to ask for your help in writing an objection to Operation Christmas Child?

(693 Posts)
autumnwinds Sat 02-Nov-13 12:57:00

Our local primary is supporting OCC and has published a piece in the village magazine explaining how wonderful it is and how much the local children enjoy it, what a difference it makes to needy children, and inviting local residents to donate too. The piece omits any reference to the evangelical christian literature that is distributed with the parcels and the way that the gifts are used as a tool to agressively convert recipients to christianity.

I would like to write a reply for publishing in next month's issue trying to give the full picture so that people can make an informed choice about whether to donate to this charity, and to suggest some alternatives that don't come with the religious baggage.

As I don't have a child at the primary yet I'm not sure about tackling the school itself about it (they are not a faith school, so not sure they should be supporting this). DC will be starting next year so I might save that fight for next xmas!

Anyway does anyone have any ideas about a few lines I could write, something succinct and unemotional? I feel quite cross about it but don't want to come across as an equally fundamentalist atheist. I've been looking for some evidence on the web for people who want to know more but most of it is not well referenced...

fluffyduckie Sat 02-Nov-13 13:22:41

Wouldn't most people know that it was a Christian organisation though? I haven't made boxes or been involved but I know that it is a Christian charity that organises and distributes the gifts.

Is there an atheist (or non-Christian) alternative that you could suggest instead?

It is like child sponsorship - there are all sorts of options. Some teach Christianity and are religious charities (like Compassion) but there are plenty of others that don't.

Extracts from my e-mail to our head about the subject...

... the idea of "Christmas shoeboxes" such as through Operation Christmas Child. I'd like at this point to raise a plea for the Backpack Project. Unlike some other similar projects it is not run by a religious organisation (tying gifts to evangelism doesn't fit well with a non-denominational school in my opinion) and is more closely and obviously linked with educational projects to keep children in school, by feeding them, which is the main Mary's Meals project, and by providing school supplies, which is the Backpack Project I'm plugging today.

I'd really like you to consider this charity instead of some of the more famous "Christmas shoebox" charities [...] The school food funding and backpack provision goes on all year round in Malawi and Liberia, and it's pretty humbling to think that the price of a week's school dinners at <our school> could fund school dinners for a child in Malawi for a year.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 13:40:13

It's threads like this that make me wish I could afford to do a hundred shoeboxes for them instead of just the one.
Dropping mine off next week. smile

sonlypuppyfat Sat 02-Nov-13 13:46:03

I'm going to volunteer in the warehouse sorting them. I don't usually but you haters have really pissed me off.

ILetHimKeep20Quid Sat 02-Nov-13 13:47:36

You exercise your right to choose which charities to support and don't assume other people aren't capable of doing the same.

Sabotaging off is a bit of an in thing here on mumsnet.

You don't agree, you don't participate, start and end of it. Launching a one woman mission to make sure everyone else thinks the same as you is unreasonable

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 13:49:03

I'm going to volunteer in the warehouse sorting them. I don't usually but you haters have really pissed me off.

I'd like to volunteer sorting out boxes, sounds like fun smile
No warehouses anywhere near me though. sad

Chippednailvarnish Sat 02-Nov-13 13:49:28

Why don't you spend your time and energy helping a charity you do approve of, instead of trying to hurt a charity you don't.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 13:49:39

You don't agree, you don't participate, start and end of it. Launching a one woman mission to make sure everyone else thinks the same as you is unreasonable


ReindeerBollocks Sat 02-Nov-13 13:50:29

YABU most people know the religious elements and can choose to get involved. If it was compulsory I'd back your stance but it's not - people may or may not participate should they so wish.

Please don't write a counter argument, because even though your points may be valid it will not make you look good.

manicinsomniac Sat 02-Nov-13 13:51:06


If you don't want to support a charity then surely the thing to do is not support the charity, not undermine the work of that charity and discourage others from supporting it?

Most people know the OCC is a Christian charity and (in real life, not on MN) most people seem happy to support it anyway. I don't think it's one of the best examples of charitable work out there but it doesn't cost much money and is a good way of teaching children to think of other children at Christmas.

Don't like it, don't do it. Easy. There are thousands of charities I don't give to, everyone has to choose and prioritise.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 13:51:55

*Why don't you spend your time and energy helping a charity you do approve of, instead of trying to hurt a charity you don't.

Exactly. There's so many different charities to choose from. Trying to bend people to your way of thinking is definitely unreasonable, and I'd be mightily peed off if my kids started doing shoeboxes at school, all excited, and then got it all called off because of one single person getting all outraged at it.

Squidwardtenticles Sat 02-Nov-13 13:52:04

Christmas is a christian thing so surely you would expect some christian literature?

cardibach Sat 02-Nov-13 13:52:48

I don't think everyone does know how evangelical Operation Christmas Child is, though. All the OP wants to do is give people information.

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 13:53:26

Harsh, guys. OP only says she wants to offer fuller information so as to support people in making better informed decisions. There's nothing wrong with that.

Personally I'm glad to have read about the other "side" of OCC on mn; it's not something I'd ever thought about before, but now I know it definitely affects what I think about it all.

AnyCrunchyCarrotFucker Sat 02-Nov-13 13:53:48

I have to knock up a similar letter for school before Monday.

There are so many better causes they could support. Shipping plastic tat in a shoebox with fundamentalist literature is just....argh...wrong on so many levels.

So I know they're Christian, but what exactly do they do wrong? I know there's a lot of carping on the interconnect but then there is about most things...enlighten me please, as our nursery is running the scheme, and I'd like to choose whether to do that or something else.

Incidentally, does anyone know any charity doing boxes for the Syrian refugees? I have about 10m baby blankets...

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 13:54:08

I don't think everyone does know how evangelical Operation Christmas Child is, though. All the OP wants to do is give people information.

Lots of people DO know though. And would still like the option to be able to give instead of being told what they should be thinking and doing.

fluffyduckie Sat 02-Nov-13 13:54:34

I follow their FB page and they had one of the Duck Dynasty men on packing a box.

You exercise your right to choose which charities to support and don't assume other people aren't capable of doing the same.

Exactly this!

HettiePetal Sat 02-Nov-13 13:55:55

I think it's perfectly acceptable to raise consciousness about this issue.

How anyone can think that it's OK to use vulnerable children as a tool to spread their religious message is beyond me.

Because that IS what they do - it says as much in their literature.

Plenty of other organisations around manage to do similar things without such an dubious aim.

Horry's letter is a good template, Autumn. Take no notice of the silly "haters" nonsense.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 13:56:56

There are so many better causes they could support. Shipping plastic tat in a shoebox with fundamentalist literature is just....argh...wrong on so many levels.

Christian literature in a Christmas shoebox?! shock Whatever next? Shocker.
Anyway, if you bothered to read the blurb about the organisation, you would see that they do NOT routinely out them in shoeboxes, only in places where it is deemed appropriate - like for example a church handing them out might put one in.
Oh, and what the hell's wrong with plastic tat? My kids and every other kid I know LOVES plastic tat. grin

scaevola Sat 02-Nov-13 13:58:48

I think once the school has decided, and once local publicity has begun, there is little that can be done.

The root issue is that the school has chosen a charity of which you disapprove. It won't further your aim here and now, but seeking to influence the choice for future years might be more achievable.

Do you know how the school reached its decision this year?

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 13:59:56

jellyboats "being told what to think and what they should be doing".

Can you point out to me where the op said that's what she intends to do? Because I don't see it.

IDontDoIroning Sat 02-Nov-13 14:00:56

Yanbu I agree with you.
If you discount the evangelical component, what children in the third world need is not boxes of plastic tat which has travelled half way round the world. What they really need is sustainable help.
Christmas only means something to us in the western because we have the luxury to make it different. To them it's just another day without clean water or decent food etc.

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 14:00:58

Gah, sorry, misquoted you slightly, my phone app doesn't do c&p so was trying to do it from my very inadequate memory!

SunshineMMum Sat 02-Nov-13 14:01:47

YABU This post is really out of order. Do you really think that a Christian message negates the good done by these gifts, to people who have so little??!

SunshineMMum Sat 02-Nov-13 14:03:34

...We put soap, toothpaste, gloves hats etc in ours, so hardly plastic tat.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 14:09:15

Can you point out to me where the op said that's what she intends to do? Because I don't see it.

Well, what else is it if you're trying to tell an entire school that the whole thing is disgusting and they should be doing something else instead?

fluffyduckie Sat 02-Nov-13 14:10:14

I was reading about someone who put a letter and their address in the box they sent and ended up with a sort of pen pal relationship with the child that got their box.

I didn't realise that was allowed? I can't see anything on the OCC website about it either.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 14:12:21

what children in the third world need is not boxes of plastic tat which has travelled half way round the world. What they really need is sustainable help.

Yes, you're right, They're poor, and 3rd world. What the heck do they want a bit of fun presents for? hmm
Water, and sustainable help for you people. You don't need any frivolities. hmm
There are plenty of charities out there that provide clean water, etc. That's something entirely different. Should we discount this one just because someone, somewhere has deemed toys not needed?
Says who?! How patronising.

WoTmania Sat 02-Nov-13 14:20:35

YANBU - this might have something useful in it including other schemes that are culturally sensitive and appropriate.

IME many people do not realise there is an agenda behind OCC.

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 14:20:40

"I would like to write a reply for publishing in next month's issue trying to give the full picture so that people can make an informed choice about whether to donate to this charity, and to suggest some alternatives that don't come with the religious baggage".

"trying to tell an entire school that the whole thing is disgusting and they should be doing something else instead?"

Are you really saying that these two sentences mean exactly the same thing?

Er, ok then. [hmmm]

WoTmania Sat 02-Nov-13 14:22:34

Another problem that doesn't seem to occur to people is that they are going to non-Christian countries where they observe different religious festivals.

Inertia Sat 02-Nov-13 14:24:14

Yanbu to want to write a balanced article. I did some research as I had exactly the same concerns, on phone atm so cannot link. If you Google Franklin Graham (US leader of OCC umbrella charity Samaritans Purse ) you can find his anti - Islam quotes. Also the US Samaritans Purse site is much more explicit than UK version about how the main aim of OCC is to convert as many people as possible to Christianity, rather than being a purely altruistic endeavour.

lottieandmia Sat 02-Nov-13 14:28:03

YABU because potentially you are trying to boycott a charity that does a lot of good for children who have nothing at Christmas. Christmas is a christian festival you know? Just saying...

scaevola Sat 02-Nov-13 14:30:04

The OCC website is extremely clear, on front page and throughout, about the Church-based component and (vaguely optional) proselytising component.

There is no way the school has chosen this in ignorance of what it is supporting (unless you think they launch a major appeal without googling the recipient). Which is why I think you need to start with the decision-making process in the school if you want to make a change.

Knocking the school's campaign, now it has launched, is unlikely to get the results you want.

But perhaps, instead of negative campaigning, you could see if the local paper would run a positive piece on other Christmas causes to support?

lottieandmia Sat 02-Nov-13 14:30:41

Plastic tat? Speak for yourself - I never put plastic tat in our boxes.

WoTmania Sat 02-Nov-13 14:32:22

Christmas is a Christian festival not observed in non-Christian countries...just saying

PuntCuffin Sat 02-Nov-13 14:33:12

I got our village school to stop supporting OCC a couple of years back. I printed off some of the hateful things said by Franklin Graham about Islam and homosexuality and asked them if this was something they wished to be associated with. The Head had no idea that it was an evangelical organisation, naively thought it was just 'nice thing to do'. They hadn't realised that Christian literature was provided etc. I am sure many schools are similarly ignorant.

For me, it is a terrible thing to offer a gift to those in poverty while linking it to 'God'. And that they specifically target non-Christian countries is just hideous.

The important thing really in this context is to applaud the generous aims, whilst giving people other options for doing similar without the Christian/Evangelical slant.

Other good ways of giving at Christmas would include giving to Barnardo's, Women's Aid, Water Aid, Oxfam, Mary's Meals, local food bank, etc etc.

In this case I think OP should say something along the lines of "I was glad to read in the last edition about how enthusiastic the local children have been getting about their OCC shoeboxes. If any other readers have been inspired to give generously at Christmas, maybe they'd like to consider some other worthy causes such as ..." - so offering alternatives without explicitly criticising OCC itself (which wouldn't get anywhere).

I think people are confusing an acknowledgment of the fact that OCC is a Christian charity with the fact that it's an evangelical charity which causes as much upset as it does joy, actually (imo) doesn't behave in a very Christian way and has an agenda completely outside of the wish to be charitable.

I'm all for making people aware of what OCC actually IS so that they can make an informed decision before they donate.

The only people using language like disgusting and haters are those objecting to the OP's desire to help people make an informed choice.

