I can buy wrapping paper in the shops now! - I have in the past - probably part of the reason I have enough in the attic to open a shop ...and the reason this year I forced myself to face the attic!!! - which then fills me with horror as we are supposedly moving soon and I think I might seal it up and leave for the next people living here - could be a selling point - if they are going to have a baby they have everything they need in there - if they can find it!)

Shockedmum75 Thu 03-Oct-13 16:38:33

After reading this thread and the ones linked to within I thought I would check with our c of e school which charity they do this for. Lo and behold it is OCC. so I asked them to google some further information and come back to me with an opinion.
I saw the headmistress this morning and she said that the only negative they could see on the Internet was on an Islamic website and "they would wouldn't they" shock
So I pointed out that they are also a homophobic organisation and that on the guy from SPs own admission they were going to change the information sent to schools as it is not clear enough.
Surely no one can read the thread with gooner/ Brian on it and not see this thing for what it is?

alemci Thu 03-Oct-13 18:06:22

do you think the islamic website is necessarily impartial? I did look at Samaritans purse website quickly and they were involved in the syrian crisis etc.

Pachacuti Thu 03-Oct-13 18:13:21

Alemci, if the only criticism of OCC the school could find was on an Islamic website then they probably need remedial Googling lessons. If I type

criticism opera

into Google then criticism operation christmas child is the second suggested search, and I've gone through five pages of results from that search without coming across a single Islamic website.

alemci Thu 03-Oct-13 18:17:48

I was referring to the one someone linked to earlier on the thread and looked at it. to me the greater good of what occ do is more important.

sara11272 Thu 03-Oct-13 18:25:44

I'm not going to comment on the pros and cons of the various charities organising these...I've already done my boxes for this year, so they're damn well going somewhere!! - though having read about OCC on here I may give them a miss in future years...

Agree totally with those who say they don't need to cost that much. Mine are pretty full (I'm doing 3 shoeboxes) and contain:

Pack of 4 toothbrushes - Asda smart price, I think 35p for 4
Toothpaste - Asda, 39p
Pack of 3 soap - Asda about 30p for 3
Sponge/puff thing for bath/shower (4 for £1 from a cheapie shop)
Scarf with mitten ends (50p donation to my neighbour for charity - she knits them)
Knitted headband - ditto
2 Packs of wine gum type sweets (6 for £1, poundland)
Pack of pens (39p)
2 exercise books (6 for £1)
Various toys that came in party bags and were duplicates or not wanted, so brand new but free - things like spinning tops, pairs games, bouncy balls
Cuddly reindeer- most costly thing at 1.99

So each box cost about £4 or so.

So YA probably NBU about the shoebox idea in general, but if you're going to do them YABU about how much they need to cost.

Pachacuti Thu 03-Oct-13 18:42:38

"the greater good of what occ do is more important"

Which greater good, and more important than what?

ravenAK Thu 03-Oct-13 18:46:48

Erm...greater good? <scratches head>.

We did get their Director of Communications to admit that:

no-one is suggesting that a shoebox packed with gifts to the value of £10 is going to HELP a child in need

on the other thread...

Pachacuti Thu 03-Oct-13 19:01:23

Also a poster who's been in this position (refugee from ethnic cleansing) who said:

So a goodly percentage of our country said what we believe is now punishable by torture, rape, arson, death, whilst another religion steps in and gives our children shoeboxes filled with things they mostly can't use, have nowhere to store or carry and are just too traumatised to appreciate. They are invited to find out about/join the religion behind these gifts

Pachacuti Thu 03-Oct-13 19:04:28

And (admittedly on a 2008 thread) a poster whose child had been given a shoebox, who said:

the nursery school is a private one, and knowing the parents that send their kids there, the families are far from needy, and are in fact quite well off. These kids definitely don't fit the criteria being described on the charity's website. The content was very thoughtful (pens, sweets, soap, craft stuff, a cuddly toy, even a roll of blank paper to draw on) but nothing that kids here, even those with less well-off families, couldn't get hold of cheaply... Kids here, rich or poor, are spoilt (in the nicest sense of the word) and don't really lack stuff like this

lunar1 Thu 03-Oct-13 19:23:30

I used to do them till i found out about the religious material being added. After a bit of research I started donating to marys meals instead. They also have a backpack appeal which im planning to do this year, if i can find somewhere to take the backpack to that is local.

I think the things recommended on the list would be about £10, they also recommend buying value and using second hand items.

sparkle12mar08 Thu 03-Oct-13 19:37:21

OP, if you've got £120 in your family budget to burn on this then go ahead but stop moaning about it. I don't have it, so I don't do them, and the letter goes straight in the bin every year. And that's without even considering the appallingly questionable ethics behind the likes of OCC...

Tavv Thu 03-Oct-13 20:21:16

There are other ways to make a charitable difference at Christmas, which would be in the Christmas spirit of generosity, whether someone's Christian or not.

Beastofburden Thu 03-Oct-13 20:50:33

Quite right tavv as I said up thread, one of the most offensive frauds is the way these charities pretend that only Christians have donated. By stuffing their propaganda into every box regardless.

We are atheists who give at Christmas but we use respectable non faith based charities to do it.

Sukebind Thu 03-Oct-13 21:34:53

This is a difficult topic. A mums' group I belong to helps to check the OCC boxes and seal them and no religious material is added. I also know people who have travelled to the shoeboxes' destination and saw how they were distributed and to whom. At no point were children bribed or coerced etc. I understand that not all the boxes end up with exactly the right people but if most do, then that's a good thing, as far as I can see. People have a right to share their beliefs with others so long as they aren't forcing them to adopt them. There are also much easier ways of indoctrinating children then this if that was your main objective.
I am not claiming these are the best thing ever to have happened to charitable giving but I don't think that means they should be outright condemned.
From my point of view it helps my children understand that they are very privileged in relation to pretty much the rest of the world and gets them to think about giving something to others. And yes, I know this is not the only way of doing this and I know that can be read as a selfish POV but it's one of the reasons we do them.

starlightloz Thu 03-Oct-13 22:50:41

I have given out shoe boxes in Romania so have seen the reaction from the children receiving them.The first year I did it I was naive and inexperienced at about age 17. The children would grab hold of their boxes and scurry away quicksmart with them to give to their parents so the contents could be shared out with their family. I tried to open one box for a little boy who was so small it seemed heavy for him to carry. I wanted to show him what was inside and see his excitement. I took off the elastic band and in haste dropped it in the surrounding grass The little boy would not leave with his box until the rubber band was found. That insignificant detail spoke volumes to me.
A few years later the same boy was taken by the mafia and trafficked to Italy, came back a sullen, dejected teenager with empty eyes. The actuality of lives lived by people a short plane ride away is mind blowing. Giving out the boxes I saw the happiness it gave.Noone was lined up and forced to be baptized to receive them, it was more of a mêlée of 100+ pairs of hands grabbing indiscriminately.I make dozens of boxes up each year, it costs very little, nowhere near £30 and I am really sad people would refrain from passing on a bit of joy because of the thought it is a Christian based project.It seems to imply that impoverished people are likely to be brainwashed by a faith being shared with them which is odd to me because the poverty I have seen has never seemed to take away people's ability to make their own informed choices on what they believe.

5Foot5 Thu 03-Oct-13 22:59:58

Lots of people seem to be assuming that this is OCC or Samaritan's Purse or whoever. But that is not necessarily the case. Where I work we do shoe boxes every year but they go to children and teenagers in hostels for the homeless in the UK and there is definitely no religious connection.

And I have always managed a well stocked shoebox without getting anywhere near £30. Poundland anyone?

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 23:14:30

Sukebind - is your mums' group a Christian one?

The problem I have with Operation Christmas Child is that it generally presents itself as a great way for everyone, no matter what their beliefs, to do something lovely at Christmas for poor children around the world. The information pack for schools talks about 'spreading joy' - and who could argue with that? The pictures of children opening boxes with huge smiles on their faces are bound to suck people in. But - and it is a very big but - in its publicity material for schools and the general public it plays down, glosses over or just doesn't mention that the primary aim of the whole thing is evangelical.

However, as soon as you look at the leaflet it produces for churches, or the OCC website, or the Samaritan's Purse UK website or the US website for OCC, it becomes rapidly clear that the whole point of OCC, as far as the organisers are concerned, is to 'reach children for Jesus'. Handing out the boxes gives them a way to get big groups of children into churches and halls, in a state of great excitement, so that along with the shoeboxes they can get a pretty hardline evangelical booklet, and an invitation to a 12-step 'discipleship' programme.

Now, if the people putting together the boxes know about that, and support that kind of evangelising to children, and in particular are OK with Billy Graham-style heavy-duty biblical fundamentalism (creationism, describing Islam as evil, campaigning against same-sex marriage etc), then that is all fine. But most people who put together shoeboxes, and send along the requested donation to go with them, have absolutely no idea of what kind of organisation they are supporting - they just think it is doing something nice for children. Many of them, when they are told what OCC really is, are horrified.

On the other thread, the PR chief for OCC/Samaritan's Purse in the UK admitted that the materials given to schools do not give a full picture of what it is all about. They are, he promises, planning to redraft their school information in time for next year - even though these criticisms have been going on for years. I think the current state of affairs, where schools promote the scheme uncritically to all children, even those who are from Muslim, atheist, Hindu etc families, is deeply unethical. Which is why I am a regular on OCC threads...

I think shoeboxes are generally a bad, inefficient way of giving, but I can see that it is a fun and easy way to get children involved. If you really, really want to do a shoebox, there are others around which have no evangelical baggage attached (eg the Rotary Club one).

But unless you are a bible-bashing fundamentalist who thinks that underprivileged children are fair game for missionary activity, please think twice about supporting Operation Christmas Child.

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 23:19:23

5foot5 - shoeboxes for people in the UK sounds like a much better idea. No evangelism, no issues with culturally inappropriate material, no spending huge amounts of money and fossil fuels to get them to their destinations etc. Is it a national scheme you can tell people about on here, or a local one to you?

In fact the OP said quite a while back that the schemes she was involved in were not OCC - but the fact remains that OCC are the largest, best-organised shoebox operation in the UK, and have managed to get their foot in the door of many schools, as well as lots of other organisations (my local paper runs uncritical stories every year about how many boxes people have put together for them), which is why the issue of OCC has come up on this thread.

starlightloz Fri 04-Oct-13 08:04:39

If you would like to do a shoebox for an organisation that isn't OC pm me and I will give you the details of how we do it. We hire a van, fill it and it is driven to Transylvania. No material is added and unless the hired van driver is a one man evangelist, though not being a native speaker it seems unlikely, the boxes are received straight into the hands of the people who are in genuine need.It is actually done for National Children's Day, not Christmas. The van sets out fron Leeds and I can pm anyone more details.

thanksamillion Fri 04-Oct-13 08:06:01

I've mentioned this further up the thread but want to say it again, I'm in Moldova and we distribute boxes for Link to Hope (formerly Link Romania). They don't add any material, there is categorically no evangelisation happening when the boxes are given out and they are for families or elderly people, not just a specific child.

Moldova is a predominantly Orthodox country so the issue of cultural appropriateness of a Christmas present isn't an issue, but tbh I don't think most of the children would care if you said it was celebrating Green Alien Day. They see a box of gifts, some of which are fun, some useful, some edible which someone has cared enough to put together and send to them in some far off country.

People here feel forgotten and abandoned and receiving a shoebox, especially if it has a card/message from the giver inside is a real joy for them. And it's a joy for us to be able to give them out.

thanksamillion Fri 04-Oct-13 12:04:47

starlight do you work with local people to distribute them then? Or are they for a specific group of children (eg in an orphanage)? <Just curious>

starlightloz Fri 04-Oct-13 13:39:12

thanksamillion, boxes are given to every child in a gypsy village on the outskirts of Tirgu Mures. Distributed by the villagers themselves to ensure fairness ie they know who is in each family and recognise faces so can make sure noone gets over their fair share per family.

moldingsunbeams Fri 04-Oct-13 13:47:40

Wasnt there a post about someone on here recieving a load of the boxes in a nursery used by the better off in somewhere like Romania or somewhere similar and them being embarrassed?
Thats what I am a bit cynical about it now.

moldingsunbeams Fri 04-Oct-13 14:02:24

I might do the backpack one. I like Marys meals.

thanksamillion Fri 04-Oct-13 14:41:17

molding there was but the thread was from 2008.

SuburbanRhonda Fri 04-Oct-13 17:59:09

sukebind, OCC's own website speaks of how the shoeboxes are used to evangelise children, so the people you say you know who have seen shoeboxes being given out must have missed that bit.

Where do you think the expression "rice Christian" comes from?

gooner1956 Tue 08-Oct-13 01:17:59

Dear all, I am Head of Communications at Samaritan's Purse, the charity behind the hugely popular Operation Christmas Child campaign. I see one or two names in this thread that I'm familiar with and they know me too!

As is the case in another open thread, I am here to present the truth, the facts about Operation Christmas Child and I'd be happy to answer any questions, or comment on anything you have heard about Operation Christmas Child. I promise you the truth, I have nothing to hide, nor does the charity I have the privilege of working for.

And let me take this opportunity of thanking so many Mumsnet parents, teachers and others who have supported Operation Christmas Child in the past; I hope we can count on your support again this year!

Regards, Brian Bennett

Caitlin17 Tue 08-Oct-13 01:37:34

Son's school didn't go in for this but someone in hubby 's office did. Haven't been asked for a couple of years but usually spent £30 to £40 always opted for the teenage boy as assumed they would be overlooked but that might have been flawed logic. I think it was The Edinburgh Rotary who organised it but to be honest wasn't really paying attention. It did strike me that making a cash donation so that things which we really wanted or needed could be bought was more efficient.

I was paying more attention than hubby however who thought the many years of annual filling of a smartie tube with 20p pieces was to support Zero the disabled pony, rather than Zero, the pony sponsored by the school for riding for the disabled (a jolly good cause)

sara11272 Tue 08-Oct-13 18:28:00

Hello Brian,

And thank you for joining the thread. My question would be - what is the truth about the extent of the evangelism behind OCC? Is it just leaflets in the shoeboxes, or are the rumours about more 'strong-armed' tactics around conversion true? If you could give an accurate picture of the role of evangelism in the shoebox programme, I think that would be v helpful. Thank you.

gooner1956 Thu 10-Oct-13 16:28:17

Dear all, I think the other thread is all but done, so you now have my full attention! I am working from home tomorrow so will review anything that needs my response on here and start responding them Hope you all have a pleasant evening.

Brian Bennett - Head of Communications
Samaritan's Purse International

SuburbanRhonda Thu 10-Oct-13 16:42:47

Hello Brian

There is an unanswed question for you above, so I'm happy for you to answer that one first.

From me: on the OCC home page, it is stated that children who receive a shoe box are invited to enrol on a "discipleship programme", with the consent of their parents.
My questions are: (1) who consents for children who are orphans and (2) at what age do you consider a child can decide for his or herself whether to enrol on this programme?

Look forward to your reply.

SuburbanRhonda Thu 10-Oct-13 17:08:50

Cooee, Brian! Anybody home?

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 17:40:30

Hello SuburbanRhonda, apologies for not being able to get in here sooner. As far as I am aware, no child is enrolled onto The Greatest Journey without the express permission of their parent/s, carer/s or responsible adult/s. So to answer your first question, it would be the carer/s or responsible adult/s who would be asked for their permission for an orphan, or orphans in their care to go on The Greatest Journey. Again, no child makes that decision themselves; we would always defer to parent/s, carer/s or responsible adult/s! Getting a little repetitive, but I hope this satisfies your concern?

Kind regards, Brian Bennett

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 18:01:52

Hello Sara11272, I'm working my way UP this thread so you're next!

OCC in and of itself is not an evangelistic programme; it's about gift-filled shoeboxes being given to some of the neediest children on the planet. That said, we generally use local churches to distribute the shoeboxes in the countries where we work and they will often use the distribution event to establish relationship with needy children and their families. And being church they will seek opportunities to invite these families to church not just to share their faith but also to help support these families throughout the year.

You made an assertion that there are 'leaflets in the shoeboxes' - NOT TRUE. We do not put leaflets, or any other 'religious' material' in shoeboxes; we will actually remove such items should we see them during the checking process, purely and simply because we do not want to cause offence to the receiving child, their family or community.

There are lots of 'rumours about more 'strong-armed' tactics around conversion'; let me assure you that these are just rumours. No matter how often we tell people this simply does not happen there are those who seem keen to keep such lies and misinformation alive.

In terms of the 'role of evangelism in the shoebox programme'? I think it's actually the other way round! We start with the shoebox, it has been wrapped and packed by someone who cares for children. We make sure that the purpose for sending the shoebox is achieved; to bring joy into the life of a needy child. We do this through local churches and these churches care more for the children and families than they do about evangelism; they are there for them, through thick and thin, all year long. These families will be invited to church but whether they go or not, they will be supported by their local church. They will hear the Gospel if they go to church, but not in any kind of forceful way; merely preached from the pulpit. When they see such 'good' going on, when they see people giving of their time and talent , often sacrificially, whether they have heard the Gospel or not, they often wonder why the church helps them when others don't. When they ask they will hear the Gospel message; Jesus told us to 'love our neighbour as ourself'. In my experience, that's how it works; nobody enjoys being preached at, least of all me, and I wouldn't support this programme as I do if this was so,

Apologies for my long got me going! Kind regards, Brian

sara11272 Fri 11-Oct-13 18:55:24

Thank you, Brian, that's really helpful and will hopefully be of interest to others on the thread. No worries about the length, I think it was necessary to make your point.

Apologies for getting it wrong about the leaflets - I was just repeating things I'd read stated as fact, so it's good to hear another side to the story. Thanks again. You've made me feel a lot happier about sending off my shoeboxes again this year.

Do you know (and this is a genuine question, as I have no idea of the answer) why there is such a strength of feeling amongst some people towards OCC? I'd never heard any of these opposing views before reading threads on here, and websites they linked to. I'm interested to know why it garners such strong 'anti' views...though appreciate that you may not know the reasons.

alemci Fri 11-Oct-13 19:57:31

thanks Brian

I think it is a good thing and it makes sense to me.

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 20:06:31

Sara11272, glad to be of service. I'll answer your question in three parts...

Firstly, one of the problems with the Internet is that people can say what they want, even bare-faced lies, and it stays there for all to see for years to come. We can refute things, even have some of the misinformation retracted, but this stuff hangs around and new people pick it up each year and round we go again!

Secondly, it is only this year that I realised the disparity with what we were saying to schools and what we were saying to churches; some older material had been hanging around on our own website (!) that needed to be drawn into line. And it's only through being on Mumsnet that I was able to understand some of the reasons people were upset with OCC. And rightly so.

Thirdly, there are people opposed to any form of 'religion' in schools; we are an evangelical Christian organisation and we are really encouraged by the take up of OCC in schools. This flies in the face of those who want 'religion' out of our schools and because OCC is probably the largest external campaign supported in our schools, it comes under vitriolic attack, as evidenced on this thread and others over the years. Even outside of Mumsnet there are groups of people whose sole purpose in life seems to be removing OCC from our schools; often these people are humanists who seemingly want to force their particular religion on schools at the expense of ours. They have nothing against shoeboxes, they are always keen to suggest or promote other shoebox programmes, they just want OCC out. I say let the schools decide!

As I say, a lot of the 'attacks' are because of the FORMER disparity in messaging but, thanks to Mumsnet, I believe we have put this right.

Does that help?

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 20:07:26

Thanks Alemci, appreciate your support!

TheInquisitor Fri 11-Oct-13 20:14:59

£30 a box?! What the hell are you putting in those things?! shock
I'm in the middle of doing our shoebox, and I've put nowhere near £30 in!
Possibly a tenner when it's all added up, but that's with a lot of things in!

sara11272 Fri 11-Oct-13 20:24:02

Thank you, Brian, it does help. Thanks again.

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 20:26:53

No problem Sara, hope you have a nice weekend!

TheInquisitor Fri 11-Oct-13 20:38:43

I've nearly finished my box already this year, I'm all organised for once. This thread has inspired me to get my arse into gear and buy a few more things when out shopping tomorrow!
with a few extra bits and pieces thrown in to make up for all the joyless soul suckers on the thread

SuburbanRhonda Fri 11-Oct-13 20:39:06

Hi Brian

Thank you for answering my first question. Do you have an answer for my second question - at what age would OCC consider young people could decide for themselves? For example, here in the UK young people can legally consent to sex at age 16, drive at 17, get married at 18 and so on. There is also the definition "Gillick competent" for assessing whether young people under 16 are able to consent to their own medical treatment. So, if the young reason aged 16 said "no thank you" to the shoebox, but their parent or carer said "yes please", to whom would the OCC defer?

Sorry if that wasn't clear before.

Also, this from the OCC website:

"Where appropriate, with each shoebox, our church partners will offer a little booklet of Bible stories."

My question is: who decides when it is appropriate to give out the bible stories?


gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 21:14:58

SuburbanRhonda, I don't want to be picky but a child of 16 wouldn't be in such a position as they would be too old to receive a shoebox; the age limit is 14. Operation Christmas Child does not, nor would ever decide which children are to receive shoeboxes, this is decided by local churches in the countries where we work, working with local communities to determine which children are to receive shoeboxes on the basis of need alone.

The little booklet referred to in your post is The Greatest Gift and, again, it is down to the local churches to determine whether or not giving this booklet to children receiving shoeboxes would be appropriate or not. Shoebox distributions are planned months in advance, they don't just turn up unannounced! They know their communities and their community leaders; they decide these things together.

Regards, Brian

exexpat Fri 11-Oct-13 21:44:01

Hello Brian, can I just point out that the other thread is still there, and you haven't answered my question yet?

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 21:45:08

Hey Exexpat, I thought it had been wrapped up for posterity! Let me go and take a look...

SuburbanRhonda Fri 11-Oct-13 21:50:11

That's not being picky, Brian - I didn't see the bit on your website about the age limit for shoeboxes.

So does that mean that no child over 14 would be offered the discipleship programme?

As to the book of bible stories, I guess if it's up to the local churches, that could mean anything from everyone getting one to no-one getting one! What I meant was what criteria are used by the local churches? For example, if the children were traumatised, or orphaned, or the victims of a natural disaster, would the local churches just give the shoebox or would they give the bible stories also? Do you personally think there would be any circumstance in which it would be considered inappropriate to give a book of bible stories or do you think it's always ok?

superstarheartbreaker Fri 11-Oct-13 22:00:50

Yabu...just do a few of the essentials and dont get competetive about it. Five or ten max????

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 22:18:38

SuburbanRhonda, shoeboxes are packed for boys and girls with three age ranges: 2-4, 5-9, 10-14. It is only the children receiving shoeboxes that are invited to go on The Greatest Journey, so no child over 14. On the booklets, you need to understand that most of the children receiving a shoebox have no books of their own, nothing to read, so these booklets are often cherished...their very own book! I'd suggest you take a look at this booklet on our website, it isn't at all heavy, or pushy, so I don't really understand why a traumatised would not want to receive it, or why anyone would worry that they did.

As I have said, shoebox distributions are planned months in advance. Part of that planning sees local churches working together to ensure that only the neediest children receive shoeboxes - we don't have enough for every child - and that their parent/s, carer/s and/or responsible adult/s are informed ahead of time. We don't just show up!

An important part of this planning is working with civic and community leaders too. Again, as I have said, it would be counter-productive for us, or the local churches involved to cause offence; we want to be giving shoeboxes to (different) children in these communities every year. So booklets are not distributed in areas where it would be culturally inappropriate to give a booklet that speaks about Jesus.

I have been at distributions where the local Imam has watched proceedings; that says a lot about the relationship local churches have with other faith groups. While shoeboxes were distributed in his presence, I did not see the booklets being distributed. And that is fine.

Does that answer your question? Brian

exexpat Fri 11-Oct-13 22:25:07

sara11272 - you asked why people have such strong feelings about OCC. One of the main reasons is that OCC/Samaritan's Purse is a strongly evangelical organisation, but it has not been making that clear in promoting the shoebox campaign to schools.

The majority of children in British schools do not come from evangelical Christian families. I am not sure what proportion of the British population would subscribe to Billy Graham-style evangelism (OCC/Samaritan's Purse is led by Billy Graham's son), but I am pretty sure it is far fewer than those who describe themselves as having no religion (25% at the last census) or as belonging to another religion (Islam, Hinduism, Judaism etc).

Many people, myself included, do not think it is appropriate for young children in British schools to be encouraged to support an organisation with clearly evangelical goals when they (and their families) do not share its beliefs, and when they have not been clearly informed about the evangelical activities which accompany the distribution of the boxes.

And no matter what Brian says, it is not just humanists/atheists who disapprove. There have been many Christians on MN threads who have said they also find OCC unethical, not just for trying to get non-Christian children in the UK to contribute boxes, but also for linking aid with proselytising overseas. All reputable Christian charities (Christian Aid, Cafod etc) make it very, very clear that they never try to push their beliefs to the recipients of aid.

As Brian has admitted above, until now the information provided to schools has been distinctly economical with the truth about OCC's evangelical aims, unlike the material provided to churches and to be found if you look at various OCC/Samaritan's Purse websites, which talk about shoeboxes being 'gospel opportunities' and reaching children for Jesus.

In the past week, Brian has written a leaflet for schools which makes the evangelical angle much clearer, and I have thanked him for that. It goes quite a way towards answering some of my most persistent criticisms of OCC.

However, as far as I can tell, at the moment the leaflet is just sitting on an obscure corner of the OCC website, where you have to go looking for it and register with the site before you can read or download it. So far Brian has not given any indication that OCC is actively informing schools or parents about the existence of the leaflet, even though this year's campaign is already in full swing, so I would guess that its reach this year will be distinctly limited.

I hope that next year OCC will make much more effort to be honest with schools and parents about exactly what OCC is aiming to achieve. If you look at the Samaritan's Purse website, for example, it is clear that targets are based on how many children the organisation can sign up for the 'discipleship programme' and convert to Christianity, rather than on the initial distribution of boxes. following on from the 2013 Operation Christmas Child campaign, Samaritan?s Purse hopes to enroll 1.4 million children from more than 80 countries in The Greatest Journey... It all starts with a shoebox...

If you are an evangelical Christian, that probably strikes you as a good thing, but the majority of parents of children at British primary schools are not, which is why it is not honest or ethical to try to get them to provide the materials to be used to convert children in other countries.

People who don't support Operation Christmas Child are not 'joyless soul suckers' TheInquisitor, they are people who have looked into exactly how OCC operates and choose not to get involved - but if you read the threads, we all offer lots of alternative ways of giving without the ethical issues.