I agree utterly with Horry. It's a very good idea to provide people with options. Lots of people like to do more for charity at Christmas and giving them choices is an excellent idea.

difficultpickle Sat 02-Nov-13 14:42:58

This is the letter I sent to ds's school in 2009 that directly led to them stopping their support for OCC (which they had done for many years previously)

Dear X

Last year my son took great delight in choosing items to go in the shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. This year we are very disappointed not be able to participate. The reason is this newsletter

The web page link on the school website states "Where it's appropriate our local partners also make available to children a booklet of Bible stories, including the original Christmas story - the birth of Jesus."

The newsletter gives a different story - "Every box you pack represents one more child who will have the opportunity to hear the Good News of God’s love."

As a committed Christian I find the thought of my son's school supporting such an evangelical cause to be deeply disturbing. I do not think that aid should be viewed as a conversion opportunity. I am concerned that children who may be Muslim, Hindu, Bhuddist etc do not get an opportunity to benefit from this aid because there is no opportunity to convert them to Christianity.

We were in South Africa for half term and spent time visiting a children's centre AIDs charity project in a township run by a friend. The children who visit the children's centre have next to nothing. They rely on a soup kitchen run by the charity to have one hot meal a day and many of the younger children do not have shoes or much in the way of toys or possessions. Those are the children I thought about when we supported Operation Christmas Child last year. Being mostly Christian they would be able to benefit from this scheme but what about the thousands of other children of other faiths who would be deliberately excluded? Their need is as great.

Aid should be offered without strings attached and should be available to all. I have no issue about supporting a Christian charity. My concern stems from the fact that the Christian charity supported by [School name] excludes all those of different faiths. Surely it would be preferable for [School name] to support an inclusive charity rather than one like Samiritan's Purse. I understand that the Rotary offer a similar scheme. It is obviously too late to do anything about this year's collection but I hope you will give serious thought to sourcing an alternative for next year.

pigletmania Sat 02-Nov-13 14:43:01

Yabvvvu, so what it's a leaflet about Christianity, what haters

autumnwinds Sat 02-Nov-13 14:43:41

Woah... left for an hour to make a draft excluder out of leftover brown material that on reflection now looks like an enormous dinosaur poo. Not quite the effect I'd been going for. A bit like this thread really.

Anyway - thanks for all the responses, both harsh and sympathetic. It does seem to be quite an emotive issue, and I've came to the same conclusion as scaevola, in that there's not much to be gained by appearing to diss the school's efforts this year. Even though my intention is to inform those who aren't aware of the evangelical associations (as I wasn't aware either till recently), rather than rubbish the efforts of those who have already donated, or promote my own agenda. Instead I'm going to write to the head to ask if they would consider supporting a different scheme next year, that is not connected with any faith.

As for whether christmas being a christian festival - that's another thread entirely!!!!! FWIW I think it is entirely possible for a person to give generous and thoughtful gifts to needy children in other parts of the world without having to follow or promote any particular God(s). You don't have to be a christian to be charitable at christmas.

difficultpickle Sat 02-Nov-13 14:44:29

piglet it is the strings attached to the giving of leaflet (and shoebox) that most people object to.

pigletmania Sat 02-Nov-13 14:45:24

Actually a big u turn good points bisjo smile

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 14:47:53

"dinosaur poo"

<snorts in highly unladylike fashion>

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 02-Nov-13 14:48:32

What would be Christian would be to send these shoeboxes to children with no strings attached.

Not use them as a foot in the door to convert people.

lottieandmia Sat 02-Nov-13 14:54:28

'Christmas is a Christian festival not observed in non-Christian countries...just saying'

The presents are given in the spirit of christmas.

IDontDoIroning Sat 02-Nov-13 14:55:30

I'm not much of a poster but I've been around a while and I remember a few years ago mnetter from Bosnia posting that her (Muslim if I recall) children came home from nursery with these boxes.

lottieandmia Sat 02-Nov-13 14:56:12 on that basis it doesn't matter whether it's observed in that country or not. But is an opportunity to give the children some things they otherwise would never have.

jellyboatsandpirates Sat 02-Nov-13 14:59:25

I'm not much of a poster but I've been around a while and I remember a few years ago mnetter from Bosnia posting that her (Muslim if I recall) children came home from nursery with these boxes.

Exactly. It isn't a prerequisite that you have to be a Christian or even that you have to convert to it. EVERYBODY gets a box.

SeaSickSal Sat 02-Nov-13 14:59:58

Speaking of Syrian refugees I assume that you will also be writing to the many Muslim charities involved in the relief effort to ensure that there is no religious material involved there? Or ensuring people who visit the gurdwaras for food aren't given any material relating to Sikhism?

Or is it just Christian charities you like to target?

And what an earth makes you think the people receiving these boxes aren't capable of chucking it away if they're not interested?

I'm sure rather than the nice things and essentials in these boxes what they really need is someone handwringing over what they should read because they want to impose their own choices on them.

I'm sure the OP learned about religions before making a choice to reject them. Why shouldn't someone in a poor country do the same or not as the case may be?

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 15:01:09

Operation Christmas Child's parent organisation, Samaritan's Purse, describes every shoebox as a 'gospel opportunity' and a 'tool for mission'. The main aim of OCC, as far as they are concerned, seems to be to encourage young children to sign up for a 12-week 'discipleship' programme, and convert to an American fundamentalist style of Christianity.

From their website: "Millions of boys and girls have indicated that they have committed their lives to Jesus Christ after receiving shoe box gifts and participating in our follow-up program."

The evangelism has not been made clear in the way they present themselves to school, so I think it is entirely appropriate for the OP to try to give a fuller picture so that people can decide whether this is something they want to support.

The head of communications of Samaritan's Purse in the UK appeared on a couple of threads on here last month, admitted there was an issue with schools not being made aware of the evangelism, and later promised there would be 'unparalleled transparency' next year - but not this year.

There are lots of other charities, including some shoebox ones, that do good stuff at Christmas without linking gifts to evangelism.

SueDoku Sat 02-Nov-13 15:07:40

Have a read through the above and then see what you think about this organisation. I managed to get my place of work to stop collecting shoeboxes for them by pointing out that many of our (very) multi-faith students were being called disgusting names by the people running the show...who describe the boxes as: "These gift filled shoeboxes provide powerful tools the local churches can use to evangelise people."

Also see for more information - harmless eh....? shock

jellyboats, I think the problem with the Muslim child in the nursery being given a box was that not only did the Christian literature sit in direct opposition to his declared religion, but he was also a child from a comfortable family going to a paid for private nursery. He wasn't 'in need', he was merely being targeted for conversion.

HettiePetal Sat 02-Nov-13 15:11:01

The presents are given in the spirit of christmas

No, they are not. They are given in the spirit of "let's use this opportunity to introduce children of other religions (and none) to Jesus Christ".

If it was just about the joy of giving, why bother with the evangelical tracts? Lots of other charities leave this out, including many Christian ones.

These people have an agenda. And I don't see why they should use our generosity & the needs of vulnerable children to achieve it.

And anyone who thinks that Christmas is a "Christian festival" needs a history lesson.

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 15:18:22

there are plenty of Christian charities that don't have the strings attached or an overtly right wing fundamentalist message

Christmas is by it's name a Christian celebration so I don't object to a Christian charity but I will not have my kids involved in one so anti the things I believe such a gay rights and freedom of religion

also what is with all the talk of 'haters' I feel like I've walked into a 6th for common room


Dawndonnaagain Sat 02-Nov-13 15:31:42

Samaritan's Purse makes the oh so delightful Franklin Graham a considerable amount of money, around $500.000 p.a. Nice work if you can get it.
Lovely views

A rather important part of Samaritan's Purse Mission Statement:
Vulnerable children are rescued, educated, fed, clothed, and sheltered, letting them know that God loves them, Jesus died and rose again for them, and they are not forgotten.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 15:37:37

And Samaritan's Purse spent $150,000 on the campaign against same-sex marriage in the US - rather an inappropriate use of funds for a 'humanitarian aid' charity, wouldn't you say?

They are really not the sort of organisation that the majority of British parents would want to be associated with, I suspect - but the cuddly 'let's do something nice for poor children at Christmas' image they project in British schools glosses over all that.

lottieandmia Sat 02-Nov-13 15:49:59

Hmm. Maybe I've been a bit naive. There is no way I would want to support a charity that spreads homophobic sentiment.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 15:51:19

Jellyboats, Lottie, Seasick and all the others who seem to be arguing that the OP shouldn't point out the evangelical side of OCC to parents who may not be aware of it (since from her OP it certainly sounds like the school hasn't made it clear) - can you please give me one good reason why parents should not be given the full facts?

Because if I were a Muslim/Hindu/Jewish/gay/atheist/Catholic parent - in fact anyone who wouldn't willingly sign their own child up for a 12-week discipleship course run by American fundamentalists, which I am guessing would be 90+% of the parents in most schools - I would be pretty pissed off to discover, after I had put together a thoughtful box full of gifts for an underprivileged child, that my gift was going to be handed over as an inducement to sign up for bible classes.

Caitlin17 Sat 02-Nov-13 15:51:43

Is this a common practice in schools? I'd only come across it as someone in OH's office used to collect them and didn't know anything of the background. It wasn't done at my son's school ( and to be honest given the ethos of the school I can imagine there would have been objections, including from me if I'd known the full story)

And also to be honest I'm slightly surprised it's being promoted in schools given the evangelical aspect. Aren't there many more neutral charities which schools could support at Christmas, e.g. Crisis at Christmas, Oxfam and even Christian Aid as it doesn't proselytize.

I used to go along with it but I did have reservations about the efficacy of it as a method of getting things to children in need which they actually wanted or needed. We don't do it now and I feel I'm doing much better just making donations to mainstream charities.

Caitlin17 Sat 02-Nov-13 15:55:11

Exexpat the person in OH's office didn't explain the background to him, it was this charity, however. If she had there is no way either of us would have supported it.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 15:56:36

Exactly. Operation Christmas Child and it's supporters have a long history of being seriously economical with the truth about the real aims of the programme.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 15:56:59

(because the truth would put most people off)

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 15:57:29

*its (hate iPad autocorrect)

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 15:58:18

It would be far more Christian to give money to an aid organisation than to spend a fortune on irrelevant junk and the shipping costs that involves.

If my child had difficulty accessing education, clean water, healthy food, vaccinations and health services, safe housing etc - then those are the things I would want for them. Not a box of cheap tat from a foreign culture that was probably manufactured with child labour.

Emo76 Sat 02-Nov-13 16:04:20
heidihole Sat 02-Nov-13 16:08:36

You don't agree, you don't participate, start and end of it. Launching a one woman mission to make sure everyone else thinks the same as you is unreasonable


80sMum Sat 02-Nov-13 16:11:46

OCC seems to me to be little more than a con. It appears to be not about the giving of gifts but about the spreading of a specific doctrine. The shoe boxes are merely a vehicle, a kind of Trojan horse, to give the evangelists a foot in the door and a reason to engage in communication with children that they otherwise would have no access to.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with evangelism, if that's what they want to do. But what is wrong is using gullible people's kindness to finance it under the false pretence of it being a nice giving thing to do at Christmas.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:12:24

heidihole, you haven't read the whole thread, have you?

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 02-Nov-13 16:12:27

I do hope the UK head of Samaritan's Purse comes on to this thread like he did the last one.

My favourite part was when he told us how secretly miserable all gay people are.

What a lovely charity hmm

JumpingJackSprat Sat 02-Nov-13 16:12:59

Yanbu op.

Mmelindor Sat 02-Nov-13 16:14:04

Yanbu and those who are saying it is a 'Christian charity' and what does the OP think that they are doing, should really do a bit of research before promoting it.

I can remember a MNetter in Bosnia posting about her DC receiving such a box.

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about this, including a quote from their website

'Two churches and multiple Sunday schools have started as a result of 10 years of distributing shoe boxes on the island of Trinidad.'

If you want to help children in another country, then have a look at Catapult which funds charities directly.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:15:10

holdmecloser I loved it when Brain was on that thread!

He shot himself other foot so many times with his posts I'm surprised he could walk afterwards.

Remember the bit where he couldn't see the problem with telling a gay man he met that the bible says being gay is wrong? sad

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:16:09

* Brian grin

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 16:16:10

The OP is not launching a one-woman mission to make everyone agrees with her - she is just trying to make sure everyone knows the full facts about a charity they are being asked to support, based on very limited information.

Is it really so hard to see the difference?

If people know about the evangelism and support it, they can donate. If they didn't know about the evangelism and don't support it, they can choose not to donate.

Unless people have all the information, they can't make an informed choice. OCC seems to have a habit of not being clear about the way it operates, which is a very unethical way for a charity to work.

poppycock6 Sat 02-Nov-13 16:17:23

The food banks run by the Trussell Trust are a Christian charity. Should we stop donating to the poor and hungry in case they get 'converted'? hmm You are being very unreasonable. Ridiculous post.