As an atheist, I mainly support non-religious charities all year round rather than doing something specially at Christmas, but some years we have donated toys to our local mayor's appeal for underprivileged children at Christmas, and I would have no qualms at all about my DCs' schools getting involved in something like the Mary's Meals backpack project, which is a charity, founded by two Christians, providing much needed food and school supplies to children in the developing world without trying to convert them to Christianity at the same time. To my mind, that is the most crucial difference.

ArgyMargy Fri 11-Oct-13 22:45:18

Many of the comments are ridiculous. I used to love doing this with DCs and we were encouraged to put in things which were not brand new, possibly well loved (ie a sacrifice) and I would never have gone & bought crap from the pound shop. Why turn it into a massive chore and assume you have to fork out 30 quid? I just don't get it. YABVU.

neverputasockinatoaster Fri 11-Oct-13 22:52:20

Hi again Brian.

I'd like a link to the Greatest Gift Booklet please. I'd like to be able to read it as you seem to say it is nothing like the unbelievable twaddle of the American version.........

Everywhere I look, everywhere I google, the hits that come up are OCC and SP saying how marvellouslly the shoe boxes will do at evangelising and converting children.

SuburbanRhonda Fri 11-Oct-13 23:00:47

It answers my question in the sense that you explain how the distribution of the booklet (all 95 pages of it!) is rationalised by OCC.

What I don't think I'll ever get is how anyone, faced with a traumatised and vulnerable child, could possibly imagine that enrolling them on a bible study course would be the best way to help and support them.

No need to reply.

SuburbanRhonda Fri 11-Oct-13 23:06:58
neverputasockinatoaster Fri 11-Oct-13 23:19:33

Thank you Suburban........

That's quite um 'preachy' isn't it?

I think there's a smaller booklet too that is offered 'alongside' the boxes.

BlingBang Fri 11-Oct-13 23:22:48

So what generally are the beliefs of Samaritans Purse, what is their stance on homosexuality and abortion? Always get the impression that US evangelical Christian churches are quite different from say your local C of E or C of S.

BlingBang Fri 11-Oct-13 23:29:26

I hate Adam and Eve, always the bloody woman's fault, she should ave just stuck to being a good little helper I stead of getting too big for her fig leaf.

So do Samaritan's Purse believe in Evolution then or take the old testament as truth?

exexpat Fri 11-Oct-13 23:40:24

Neverputasockinatoaster - the booklet Suburban linked to is actually the 12-step bible studies 'discipleship' course, which is the follow-up to the distribution of shoeboxes. The same site has the 'Greatest Gift' booklet which is the one handed out with/alongside/before/after (but definitely not 'inside', as if that actually makes any difference...) the shoeboxes.

(Brian, perhaps you could let us know if these are not the current versions of the booklets?)

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 23:46:22

Hi Neverputasockinatoaster - you must tell me more about your 'name'. We need to be very clear about what is what, and who does what when it comes down to Operation Christmas Child, The Greatest Journey, the local church, teachers and the children.

Operation Christmas Child is about a gift-filled shoebox being donated by someone over here and shipped to a needy child overseas. Seeing a child's face when they open their box is priceless and anyone providing a shoebox under this programme can rest assured that their box will bring such joy to the child receiving it; loved and not forgotten at Christmas.

The shoebox they receive at a distribution event is distributed by their local church and many churches will put on some kind of event for the children that precedes the shoebox distribution that tells the Christmas story, a nativity play, puppet show, that kind of thing. Once that is done, shoeboxes are distributed, the boxes are opened and the noise level goes up considerably. Where appropriate, The Greatest Gift booklet is given to children receiving a shoebox, either with their shoebox or after they have received it. There is no requirement or obligation placed on any child to take the booklet.

After the distribution event some children receiving a shoebox will be invited to attend a programme called The Greatest Journey, 12 lessons in a classroom environment, put on by their local church, during which time those that accept this free invitation to learn about the Christian faith. These lessons are fun and interactive, no pressure, equivalent to a UK Sunday School lessons, given by local teachers, all of whom are trained and many of whom are already known to the children. It is at the end of Lesson Four that children gain a god grasp of the Gospel message and are given an invitation to follow Jesus. Again no pressure, many do so later in the process, as many again don't bother.

It is my view that Operation Christmas Child simply enables relationship between the child receiving his or her shoebox, their family and the local church. If that relationship is started, the child and his or her family are naturally drawn closer to the church and it is through the ministry of their local church that they will hear the Gospel. In some cases, usually in parallel, the children are in The Greatest Journey 'Sunday School'.

While it is through The Greatest Journey programme that many children will hear the Gospel, and where they will learn about Jesus, this could not happen without Operation Christmas Child. The shoebox is the catalyst, the enabler.

So let me close by saying this. No shoebox, however wrapped and packed, will ever convert or evangelise a child but EVERY shoebox has the potential to bring such joy and happiness to the child receiving it.

Kind regards, Brian

neverputasockinatoaster Fri 11-Oct-13 23:50:29

Thanks exexpat!

Not quite as vomit inducing as the one I've seen before - the much older american one but still reads really badly and is overly preachy.

I stand by my assertion that these booklets are badly written but they are taken from the NIV version of the bible which is American.

I should add again that I am a Catholic and I find the whole premise of OCC to be distasteful. Being a Catholic makes me a Christian but I feel this is wrong on so many levels.

I am grateful to have been reminded that OCC season is upon us and I must write once again to the HT of the DC's school and remind him that my children are not to be given OCC/SP literature or take part in any assemblies where OCC is mentioned.

As we do every year we will give gifts to Children in the care system.

I have filled many shoe boxes for OCC in teh past, and genuinely have no quibble with doing so, but if people are worried about the fact that a booklet about Jesus is added in some countries then why not make up some small stockings and distribute to refuges and food banks in the UK? I'm sure that people in need, right here, would be extremely grateful!

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 23:54:09

Dear all the links to The Greatest Journey curriculum and The Greatest Gift booklet are correct - thank you for those that took the trouble to fins them and post them here! Brian

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 23:57:04

BlingBlang, I'll be happy to answer your questions, but not tonight, I am tired and I'm going to my bed! Night all! Brian

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 00:02:52

But, but but... if they are not Christian and they don't live in a Christian society then they won't celebrate Christmas........

And my 'name' is a quote from the amazing Eddie Izzard - a true comic genius.

The way I look at it is this.......

Imagine something truely horrific happened to the UK. Mass famine, collapse of the banking system, whatever. Imagine it left families, like yours Brian, homeless, desperate, penniless.
Now imagine that a non Christian religious group rocked up with boxes of goodies on or around a religious festival of theirs. One that had no meaning to you. Imagine that they invited your children/grandchildren to a fun filled celebration based around that religious festival, handed out boxes of goodies and then offered a leaflet all about their religion. Imagine that your child was too polite to turn them down.
Then imagine your child was invited to some 'fun' sessions to learn more about the religion. Your child might really want to go - life hasn't been fun for a while and these people are offering fun. So you let them go and after a few 'lessons' they come home talking about how the religion is the 'one true faith'..............


(Oh, and Brian? I'm a primary school teacher. I spend my days looking at well written material with children. I have a love of books. I know a poorly written text when I see one......... Take it from me - The Greatest Gift and The Greatest Journey are poorly written)

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 09:02:31

Excellent point, never (or should that be sock)?

Brian describes, maybe without realising, how evangelical work is so effective. He writes of families being brought together to receive the shoeboxes, an event being put on, such as show of some sort, then "the noise level goes up considerably" when the boxes are given out. You can imagine the hysteria and excitement of the children - they couldn't be more ripe for indoctrination at that point.

We've all seen videos on TV showing evangelicals falling to the floor, speaking in tongues, losing control. To do that to children in order to peddle "the Gospel" is immoral.

If Brian truly believes that the shoeboxes don't evangelise children, then he is being utterly disingenuous about the whole process.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 09:06:13

justforlaughs, there are many people who have posted on here that they support non-evangelical charities, instead of ones like OCC. That doesn't make the methods used by the OCC to evangelise vulnerable children acceptable, though.

And I find it interesting that when I started a thread on volunteers offering to say a prayer to users of my local food bank, a great many posters suggested the way to make this "ok" would be to set up a non-religious food bank. Same old arguments to justify the same old methods.

beakysmum Sat 12-Oct-13 11:09:58

Suburban 23.00

I just felt I had to respond to your post at 23.00 yesterday ...I know, I know, you said no response needed!

You raised a similar point on another thread (food banks). While I hear all the concerns about working with vulnerable people / children and I think neverputsocks made very good posts, it must be understood that the people in food banks / OCC are good caring people whoare giving of ttheir time and effort to help others AND as part of their care, they want to share anything they yhink will help and that includes their faith. You may not agree that faith is helpful at all, and that's fine. That's your view.

However millions of people the world over find that faith of whatever sort is very meaningful and helpful to them. I guess its like advertising and we adverts and booklets every where in life. Maybe like talking about homeopathy or hypnosis if that is something that has worked for you and you are "evangelical" about it.

I think you underestimate the power people still have to say "no" even when they are in vulnerable positions, either overtly or more likely covertly by putting the prayer offer / booklet in the nearest bin.

You clearly don't find faith helpful. That's ok, but it co cernc me that you are seeking censorship about when and where people can talk about things. Free speech should be just that and it will be a sad day if ever this country limits when and where we can talk about politics, religion etc.


gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 11:17:47

BlingBlang if you check our Statement of Faith, you will read: We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. (II Timothy 3:15-17). This isn't only a Statement of Faith for Samaritan's Purse, it is also my personal belief.

I recognise that my beliefs will not be shared by everyone on this thread (anyone?) but I have discovered for myself the wisdom to be found in God's word. So what anyone thinks on issues like homosexuality, abortion and evolution is really unimportant; it's only what God says that will stand the test of time. I have found Him to be trustworthy and true.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 12:10:31

beakysmum, what I meant was I didn't need a reply from Brian. As he says in his post below yours, he says he is guided by a fundamentalist view of the bible and the word of God. So that informs his work, whether of not it is appropriate for the people OCC wants to help.

The food bank thread is over, but, like you, I had to reply to your use of the word "censorship" in your final paragraph, which I found offensive. As I said over and over again on the food bank thread, it was not the praying that was the problem. The manager of the food bank told me the volunteers always pray for the food bank users at the end of the day anyway.

What I found inappropriate was the offer to pray for individual people because the volunteers believed that prayer would be helpful. As I and many other posters said, it is not about what the volunteers find helpful, it's about what food bank users need - food for their families. Some may welcome a prayer, some may not but feel they can't say no, some may get annoyed about it and say so. But to be willing to take the risk of offending even one vulnerable person just because you personally find prayers useful is something that I, and many other posters, found inappropriate.

Hope it's clear now.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 12:13:45

Bling, I see Teflon Brian managed not to answer your question on the Samaritan's Purse views on abortion and homosexuality.

So I thought this, from Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan's Purse, might provide some answers:

BlingBang Sat 12-Oct-13 12:31:22

Brian, I think it's quite important to know what an organisation stands for and believes in when you are supporting them with shoeboxes which will hopefully then enable them to spread these views to children. Of course what Samaritans Purse believes in and teaches is important if I am being asked to support them. How does Samaritans Purse view the role of women in their church? Do women have equal standing to their male counterparts in the running of your church and the leading roles?

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 12:35:07

I have a faith. It is a strong faith and it is helpful to me. Although I come from a Catholic background and was raised a Catholic I left the church for a very long time after hellish teenage years. Then my beloved Grandfather died. I went to his funeral in the church that he had built and I came back to my faith. But my faith is personal to me. I don't believe in ramming it down people's throats. I will pray for people but I won't offer to do so unless I feel they will be happy for me to do so.

It is MY faith, my choice, my life......

I cannot imagine how I would feel if someone tried to push their faith on me. Actually I can imagine because it happened. During my hellish time I ended up living with a lovely lady who happened to be an Evangelical Christian. She pushed me, gently, to attend church with her. Then one evening I was the subject of an 'Intervention' and I was pushed into 'letting Jesus into my life'. I ended up saying a lot of things I didn't mean because I was relying on her for a roof over my head........

I still break out in a cold sweat when I remember that evening and my subsequent behaviour towards others over the next few days......

So, no OCC for me this year or ever.

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 13:50:43

neverputasockinatoaster, I have to say you have a very creative imagination! Do you honestly believe that the scenario that you have described is anything like what happens with Operation Christmas Child?

For one thing, we only work through local churches and these churches are vetted by a National Leadership Team in each country; we set guidelines for what should happen and we monitor what happens through local, regional and national reports. Not that we do but should we find evidence of the kind of behaviour you have described, the NLT is made accountable and we would take appropriate action. But you seem to be overlooking the fact that these children have parents, carers and teachers who are there to protect them from anything that could harm them, physically or emotionally. We keep on hearing - from a small group of people over here - that what we are doing is abusive, hurtful and damaging; what we hear from the children, their parents/carers and their teachers is always positive, I have never seen or received a single complaint in my four and a half years here from the receiving end; the only complaints I get are from this end, usually stirred up by so much misinformation and hearsay...

Regards, Brian

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 14:05:46

BlingBkang, Samaritan's Purse is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian charity. Samaritan's s Purse is a place where we celebrate what unites us in the Christian faith; it would be highly inappropriate for Samaritan's Purse to tell churches what to do, or how to behave.