Mmelindor Sat 02-Nov-13 16:17:51

Exactly, Exexpat.

The OP isn't trying to convert everyone to her thinking. She's just trying to ensure that those who take part in this scam charitable event know exactly what they are supporting.

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 16:17:52

that's ironic given OCC mission to make all the kids who get gifts believe what they do hmm

The OP has every right to object to a homophobic, right wing, anti Islamic organisation being promoted in school

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 02-Nov-13 16:18:38

The whole problem stems from the dishonesty.

If someone wrote a bit in the newsletter saying "please support this wildly inefficient evangelical charity reach out to Third World children at Christmastime" nobody would mind.

Almost nobody would be interested, but they wouldn't mind.

If you think this is a worthwhile thing to spend money and effort on, great.

But stop lying about it! Of course people are going to be pissed off, and express why, when the charity is so misleading!

The OP is only looking to correct the misleading newsletter.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:19:42

I would have thought that the second link in SueDoku's post at 15:07 today, showing a photo of a child awaiting his shoebox, with the evangelical leaflet already on his lap, would be enough to convince people of what actually takes place during these gift-giving sessions.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 16:19:59

The Trussell Trust does not try to get people who use the food banks to sign up for bible classes or accept Jesus as their saviour. They help people who need help. There is a huge difference.

hermioneweasley Sat 02-Nov-13 16:20:44

I am normally of the "if you don't agree don't donate" camp; however I have never come across anyone in RL who, once made aware of the practices of OCC/Samaritans Purse, wanted to have anything more to do with it. Including devoted Christians.

I think it is fair enough to make people aware, as it is apparently still little known and people are often horrified that their generosity had been used to further an agenda they disagree with.

ILetHimKeep20Quid Sat 02-Nov-13 16:21:00

Many charities have their roots in religious organizations.

The information is out there, people are more than capable of finding it if they want. To assume they are ignorant and oblivious and in need of enlightenment is insulting

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:22:08

poppy, I started a thread last month about the Trussell Trust volunteers offering to say prayers for food bank users.

At no point did I suggest people shouldn't donate food, just that food bank users should be made aware of the fact that they may be offered a prayer when they went to pick up their food.

I'm surprised you weren't on that thread, tbh.

Leviticus Sat 02-Nov-13 16:22:56

YABU. Send your shoebox elsewhere if you don't like it. Ridiculous!

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:24:53

RTFT, Leviticus

Caitlin17 Sat 02-Nov-13 16:26:49

poppycock that is what you are talking too. I didn't know the aims behind this charity and they are not aims I would support. I was generous in what I spent, although as I said I had reservations about it being a sensible use of funds.

There are many, many excellent Christian charities. I'm not a Christian but I am more than happy to donate to Christian Aid or give money to The Salvation Army carol singers. These organisations are upfront and honest about who they are and what they do.

StrictlySazz Sat 02-Nov-13 16:29:23

I agree with you OP and the other 'haterz hmm' and am trying to fashion a letter to our school so this has been very helpful.

My uncle became a very evangelical Christian and was vile to my mum who it upset greatly that her brother could become so (dare I say it) unchristian in the way he treated loved ones. He then refused cancer treatment as 'god would save him'. He then died and truly believed god made him die for a reason. Total waste IMO sadangry


I worked for a year at a Christian charity (I'm an atheist) and support was given to people of all faiths, or none, without any evangelism or expectation that people would become Christians. I don't agree with using charity as an opportunity to push a religion on people.

BillyBanter Sat 02-Nov-13 16:36:49

Of you think something its unethical then it its your right, your duty even, to share that information and speak out about it. Also give informed choice and alternatives.

I'm not sure how not speaking out its the right thing to do because some people already know its Christian. As was shown on here recently lots of people didn't know the nature of the charity. Informed choice is good

CiderBomb Sat 02-Nov-13 16:39:26

It's not true that everyone knows that OCC is a Christian charity, I certainly didn't until I read it on here.

I've no objection to charities that have religious origins, however I do have an issue with charity being used as a tool to try and convert the vulnerable and desperate. That is wrong IMO.

autumnwinds Sat 02-Nov-13 16:40:24

Ok I have penned a letter to the head. At the risk of fuelling the bun fight, I've copied the text below to hopefully help anyone else thinking of writing, as I've found the excerpts from previous posters letters really useful. Please don't find any typos, I need to get on and cook dinner rather than dwelling on this for another hour!

".....However, I was disappointed that your most recent article exhorted the local community to join in the Operation Christmas Child scheme, without making any mention of the strongly evangelical ethos of the Samaritan’s Purse charity. While you might argue that it is to be expected that a Christmas charity box scheme would be run by a Christian charity, it is less well known that the boxes are distributed with evangelical literature (including a religious ‘pledge’ card to be signed by the child), and children receiving the boxes are encouraged to sign up for a 12 lesson ‘discipleship programme’.

This information is freely available on the internet via the Samaritan’s Purse websites (both UK and USA), and undoubtedly many Christians support their mission. However, others will not, and may not be aware of it. I am concerned that given your position as a respected member of the community, people may follow your recommendation without investigating further and considering whether they support this particular charity’s aims. I have my own opinions about it, but I don’t want to write an anti-Operation Christmas Child letter, simply to ask that you include more detail if you promote the scheme again next year, to ensure people make a fully informed choice. For example, there are a number of alternative Christmas box charities that people could choose to support that do not have an evangelical purpose, such as “Link to Hope” or “Aquabox”. I would also ask that you include this information when you promote the scheme to children and their parents, if you do not already.

It may well be that you were not aware of the evangelical nature of the scheme or the controversies surrounding it. If you would like to find out more, there is a reputable summary available at this web address:

I hope this letter does not deter you from continuing with this year’s effort, as I strongly support all charitable efforts to improve the lives of children in need. I simply ask that you consider changing how you promote it in future years."

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 16:41:02

All the OP is doing is suggesting she writes a letter explaining the history of OCC / Samaritans Purse so people can make an informed choice.

Yet all these 'Christian' posters are coming out saying she is BU - for writing a letter FFS! Speaks volumes...

FWIW I support a lot of charities that have religious backgrounds and once volunteered at a Christian homeless shelter - they did no proselytising. Not all 'Christian' charities are the same - and the shoebox charities are particularly noxious and unhelpful.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 16:42:34

It's a good letter OP.

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 16:50:04

A very good letter indeed, and yanbu. If I were you I'd probably add something about their homophobia if you have time but even if you don't, you've made excellent points and you come across as very balanced.

thegreylady Sat 02-Nov-13 16:51:16

I have used both shoeboxes and Mary's Meals backpacks and feel that as long as the children get something and are made happy that is all that matters.The OCC leaflet tells you not to include anything of a religious nature and some of the boxes go to Eastern European Muslim commuities.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:51:44

That's a good letter, OP.

Shame the thread had to go the scenic route because some people didn't understand or accept what you were actually asking in your OP, but you got there in the end! smile

thegreylady Sat 02-Nov-13 16:54:53

Oh lord I didn't know that about the pledge and discipleship programme!I have filled my last shoebox and will stick to Mary's Meals in future.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:56:14

thegreylady, do please click the links on previous posts.

The religious literature is given out by OCC "partners" once the shoeboxes have arrived at their destination. Removing any religious items already in the shoebox is a pointless exercise because the evangelising is done after the shoebox is filled.

With respect, I think you're being naive if you think anything goes, as long as the children get a shoebox and are happy with it.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 16:56:48

X-post, thegreylady smile

pertempsnooo Sat 02-Nov-13 17:03:01

shock I did not know the shoeboxes had religious connections! Thanks for keeping us informed Mumsnet, it's more than the schools could manage (and one IS non-denominational).

I had not thought about this Autumnwinds so I am really glad you started this thread and I hope you do well informing people so they can make a choice.
Personally I know in the past I have put together shoeboxes for one of my children to take to school.
However - I am an aithiest and I am usually thoughtful about what charities I support. I would not knowing support any charity that srongly promoted a religious message of any sort.
So again, thanks and good luck.

tracypenisbeaker Sat 02-Nov-13 17:07:50

The letter is very good- it's not about boycotting Christian charities, it's about informing people about what they are spending money on and giving them choices and alternatives should they object to the practices of the charity, which they may not otherwise be aware of.

People who object to giving donors more information about the cause are essentially saying that ignorance is bliss and that they don't want people to discover the true nature of the charity, in case it gets in the way of the evangelism. If you were so confident and assured of the charity's motives, then you would have no problem with putting that information out there, iyswim.

mumeeee Sat 02-Nov-13 17:20:32

YABU. They don't put Christion literature in every box. There is not just plastic tat in the boxes, They ask for things like gloves,hats,scarves and other stuff aswell as toys. If you don't want to support them then don't. There are some charities I don't support but I don't tell others not to.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:22:04

mumee, you haven't read the thread either, have you? hmm

pinkballetflats Sat 02-Nov-13 17:25:14

YANBU OP and I had no idea that the charity was this pushy and I feel very icky knowing I've sent shoeboxes in the past. Hugely unethical and abusive.

No more OCC for us.

BlingBang Sat 02-Nov-13 17:27:10

my school is supporting this. I Imagine most parents have no idea about this organisation. Some seem to think it is the Samaritans. I do have a problem with it, I have a problem with Franklyn Graham and what his style of evangelism entails. They are missionaries, they aim to convert and not to just any old christianity but to their brand. I have a problem with them using these boxes to reach children to get their message across. Have a problem that they seem to be political, anti Islam, right wing, homophobic and if they had their way would ban abortions. Imagine most British folk find their brand of Christianity unpalatable, so why would you support them exporting it to other more vulnerable countries.

pinkballetflats Sat 02-Nov-13 17:32:59

Oh good God, it gets worse...SP is run by Billy Graham's son...yuck, yuck, yuck.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:35:51

I think you're right, bling.

It's also the fact that SP and OCC are so untruthful about the full extent of their evangelising through the shoebox scheme.

Everyone bleating on upthread about people being able to make their own mind up is ignoring the fact that you cannot properly decide whether to support a charity if that charity isn't open and honest about their activities.

And the poster who suggested vulnerable children can just throw away the toys if they don't want them left me shock

HepsibarCrinkletoes Sat 02-Nov-13 17:36:44

Excellent letter OP, and I totally agree with you. Any organisation that peddles such shit/includes a fucking pledge to god signed in return for a box is pretty low IMO. Give charity or don't, but don't fucking preach as a condition to receive.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:37:11

pink, what is worse is that Franklin Graham's brand of evangelical Christianity makes Billy Graham look like the Dalai Lama.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 02-Nov-13 17:41:14


You don't have to give, its your right. Choose another charity and stop pissing on other peoples chips. angry

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 17:41:22

This seems to come up often on mumsnet with people asking how they can get the truth known about OCC collections from their schools. I found this very interesting thread where an OCC employee came on and tried to defend their actions.... pretty much completely unsuccessfully

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 17:42:56

wow such a nice response smile interesting that it's the pro OCC posters that seem so very rude and un Christian

natwebb79 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:43:01

YANBU. I had to quickly tell the Head at the school where I work about OCC after it was announced in assembly we'd be sending boxes. We will now be sending them to link to hope instead. Phew! I loved the story I found about when Franklyn Graham booked a stadium in Iceland to preach his hateful shite. It sold out. Basically the citizens of Iceland decided to piss him off by buying up the tickets then not turning up. grin

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:45:15

morethan, you have completely missed the point of this thread.

OP wanted help to get the truth about OCC out there so that people can make an informed decision about whether to support the charity, based on an understanding of its evangelical activities.

On this thread, only those people with similar views to your seem to have any difficulty understanding the OP.

tracypenisbeaker Sat 02-Nov-13 17:45:30

morethanpotatoprints Pissing on other peoples chips? So it's all about how the giver feels, in their cosy little ignorant bubble, rather than the reality of the charities practises? I for one am grateful that someone 'pissed on my chips' as I know the truth and am not handing over gifts, only for them to be used as a tool.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:45:48

X-post, gordy


You don't even have a child at the school?

Butt out!!

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:47:45

grin natwebb

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:49:27

madame, the first line of the OP states that the school invited local residents also to donate. Hence how she knew about it.

I wish there was an "exasperated" emoticon!

Bubbles1066 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:49:37

I have to say, I read the blurb on the leaflet about them adding the Christian blurb and I was a bit WTF. People have their own religion, it's all a bit too much like their trying to convert rather than help in my opinion. I don't think I'll do a shoe box this year because of it. I'm not sure about your letter though OP, it does say about the literature on the leaflet although I appreciate not everyone reads in the leaflet.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 17:53:01

I wish I could challenge OCC to prove they are only interested in offering an "unconditional gift of love", as they call it, by not sending the religious leaflets and not offering bible classes to children.

I bet they wouldn't be so keen on that.

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 17:58:33

Their organisation gives loads of money to homophobic political campaigns in the US that try to block equal marriage. Among other very dodgy activities . This is not simply a few leaflets in the boxes. Please read the thread those of you who are just jumping in - your knee-jerk uninformed reactions are what this nasty organisation is counting on.

Here is a template letter i found that can be sent to schools

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 17:59:33

I wish there was an "exasperated" emoticon oh yes yes yes!

Floggingmolly Sat 02-Nov-13 18:00:05

Write your own bloody letter if you feel so strongly about it. hmm
We're doing Mary's Meals and shoeboxes. I was going to say just opt out if it burns your hide so much; but you don't even have a child at the school??? Mind your own business.

Wellthen Sat 02-Nov-13 18:01:12

It isnt just evangelising at all. That I wouldnt have a problem with. I would still chose not to give as I think my money/time/donations can be much better given than in the form of Christmas presents.

But what makes me agree with the OP and think she should act to make sure people are informed, is the stories about boxes given to local churches to give out whenever and to whoever, not needy families or children, stories about boxes only being given on the condition that children attend church and say things like 'Jesus is my saviour' which to a Muslim child is hugely offensive and blasphemous.

OP Mary's meals is Christian but they are much more open about their practices and give to children who really need it. They also work for children to attend school which is frankly far more worthy than a shoe box of presents in the middle of December. A time of year fairly meaningless to Muslim children unless Eid happens to fall then.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:01:26

That's really handy, houseseller thanks

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:04:17

Floggin, have you read any of this thread, or even the OP, or just the thread title?

The school wrote an article for the village magazine, inviting local residents to donate to OCC. The school was targeting everyone in the village to get them on board.

How much clearer does that have to be?

C'mon, Mumsnet HQ - this thread is crying out for an exasperated emoticon!

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 18:04:19

Thank you Suburban ... and think you have been a real voice of reason in these threads so thanks for you, too!

MrsWedgeAntilles Sat 02-Nov-13 18:04:30

This is why I love Mary's Meals. It was founded on Christian principles by a committed Christian but they just give to whoever needs with the only caveat being you have to go to school. Also, its run by a very nice man out of his dad's shed.

OP, you sound very balanced and making sure the school knows about the values and methods of the charity they are going to support can only be a good thing.

Wellthen Sat 02-Nov-13 18:05:23

The American Samaritan's purse is separate to the British I believe so I dont think you should reference an American issue.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:07:04

Which US issue do you mean, wellthen? If it's the fact that in the US, the leaflets go in the boxes before they're shipped out, you're right, but according to one of the links upthread, OCC in the US wants the UK operation to come into line with this practice.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 02-Nov-13 18:07:41

They are not separate they are the same charity with a UK and a US arm. The shoebox es are handed out in exactly the same way, it is just how the charity is advertised in the different countries that is different.

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 18:07:55

In what way do you believe they are separate, Wellthen? They are the same organisation.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 02-Nov-13 18:08:46

The leaflets don't go in the UK boxes as there was objections, instead they go on top of the boxes

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:08:54

Gosh, houseseller, that's very kind!

hermioneweasley Sat 02-Nov-13 18:09:40

Wow, the thread HouseSeller posted to with the OCC PR guy was ultra creepy. Comes across as a cult leader. shudders

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 02-Nov-13 18:11:30

I think my favourite bit of that thread was where the OCC guy said he had lots of gay friends but they were all unhappy to be gay.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:13:36

Every post of Brian's on that thread was comedy gold, except for the fact that he wasn't joking sad

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 18:14:43

wellthen - if you mean the references to Franklin Graham and his homophobic, anti-Islamic views, I am afraid he is very much involved in the UK arm of the charity as well: Franklin Graham launches Operation Christmas Child in London.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 18:15:04

well you may he right op and as an atheist I really couldn't give a crap but me and my kids will do a box.

it's good for my kids to understand and give and it's fantastic for a child to receive a box of gifts. for me that's all that matters.

in an aside why wouldn't a Christian/Muslim/ Jewish charity push their beliefs. isn't that what they are supposed to do?

people can choose to believe or not.

DifferenceEngine Sat 02-Nov-13 18:16:04

Wow you have opened my eyes.

Pre schoolers in the difference household, so haven't had any contact with OCC, but if asked I shall be sending my money to these guys instead

Not very festive, but sanitation is so, so vital.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 18:16:37
DifferenceEngine Sat 02-Nov-13 18:16:50



DifferenceEngine Sat 02-Nov-13 18:17:15
gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 18:18:47

exactly DifferenceEngine - there are better options than a bunch of homophobic anti Islamic fundamentalists x

Pigsmummy Sat 02-Nov-13 18:20:22

Sooooo a poor child receives a Christmas gift box from a kind person with a leaflet in about Christianity. Isn't this better than not receiving said box? Isn't Christmas about Christianity?

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 18:23:51

thebody - as an atheist, would you be happy if someone came into your child's school, handing out presents and trying to get your child to sign up for a 12-week bible-study class run by American fundamentalists? If not, why on earth would you donate to an organisation that does that to other children overseas?

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 18:25:02

Speaking of comedy gold on that other thread...

Message poster gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:40:55
Goodnight SuburbanRhonda, or can I just call you Rhonda?

Message poster SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:45:59
SuburbanRhonda, since it's you, Brian.


exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 18:27:04

Pigsmummy - I have no objection to giving presents to poor children, though I do think that sending shoeboxes of miscellaneous stuff half way round the world is not perhaps the best form of charity. What I do object to is a) linking gifts to proselytising, and b) that people who are not evangelical Christians are encouraged to support that by an organisation which covers up its true aims.

If you just want poor children to have presents, there are lots of other charities around which do that without pressing their religious beliefs on the recipients.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:32:26

thebody, please read upthread about what the OP actually asked.

I am shock at you defending this charity. What is it that is so good for your kids to understand?

Btw, you do know that Samaritans Purse's statement of faith states that:
"We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; the saved unto the resurrection of eternal life and the lost unto the resurrection of damnation and eternal punishment. Revelation 20:11-15; I Corinthians 15:51-57."

You would fall into the second category, as an atheist. But they are still happy to take your donations.

manicinsomniac Sat 02-Nov-13 18:35:29

why are people telling people who don't agree with the majority to read he full thread? confused It's not a long thread, the most likely thing is that they have read it and, er, don't agree! It's not compulsory to change your mind just because the majority opinion on a thread changes half way down!

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 18:36:19

I wish people would read the thread - it's not the Christian element at all it's the fundamentalism, conversion, anti Islamic anti gay stuff people dislike

Christmas charity gifts should spread LOVE and goodwill not hatred and oppression

manicinsomniac Sat 02-Nov-13 18:42:03

Again, What makes you think people haven't read the thread - they probably just don't agree with you!

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 18:45:12

Manic, I don't think I've seen anyone who has said they disagree with the OP acknowledge that they are supporting OCC in spite of the fact that they are a homophobic and, at best, culturally insensitive, at worst racist and certainly evangelical organisation. That's why I don't think those people have read the thread.

The exception to this is thebody who may know exactly who she is supporting. I'm quite shocked at this - surely it's more important to live according to your true values, do some research and support organisations that are doing real good? Instead of turning a blind eye and going along with the majority. Several very positive shoebox appeals have been discussed that would be more than happy to give a donated shoebox without the accompanying OCC baggage.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:46:54

manic, because the OP asked for advice in drafting a letter to the school outlining the evangelical nature of the charity the school is urging the whole community to support, and many posters are ignoring this and claiming she is telling people not to support OCC.

The OP and many other posters feel, quite rightly I think, that if you want to persuade people to support a charity they might otherwise not support, you need to explain exactly what that charity's methods and motives are, because it's clear even just from this thread, than many people were unaware, for example, of the homophobic campaigning the charity undertakes.

At no point has the OP suggested people shouldn't support it, but that they should support it in full possession of the facts.

I can't quite see how this could possibly be objected to, unless the charity has something to hide.

BoreOfWhabylon Sat 02-Nov-13 18:47:27

Good letter OP. Well done.

Samaritan's Purse have their fingers in lots of pies, eg their abstinence-based HIV/AIDS education programme in East Africa.

Here's a quote from Franklin Graham:

"I am not an advocate of passing out condoms to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. We should not condone sex outside of marriage. When a crowd dragged the adulterous woman in front of Jesus and prepared to stone her, Jesus forgave her and said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). I cannot imagine Jesus giving her a condom and saying, “Keep doing what you are doing and try to protect yourself.” "

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:47:45

X-post, houseseller

LaGuardia Sat 02-Nov-13 18:48:00

I was all set to do a shoebox until I read that they also need £3 taped to the lid to pay for 'admin'. I don't think so.

oldgrandmama Sat 02-Nov-13 18:50:44

So what if there's some evangelical literature included in the kids' boxes? Surely what's important is that it's great for children to receive something nice and if their parents/carers/kids aren't interested in the leaflets or whatever, they can bin them.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:52:44

I can't imagine anyone giving out condoms in biblical times either.

But probably for different reasons than Franklin Graham's hmm

PublicEnemyNumeroUno Sat 02-Nov-13 18:55:50

Interesting thread, i had no idea of the agenda behind these shoeboxes

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 18:57:34

oldgrandmama, if you read the thread, you will read that people are objecting to Samaritan's Purse being untruthful about the true nature of their OCC scheme.

They don't give a shiny shit what's in the boxes.

They just want to convert as many children as possible to their own brand of Christianity, and while there are enough people saying, "It's just a shoebox full of gifts, what's the problem?", they will succeed in their aim. The point of this post is to raise awareness of their real agenda.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 18:57:53

I think the donation goes to pay for transport, and to pay for this 'booklet of bible stories', ie evangelical material, to go with the boxes: The Greatest Gift.

After a few stories, it comes out with: "Do you want to be a friend and follower of Jesus? If you do, you can speak to Him right now, by praying the prayer below: Dear Jesus, I want to be your friend and follower. I know that I have made wrong choices and have done sinful things. I'm sorry; I do not want to live that way any more. Please forgive me and change me. Jesus, I believe You are God's Son. I believe You died to take punishment for my sins. I believe God raised You back to life. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit, so I will have all of the faith I need to trust and follow only You. Lord, thank you for rescuing me and making me Yours. Amen."

It then asks children to make a list of people they can tell about their conversion.

Not exactly what you might expect when you think of a 'booklet of bible stories'.

scaevola Sat 02-Nov-13 19:00:10

OP: I like your letter, but I'd take out the link to the

This is because it will look as if you are simply a counter campaigner, for they are active on this.

I suggest you either remove references to the link, or find one from a organisation which is not campaigning one way or another on this.

RichPetunia Sat 02-Nov-13 19:04:47

You've reminded me to send my shoeboxes, and I've just done this online. Thanks OP.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 19:09:16

I have read the whole thread. I am allowed to disagree!!!

my children attend a faith school as it's our local school, all of our catchment schools are faith so we have no choice.

we are atheists but hope interested in giving to charities and helping those less fortunate.

all religions have nasty elements, personally I really don't care that some fundamentalists of any religion damn me and mine to hell fire as non believers.

the shoe boxes are not the personification of evil but a few toys passed on to less fortunate children.

I repeat most charities supporting faiths have dodgy elements and I don't see quite why Christian charities somehow are more mocked than others.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 19:09:36

Well, I do hope you don't have any gay friends, friends of other religions or non-believing friends, Petunia, because the charity you support holds very non-Christian views about such people.

Inertia Sat 02-Nov-13 19:10:47

Oldgrandmama I'm no apologist for any religion, but I think there's plenty wrong with turning up to poverty-stricken places where people are in need of aid and telling children they can have a gift as long as they agree to prayers and practices which are contrary to (or even constitute blasphemy in) their own religion or culture.

It's particularly offensive if reports of OCC evangelists following soldiers into war-torn Middle Eastern cities are true.

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 19:12:46

Thebody do stop the hyperbole - no one has 'mocked' Christian charities - they have objected to one anti gay anti Islamic charity operating in schools

They are entitled to do so

I am betting rather than a shoe box with toys most kids would rather have fresh water and food - which influences my charity choice

If you wish to support an orgnaisation that preaches against gay people and Muslims that is your choice

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 19:16:46

All religions have nasty elements, so why give to the nasty elements rather than the decent ones? There are many Christians and Christian charities that do a lot of good around the world. OCC and Samaritans Purse are not among them.

Inertia Sat 02-Nov-13 19:19:52

Thebody, there are many charities supporting less fortunate children who are not run by hate preachers who make inflammatory comments about the religion that many of the conversion targets adhere to.