Some church denominations, my own included, welcome women in leadership, others do not. That is for them to decide and for those attending and supporting such churches.

I had to laugh at the 'Teflon Brian' comment. I wasn't avoiding your question, I answered it. You asked about Samaritan's Purse and I told you what they believe. I told you also that I believe the same. But, on the subject of sin, what you and I think and believe is not important; it's what the Bible says that is important. For me there are no shades of grey any more on these issues; it's black and white, light and dark. As a Christian I am to be a light in the darkness...

Kind regards, Brian

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 14:06:19

Brian, just two words: "Rice Christian".

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 14:13:10

neverputasockinatoaster I was so sorry to read your account of your 'hellish' years. Christians make mistakes like everyone else, they are not immune and sometimes, in their zeal, they can hurt people. This usually happens when they exercise their faith in their own strength and not tune into what God is saying or telling them to do.

Jesus gave us two commandments; To love the Lord your God with all your heart...and to love your neighbour as yourself. He also told us to 'go into all the world and make disciples'....He didn't say 'make believers'! That's His job and the work of the Spirit. It sounds as though the lady you referred to was trying to make you into a believer, that's where it went wrong. You hear these stories all the time, it really saddens me because Jesus would never want to push you into anything you weren't comfortable with... Regards, Brian

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 14:14:26

SuburbanRhonda, you got me! What do you mean by "Rice Christian"?!

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 14:18:37

Um Brian......

the shoebox they receive at a distribution event is distributed by their local church and many churches will put on some kind of event for the children that precedes the shoebox distribution that tells the Christmas story, a nativity play, puppet show, that kind of thing. Once that is done, shoeboxes are distributed, the boxes are opened and the noise level goes up considerably. Where appropriate, The Greatest Gift booklet is given to children receiving a shoebox, either with their shoebox or after they have received it.

If that isn't a celebration of a Christian Festival I don't know what is!

And Brian, my scenario is EXACTLY what OCC and a host of other organisations do! They work in areas that are deprived, either long term or short term, and they offer help and they EVANGELISE at the same time! And they don't go out there because they want to help. They go out there because they see it as an opportunity to convert vulnerable people in their time of need. I detest it when my church does it and I detest it when other churches do it.

If helping is truely all that is on the agenda then fine, distribute presents at an appropriate time for that culture rather than during a Christian festival, don't offer a book of religious stories from your culture, offer a book from their culture and DON'T mention religion at all UNLESS the people you are helping ask why - then you can say something like - 'My religion means that I believe in helping others, no matter what they believe.' Rather than saying 'Hi poor deprived people, here's a gift. I'm helping you because I believe in Jesus, he's wonderful and will save you if you believe in him. Why don't you read all about how him and maybe you should fess up to being a sinner and become a Christian just like me?'

Ooooooo I am cross. OCC makes me cross. Billy Graham et al make me sodding cross.

exexpat Sat 12-Oct-13 14:18:50

Have you seriously never heard of rice christians, Brian? It is shorthand for the problematic ethical practice of linking overseas aid with missionary activity - precisely what Samaritan's Purse seems to specialise in.

This blog raises some of the issues in a contemporary setting, this is the wikipedia definition.

exexpat Sat 12-Oct-13 14:22:17

And since you are back on here, can you confirm that you are not actually doing anything at all to promote the leaflet for schools you have just produced - emailing schools, circulating it to the volunteers you send into schools to promote OCC, flagging it prominently on your website, etc? If it is just going to sit there and wait for people to find it of their own accord, it is pretty useless. Writing it is less than half the job - you need to make sure people read it. Surely as 'head of communications' you can see that?

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 14:24:22

Brian, this from, a blog for Western missionaries and humanitarian aid workers:

"About six months into our time overseas, I first heard the term “Rice Christians.”

The term is used among the missionary community to describe nationals who make a profession of conversion (inauthentically or without true understanding) in order to get the product (clothing, food, rice) that is being delivered by the Western worker.

It could go a bit like this: uneducated villagers, a little (or a lot) in awe of the white American, are provided with goods they desperately need, entertainment that encourages their kids, and attention by the wealthy Westerner, all of which they gladly accept. And at some point over the course of the event, the Westerners share honestly about their religion and eventually ask for public professions of faith.

And, seriously, what’s an impoverished person, raised in a culture of respect, supposed to do in light of this turn of events? In many ways, isn’t agreeing with the views of the outsider the most polite and most effective response for the national– the path that both provides for their families while still showing respect for their visitors?

Perhaps, perhaps they become Rice Christians for the day.

And maybe we missionaries don’t really give them many other options."


neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 14:30:08

SuburbanRhonda - I think I love you! Fab part of a blog coming from the 'horse's mouth' so to speak.

alemci Sat 12-Oct-13 14:45:00

yes the blog is very interesting and it sounds like the writer was sharing her faith in friendship, cooking a meal etc. to me that is the way it should be.

I agree that the American style is full on and heavy handed.

however I know people who live in outer Mongolia and run a cafe. they are on mission but i think it is subtle and about friendship and showing care. to me it is pretty self sacrificial, why would you want to do that and give up a nice comfortable lifestyle or career etc

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 14:45:32

Neverputasockinatoaster and SuburbanRhonda are you suggesting that Samaritan's Purse is a "Rice Christian" organisation? That is a serious accusation and nothing could be further from the truth.

On Operation Christmas Child there are no 'white Americans' organising shoebox distributions, there are no 'white Americans' leading celebrations and there are no 'white Americans' teaching children about Jesus. I don't know how many times I have already said this but you are obviously not hearing back your is the LOCAL CHURCHES that organise distributions, it is the LOCAL CHURCHES that lead celebrations and it is the LOCAL CHURCHES that teach children about Jesus, but only those that have accepted a free invitation to go on The Greatest Journey with their parents'/carers' approval.

Am I wasting my time here? Should I go? I have already shown my willingness to listen and act accordingly, it would be nice to see this being reciprocated! Regards, Brian

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 14:50:34

neverputasockinatoaster you are not cross, you are just hurt and we can all understand why...I'm so sorry

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 14:57:04

Brian, you are linked to an American Organisation that operates in a very American way.....

You only have to look on the web to hear about White Americans who have witnessed the giving of the boxes........ There are videos on Youtube showing gift giving......

Maybe you should check out the American version of the SP/OCC website and see what we are all seeing?

I've just been to the website and there on the first page I came to was a picture of children. each with a shoe box on their knee, heads bowed in prayer............

Thing is Brian, I'm not going to change my mind. You can't see that , despite all your words to the contrary, your gifts ARE conditional. I think I approach this from a pretty strong position - I'm a Christian and I think you are doign the wrong thing - by you I mean OCC rather than you personally.

And you haven't answered exexpat's question about the boklet for schools.

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 14:58:13

No, Brian, I'm CROSS!

I was hurt very many years ago.

Now I'm CROSS, not about the way I was treated but about the way other, vulnerable people are bieng treated.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 15:08:43

Brian, you completely missed the point of my post.

You asked what is a Rice Christian? I know what it means, but I wanted to find a definition that would make it clear to someone who didn't. So, I introduced my post by saying the clearest definition I could find was from a blog about missionaries. I kind of expected that you would understand that to mean I was defining Rice Christians, not describing the activities of OCC. Let's leave the "serious accusation" conversation for something more befitting of the phrase.

And somehow I get the feeling that you telling never what she does and doesn't feel is not going to endear you to other posters ...

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 15:11:48

alemci, I think the idea of giving up a comfortable life for a life of missionary work is that the reward will be great in Heaven.

Unless I've missed something grin

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 15:13:45

neverputasockinatoaster last year we distributed over nine million shoebox gifts. At a handful of those distribution events, some hard working volunteers do attend and they are usually being filmed. We send around a million shoeboxes from the UK, to 14 countries and we have 30 volunteers going out for a few days to two of them, so we're not talking a major presence are we!

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 15:24:18

neverputasockinatoaster, my apologies!

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 15:27:30

Wouldn't it be great to get around a table and have this discussion face to face?!

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 15:29:30

Maybe some of you guys would like to see an OCC distribution up close?!

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 15:31:34

OK peeps, I have some errands to run, maybe catch some of you online later today, or tomorrow, have fun (and keep warm!)

Kind regards,

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 15:35:54

Yes, but Brian, you said there was no presence and that's clearly not the case, is it?

exexpat Sat 12-Oct-13 18:07:39

Just out of interest, and for comparison's sake, I just looked up what Samaritan's Purse has been doing in Haiti since the earthquake, and what Christian Aid has been doing there.

Samaritan's Purse: "Water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, *coupled with evangelism and discipleship*, are improving physical and spiritual well-being in rural communities" It looks like in Haiti it is Americans going out to provide aid and evangelise at the same time, though they do also get local churches involved.

Christian Aid: "The earthquake in 2010 had a devastating effect on Haiti, which was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. However, slowly but surely, the country is rebuilding and moving on from this disaster. Barriers to development include widespread poverty, environmental degradation, a weak government and deep levels of corruption, but the work of Christian Aid and its partners is making a real difference to the lives of poor Haitians."

You have to go to close to the bottom of the second page ('our work') of the Christian Aid site before faith is even mentioned, and then it is just to emphasise that faith is not allowed to influence the organisation's work: "Many of our partners share Christian Aid’s faith identity, but our programme is inclusive of all faiths and none."

I think I know which approach I find more ethical.

This article raises questions about the activities of Samaritan's Purse in Haiti - apparently preaching at US government-funded facilities.

Operation Christmas Child has also been busy in Haiti. From the website of OCC Canada: Operation Christmas Child is bringing gift-filled shoe boxes -- and opportunities to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ to impoverished Haitian children and their families. Many of the children receiving these boxes -- often the first gifts they will have ever received -- will participate in our discipleship program called The Greatest Journey. Since 2009, more than 160,000 shoe box gifts have been delivered to children in Haiti, and in the last two years alone, more than 30,000 Haitian children have made decisions for Christ after participating in The Greatest Journey.

This is also quite an interesting article "Haiti awash in Christian aid, evangelism". It doesn't mention SP specifically, but is critical of organisations which go out with a mainly evangelical focus. Extract: "Bryan Schaaf, a former Peace Corps worker, said he ran into all kinds of missionaries when he was living in Haiti from 2000 to 2002. He recalled one American missionary man living in his village who quietly visited rural areas and helped Haitians build wells.

“They built this large network of wells that wouldn’t otherwise have been there,” said Schaaf. “It was a missionary family that was well accepted by the community, and using sound development principals.”

On the other hand, he said, another American missionary family in the village seemed to focus on countering his own efforts in health education. After he talked to young people in the village about birth control and prevention of AIDS, which is epidemic among Haitian youth, Schaaf learned that the missionaries were following up with a message of their own. “They would hold prayer circles with these adolescents to purge the evil thoughts of condoms from their minds,” he said.

Schaaf, who is back in the States and spends his spare time running a nonprofit consultancy called Haiti Innovation, derided missionaries who lack understanding or respect for Haitian culture and treat the country as their “spiritual sandbox.”

BlingBang Sat 12-Oct-13 18:10:49

Frankyin Graham is the head of the Samaritan's Purse. He draws or at least did a hefty wage for the privilege. He is also political in urging his followers and suppose people in general to vote for those candidates against abortion and same sex marriages. He seems to be vocal against Islam calling it evil etc. He calls women who have abortions murderers and homosexuals deviant.

If you want to support this guy and what he says and is trying to achieve then knock your socks off.

ancientbuchanan Sat 12-Oct-13 18:45:34


Thank you for your responses..

I like your story of the Imam, and wonder whether when you are thinking about your communications you would be able to say more about the sorts of organisations you work with. For example, are you prepared to work with Catholics? Some protestant evangelical organisationsl are not. If there is a dearth of churches ( and I can see why you would prefer to work through them) whom do you work through?

I'm not adding for information now but trying to be helpful; as below.

I think you should not underestimate the concerns about SP, OCC, it's not just a small group of people on MN. I suspect that having US presidential support at a time of war did not help in Europe, but it is much much broader than that. I think it would make a lot of difference if SP were able to say exactly what goes on and what doesn't, to myth bust but also to ensure that those who use it are content with methods used. You have, I fear, got a long hill to climb as I have heard these doubts expressed by those in other parts of the charity sector.

For what it's worth, although not economically sensible I do shoeboxes with children as it is a great way to get kids into charitable giving but more than that, as there are lots of way of doing that, also to bring home to them that lots of children are far worse off than them.

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 18:51:16

Personally I think it would make a huge difference if SP UK COMPLETELY cut ties with the US arm of the organisation.

ancientbuchanan - somewhere out in internet land is a story about how OCC/SP bussed a load of Catholic Young people off for a rally and then celebrated how many of them they had managed to get to leave the Catholic church........

Which is why I am amazed that my son's Catholic school does OCC every year.....

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 18:51:57

exexpat, some of the things that went on in Haiti after the earthquake would turn the stomach of even the most ardent supporter of Western "benevolence", for example, the US Baptists who kidnapped 10 Haitian children for adoption in the US - children who still had parents.

And this from Queen Latifah: "I just want to go and get some of them babies. If you got the hookup, please get me a couple of Haitian kids" shock.

Thank you for bringing this to people's attention.

And Bling, I sometimes have to pinch myself to remind myself that Franklin Graham is a real person and not a Steve Bell-type caricature.

ancientbuchanan Sat 12-Oct-13 19:13:31

Never, no!!!!


If true not just myth and I were your head I'd be doing rotary and cafod, or that clean up the Jordan getting Palestinian and Israeli kids to work together!

Yup, Haiti not brilliant, lots of disaster areas not brilliant either It's tricky. ( quite a lot of my family is involved in this world.)

ancientbuchanan Sat 12-Oct-13 19:15:04

Ps Brian, yes, when Ds off my hands would love to see a distribution at close quarters.

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 19:50:43

Found these quotes - I realise they are form a while ago and Brian will say it isn't like that now BUT....

Their poison isn't just directed at Muslims, they refer to Hindus as being "bound by Satan's power"[4] and were caught preying on Catholic earthquake victims in El Salvador in 2001- refusing them temporary homes provided by US AID unless they first attend a half hour evangelising "prayer" session. Afterwards Frankilin Graham gloated that in one village they converted 150 Catholics[5].

Samaritan's Purse used up potential relief money arranging an evangalical concert at the national baseball stadium in Managua. 50,000 children - mainly Catholics - were whisked away in rented buses to the stadium to listen to Graham, who flew in on a private jet, preach his brand of Christianity - asking them to accept Jesus as their saviour and be born again, and be rewarded with a shoebox of gifts and a Bible - the Catholic church was furious.[12]

And then I found THIS!!!

plummyjam Sat 12-Oct-13 19:58:33

What about making an ethical loan instead? [[ This]] organisation called Kiva allows you to make interest free loans to individuals and small businesses in developing countries.

You can choose who you loan to and when the business takes off, they pay you back and you can lend to somebody else. You can lend as little as £20 I think.

plummyjam Sat 12-Oct-13 19:59:32

Link didn't work properly.

BlingBang Sat 12-Oct-13 20:05:25

Given the controversy I wonder why any schools in the UK get involved with OCC when there are other similar options which don't seem to raise this amount of suspicion and debate.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 20:09:31

What a depressing article, never.

It's bad enough that shoeboxes are filled with tat that could probably be more cheaply produced in the destination country, but the fact that it is cheap, worthless rubbish is enough to break your heart.

One poster upthread (it might have been on the other, similar thread) even said she put in secondhand stuff. How insulting.

unlucky83 Sat 12-Oct-13 23:02:28

Suburban - both mine say it has to be new stuff - but actually I think something good quality, good condition but second hand might be better than cheap rubbish ...I got gloves for mine in primark - actually paid £2 a pair - but I could have got some for £1 - maybe it was even 2 pairs for £1 - the cheaper ones were really thin and flimsy - wouldn't keep your hands warm or last for very long - I wouldn't have bought them for me (even for a spare pair for in the car etc) - so I got the better ones ...
But maybe in a charity shop I could have got some better quality ones for the same price - or less ...would that have been insulting?

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 23:39:06

My, my, my, you have been busy while I've been away, haven't you?! So the debate has shifted from Operation Christmas Child to the organisation behind Operation Christmas Child - Samaritan's Purse - to our work in Haiti, to Franklin Graham's salary, his political views? You are now suggesting SP in the UK splits from SP in the US, that SP has an agenda against Muslims, Hindus and Catholics?

Let me ask you something, if this was all true, why is it that Operation Christmas Child continues to grow year on year, reaching more and more children with a gift-filled shoebox?

Do you think that government aid agencies would fund Samaritan's Purse programmes, as they do both here and in the US, if any of this was true?

I hate to break it to you but you can't trust what you read on the Internet; people can and do say anything about anyone, often twisting what is happening to suit their own agenda with impunity, but that is changing.

I am speaking the truth about Operation Christmas Child, I know the organisation, I know the people, I know their hearts, both those employed by Samaritan's Purse and those who give up so much of their time, both here and overseas, to bring joy into children's lives. This may not suit some of you in here and that's fine; I regret that there are some things we will never agree on. But I know that there are people watching this thread who are fed up with this annual debate and who are glad to see someone taking on those that seek to destroy the good work that we do....

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 23:43:54

ancientbuchanan, I'm not sure when your DS will be 'off your hands', I don't even know what a DS is (!) but feel free to send me an email on here if you want to discuss further...

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 23:45:53

SuburbanRhonda, if we see second hand articles in shoeboxes, these are removed and replaced with similar, new items donated from a variety of sources providing free 'fillers' for shoeboxes....

gooner1956 Sat 12-Oct-13 23:51:14

ancientbuchanan, on Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan's Purse works through National Leadership Teams (NLTs) which are set up in each country. Each NLT comprises church leaders from, typically, five different denominations active in their respective countries and it is their job to ensure broad participation in these counties. Being somewhat removed from specific country implementations, I don't know that we work with Catholic churches, but I don't know that we don't either!

Kind regards, Brian

PS. Thanks for your support!

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 23:54:17

Brian it is all one and the same... the reason I dislike and distrust OCC and SP so much is because of who is at the head of it all.

I'm out.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 00:04:12

Dear all, here is an extract from the Operation Christmas Child Guide I wrote for Parents and Teachers last week. It's long but I wanted you to have it, if only to balance the argument

Why we Speak of Hope

In accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN, and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, we are committed to religious freedom as a fundamental human right. Thus, every person has the right to form their own religious convictions or ideological commitment - free and undisturbed - and to exercise their religion or belief and act according to its laws, including advertising it.

As a Christian organisation, our work is motivated by our Christian convictions and allows for the direct or indirect explanation of the foundations of our faith. However, and vitally, we reject any form of coercion, manipulation or exploitation of an emergency or a person’s situation in order to share our faith.

In accordance with Article 14 of the UN Children's Convention we "respect the child's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion".

As Christians, as part of the worldwide Church of God, we believe that charity and love are entwined together and therefore we encounter people in need in both word and deed.

Our Commitment to Share our Faith Appropriately, with Respect
We are committed to the code of conduct, jointly produced by the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance, for 'Christian witness in a multi-religious world' on 29th June, 2011.

This is introduced with these words: "Mission belongs to the very being of the church. Proclaiming the word of God and witnessing to the world is essential for every Christian. At the same time, it is necessary to do so according to Gospel principles, with full respect and love for all human beings.”

Why we Talk about our Faith

The desire for vibrant, healthy relationships unites all people. However our reality is often shaped by the hopelessness of disturbed and disrupted relationships. Sustainable, reliable relationships therefore need to be restored.

This begins with our relationship with God, who introduces himself to us in the Bible - and Jesus Christ. By conquering death, Jesus offers renewal and the hope of life beyond death to anyone who wants it.

For us, if we fail to carry this message of hope, which is firmly established in the Bible, would be like depriving people of the opportunity to hear how their relationship with their Creator can be restored and how they can have hope.

Without this message of hope we can only offer short term help; with it we can offer long term hope. For Samaritan’s Purse help and hope go together. That is why we speak of faith.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 00:07:29

neverputasockinatoaster, before you go, please give me the background to your MN name?! There's wisdom there! Thanks, Brian

BlingBang Sun 13-Oct-13 00:16:01

Ok Brian, so Franklyn Graham who is the head of Samaritans Purse which runs OCC doesn't call women who have abortions murderers, doesn't state that homosexuals are deviant, actively campaigns against abortion and same sex weddings? Do you really think most UK parents even realise this, many seem to think OCC s run by The Samaritans.

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 13-Oct-13 00:29:07

Brian - I explained upthread about my name.

It is a quote from Eddie Izzard - a true comic genius. Franklyn Graham wouldn't like him though.........

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 00:41:49

BlingBang, you are right, Franklin Graham doesn't call women who have abortions 'murderers'! What he is reported as saying is: "Abortion is wrong. It is the murder of unborn children, and no law of the land and no party platform can ever legitimize it". No Bible-believing Christian would disagree with him. In Psalm 139 and verses 13-16, it is written:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I don't believe Franklin Graham has ever called a homosexual 'deviant'.

Are you suggesting that UK parents are universally pro-abortion and pro-gay? I'd like to see your evidence!

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 00:43:38

neverputasockinatoaster Sorry, you're right, you did tell me...sounds very wise!

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 00:57:25

OK peeps, it's time for bed! Maybe catch you again tomorrow? Night, night all!

BlingBang Sun 13-Oct-13 01:06:13

“There’s some of you here tonight who are guilty, guilty of murder. And there are some of you men ... you’re guilty because you’ve approved of what your girlfriend has done or what your wife has done or your sister has done,” he said. “You’ve approved it, and you’re guilty too.”

Sorry if this quote is wrong, you know how google is. Is this not accusing women who have abortions of murder?

"The consequences are frightening," he adds, citing Romans as it reads: "'God gave them over to degrading passions' including homosexuality, and 'gave them over to a depraved mind' (Romans 1:26, 28, NASB)."

FG never said this then?

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 01:29:37

Brian, you asked "Are you suggesting that UK parents are universally pro-abortion and pro-gay? I'd like to see your evidence!"

Not universally, but polls I have seen find that in particular opposition to same-sex marriage and general hostility to gay people is concentrated in the over-60s (who of course grew up while homosexuality was still criminalised), while a large majority of people of the age to have primary-age children (say 40s and younger) support same-sex marriage. Eg, Scottish opinion polls found that the highest levels of support for equal marriage were amongst women (70%), under 55s (75%) and families with children (74%) - I think that would cover a lot of parents. Another poll found that 62% of the UK population as a whole (so including a lot of the more conservative older people) supported gay marriage. I think Franklin Graham's views are certainly at odds with the majority of the British population, on this as on many things.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 01:34:40

Also, very few people in the UK are fundamentally opposed to abortion and the numbers are shrinking. Polls are more mixed about precisely what the cut-off date should be, but the hardline 'all abortion is murder' stance has very little support in the UK.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 01:39:38

I presume you (and most supporters of Samaritan's Purse) would fall into the one-third of 8% mentioned here.

"Factors such as gender, age and voting preference did not make much difference to attitudes on abortion. People who were most likely to be hostile towards it were those who believe in God with most certainty, rely most strongly on scripture or religious teaching for guidance, and whose religion has a strong anti-abortion message. Only 8% of the population fits this profile, according to the research, and one third of this 8% support a ban on abortion."

You really have to accept that your views are not mainstream, and therefore are not shared by the overwhelming majority of people whose children you are targeting to support your organisation.

Haven't read the last few pages....

But going back to the original OP

I do shoeboxes every year. Primarily to do an activity with the DCs to show that all children aren't as lucky as they are. I don't personally have any religious beliefs. If OCC et al want to shove a bible or whatever in there, so what? People make their own mind up about their faith.

The shoebox can also be perceived as a bit of a "novelty thing", you're probably more likely to get a couple of shoe boxes donated rather than folk parting with 30 quid of cold hard cash...although 30 quid does seem a lot, OP!!

Basically, you aren't gonna change the world if you send em or not, but I'll take the risk.

ravenAK Sun 13-Oct-13 03:37:58

You probably do need to RTFT, saladcream.

I would not allow my dc to do shoeboxes, as I want them to actually think about how they can help children who aren't as lucky as they are.

As Brian agreed up thread, no-one is suggesting that a shoebox packed with gifts to the value of £10 is going to HELP a child in need

Plenty of honest, genuine charities out there to support.

I'll leave you and Brian to it, I think.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 09:12:02

Morning, all! First, let me say a huge thank you to Bling, exexpat and never for taking the time to put this information out there, when Samaritans Purse and its spokepeople would rather it remained hidden.

I hope it makes at least a little impact on people like saladcream and her ilk, who prefer to bury their heads in the sand and presume that vulnerable, hungry children, whipped up into a frenzy as described by Brian himself upthread and signed up into a discipleship programme on the say-so of their parents, are capable of saying "no thanks, I prefer to keep my options open when it comes to organised religion".

We are the ones who should be saying no on their behalf, salad.

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 10:25:12

Morning Suburban and all!

There's a great clip on Youtube of Penn Jilette, who is an atheist titled "Penn Jilette gets the gift of a Bible". In it he eloquently makes the point that if someone truly believes they have knowledge about God & eternal life, they will share it and so they should. "How much would you have to hate someone to keep that kind of knowledge hidden?" he asks. I think this is what Brian is saying in his post above too.

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 10:48:13

Suburban - you say "First, let me say a huge thank you to Bling, exexpat and never for taking the time to put this information out there, when Samaritans Purse and its spokepeople would rather it remained hidden."

Really? What makes you say that? Why do you think Brian is on this thread openly engaging with it all?

Also, thanks for you post 12.10 yesterday clarifying your thoughts.
I may be missing the point when you are saying what you believe is not censorship, but if people are told when and where they can talk about their faith via shoeboxes / offer to pray, how is that not censorship?
Surely it is just like the attitude to homosexuality analogy that has been made previously, "Oh yes, homosexuality is fine. Just so long as there are no public displays, do it all in private". "Yes, talking about faith / prayer is fine. Just so long as there are no public mentions, do it all in private". Not really acceptance of other people's core beliefs and life style, is it?

It seems to me you and others are very against faith being seen in public and certainly against any OFFERS that might constitute proselytising. It would be very different if shoeboxes / food etc was only given if people signed up to a set of beliefs.