And to address the other comments about support a charity you do agree with - it's possible to both support other charities and try to inform people about SP. The issue is exactly as illustrated by this thread - SP trade on people's trusting nature's and the fact that people want to give something tangible. They rely on the fact that children will want to be involved with giving toys. They target their audiences with exactly the 'right' amount of information about their ore business of evangelism- in the US they are much more upfront that their aim is to convert people to their brand of fundamentalist Christianity.

Inertia Sat 02-Nov-13 19:21:33

Sorry for rogue apostrophe, and it should say core not ore.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 19:24:58

I have no problem at all with most Christian charities (although as an atheist, given the choice I'll go for a secular one) because unlike Samaritan's Purse, most reputable Christian charities - Christian Aid, Cafod etc - draw a very clear line between distributing aid and doing good works, prompted by their Christian beliefs, and using those good works to spread their beliefs. They do the former, they do not do the latter.

The way that Samaritan's Purse/OCC uses supposed charitable works as a vehicle for evangelism is unethical, and would be condemned by most people working for proper Christian charities.

trockodile Sat 02-Nov-13 19:42:10

I'm really sure why people can object to the op from writing a letter and asking for help to make sure her facts are correct.
You all seem pretty sure that people are happy to give to this charity, whatever the charity believes or how they operate, or whether they are homophobic, racist or xenophobic. So presumably there will be no change to the charities profits or the amount of shoeboxes donated or given out? (Or the carbon footprint, VAT collected by the treasury, tax relief not given to the charity or the amount of children who are not being taught to think about their charitable giving but rather how important it is to feel good about yourself?)
Problem solved-Op has wasted her time in writing a useless letter because nobody cares and there will be no difference in the charity support. apart of course from the people who do care and will instead donate to something useful and ethical as we did here

tracypenisbeaker Sat 02-Nov-13 19:53:21

Sadly, there's people out there who would rather shut their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and go 'LALALALA I'M NOT LISTENING' instead of being open minded and reading into the realities of what's going on, just because it is easier and they don't want anything to compromise the 'warm fuzzy feeling' and the feeling of righteousness they have for participating in the shoebox appeal. To me that is lazy. Anyone can throw money at a cause they know nothing about/ have no personal investments in. I would rather do my research about a charity before I try to assure myself that I have indeed done something good or useful, and in this case I feel my money and time would be better invested in something that places no judgements, conditions or ties on vulnerable, impressionable children. I certainly hate the idea of these children being made to believe that Jesus is the reason why they have presents, not the good kind donors who actually put them together. Taking credit for someone else's kindness is wrong, IMO.

Of course, if you know all the facts and make an informed decision, and still decide it is a worthwhile cause, then fair enough. But don't rage at the OP or others because they want people to be aware of what is actually going on behind the scenes.

SeaSickSal Sat 02-Nov-13 20:04:50

He, he. Am finding the people worrying about homophobia then worrying about Muslims in the next breath unintentionally hilarious.

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Nov-13 20:11:10

my Muslim friends aren't homophobic and neither are my Christian ones Seasicksal so I am missing your point smile

SuburbanRhonda Sat 02-Nov-13 20:15:17

seasick, you've got a very strange sense of humour, as well as a bit of tendency towards gross generalisation hmm

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 20:19:14

see what I really can't understand is the total unwillingness to belive that all faith based charities have an agenda?

why the outrage? if course they do. that's the whole point if faith isn't it? to sure as the word. all religions do it.

the show box is a simple way of allowing kids to shop and pack and send a gift to other children.

the faith messages of course are included but can also be dismissed.

are you saying those recieving them are too stupid to assimilate??

awful lot of hot air and indignation here from safe and warm posters who have no bloody intention of going to any poor country and actually helping build schools/ hospitals.

no charity is all good and all bad!! very lazy view and very innocent.

Inertia Sat 02-Nov-13 20:19:21

I disagree with injustices committed in the name of Islam, but that doesn't mean I think the best way to deal with them is to get primary school children fund an organisation which is both run by a homophobic religious bigot, and whose main aim is to attempt to bribe children to convert to fundamental Christianity.

pinkballetflats Sat 02-Nov-13 20:20:23

Those of you who don't understand what the problem is:

1) Fundamentalist Christians actively support campaigns that take away rights from women and cause further pain and misery to the already impoverished
2)Fundamentalist Christians pretty much despise you unless you are a Fundamentalist Christian
3) Fundamentalist Christians support Israel fir one purpose only - so that their End Times beliefs can come to pass (basically Israel is their sacrificial lamb)
4) Fundamentalist Christians would sooner step over you in the street than lend you an actual helubg hand (unless you fit nice and neatly into their world view)
Fundamentalist Christians are in general no better than facists.

I realise these are sweeping statements...butter spend a bit if time around them, watch and listen....they are sonera of the most grateful people I gave ever cone across and the only thing they are interested in is conversion...if they can't convert you you are ship on their shied.

New take that nasty attitude, put them in a position of power over vulnerable needy people and watch what happens...

People absolutely should know the roots of OCC - Imt ashamed to say I didn't

pinkballetflats Sat 02-Nov-13 20:25:09

Hateful...not grateful

Inertia Sat 02-Nov-13 20:26:09

There's no reason to support only faith based charities - there are many others. And there are far more efficient ways to build schools and hospitals than sending a box halfway around the world. I know I am fortunate to be safe and warm, which is why I donate to charities which support people who aren't.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 20:30:03

I expect most of us donate to many charities don't we??

I certainly do.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 20:35:00

thebody - what has packing shoeboxes full of gifts got to do with building hospitals and schools? That's not what Operation Christmas Child does. OCC is all about using material goods to entice children into bible classes. Not a worthwhile goal, in my opinion.

Education and healthcare are, however, the kind of thing that mainstream charities like Oxfam and Medicins San Frontieres get involved in, without any religious agenda, which is why I have standing orders to them every month. I'm also thinking of sponsoring a child through Plan, which I think will give my DCs a much better idea of how you really help poor children in other countries than sending off a Christmas shoebox.

And as I said in an earlier post, it is perfectly possible for charities to be set up by Christians, and operate on Christian principles, without connecting their work to evangelism. Lots of charities do it all the time, and are very open about their work, unlike Samaritan's Purse.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 20:38:03

And can I just say "well said" to tracypenisbeaker.

I think there are a lot of people who are just happy with the warm glow of self satisfaction at having done something nice for impoverished kiddies, without actually examining what they are contributing to.

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 20:40:37

I do donate to many charities too, thebody, and some of them are Christian, but I check them out as thoroughly as I can first. I don't donate to those whose activities involve spreading hate. Why is it so difficult to inderstand there is a huge difference between Christian and Fundamentalist Christian, thebody? Why insist on lumping them all together instead of evaluating each charity on its individual merits? Willful ignorance is by far the worst kind. I have also spent six months in living in Central America volunteering for a secular charity btw as you seem to think no one has the right to criticise OCC without the proper credentials for some reason.

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 20:41:29

And another well said to tracypenisbeaker, you got it in one.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 20:41:30

Has anyone read the other thread?

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

[[ Brian Bennett, Head of Communications for Samaritans Purse UK said that on.]] Their actual head of communications doesn't think it helps.

So why is anyone still doing it?

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 20:42:07

Has anyone read the other thread?

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

Brian Bennett, Head of Communications for Samaritans Purse UK said that on that thread. Their actual head of communications doesn't think it helps.

So why is anyone still doing it?

merrymouse Sat 02-Nov-13 20:42:30

see what I really can't understand is the total unwillingness to belive that all faith based charities have an agenda?

I don't think this is true. Many faiths have charity as part of their faith, but this does not have to be linked to 'missionary work'. One is often connected to the other, but there is no reason why this should be the case.

Wellthen Sat 02-Nov-13 20:43:47

My bad, I was sure I had read somewhere that they were separate but google does indeed confirm they are not. In which case the issue of funding homophobic groups is important.

The practices of this charity are completely contray to Christian belief and, imo, to the practices of a good charity. Charity is a gift. It is not conditional. The shoe boxes are conditional - Muslim children converting or already being a Christian and going to a certain church. The gifts are not given out based on need.

Dillytante Sat 02-Nov-13 20:48:38

So OCC are allowed to evangelise about their beliefs to vulnerable children, possibly of different religions, but the OP isn't allowed to politely voice her beliefs to her local community?

Irony, haterz.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 20:52:44

we are athhiests and give our kids gifts at Christmas.

this has not made them rabid Christians.

our local catchment school is C of E.

hasn't made us Christian.

I susiect a shoe box of toys is just that really, a gift, I am absolutely sure those reviving them are just as able to dissemble and choose too.

trockodile Sat 02-Nov-13 20:53:04 this article is not about shoeboxes but I thought it had some good points about giving money and not goods to impoverished countries.

TreaterAnita Sat 02-Nov-13 21:03:30

I don't think YABU at all, a lot of people will think that it's a lovely idea to give a child a Christmas box and won't look any further into the charity doing it.

I would write something like, "I read with interest last month's piece about OCC and agree that it is great to think about others in need at this time of year. However I personally have some concerns about OCC's evangelical Christian aims. For those of your readers who think similarly there are many other charities who run similar schemes (give examples)."

Brief, to the point, non-defamatory and doesn't mention the school. Does that help?

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 21:05:08

You give your kids gifts at Christmas but you don't set an example to them by giving money to homophobic causes. You don't preach to them against homosexuality or preach against the use of condoms to stop the spread of aids and recommend abstinence instead, or send them to classes on fundamentalist Christianity in order to get their christmas gifts. So why is it okay to do these things to other people's children just because they're poor? Because by giving these shoeboxes to OCC that's exactly what you're doing.

It must be very hard to accept that you've been swindled when you thought you were doing something good. It must be very hard to stand up for what's right when everyone else in the school is seemingly against you and you think they would consider you a selfish Scrooge for objecting. So I understand why people would want to stick their heads in the sand.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 21:05:15

we are athhiests and give our kids gifts at Christmas.

this has not made them rabid Christians.

our local catchment school is C of E.

hasn't made us Christian.

I suspect a shoe box of toys is just that really, a gift, I am absolutely sure those receiving them are just as able to dissemble and choose too.

MyDogEatsPoop Sat 02-Nov-13 21:10:25

Thebody - have you missed the bit about Samaritans Purse spending $150,000 of charitable donations on anti-gay progaganda? That's your £3 taped to the box. Are you really ok with that?

janeyjampot Sat 02-Nov-13 21:11:04

Just for clarity, the charities which run Toilet twinning (Tearfund and CORD) are both Christian.

It doesn't surprise me that Christian charities evangelise because that is what Jesus asked Christians to do - "make disciples of all nations". I agree that the lack of clarity makes OCC seem duplicitous, but when you understand the call to make disciples it should probably be expected that volunteers for Christian charities will talk about their faith with those they encounter.

I suspect that OCC see sharing faith as the real gift, not the shoebox.

trockodile Sat 02-Nov-13 21:15:49

Great article here from an aid worker

Why does this have to be so hard?

The way aid should be done:

1) Understand the need that needs to be addressed, the problem that needs to be solved.

2) Plan a solution based on that need, on that problem.

3) Implement the solution to meet the need, fix the problem.

The way far too many amateurs want to do aid:

1) Have a solution (used clothes, volunteers, bunch of soccer balls, a gadget, etc…)

2) Find a problem that you can, with a little imagination, use the solution identified in Step 1 to partially solve.

* * *

The fact that there are masochists in the world does not mean it’s a okay to go around hitting people…

The fact that you can pound nails in using a screwdriver does not mean that it’s a good idea to use screwdrivers for driving nails…

The fact that you can find someone in Haiti who wants your old clothes does not mean that sending used clothes to Haiti is a good idea.

The fact that your volunteers are not run out of a village with torches and pitchforks in the dead of night is not proof, either that they were effective or that they were appreciated.

The fact that you can spin some wildly unlikely hypothetical situation in which your “activity that I’d like to do” idea might possibly not result in utter harm and chaos, in no way means that it’s a good idea.

The fact that you can spin a somewhat unlikely hypothetical situation in which your idea might result in even partial success, in no way means that it’s a good idea.

It’s basic pythagorean logic. It’s Occam’s Razor.

You start with the actual need. Then you base your solution on the need. Not the other way around.

Why is that so hard?

Dawndonnaagain Sat 02-Nov-13 21:17:45

The United Nations Declaration of the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief[10], Proclaimed by the General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November, 1981, Article 5.2. states:

2. Every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle.

The children are told it is a gift from Jesus, not from a child in another country.

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 21:22:18

trockodile - yes. Absolutely. It's penguins in jumpers all over again.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 21:24:31

MyDog, yes of course... most religions are anti gay??? that's not news or new is it really? Christian/ Muslim etc etc.

one more time,,, it's a shoe box if goodies for a child!!

do you honestly think that the receivers can't say no to religions bombarding them??

religions smell despair and misery around the world. always will as that's where there recruits are. people can also say no!!!

WelliesandPyjamas Sat 02-Nov-13 21:25:24

When we lived abroad (as referred by mmelindor upthread) my son was given a box at his preschool...none of the children at this fee-paying preschool were poor in any way, none were in need of toothpaste, soap, or scarves, the vast majority were musilm (and Christian paperwork was included in the box), and the box originated from the UK.

Please note:
- These boxes don't always reach the right recipients.
- Despite assurances to the contrary, Christian paperwork is included (or it was when sent to a Muslim country that year!).
- OCC's response to me contacting them about this was dreadful, lots lf passing the buck for months on end in the hope I would get bored and go away.

If Christians want to send evangelical literature then I don't think they should pretend it's a charity to help the kids. They should be straight about it and call it a recruiting drive and admit that the food or whatever in the parcels is bait.

thebody Sat 02-Nov-13 21:39:20

Back, all religions are recruitment drives!! they don't lie.. that's what they are about so can't understand the confusion here!

trockodile Sat 02-Nov-13 21:40:09

Puntastic-that is hilarious and tragic in equal measure! Unbelievable!

harticus Sat 02-Nov-13 21:41:53

I worked for a long time for charities in India - Kolakata to be precise.

Periodically these Lady Bountifuls (as we called them) swanned in from the US, Australia and GB and handed out odds and sods to the children. Not all the children though - many were left out which of course causes massive division and resentment and even violence.

This kind of donation is all about the giver feeling good about themselves and has fuck all to do with genuine provision for people in dire need.

Filling a box with tat simply doesn't help.

Provision within nations so that the local economy benefits does help. Send some money to a local NGO or charity - they are on the ground and know what is needed. So if kids need toothpaste they source toothpaste from a local shopkeeper who in turn sources it from a local wholesaler who in turn employs a driver to deliver ....

It is basic economics and it helps entire communities in need not just the "lucky" child who happens to get a box with a single toothpaste tube in it.

exexpat Sat 02-Nov-13 21:42:15

puntastic - I hadn't seen that penguin thing before. I will bookmark it for future reference.

There was the start of something similar here after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 - well-meaning people around the world started collecting food and clothes etc to ship over to Japan, which had absolutely no need of those things. There were already plentiful supplies within Japan of food, clothing and pretty much everything else the victims of the disaster needed (apart from possibly a few specialist items of disaster recovery equipment - not the kind of thing you'd have lurking in the back of your wardrobe or larder). The problem was getting the stuff to them, because most of the transport networks to the affected areas had been swept away in the tsunami. What was actually helpful in the end was the US navy which moved its warships up the coast to act as floating bases for disaster relief.

I remember some people getting rather offended and huffy when I pointed out the uselessness of collecting material goods here to ship half-way round the world to a rich country - they were only trying to help.

I think even many of the donations of used clothing etc from within Japan did not end up being used, because large companies like Uniqlo donated lots and lots of boxes of new clothing, which was much easier to distribute as it didn't need cleaning and sorting - everything was already labelled and divided into sizes and types of clothing.

I appreciate that people's motivations to do things are often good, but the effect is not always what is needed, even without the added disadvantage of combining gifts with religious propaganda.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 21:56:10

The penguin story and exexpat's story remind me of the phrase 'intent isn't magic'

This is a useful explanation and it does seem to apply here even though it is usually used in other contexts.

People don't like to be told that their actions - however well-intended - are potentially harmful and damaging so they a) minimise the consequences or b) focus on rationalising rather than remedying.

puntasticusername Sat 02-Nov-13 21:56:18

trockodile/exexpat it's fascinating, isn't it? I love it for what it says about social media, as well as about the whole charity angle.

This seems to be demonstrative of the phenomenon whereby people genuinely want to give, but they are more bothered about the fact that they are giving - and in a manner that suits them - than about whether what they are giving, and how, suits the recipient.

BlingBang Sat 02-Nov-13 22:04:36

Franklyn Graham was at some point drawing over 400 000 dollars a year as head of OCC. this man is political. If he has his way he would put a stop to same sex marriages, promote homophobic views, is antil Islam and probably anyone who isn't a fundamental Christian. He lobbies for abortion to be be banned. If you want to support this guy and his beliefs - knock yourself out, I'm sure Hitler probably promoted some charitable works as well.

But at least let people know what this man and organisation actually represents so they can make an educated decision. My guess is that most folk in the UK would be against his brand of Christianity.

TreaterAnita Sat 02-Nov-13 22:15:45

But thebody, while their beliefs are prominently displayed on their website (at least in the general evangelising sense) by persuading non-denominational schools to support them, and those a schools failing to tell parents that this is anything other than a feel good, Christmasy donation, they are hiding what they are about, as you can't assume that people will check, and I suspect many kids and parents feel pressured to join in.

There is absolutely no way that I would donate to this particular charity (and so far haven't been asked to) but it's only because of threads on here that I known what it's about. If my son's nursery had signed up, I might have been too busy to check.

Dawndonnaagain Sat 02-Nov-13 22:32:58

Franklin Graham did the prayers at bush's inauguration. Says it all really, anti women, anti Muslim, homophobic and pocketing a fortune in the name if The Lord.

SeaSickSal Sat 02-Nov-13 22:36:17

Islam is absolutely unequivocal about the fact that by their creed homosexuality is wrong.

I would like to hear about the last religiously (or Christian state) sanctioned Christian execution as a punishment for homosexuality. I would hazard a guess that or was less recent than last month. With y'know, head chopping offs and hangings and things like that.

But no, I find people who can demand respect for Muslims and gays in the same sentence hypocrites.

If someone can point me in the direction of a Muslim state which promotes gay rights or a mainstream Muslim organisation in the UK which does the same thing I might change my mind.

Otherwise excuse me if I laugh at posters who say. 'Well I know a very nicely slim couple who live in Tooting and they've never said anything homophobic within my earshot. This obviously negates the worldwide persecution of gays by Muslims'.

SeaSickSal Sat 02-Nov-13 22:37:33

Nice Muslim. Not nicely slim

thegreylady Sat 02-Nov-13 22:39:01

I am so glad I have learned the truth about OCC. I will stick to MM now. I have done several shoeboxes every year for years thinking I was doing something good for the children sad

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 22:45:19
Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 22:46:28

Don't be too hard on yourself, thegrey thanks

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 02-Nov-13 22:46:42

If someone can point me in the direction of a Muslim state which promotes gay rights or a mainstream Muslim organisation in the UK which does the same thing I might change my mind.

Here you go.

BlingBang Sat 02-Nov-13 22:47:11

You realise many Muslims have no choice about their religion? Many muslims believe different things and being Muslim doesn't mean you agree with the Taliban. But if you want to lump them all together go ahead.

suebfg Sat 02-Nov-13 22:56:13

I've supported Operation Christmas Child before and wasn't aware that the boxes were accompanied by any religious literature etc. Your post (and subsequent research) has made me reconsider whether to support it this year, however in your position, I wouldn't say anything. Let people do their own research and make their own minds up.

trockodile Sat 02-Nov-13 23:20:05

Seasicksal-unfortunately there is a lot of anti-gay hatred in parts of Christian Africa. Most obvious is Uganda with it's "Kill the Gays Bill" According to this article it is partially funded by US fundamentalists and propped up by the American tax payer.
Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, who has promised to pass the country’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a “Christmas gift”.was blessed by Pope Benedict last year

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 02-Nov-13 23:26:22

It was you Wellies!

Great links trock and others.

thebody all religions are recruitment drives!! they don't lie.

You must have a different definition of lying. Most Christian religions claim their only interest is being moral and helping people.

thebody Sun 03-Nov-13 00:29:23

er they belive in an almighty God!!!

Muslims/ Jews/ all religions belive in an all powerful being!

the whole point if these clubs is to control their followers and collect money.. all the mainstream religions are hugely rich while the vast majority if their followers are poor.

they don't lie.. look around you at the churches in this country alone, the beautiful mosques! the banks that back ' and the mosques that preach peace and support the opposite.

religions are transparent. control and money!

most sensible people see this.

thebody Sun 03-Nov-13 00:29:52

er they belive in an almighty God!!!

Muslims/ Jews/ all religions belive in an all powerful being!

the whole point of these clubs is to control their followers and collect money.. all the mainstream religions are hugely rich while the vast majority if their followers are poor.

they don't lie.. look around you at the churches in this country alone, the beautiful mosques! the banks that back ' and the mosques that preach peace and support the opposite.h

religions are transparent. control and money!

most sensible people see this.

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 01:24:12

most sensible people see this

Yes, and most sensible people won't allow their donations to be used in order to further these aims, body. You don't appear to care much.

It is quite possible for a religious group to confine themselves to merely helping people, leaving any conversion aims at home. Many, many do.

And yet you cannot see the harm in a group deliberately using the generosity of others as a TOOL to sign up vulnerable children to their programs? Programs that, no doubt, promote the homophobia and racism that the organisation stands for?

"Oh but they can just throw out the literature if they are not interested" is stunningly immature & naive & shows that you have managed to miss the point entirely.

Religions are famous for "getting them when they're young". This lot are adding "get them when they are poor & in need" and attitudes like yours are giving them a massive helping hand.

Caitlin17 Sun 03-Nov-13 03:09:15

You know reading this makes me feel a complete idiot for the 3 or 4 years I packed a shoe box.

Even setting aside the ulterior motives it's such an inefficient way of providing help.

You got instructions to include things like toiletries, pens, gloves and scarves. There was a long thread on here about how presents can miss the mark for people you know, so how the hell was this supposed to work?

Obviously the sensible thing for a charity to do is assess what is really wanted and needed and to get money to allow goods to be sourced wholesale and as near as possible to the distribution point to maximize spending power and achieve consistency in the gifts.

It ^really^ was all about the giver getting to feel good.

I always picked "teenage boy" and tried to buy things my own teenage boy might like So as well as the dull things I'd add whatever nice smelly stuff/hair stuff, band t-shirts, he might like. I agonised about including a CD one year ( Kings of Leon, they'd been headlining all the festivals that year), no real idea of who I was buying for, would he have anything to play it on? Who knows? Put it in anyway fully aware this could be first world cultural imperialism at its worst.

I used to allow £35-£40. Actually pretty annoyed now to think how much more real, targeted good would have been done if I'd just donated that to the local branch of The Sally Army.

pinkballetflats Sun 03-Nov-13 05:48:17

Anyone who is looking for places that evaluate charities, these two websites (though both American) might be a good place to start:

I can't believe how spectacularly naive some people are being on this thread regarding extreme fundamentalism....people in the West seem to have a good idea of what makes up the mind of an extreme Muslim fundamentalist and labels them dangerous and unhinged, and yet are extremely blasé about extreme Christian Fundamantalists...they are both, fundamentally, the same.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 06:45:51

Exactly, pink, it's shocking to be so dismissive of the facts and pretty much say "oh they're all basically the same" when they most certainly are not! Boggles the mind and I can't wrap my head around that level of wilful ignorance.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 06:52:41

Caitlin17, that's one of the things that's so spectacularly evil about this organisation. They are basically swindling those that are donating and diverting funds from charities that do real good. You and others who donated without knowing the truth should take comfort in the fact that your hearts were in the right place and you tried your best to do something very generous and selfless. All laudable qualities and we need more good people like you and others who donated without knowing in the world.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 06:59:51

And pink I case I wasn't clear I completely agree that Muslim and Christian fundamentalists are the same. Many Muslims and Christians are wonderful and both groups have faith-based charities that do a lot of good. Fundamentalist of both religions are unhinged, ruin the good names of their respective religions and do a great deal of damage to people and society. They will not at nothing to push their hate-filled beliefs on others. A lot of the violence and wars we see around the world are fuelled by fundamentalists including of the Christian variety - in the US the politics of most fundamentalists and evangelicals are extremely warmongering.

curlew Sun 03-Nov-13 07:09:57

Even if you set aside the evangelical side- which I don't- it's just so wildly impractical. Just think about the cost of shipping these boxes, the air miles, the carbon footprint of each box (a box filled with stuff made in China being sent from England to Malawi, for example). Hats, gloves and scarves? How do we know it's not going to a country where it never gets cold? How do they decide on the ground who gets a box and who doesn't?

It's all, sadly, about the giver.

curlew Sun 03-Nov-13 07:11:47

Sorry,posted too soon.
It's all about the giver- which is why people get so cross about it. It's a way of giving that feels fantastic.

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 08:01:07

I find your post quite upsetting, Caitlin.

For a start, you're not an idiot for being a decent person & that was your one and only motivation. So leave all idiocy thoughts aside.