Finally, I still don't buy the argument that we must avoid offending others at all costs. (Of course I don't mean we can all go around causing maximum offence!!!! In RL I am like timidviper and don't talk about my faith much at all. I don't like evangelisation, but I do believe it is a very important right to have in a free country....).
Brian has already said that invites to church or whatever are not given out where it is not appropriate e.g. in a mosque. However, assuming a shoebox is given to two families, one is offended, but for the other it is a real joy. Why should the second family be deprived for the sake of the first? Or if a shoebox is given to 10 families and 9 are very happy but one is offended, what then? Or maybe the stats are the other way round and of 10 families, 9 are offended, but for one it all makes the difference? Should that one family still be deprived?

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 11:01:41

Beakysmum - I can quite understand that people who have strong beliefs would want to share them. However, there are times/places/ways to do that which are appropriate, and others which are inappropriate. My issues with OCC/Samaritan's Purse are that they do not draw the line in places where most other people would.

Issues I have are:

1) They solicit donations of shoeboxes from people who do not share their beliefs which are then used to promote their version of Christianity
2) They do not make it clear to schools/parents/donors in general that their boxes are going to be put to evangelistic purposes
3) Samaritan's Purse has a history of using aid work as a vehicle for evangelism. This is widely condemned as unethical by mainstream charities and governments.

It is easy to say that people can accept the aid/shoeboxes and reject the religious message, but can you not see that if an organisation goes into an impoverished, underdeveloped or disaster-struck area bearing gifts or medicine in one hand, and a bible in the other, there is a strong feeling of obligation on the part of the recipients, who are in a very vulnerable position?

Free 'no obligation' gifts are a common marketing tactic even in the cynical, marketing-aware, overprivileged West, because they still work. How much more effective must they be on people who are not exposed to marketing and commercial excess on a daily basis?

If you want to evangelise, go out and evangelise - but surely it is better and more honest to rely on the strength of the message itself to win converts, rather than drawing them in with material benefits?

alemci Sun 13-Oct-13 11:03:17

Great post Beaky.

You make some sensible points.

As I posted upthread surely if the shoe boxes bring joy to people who have nothing then it is a positive and is the greater good. It sounds like Brian does understand that heavy handed evangelism isn't good and as long as it is done within the local church network who know the culture and concerns surely is it not a reasonable scenario.

Would posters rather no one supported the shoe boxes anymore.

I do understand about Franklyn Graham being heavy handed being a negative. Chatting to my friend last night about OCC. She said that Billy Graham wrote a fantastic book called Angels.

I do wonder if on this thread if any other group or religion were doing this it would be fine but because it is a christian organisation then it is a bad thing?

People have died for their faith. In China christians take tremendous risks to have house churches which are frowned on by the government. There is tremendous growth in the church.

In the UK we have so much so we don't need to depend on God in the same way but people who have nothing may have a greater need.

I do understand it is a personal belief and as a christian I have a biased perspective.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 11:13:02

Alemci - there are other shoebox or similar schemes run by other organisations, some of which are Christian (eg Link to Hope, Mary's Meals), some of which are not (eg Rotary). People do not direct the same criticism at them as at OCC because all the other schemes make a point of distributing the boxes with no strings or religious baggage attached, even those run by Christians. OCC is the only one which uses shoeboxes as a direct tool for evangelism, which is why it is the focus of so much criticism.

alemci Sun 13-Oct-13 11:20:52

thanks expatsmile

I can see both sides. maybe they do need to rein it in a bit (apologies if it is the wrong spelling)

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 13:01:17

Thanks alemci.

And good last post exexpat. I do agree there are times and places for evangelism and times and places where it is inappropriate.

I thi k a good thing to come out of this thread is that Occ now have a new leaflet making their beliefs clear and hopefully that will be widely available. People haveevery right to know what they are supporting.

I don't think it was clear before but I don't think that was deliberate on OCCs part.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 14:11:31

You're welcome, beaky.

We obviously don't agree about the definition of censorship. If I read your post right, you feel anyone questioning the offering of prayers is guilty of censorship. If an organisation offered to say a prayer for an individual who has not requested it, but also says they pray privately at the end of the day, and someone else says, "Why not just say the prayers at the end of the day?", that's censorship.

I'm worried that you seem to think anyone who doesn't believe praying and evangelising is ok under any circumstances must be a supporter of censorship. No-one is saying that people's religious views should be hidden away and I find it offensive that you have linked this with the persecution of lesbians and gays.

Religious people are not being forbidden from being religious. They are not even being asked not to share their religious views with others. Just have some boundaries, people!

BlingBang Sun 13-Oct-13 15:04:51

Really my issue is more with Franklyn Graham and what he stands for and what he would like to achieve. These people scare me and if they had the power would take away a lot of the freedoms that we value and impose their view of what is moral according to their beliefs in a rigid view of Christianity. I think of those picketing abortion clinics shouting at and intimidating women trying to enter, some taking it to extremes and harming the doctors and workers. To me they are extremists and fundamentalists and I don't trust their brand of religion.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 15:10:52

Couldn't agree more, Bling.

If he wasn't real, you couldn't make him up sad

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 16:38:40

Suburban -
maybe censorship is the wrong word. What word would you use for the curtailing of others activities and imposing restrictions on those activities?
And having looked at the Oxford dictionary definition of censorship it is all about "suppressing unacceptable parts" of books etc. Seems to me that is what some people are seeking to do with religious activity. Those people may think the activity is unacceptable, but that's all part of having free speech in a free country.

Having said all that, I do agree with you - have some boundaries people!

And I don't think that praying and evangelising is ok under any circumstances. See my post today 13.01.
Neither do I want to be associated with Franklyn Graham or a lot of american stuff. Extremists and fundamentalists as you say. But all part of free speech.

I'm guessing you don't have much experience of prayer, so I'll try to explain why Christians see praying for a person privately later as a different activity to praying directly with the person and therefore why they would want to be able to OFFER both types of prayer....
I think a parallel would be if person A was having an issue with a friend or colleague (person B). A third person C might say, "I'll have a word with B" but the person would never know whether they did or not and it would be a very different experience to one where person C spends time supporting A and accompanies them to discuss issues with B.
Or perhaps if person A was having an operation they were worried about, a friend might say, "I'll think of you ", which is nice, but nothing like actually showing support and accompanying them to hospital / looking after their plants or whatever.

I understand you might not see why I link restrictions on religion with restrictions on sexuality, but restrictions are restrictions. I have a good gay friend who happens to be a Christian too. He says that when we met 20 years ago, it was easier for him to talk about his faith than his sexuality. That balance has changed over the years and now he finds that talking about his sexuality and his civil partnership is easy in most places, but that talking about his faith is becoming much harder.

I don't think we'll agree on these issues of faith and where they can be expressed, but it is good to understand each other's viewpoints.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:22:57

Afternoon all, got some catching up to do!

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:26:25

Blingblang, I don't know where you got that quote from? As for what Franklin quoted from scripture, do you have a problem with that? He is quoting the Apostle Paul, do you have a problem with him too?!

Glad I'm back, you guys are incorrigible! Brian

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:40:43

Exexpat, I'd like to see those polls, who conducted the survey/s, who was surveyed, that kind of thing. You have heard the maxim: Lies, damn lies and statistics? I have done a lot of research in my time and I would have found it so easy to skew results, if I had had a mind to do so. The way questions are worded, the way they are asked, who is asked and who is conducting the analysis are key considerations for quality research...

I don't doubt that Franklin Graham's views are at odds with the many people in the UK, we live in a post-Church age, but I question the overwhelming support you say people in the UK have for gay marriage. The furore when David Cameron forced that agenda through Parliament when he had no mandate from the Electorate to do so suggests he may be in trouble at the next Election. I certainly won't be voting for him next time around!

And let me say this again. I have already told you and others that I believe homophobia is a sin; as a Christian, I am not here to judge anyone but to show God's love for all humanity. I have gay friends and I have a real heart for what they are going through and have sought to understand why. God loves them but loves them too much to see them continue in that lifestyle; I have never met a gay person who, when you get to really know them, is truly comfortable with that lifestyle. Brian

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:43:50

Good on you salad! Appreciate your support.... Brian

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:45:16

Hey ravenak is back! Still quoting me out of context I see...

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:50:57

Why is it that when anyone shows any kind of support for OCC there are people on this thread who seek to ridicule them, shut them up and drive them away. You know who you are!

What happened to people being entitled to hold their own opinion and allowing others to do the same. It's called tolerance and this place would be all the more interesting and dynamic for more of that!


gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:53:26

Good on you beakysmum, great post!

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:54:49

Hey Alemci, another great post, thank you!

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 18:09:47

Blingbang, if you ever had the chance to meet Franklin Graham you would find him a gentle, quiet, courteous man, a man who is passionate about God and who has great compassion for people. This isn't the kind of image being portrayed of him in Mumsnet, but it is the truth. I have met him several times and I have to tell you I do not understand why there are people in Mumsnet who have such a dislike for him.

Who are the people who 'scare' you? What are you scared of? I have to ask: 'What freedoms do you value that you are so scared of losing?' I genuinely want to know... Thanks, Brian

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sun 13-Oct-13 18:22:20

I have never met a gay person who, when you get to really know them, is truly comfortable with that lifestyle. Brian



Keep talking, Brian, you are doing more damage to your cause than you could imagine. Before I read your daft witterings I thought the worst thing about the shoeboxes were their massive impracticality and inefficiency.

kiriwawa Sun 13-Oct-13 18:33:15

I'm usually on these threads every year but couldn't be arsed with the bunfight this year.

I'm delighted to see that you've hoisted yourself upon your own petard Brian at last. Schools have a duty under the Equality Act. So I think this is OCC off to Room 101.


Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 18:42:01

Somehow I doubt this is the real Brian on here.

Strumpetron Sun 13-Oct-13 18:43:10

Probably been said but I hate Operation Christmas Child because it uses the needs of the children to force religion.

ravenAK Sun 13-Oct-13 18:50:42

Not out of context, Brian.

Just keep these little gems coming.

Although I'm definitely starting to wonder if you're actually One of Us - one rationale behind your posts would be that you're not, in fact, Brian Bennett at all, but a troll who dislikes OCC more than any of us & is playing a long game to totally discredit them wink.

ravenAK Sun 13-Oct-13 18:51:08

x-post Coupon! grin.

Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 18:52:44

Samaritans Purse is a fundamentalist organisation (i.e. they take the Bible literally word-for-word). You can spot this straight away at the start of the Statement of Faith "We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God." This approach definitely doesn't represent all Christians.

Statement of Faith


Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 18:54:59

Having said that about fundamentalism, much as I disagree with that form of religion, I can see OCC are attempting to help the poor in the way they believe to be best. So I have mixed feelings about it confused I think I'd rather donate to Christian Aid though.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 19:06:55

Brian - there have been many, many polls on same-sex marriage, asking different combinations of questions, some obviously biased one way or another, some trying to be neutral. The results therefore obviously vary, but if you put them all together, there is no doubt that many more people in the UK support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

Amongst Conservative voters, the ratio may tip very slightly towards opposition, but only slightly see this yougov poll which gives you the option to click on tabs to break down results by voting intention - while overwhelming majorities of Labour and LibDem voters support it. Even most of the Conservative voters who oppose gay marriage are not planning to change their voting intentions because of it, though I imagine UKIP will pick up support from some of them.

That poll doesn't break down by age, but all the polls I have seen show strongest support amongst people in their 20s, declining with age. Women are more supportive than men, and Scots are more supportive than the rest of the UK (one of the polls I linked to was a Scottish one).

Where Cameron has more of a problem is probably amongst paid-up members of the Conservative party, who are overwhelming older (average age 68) and socially conservative, and therefore in the group least supportive of same-sex marriage. I think it was quite brave of David Cameron to push through something which has public support but goes against some of the more traditional elements of his party (it's about the only thing he has done which I approve of); perhaps the growing lobby of gay Conservative MPs had something to do with it.

BlingBang Sun 13-Oct-13 19:08:11

Yes, have been wondering if Brian is who he says he is.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 19:12:52

Oh, and I am also shock at Brian's statement that "I have never met a gay person who, when you get to really know them, is truly comfortable with that lifestyle."

For what its worth, I have one couple of gay friends who have been together for 40 years and seem pretty damn comfortable with their lifestyle, actually.

I think part of the problem may be that someone like Brian, who probably lives and works in an environment populated entirely by evangelical Christians, rarely encounters anyone with fundamentally different views and lifestyles.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 19:17:33

It is tempting to think this might be a particularly ingenious and drawn-out troll, but I think the appearance of the new schools leaflet on the OCC website does seem to indicate that he is genuine.

Brian, would you like to do something to confirm that you are actually who you say you are? I think someone on this thread or the other one mentioned your twitter account - maybe you could tweet something to confirm it.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sun 13-Oct-13 19:27:01

I think he is almost certainly genuine, but I have reported him to MNHQ - they can shoot him an email and he can confirm to them very easily.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 20:16:58

beaky, because you've now resorted to sarcasm, I reckon you know you're being unreasonable. After all, if, as you say, you agree that there are times when evangelism is inappropriate but that seems to be ok when you say it, how can it then be "censorship" when someone else says it? There is definitely a word for that wink

And by the way, you couldn't be further from the mark by guessing that I "don't have much experience of prayer".

Anyway, just wanted to say I'm so pleased to hear you have a gay friend because that makes you an authority on gay issues, doesn't it? A bit like our friend Brian, with all his desperately unhappy gay mates smile

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 21:26:57

LOL Suburban, I definitely wasn't intending to be sarcastic!