I think taking such trouble over finding just the right thing for someone that you will never meet is lovely & I hope, if it gave you pleasure to do it, that you can continue with an organisation with less dubious morals - and there really are plenty around.

I agree, though, that's it's uneconomical when they are being flown to the third world. But there are women's shelters & children's homes here that would love to receive thoughtful packages like that.

But anyway - don't feel like an idiot. Feel like a nice person who was a bit duped. Like loads of others, including me.

curlew Sun 03-Nov-13 08:21:09

Caitlin- please don't feel bad. The marketing is so skillful that it takes most people ages to see through it. As you can see, many people never do!

sonlypuppyfat Sun 03-Nov-13 08:21:20

I'm sure it doesn't fly, the ones from my area go by lorry. And in our boxes there's soap tooth paste and brushes, gloves or hat pencils so its not all plastic tat.

fluffyduckie Sun 03-Nov-13 08:21:38

I think that many Christian charities will be trying to convert or at least introduce people to the Christian faith.

Compassion is well rated on the charity navigator site and they say -

"Compassion's holistic child development programmes focus on the spiritual, economic, social and physical needs of children through all stages of development. Our programmes are unique in that they are Christ Centred, Child Focused and Church Based."

lottieandmia Sun 03-Nov-13 08:27:46

'How do we know it's not going to a country where it never gets cold?'

A lot of the boxes go to places like Bosnia and Romania - why would you think they all go to places that never get cold?

However reading this thread has made me think twice about donating this year - I will probably do something else.

curlew Sun 03-Nov-13 08:30:22

"why would you think they all go to places that never get cold?"

I don't.

DwellsUndertheSink Sun 03-Nov-13 08:53:49

Agree with the carbon footprint statement. Id much rather people made a shoebox for kids in a local womens shelter, or even better, bought £20 worth of food for the local foodbank.

Imagine all those toys, manufactured in sweatshops in China and Taiwan, transported thousands of miles to the UK, sold at over inflated prices and then shipped back to people who barely have enough food to eat. Much of what is sent ends up in street markets to be sold so the family can eat.

Meanwhile, people in this country are so slammed by the cuts in benefits that they are struggling to eat - there was a post on here recently about a couple that only eat once a day, as they cannot afford any more. Its madness.

Suttonmum1 Sun 03-Nov-13 09:01:02

I've known pretty much how bad OCC was for years (though didn't know about the anti-gay side) and have been wary. However my sons' cubs and scouts collect them for the church where they meet and I did boxes one year in order to support the scout leaders. (I know, mad logic.)

However, it is the most ridiculous idea ever. Even if you try hard to put in useful stuff, ie gloves, toothbrushes, pens etc, you're not going to put in expensive items. So the produce you buy might well have been produced in dodgy conditions, shipped half way round the world, been sold to you at 5 times the price it's really worth and will be shipped half way round the world again.

It is the most inefficient form of giving ever, without even considering the evangelical aspects. Just a pound coin in any charity box is worth much much more. I would be following OP if my school decided to support it, as there is a pressure on the kids to join in.

Look at number of people who buy pointless gifts for everyone they've ever known - they'll be the ones who really love this.

Suttonmum1 Sun 03-Nov-13 09:01:47

Cross post in sentiment, Dwellsunderthesink!

lottieandmia Sun 03-Nov-13 09:07:12

But people do it because they think they're helping, SuttonMum not because they want to buy pointless gifts for people (I certainly didn't). As someone said above, the marketing is certainly very effective. I question most things and did not think to question this.

I am now very glad this thread was started because I had no idea what this charity actually stands for and now that I do I have revised my opinion entirely and will be donating elsewhere.

hermioneweasley Sun 03-Nov-13 09:18:31

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Bubbles1066 Sun 03-Nov-13 09:25:45

It has certainly opened my eyes. I will not do a shoe box this year and will instead maybe donate to the local food bank.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 03-Nov-13 09:46:50

A couple of years ago we attended a christening near to Xmas where the parents requested no gifts except a shoe box donation. I was very glad we only took one of DS's old shoe boxes rather than one of DH's extra large shoe boxes after we told - in some detail - during the service that every box we had donated gave a child the opportunity to feel god's love and find the path towards true belief...

Not giving aid because we are fortunate enough to live in the UK and have the ability to do so, but because doing so gives the church an opportunity to convert vulnerable children to a particularly conservative sect of Christianity. Nice hmm

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 03-Nov-13 09:47:46

"we were told"

sonlypuppyfat Sun 03-Nov-13 09:52:53

OCCs agenda of hate!!!! What are you people on

curlew Sun 03-Nov-13 09:55:01

Our local children's centre has asked for wrapped presents for Father Christmas to distribute. Maybe ex shoe boxers could find something like that locally. And a financial donation to something like Water Aid, or Maternity Worldwide (rather appropriate at Christmas!) as well?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 09:55:27

sonly, read the links upthread to Franklin Graham's anti-gay rhetoric.

That's where the "hate" bit comes from.


HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 10:09:00

A brilliant article here about OCC/Samaritan's Purse HERE

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 10:10:23

This is from the article.....

My children think they are sending toys who children who have none; what they’re actually doing is sending faith to children whose own beliefs are deemed not to measure up

Perfectly put.

Pigsmummy Sun 03-Nov-13 10:12:26

Has anyone looked at their website to confirm if any Christian/religious information goes into the boxes?

It clearly states that they don't do this. I have contacted Operation Christmas Child and made them aware of this thread. I hope that this years campaign isn't slighted by the haters on here.

AuntieStella Sun 03-Nov-13 10:14:56

It's on the front page of their website that they do include Christian literature 'where appropriate'

BoyMeetsWorld Sun 03-Nov-13 10:15:40

Have to say...I had no idea at all OCC was strongly tied to a Christian movement (other than obv being about Christmas). If they were doing this at my sons school, I'd be glad of the information OP suggests so long as presented in an impartial, non-aggressive way. Personally I
dont see the issue with a bit of literature going in boxes about the Christmas story IS a Christian festival after all. But if they're being used to bribe people into converting, that's different :s

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 10:15:41

Semantics, Pigsmummy. The leaflet is given with the box in some cases rather than in it. What's the difference.

"Haters"? Seriously? Are you 14?

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 03-Nov-13 10:22:35

I'm not a "hater", Pigsmummy. We have friends and family who follow a particularly evangelical Christian approach, and I know that, for many people, an obligation to spread the Word is not confined to Christianity. Fine, not what I believe or want to be involved in, but in the vast majority of cases proselytising is a fairly benign activity.

There are plenty of religious charities, or charities with a religious background (Oxfam, Cafod, Red Cross, Red .crescent....) that provide aid without the underlying aim of converting the recipients to what they believe. But OCC isn't like this, is it. Which is my objection.

BlingBang Sun 03-Nov-13 10:25:02

And if Franklyn Graham has is way, no more abortions, same sex marriage etc. He collects a hefty wage from OCC and is political. But if none of that is important.

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 10:25:45

Reading this thread I find it amazing how many people give to a charity without fully understanding what they are donating to and how that money is spent.

It really is quite something, that people think their social responsibility begins and end with the fact that they put some money in a box and therefore they have done a 'good thing'.

The mentality that 'all charity is good' really is something we should challenge and hats off to the OP for attempting to do so. A lot of people do try and shop ethically - fair trade wouldn't be so successful (and indeed such a selling point now) - if this wasn't the case and this is part of the same thought process and idea of being responsible for the wealth that you have. How you spend every pound has an impact somewhere. We need to do a lot more of it as a nation and as individuals.

There is plenty of destructive charity out there. I think the saying 'The road to hell, is paved with good intentions', is a pretty apt one in the context of this thread. Being critical of charity is the only way to improve it and stop some of these problems.

I personally have a problem with the way a lot of charities operate; some of which are very well known and indeed respected. Its not just about charities that give to less well off nations either.

Charities are by their very nature extremely political animals and its extremely naive to think any differently yet most people do. Would you donate to a political party without being involved and having strong views that are aligned with the parties aim? I suggest you probably wouldn't and yet most people wouldn't give a second thought to what a charities political aims are when they pop their £1 in a bucket. They have just giving to a 'good cause'. But is it really a good cause?

The way charities promote themselves is also something to be mindful of; how much of it is propaganda? Are you being somehow manipulated into giving? Simple things like, using a lone child in a television advert are incredibly loaded and very deliberate... and it affects our general perception of countries and how we view them and their ability to help themselves, if given the means to do so.

Like I say, the word charities are very often political groups to a greater or lesser extent so the word propaganda - which often has negative associations - is the right one to use. Although the word is usually seen in a bad way, it not always bad, but it does make you more weary when you think about charities as using propaganda.

Its no good to just read the stuff the charity gives out. Its always biased and can rarely tell the full story. When was the last time you saw a charity with a section about "criticisms of the charity and our responses"? In an ideal world, every charity should have that and be able to justify what they are doing in order to properly inform people about what they do. The fact they don't, really highlights the point about charities rarely being accountable and transparent about what they do.

I'm not saying that any charity is perfect; I think its actually impossible to be, but I think knowing and understanding weaknesses is crucial to the whole equation. You should properly understand the background and issues that surround the problem that the charity is trying to address and weigh up whether its really going to achieve what it aims - and whether this might have negative side effects. It is not just their problem to understand its also your problem to understand, if you feel strongly enough to put money in a tin or toys in a box.

Therefore its wise to understand the issues and what the charity is aiming to achieve and how they operate before you donate to anything. If you don't know that, don't assume that you have done your bit. Doing your bit includes thinking and finding out about the charity; it evolves effort not just abdicating that responsibility and effectively paying for your warm fuzzy feeling.

Going back to the OP original topic and reading that they donate in Bosnia I'm actually gobsmacked at the logic and insensitivity behind it. Having spent some time there and seen the problems that still exist along religious and political lines, it really does beggar belief. The need for secular actions is paramount to the future of the country and I can see no way at all how this would benefit the kids there tbh. Whilst still very poor, and in need of help from Europe in various ways, I fail to see how this would do anything but cause problems.

I wasn't aware that OCC was an evangelical charity. I did think its ways of operating were, at best dubious, but knowing its real intent is the icing on the cake. If I come across it in the future, I'll be sure to voice concerns if I can.

(And Caitlin, I don't think you are stupid, I just don't think people are taught to question things enough and I don't blame you for it. Criticising charity is actually still pretty taboo and its something that needs to change. There are enough posts on this thread that highlight the point and the OP has been slammed for doing so by some. Learning to question, the things you have been actively taught to trust, is a valuable but hard life experience.

Having the courage to realise, and acknowledge that you have been sucked in, in the past is a good thing to do. Many wouldn't. It can be easier to try and remain ignorant and try and attack people who do raise those uncomfortable questions in order to not take responsibility and feel guilty about it. Hats off to you. Unlike those who didn't RTFT...

I'm sure that you will end up giving in a way thats better, in addition to your good intentions. Don't loose all faith in charity as thats the real danger of charities like these)

notanyanymore Sun 03-Nov-13 10:28:40

i'm not sure why, just because they're living in poor conditions, they shouldn't be given the same opportunity to enjoy the plastic tat at christmas that more privileged children do. its a few pressies for a child at the end of the day. it doesn't negate charitable work on the more serious issues they face, just gives them a chance to be a child enjoying plastic tat!

BlingBang Sun 03-Nov-13 10:29:14

If this was an equivalent Muslim charity spreading their more brand of fundamentalist Muslim love, putting in leaflets, sending them to Christian children. Would you still support?

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 10:32:15

Brilliant, thoughtful post, Red.

curlew Sun 03-Nov-13 10:34:59

". I hope that this years campaign isn't slighted by the haters on here."

Have you actually read the thread?

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 03-Nov-13 10:36:20

Great post, Red


You said "religions are transparent. control and money! most sensible people see this"

Ah, I see the problem. We are in agreement really except that I'm saying most people do not see it. Most people think that religions are basically good. They see the church and remember all those nativity plays and hand over their money or time.

AmberLeaf Sun 03-Nov-13 10:40:45


I hate things like this, totally about the giver.

If you want to teach your child some sort of moral message make them go without and donate the money saved direct to a charity. This kind of thing is in many, but not all cases a salve to those who spend ££££ on their overindulgent christmases, a little bit of 'feel good' to make up for the gluttony.

notanyanymore Sun 03-Nov-13 10:45:31

Hmm, I've just been reading a bit more about it...

I just wanted to send a child in difficult circumstances a present on christmas day FFS why does everything have to be so damn complicated!

Are there other organisations that do the same with no added agenda?

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 10:45:53

Its not about the tat in order to have the freedom to be a child. Its about the politics and the thought process behind it. Its about the idea that this is the best way for them to 'be children'.

If you want to compare it with another charity which aims to help children 'be children' look at the aims of something like Warchild.