I was thinking as I typed that there are times when evangelism is inappropriate, I wonder what I define them as? I''ll probably be mulling that over for a while, but off the top of my head I would say it's inappropriate
- when the person(s) targeted have made it clear that they do not wish to engage
- in a work context
- when there is co-ersion involved (you will only get X if you sign up).
- when you are with people in a setting of another religion (e.g. mosque / synagogue / church).

However, so far all these situations are already covered by existing guidelines or law, so why are we looking to restrict religious activity further? Especially within religious charities? And what is the word if it's not censorship?!

I think the difficulty is that where you would like religion limited is within religious charities. These charities are run by volunteers mostly, giving of their time and money and they should be allowed to run as they see fit.

okay, okay, I think it ok to OFFER prayer and give church invites with shoe boxes (do marketing / evangelism) so long as it is done sensitively, while you don't as you feel it exploits the vulnerable. I guess we're not going to agree smile.

Apologies for assuming you did not have much experience of prayer, but you will perhaps then understand why people are keen to offer both prayer with a person and prayer at a later date.

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 21:28:27

PS I have more than one gay friend too!!!!!!! Must be a real expert!

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:04:28

Ok, beaky, my claws are back in now wink

The only point I would strongly disagree with in your post is where you say that because volunteers give their time and money (not sure what you mean about the latter), that means they "should be able to run as they see fit".

So let me get this right. Are you actually saying that in your view, volunteers, uniquely amongst employees, should be allowed free rein to work to their own rules, because they are volunteers?

Please tell me this isn't what you meant.

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 22:10:37

Haha yes, Suburban, just been talking about this to DH.....

No I certainly don't mean that being a volunteer gives a person the right to do whatever they want, be that kiddy fiddling, theft, or anything else at all!!!

But then those would be crimes that are already covered by law. That's kinda what I meant in my 21.26 post about inappropriate evangelism.

I just think that it should be possible to offer prayer & invites to a religious event if you are working for a religious charity and not limit what that charity wants to do.

(Though actually I do totally take on board your concerns about exploiting people in vulnerable situations. )

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 22:13:26

Hello dear friends, I have already told you that I believe homophobia is a sin and that I am not homophobic. I also told you that I have met and know several gay people who, when they're being totally honest with me AND with themselves, tell me that they are, deep down, desperately unhappy with their lifestyle. That's why I said what I said.

I thought I'd do a quick search on Google to find reputable support for my position

Check out: and you will find an NHS article entitled:

Studies show that lesbian, gay and bisexual people show higher levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings than heterosexuals.

Check out: and you will find an article entitled:

Breaking the taboo over the mental health crisis among Britain's gay men

I believe the NHS and The Guardian newspaper to be reputable sources, you may disagree - you probably will - but I believe what I know and have experienced is not as outrageous as you would have me believe.


beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 22:18:38

I have a question....

What do you and others think about other things organised by religious organisations, as they usually include some invite to that religion or some info about that religion, so are ultimately proselytising?

So I'm thinking about all the summer holiday clubs, toddler groups, football clubs etc etc that churches especially offer. They often have a "God slot" during them, or an invite to a service later or whatever. Is that wrong? Or is that ok because there is less of a power imbalance between those offering the fun activities and those taking them up than there is with shoe boxes and food banks?

How should churches evangelise? (Bearing in mind you probably think they shouldn't at all, but should all be vaporised wink)
Someone said earlier that relying on the message itself would be better and more honest, but doesn't that take us to people standing on street corners shouting the message (which I loathe).

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:20:05

The problem I see is that in certain areas, religious organisations have the monopoly on provision of services (food banks is one). I would prefer there to be more secular provision, i.e. services that are independent of religion and therefore represent all religions and none, so that I could donate to a charity or (in my work) signpost someone to a service knowing there is no religious agenda to complicate the issue.

Some rather pompous posters have suggested the reason there are no secular services is because it is only Christians who can be "bothered" to provide these services. Sadly, the explanation is not that simple.

But because there are so many religious charities and services, I really feel they should make more of an effort, not less, to think about what the vulnerable person might want or need, not what their own wants and needs are.

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 22:24:02

Yes, I really agree with all you've just said.

And it's hardly loving or charitable to force your own agenda on those you think you are helping.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:27:07

That's a very funny post, Brian, bearing in mind what you posted upthread about never believing everything you read on the internet.

Be honest, Brian, you've been absent from this thread because you've just spent hours dredging up articles to support your pernicious views on homosexuality. Shame on you.

kiriwawa Sun 13-Oct-13 22:28:53

beakys - personally I think that's different because you might expect a spot of proselytizing if you go to Messy Church or something. What makes OCC different is that it's sneaky and its without parental consent.

Brian - I have nothing but disdain for your position on homosexuality. And I do believe this is a very good reason for no State school to have nothing to do with OCC.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 22:30:44

SuburbanRhonda, we should be grateful for Christians and Christian Churches who can be 'bothered' to provide foodbanks. In much the same way that Christians and Christian Churches in the past 'bothered' to provide social services, education and healthcare; it was Christians and Christian Churches who 'bothered; to take the initiative to build care homes, orphanages, hospitals, schools and universities.

Maybe we should leave food banks where they are, and be grateful for the Christians and Christian Churches who are running them.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:32:04

beaky, entente cordiale declared, I think! smile

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 22:33:16

SuburbanRhonda you are priceless; I have been out all afternoon and it is only when I came back and saw the vitriole against me that I did a quick Google Search - took all of one minute. Brian

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:35:21

Brian, it is not about being "bothered" and you know it.

It is a trade-off between giving up your time to provide the service and getting the bums on seats that your organisation and others insist on in their "mission statements".

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:37:13

'Course it did, Brian.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sun 13-Oct-13 22:37:41

FWIW MNHQ got back to me and apparently Brian "checks out".

It's nice to see the old adage of giving someone enough rope to hang themselves proved so true.

What an unpleasant "charity".

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 22:38:40

Suburban - Yay! smile

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:39:57

Thanks for letting us know, HoldMeCloser.

Still no less depressing just because he's on here talking to us, though sad

trockodile Sun 13-Oct-13 22:41:45

Brian, so far I have not seen a lot of Christlike behaviour from you. You have been patronising, passive aggressive and generally unlike able. You have certainly done nothing to change my mind on the ethics of shoebox charity.

I know a lot of gay people, both in real life and as Facebook and twitter friends. Without exception the ones who are damaged and have suffered problems is because of bullying, exclusion, being abandoned by their familiy and the church and people like you telling them that who they are and who they love is not acceptable to God. The only thing that Jesus tells us to do is love our neighbour and to not judge. He makes no mention of the 'love the sinner, hate the sin' mentality which so many Christians piously hide behind.

I don't agree with everything Steve Chalke says or does, but I have enormous respect for the fact that he is prepared to examine and challenge his traditional evangelical beliefs and to acknowledge the harm these views have caused.
I will copy and paste these here in the hope that it counters some of the harm your views could potentially do.
A Pastoral Plea
Why am I so passionate about this issue? Because people's lives are at stake. Numerous studies show that suicide rates among gay people, especially young people, are comparatively high. Church leaders sometimes use this data to argue that homosexuality is unhealthy when tragically it's anti-gay stigma, propped up by Church attitudes, which, all too often, drives these statistics.

I believe that when we treat homosexual people as pariahs and push them outside our communities and churches; when we blame them for what they are; when we deny them our blessing on their commitment to lifelong, faithful relationships, we make them doubt whether they are children of God, made in his image.

So, I face a hard choice; a choice between the current dominant view of what scripture tells us about this issue and the one I honestly think it points us to. This is why I seek to speak and write openly and, I hope, graciously, to encourage a compassionate, respectful and honest conversation that might lead to our churches becoming beacons of inclusion.

None of this is to point the finger at others. I have remained silent, for fear of damaging important relationships. Even in this I realise my self-centredness, for no rejection I might suffer is anything compared to what so many homosexual people endure all their lives.

I understand that there are those who will take other views to me. I respect their right to differ graciously with me just as I try to do the same with them. However, I believe that as the leader of a local church, a charity and many thousands of young people in schools and staff around the country and the world, I am called to offer support, protection, and blessing in the name of Christ, the king of justice, reconciliation, and inclusion, who beckons each one of us out of isolation into the joy of faithful relationship.

Rather than condemn and exclude, can we dare to create an environment for homosexual people where issues of self-esteem and wellbeing can be talked about; where the virtues of loyalty, respect, interdependence and faithfulness can be nurtured, and where exclusive and permanent same-sex relationships can be supported?

Tolerance is not the same as Christ-like love. Christ-like love calls us to go beyond tolerance to want for the other the same respect, freedom, and equality one wants for oneself. We should find ways to formally support and encourage those who are in, or wish to enter into, faithful same-sex partnerships, as well as in their wider role as members of Christ's body.

I end where I started; in the coming months there will be huge and often heated debate around gay marriage. I am committed to listening and trying to understand the intricacies of the arguments on both sides. But, whatever the outcome and whichever side of the debate we find ourselves on, my hope is that as Christians we face what I think is the central issue - what does real, Christ-like, inclusion look like?"

beakysmum Sun 13-Oct-13 22:42:37

kiriwawa - interesting point. I suppose I would view anything "given" by any religion would probably have strings attached, whether a club or a shoe box. I must be cynical! Nowt for free, is there?

But I guess it's all part of marketing an organisation. Like Chuggers, no-one particularly likes them, but they have a job to do.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 22:43:52

SuburbanRhonda I don't know if you are a Christian or not but if you were you would understand what motivates Christians and Christian organisations to act the way that they do. Especially evangelical Christians and evangelical Christian organisations...if you are not a Christian, it would explain the angst you (and others) feel and express when you see Christians doing what they do!

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 22:46:32

Brian, has it possibly occurred to you that the reason many gay people have suffered from depression, suicidal feelings etc is because people like you have repeatedly told them that their feelings go against the bible, they are unnatural, sinful, shameful etc, and they have felt the need to hide their sexuality? I think that would be enough to make anyone depressed and despairing.

However, I presume much of the data now available would relate to people who grew up in earlier, less tolerant decades - thankfully much has changed now, so I would expect that in future, far fewer gay people will have those mental health issues.

I was born around the time when homosexuality was decriminalised, but as I was growing up, it was still seen as a bit scandalous if a public figure was revealed to be gay (lots of scandals in the 70s, and even 80s and 90s). Many of my gay friends did not feel able to come out at school, or even at university in some cases. Now, however, it has all changed. There is still intolerance and homophobia in places, of course, but we have openly gay MPs (mine is one - it was not remotely an issue when he was running for election), gay teachers (the deputy head of my children's CofE primary school was in a civil partnership with one of the other teachers), of course many gay celebrities, and many teenagers are not surprisingly much more confident about being open about their orientation. I hope that for my children's generation, whether someone is straight or gay will be of as little importance as what kind of music they like or whether they are good at sport.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sun 13-Oct-13 22:47:15

"So what anyone thinks on issues like homosexuality, abortion and evolution is really unimportant; it's only what God says that will stand the test of time."

Right. So Leviticus 18:22 is God's unchanging wisdom that passes down the ages, whereas in Leviticus 19:19 he was just... having a laugh?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:51:31

It's not "angst" Brian. It's disbelief that people like you can be so arrogant that you think if you provide a service, you are entitled to wrap it up with religion, regardless of who your target audience is.

Just out of interest, Brian, do your gay friends know that you are posting links to articles about mental health problems amongst gay people, in order to justify your view that their lifestyle is wrong?

trockodile Sun 13-Oct-13 22:53:10

Another fabulous quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu mirrors my view on the subject;

""I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place," Archbishop Tutu said at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town.

"I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.""

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 22:53:32

trockodile, what a moving article.

If only OCC and its ilk had the strength of character to speak out in this way.

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 22:59:20

Brian, please read this: Learning to truly love our gay son

Can you honestly say that the story would have had the same ending if the parents' religious beliefs had not made them attempt to 'cure' their son?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:10:50

Exexpat, that is truly heartbreaking.

All gone quiet in Brian's camp, I see.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:21:51

SuburbanRhonda I have repeatedly stated that I do not judge people, least of all my friends. While working in Switzerland, I was confronted by a gay man, he told me I would not like him. I asked him why. He said that I was a Christian and that he was gay. I hadn't told him I was a Christian! I then asked why he thought I, as a Christian, would not like him. He then said: 'Because God hates homosexuals'.

I was horrified. I told him that while the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin, I told him that it wasn't the only sin mentioned in the Bible! I told him that I also sinned, that I was no different, that I sinned every day. The only difference between us was that I believed Jesus had paid the price for my sin, that I could repent and receive forgiveness. He burst into tears. He told me that his father had been a CofE vicar who had disowned him and thrown him out of his home, telling him that he would 'burn in hell'. He and I became close friends and we shared much together. Before I returned home I gave him a copy of a book: What's so amazing about Grace? I don't know if he read it but the thought was there. Was that prosletysing? Was that evangelising? I don't know. What I do know is, for the first time, that man knew he was loved by God and that God had made it possible for my friend to know Him as I do.....

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:28:13

You told a gay man that the bible says homosexuality is sin? Are you for real? shock

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:35:34

SuburbanRhonda, he told me that God hates homosexuals; I told him that God does not hate the homosexual, He hates the sin. I also quickly told him that even though I was a Christian, I was also a sinner, that my sin and his sin were no different - that any sin separates man from God, and this was why God hates sin. God desires relationship with those He has created and He has made a way, through Jesus. Without Jesus' death at Calvary, without Jesus taking upon Himself the punishment for our sin, we would have no way to the Father. Now, through repentance and faith, we can have relationship with the living God. Amen!

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 13-Oct-13 23:41:46

Ummm Brian.....

I'm a Christian......

I don't like what the OCC do...... I didn't like it when the Catholic church went out with its missionaries in the past and I don't like it now......

Help? YES. Offer conditional help? Hell NO!

And now I have been sucked back in when I said I was out! Curses.

BTW - I know large numbers of Gay people. Very few of them feel uncomfortable with their lifestyle and those that do feel uncomfortable have been made to feel that way by others telling them they were wrong.

To my mind the best bit of evangelising a Christian can do is to be seen to be quietly 'Christ like'. Letting the Lord shine through because of their actions and NOT by telling everybody about it.

I frequently ask myself WWJD (What would Jesus do?) but I don't need to wear those words on my wrist to let eveyone else know I keep asking that......

And now I am going to my bed.

Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 23:43:48

I'll be watching Stephen Fry's programme Out There this week. Monday and Wednesday, BBC2 at 9pm.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:44:14

You wrote that you told a gay man that the bible says homosexuality is a sin. Are you now denying that?

And have I read your second post right (something of a stream of consciousness, iykwim)? Did you tell this gay man that everything would be ok provided he repented his gayness?

trockodile Sun 13-Oct-13 23:45:24

Seriously Brian? You can't see that you are proving the point that homophobic religious beliefs are what damage gay people? Who are you to tell someone that they are a sinner?
Perhaps you could have the humility to admit that you are not God-that you do not know or understand His views-and that based on a few ambiguous verses in the bible which may be mis-translated you could be wrong about this issue-the same way past Christians have misinterpreted slavery/woman's rights/blood transfusions/inter-racial marriage and Apartheid.

Coupon Sun 13-Oct-13 23:45:38

Not all Christians believe homosexuality is a sin, Brian.

Several LGBT Christian groups in the UK listed here...

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:47:16

Neverputasockinatoaster just to correct something you said, there is nothing conditional about a child receiving a gift-filled shoebox through Operation Christmas Child, no obligation to take leaflets, no need to sign a 'pledge', no requirement to start discipleship classes. They haven't even got to accept the shoebox gift but they all do, and they are overjoyed! Brian

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:47:37

He told me on the other thread that he's gone to bed. No stamina, these evangelical Christians grin

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:48:42

Brian, you told me you'd gone to bed! That was a lie!

exexpat Sun 13-Oct-13 23:54:32

"God does not hate the homosexual, He hates the sin."

So if you are gay, your two non-sinful choices would be either to be celibate your entire life, or to try to cure yourself of being gay? And you wonder why the gay men you meet are depressed...

Have you read the article I linked to, by the way? That is the outcome of your sort of thinking.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:57:01

I'm going to bed, I have to be up at 5.30am to get to the office for 8.00am. You can read what I have written. I have nothing to add and I will not be drawn into anything further tonight by the massed ranks of Mumsnet posters! Sleep well, Brian

I manage to persuade more peo0ple every year to boycott the bullshit peddlers of OCC. With a bit of luck this unpleasant bunch of crap-peddlers will soon lose their charitable status and may even be shut down.

And if it's true, as someone upthread was suggesting, that food banks are allowing crap-peddlers to evangelise over the food distribution, that's very worrying. Those dealing with desperate, vulnerable people should be obliged to keep their silly superstitions to themselves - it's an abuse of power to try to push your imaginary friend on someone who has no choice but to listen to you and obey you in order to get food.

ravenAK Mon 14-Oct-13 00:22:06

Oh dear.

Not your best night's work, Brian.

If I were your line manager, & had read this thread, 8am would not be a happy time.

Since I'm not, I'd like to thank you sincerely for helping us to keep this corrupt organisation out of our schools. Your posts are invaluable.

AliaTheEvilLeaper Mon 14-Oct-13 00:58:16

it's an abuse of power to try to push your imaginary friend

See, it's posts like THAT that push people the opposite way and make them not listen to what you're trying to say.
I do an OCC gift box every year and have done for the past three or so years.
I don't care if, in appropriate places,giving out Christian leaflets in churches (no shit, Sherlock hmm happens.
It's a Christian organisation, Of COURSE they're going to give out material in church based distribution centres.
I have no issue with that.
Christmas, for all extent and purposes, is a Christian celebration. (Yes, blah blah it has other roots as well before someone 'starts.')
Although it has to be said if Brian really is an OCC representative (as it's hard to tell as we could say we're anyone on an open forum) then he'd do better shutting the heck up as his gay vitriol is not doing his cause any good.

So, mumsnet police, am I allowed to do these bloody boxes or not??

I am confused now because Raven and Brian were on the same side last night and now they're not sad confused

If one of you pm me I will send you the money so you can distribute it as you see fit. Failing that, I will not do boxes and buy my DS some Duplo.

Everyone's a winner, whatever you decide xxxxx

trockodile Mon 14-Oct-13 02:31:07

Salad cream-it is entirely up to you what you should give to. Personally I feel something like this or this is probably more helpful, cost efficient and environmentally friendly but it is your choice-and you could always buy the duplo and donate it when your DS is older.
I am not telling anyone what they should do-only asking for transparency from OOC. I do think that schools should properly research the charities they support and manipulate children and parents into donating to without giving them all the facts.

Thanks for that Trockodile, I will look at those sites and see what we can do smile

Far more motivating than being referred to as "salad and her ilks" (take note Surburban) (Shouldn't have told DH though, he's been asking where my "ilks" are all day. Very tiresome wink)

I try not to post on mumsnet very often as I always end up getting told off <don't own any flame-proof clothing>

Ah well.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 14-Oct-13 07:27:36

It's "ilk", salad - there's no plural, but ok, fair point.

It's just that in your post, you seemed to think it was a case of "Why not - it can't do any harm?" and I'd had enough of that on my thread about food banks.

But I appreciate it's a testament to the methodology of OCC that they manage to get people to believe it's all harmless do-gooding, while peddling the scheme in primary schools, FFS.

If they were a political organisation, not a religious one, we'd be up in arms even more than some of us already are wink.

bryonywhisker Mon 14-Oct-13 07:39:50

Sod the boxes, donate to your local food bank instead, so a child in your area can go to bed without gnawing hunger to add to their other problems

merrymouse Mon 14-Oct-13 07:49:26

I am a member of a group that provides services. We all get together and vote every 5 years for who we think should be in charge and how they should spend our money, then every month we give them some money, on a sliding scale, depending on how much we can afford, (and there are other ways of donating too) and the services are allocated according to need.

I have to say the whole thing has gone a bit skewiff recently, but hopefully things will get back on course soon. Just a problem getting competent people to volunteer to run it all really.

alemci Mon 14-Oct-13 08:34:58

Trocodilo great post, I feel that Steve Chalke was brave to re examine the churches stance and I have read his article. I listened to him speak 20 years' ago at Spring Harvest but can't remember what onsmile

OOH is this debate really that relevant to OCC and the work it does abroad? Did Franklin Graham say these things recently on the site and I think they should be removed.

I think though our society is a bit obsessive about sex and peoples sexuality. Perhaps some people want to be celibate or they feel God has called them to be that way. Is sex the be all and end all of everyone's lives.

Remember the evangelical wing of the church is anti sex before marriage as well which I don't agree with. Both my dd's take this line and it makes me unhappy.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 14-Oct-13 08:37:35

I don't think it is society that is obsessed about what people get up to in bed - it's the church.

They must be the only employer who stipulates that if one of their employees is gay, they are not permitted to engage in a sexual relationship with their partner, or anyone.

I was horrified. I told him that while the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin, I told him that it wasn't the only sin mentioned in the Bible! I told him that I also sinned, that I was no different, that I sinned every day. The only difference between us was that I believed Jesus had paid the price for my sin, that I could repent and receive forgiveness.

So being in a civil partnership with my wife and raising our DD together is no worse than stealing or murdering, and God will forgive me for it?

How very understanding and tolerant. As has been said up thread, Brian, the reason we are more stressed and depressed is that we have to deal with the responses of intolerant members of society.

I take it that you also avoid shellfish, don't wear blended fabrics and avoid menstruating women?

Coupon Mon 14-Oct-13 09:16:45

> I don't think it is society that is obsessed about what people get up to in bed - it's the church.

It's some churches, definitely not all, and some people.

exexpat Mon 14-Oct-13 10:22:09

Alemci - Franklin Graham recently urged Operation Christmas Child supporters in the US to go out and support Chick-Fil-A, a restaurant chain which was being boycotted by many people because of its owner's statements against same-sex marriage and general anti-gay attitude. This is on the Samaritan's Purse website and apparently the same appeal went out to people on the OCC supporters mailing list.

I'm not sure if there is any other overtly anti-gay stuff on the website (I have spent far too much time on there, but haven't read every page...) but I really can't see what business an 'international relief organisation' has in getting involved in the debate on same-sex marriage in the US.

alemci Mon 14-Oct-13 10:30:10

thanks Exepat,

had a quick look and need to go out and food shop smile

I agree they shouldn't be getting involved in this, too political.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 14-Oct-13 11:10:52

Sorry, coupon, of course you're right. Some churches are worse than others and it's usually the evangelical ones who are the most obsessed, because they want to change everyone else's lifestyle to match theirs <shudder>

trockodile Mon 14-Oct-13 11:20:53

I'm glad people are interested by the Steve Chalke article -as I said, I certainly don't share all his views, particularly that on pre-marital sex etc but I am impressed that he is willing to re-think on controversial issues. IMO nothing is more depressing than someone so blinkered that they cannot at least admit the possibility that their view maybe wrong or that there is stuff they do not know-or that changing their mind is somehow turning their back on God. To me, using our God given brain and empathy to re-think stuff is a positive compliment to him!

With regards to the political agenda of OCC and Samaritans's Purse, Franklin Graham seems to be increasingly leading the charity down a political path -this speaks of how much was spent on the adverts against same-sex marriage, and this speaks more generally about their increasing use of advertising, and also questions how much Billy Graham actually knows of it.

Coupon Mon 14-Oct-13 12:00:49

Thanks Suburban.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Mon 14-Oct-13 14:24:57

Some churches are worse than others

some churches are not at all homophobic so not less homophobic. DPs previous church the junior vicar (I forget the title) was gay, as was a FT church employee. so were some members.

of course if someone wants to see the worst in a group of people, they will. but that applies to all people.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 14-Oct-13 16:41:51

Hi, youare.

I'm not sure having some gay clergy and a few of the congregation necessarily means there is no homophobia whatsoever in a church.

Is it possible to know definitively that any organisation or church is "not at all homophobic"?

trockodile Mon 14-Oct-13 17:04:47

SuburbanRhonda -some churches are defined by their inclusivity and were set up as GLBTQ friendly I think.

Others are mostly inclusive like which seems to say that they have no definitive statement but allow individual congregations to decide such matters as gay clergy etc -but the ones I have seen are mostly pro-equality and have spoken out in favour of equal marriage etc.

Oasis church (led by Steve Chalke) identifies as inclusive

Then there are the CofE churches which have gay clergy but the leadership of the Cof E and it's rules are still a bit dubious-gay clergy can be in a civil partnership but should be celibate for example.

I suppose as with society there are a lot of views but I would guess that these churches actively which welcome and embrace the GLBTQ as equals would have very few congregation members who are homophobic -as there are so many churches where their views would be welcomed iykwim?

exexpat Mon 14-Oct-13 17:26:31

My local CofE church has a big sign outside saying that it welcomes people of whatever age, race, gender & sexuality. I think some of them are trying hard to be welcoming - there are good biblical grounds for being tolerant and non-judgmental, if I remember correctly from my RE lessons a few decades ago - but other churches are actively hostile. Much more so in the US than the UK, I think.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 14-Oct-13 20:07:00

Blimey, trockodile, there are more different permutations there than the parent and child shopping trollies at Tesco!

Can't help wondering how much better it would be if all churches kept their noses out of people's bedrooms altogether hmm

What would be nice, exexpat is for churches to be actively supportive of LGBT people rather than just tolerant, which makes it sound like they're putting up with them against their better judgement. Though I guess we should welcome any steps in the right direction smile

ancientbuchanan Mon 14-Oct-13 20:17:29

As DLSayers , that high church author, put it

As I get older and older,
And stagger towards the tomb,
I find that I care less and less
Who goes to bed with whom.

Coupon Mon 14-Oct-13 20:31:29

ancientbuchanan grin

JudgeJodie Mon 14-Oct-13 22:03:20

In answer to gooners question about why is occ getting bigger and bigger each year...... Could it possibly be because (on your own admission) that the British public are not completely aware of the full picture.

Do you believe that it would be getting bigger if everyone who gave a shoebox was 100% informed of the reality?

The answer can't possibly be yes otherwise you would have always told the truth, not hidden it away and given different info to different establishments. Happy to let people give in ignorant bliss, but not confident enough that the GBP would make their minds up and fall on your side of the fence.

exexpat Tue 15-Oct-13 22:46:42

Looks like Brian/Gooner has disappeared - he presumably realised he was just digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself. But he never answered my question about whether they are doing anything to promote the schools leaflet. Oh well. Business as usual, I guess.

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