Quick look at their website and their keys points are: Safe spaces, getting them education or skills so they can build a future and advocacy so their rights and needs can be better supported locally. They work on issues such as child soldiers, effects of seeing war, street children, children at risk because they have no one to look after them etc...

Now I'm not actually saying support Warchild here - there are lots of other charities that have aims along the same lines. I picked Warchild simply because they are a charity that came out of the war in Bosnia, and seemed an apt one to compare. I could actually be critical of some things they have done.

But what I am asking you to have a good long hard think about what is actually going to really help a child 'be a child'.

The approach by OCC or Warchild's?

Someone upthread put a wonderful post about "is it that hard?' to understand what the problem really is and to think about and offer a potential solution.

Cupcake1985 Sun 03-Nov-13 10:46:07

Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Don't like Christmas Christian charities? Don't celebrate Christmas at all problem solved. Somehow I doubt op will do that. People do enjoy Christian festivals who are not religious but please don't then jump on your high horse moaning about the religious aspects its stupid.

Find something better to do with your time.

thebody If you are having your children fill a box to show them about giving then what happens when they find out that you knew it was actually dishonest. That it was to entice children to take advantage of them? Don't you think that will poison the lesson you were trying to give them?

Unless you want them to learn that dishonesty to get what you want is a good thing. Are you trying to bring them up to be bankers or something?

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 10:47:13

This isn't a personal recommendation, not because I don't know much about them, but Mary's Meals are always recommended on these threads.

Worth a Google?

AmberLeaf Sun 03-Nov-13 10:51:33

Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Don't like Christmas Christian charities? Don't celebrate Christmas at all problem solved. Somehow I doubt op will do that. People do enjoy Christian festivals who are not religious but please don't then jump on your high horse moaning about the religious aspects its stupid

Christians jumped onto the Pagan winter festivals in order to pull in the pagans to christianity, so don't try that crap.

'We' were celebrating at that time of year long before jesus was around.

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 10:52:17

Cupcake, actually I think because Christmas is so much a part of our society and culture in this country, I think you can celebrate the idea of christmas and the moral idea that it is a time for thinking of ours, considering peace and considering how you can help, regardless of your own religion and faith.

Understanding the issues and the politics here is the point. The OP's post has pointed out that the primary objective of this charity does not seem to be able solving the problems these children may face. Its using these problems as a way to spread religion, and actually thats very cynical and is quite fair.

Its not attacking the religion. It is attacking the way they are promoting themselves dishonestly to others in order to gain their support and attacking their priorities and whether their intent really is to help.

notanyanymore Sun 03-Nov-13 10:52:20

Red I absolutely agree with your point, but as I said before I don't think it needs to be one or the other. You can do all those things and still offer a child a present on christmas day, with no agenda other then they might enjoy it, and why shouldn't they.
I understand the aversion to OCC with regards to their political views, I don't understand the aversion to sending a child a gift alongside offering support for the real problems they face.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 03-Nov-13 10:55:42

Celebrating religious aspects of Christian festivals? Fine.

Using the giving of aid as a foot in the door to convert vulnerable children? Not fine.

Cupcake1985 n

Not another ignorant christian who thinks Christians own Christmas. I'm sure this is the result of all those faith schools. Go look it up or read one of the many posts I've made explaining it. Ask the pope or archbishop. There's no real dispute about it except amongst ordinary christians who don't don't read much.

Christmas was a non-christian mid-winter celebration. The Church forced the name change so they could say "See! look how so many people celebrate the birth of baby Jesus".

It is now a secular holiday enjoyed by everyone. Including Christians and Pagans. You continue to celebrate it your own way and so do Pagans and that is fine, but don't ever tell us what we are allowed to do.

I should point out for the sake of your supposedly immortal soul that all the christmas symbols are pagan. You are breaking commandments all over the place having anything to do with trees, logs holly etc.

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 10:57:25

notanyanymore, I think someone else pointed out that, for many of these children, there is no such thing as a day off - not for weekends or christmas. If they are having to do things to support their family, then having the time to play with a toy is the luxury they don't have. Not the toy itself.

Children have vivid imaginations. They don't need a produced object to fuel that. They will find something in their local environment to channel that though no matter how poor they are. Think about it, how many kids end up playing with the cardboard box their mountain of toys came in on christmas day?

Thats the point.

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 10:59:18

Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Don't like Christmas Christian charities? Don't celebrate Christmas at all problem solved. Somehow I doubt op will do that. People do enjoy Christian festivals who are not religious but please don't then jump on your high horse moaning about the religious aspects its stupid

This attitude drive me fecking crackers.

There was a Pagan festival celebrating Saturn & Mithras on this date long before anyone called Jesus was supposedly born (which wouldn't have been in December anyway). They decorated their homes with greenery, gave gifts & shared feasts. Sound familiar?

That powerful Christians took over the festival and renamed it does NOT give Christians the right to claim it as their own.

It is a mid-winter festival accessible to everyone. If you personally want to play up the mythical bits, go for it, but don't behave like you're doing the rest of us an almighty favour by sharing it.

autumnwinds Sun 03-Nov-13 11:01:09

Cupcake I have no problem with Christian xmas charities.

What I do have a problem with is people promoting strongly evangelical Christian xmas charities without making it clear to potential donors exactly what the charity does with the donations.

I would have no problem at all if the original article in the village magazine had stated that the boxes are handed out with Christian booklets and presented as a 'gift from Jesus', and the children asked to sign a pledge and sign up to a course to learn about the Christian faith.

It is about being honest and truthful about what your charity does. Surely there's nothing more christian than that?!!!

AuntieStella Sun 03-Nov-13 11:03:03

All sorts of people celebrate mid-winter.

But Christmas is Christian, even though Yule etc aren't.

A Christian organisation being active around a major Christmas festival is totally unsurprising.

The website is very clear. It's not hiding what it does. And people still choose to support it.

gordyslovesheep Sun 03-Nov-13 11:03:36

cupcake you are failing to grasp that the objection is nothing to do with Christianity - it's to do with homophobia and Islamaphobia - I go to church at Christmas and I give to Christian charities - but I wont give to any charity that promotes intolerance or hate

Christmas is by it's very name Christian - they may have borrowed the date and some of the traditions but you can't really say CHRISTmas is pagan grin

AmberLeaf Sun 03-Nov-13 11:05:09

There's no real dispute about it except amongst ordinary christians who don't don't read much

...and isn't it always those ones who bang on about it? grin

How embarrassing that they don't even know the facts.

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 11:07:33

So, is Saturday a day for people who worship Saturn then?

Christmas is Christian for Christians.

For the rest of us it's a traditional mid-winter festival.

AmberLeaf Sun 03-Nov-13 11:08:22

Christmas is by it's very name Christian - they may have borrowed the date and some of the traditions but you can't really say CHRISTmas is pagan

Yes, but why do you think they did that?

Makes the whole thing look rather silly if you see that they just made it up and shuffled it about to fit in with something Pagan that already existed.

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 11:12:27

I have to say that I thought 'true' Christians were against the idea of turning christmas into a festival of commercialism.

Then you have this idea, that in order to be happy and be a child you have to have these objects of commercialism more than anything else. Otherwise they are living it true poverty.

Its a rather bizarre juxtaposition of ideas.

Some might go as far as to say, it was a tad 'hypocritical' don't you think. Some might say there is an irony here, in trying to 'buy' followers with the offerings of commercialism.

HettiePetal Sun 03-Nov-13 11:15:34

Christmas for me is all about celebrating the birth of one of the most important men who ever existed ("existed" being the operative word).

Sir Issac Newton (25th December 1642).

We put up a tree & hang red baubles on it to signify the apocryphal tree/apple incident. And we give presents because it's his birthday, innit?

That's what I say to every Christian who trots out the "Why do you atheists celebrate Christmas, anyway"?

I also ask them if they think Jesus gets pissed off that they get his birthday wrong every single year. Would cheese me off.

gordyslovesheep Sun 03-Nov-13 11:17:21

I think he's like The Queen - he gets two birthdays wink

DwellsUndertheSink Sun 03-Nov-13 11:36:59

Red is absolutely right - we have bought into the idea of how to have a perfect Christmas is surround your self with stuff we wont even remeber next year, stuff your face with overpriced food and yearn for the good old days of yore that never existed. ANd because we have that idea, we think others' idea of Christmas is the same...that somehow some starving child in a thrid world country really wants some sweets and a toothbrush...

If we want to show Christian kindness to people in extreme poverty - how about buying mosquito nets for babies so they dont get Malaria? Or find a way of getting food into someone other than yourself this Christmas - I have a personal link into a school in South Africa where £50 can feed an entire class for a number of weeks with a high protein porridge every day.

No middle men. No "send us a couple of quid to pay for transport" (ie to print more brochures). I send the money, they buy what they need to feed 40-50 kids every morning. I know the money goes on food because the person who does it is one of my oldest friends, and she does it as part of a university outreach programme.

Or send in some tins of good quality protein to your food bank - you'll be feeding hungry kids in the UK.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 11:41:03

To be fair I think that most people fill the boxes according to the instructions and I suspect many people also support charities such as water aid, compassion and unicef, as well as doing this. The food bank is also a Christian run charity btw.

I started reading this thread today and asked my DCs, aged 13 and 9, what their schools were doing. Turns out both schools have had speakers in to talk about OCC, and in DD's case (secondary) she thinks (wasn't fully listening she says) that her school may be creating an inter-house competition for the most boxes etc.

I have now used the letter template that came earlier in the thread to register my objections with both schools.

The children also know I won't be supporting the charity. I do teach the children about how it's good to help people less fortunate than yourself, so we will get involved in something that does not have the same vile nature as OCC.

DwellsUndertheSink Sun 03-Nov-13 11:43:46

foodbank doesnt ask you to sign up for bible class before t hey will give you a box of food, sunshinemum

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 11:45:18

Did you not the programme on it recently dwells? There is definitely a Christian agenda.

flowery Sun 03-Nov-13 11:56:51

We gave when DS1 was at nursery, in ignorance and assuming that the nursery would have checked out the charity.

When it came to DS1 doing it with school, I'd seen threads on here and was horrified at what I'd been supporting. I'm not homophobic, racist, islamophobic etc etc so obviously would not want to support a charity that is any of those things.

I wrote to the HT at the school expressing my concerns. He was equally horrified and agreed that a school who are keen on diversity and equal opportunities should not support a charity like that, but was not able to change at the late stage because people had already given.

This year we are doing the Rotary version.

This was what I wrote last year, with some useful links.

"I have received email notification about the Samaritans Purse shoebox appeal and I am very disappointed that the school continues to want to associate itself with an organisation with such evangelical and distasteful views.

I am sure that the ethos of the school is open and equal to all of any faith or no faith, but from my research of the parent organisations of this appeal this is not mirrored there, in particular the anti-Islamic views held by Franklin Graham and the charitable funds spent campaigning in the US against the recognition of gay marriage.

Support of this organisation by the school is entirely inappropriate and in breach of its Equal Opportunities policy.

Our own family do not hold any faith and to support organisations with such aggressive evangelistic agendas is utterly unacceptable to us. Needless to say, [DS1] will not be bringing a shoebox to school and I can only hope he doesn’t feel excluded as a result.

It also concerns me that pressure is being placed on families of other faiths to support this charity, either because they are unaware of the background and activities of Samaritan’s Purse, or because they do not wish their child to feel excluded.

I would urge you and the board of governors to consider carefully your continuing support of this organisation and whether in future you might consider supporting a more inclusive, non-denominational organisation at Christmas.

I am sure that you can all do your own research on the Samaritan's Purse but here are some links that I have found useful, including their own literature:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts."

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 12:13:15

Pigsmummy - the FAQ where OCC says that no Christian literature goes into the boxes is another example of OCC being deliberately misleading economical with the truth.

True, they do not put their 'booklet of bible stories' (= evangelical material asking children to confess their sins and dedicate their lives to Jesus) inside the boxes - they hand the booklets out before/after/alongside/on top of/underneath the boxes. As if that makes any difference, except that it means they can 'truthfully' say that no Christian material goes 'into' the boxes.

SkullyAndBones Sun 03-Nov-13 12:14:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

autumnwinds Sun 03-Nov-13 12:21:33

flowery that is a really good letter, thanks for posting it.

Mid winter festivals, parties, celebrations, etc have always happened, long before Christianity started to join in.
Furthermore, whilst not being of any religion I was bought in a culture that has been heavily influenced by Christianity and pagan religions.
When I was younger and single I used to do volunteer work on 25th Dec because I am not of that religion.

Now that I have a family we take advantage of the school holiday and work holiday period to enjoy family time of our own, including visiting relatives who are also usually working throughout the year.

We are not religious. Though I want my children to understand the main points about Christianity and how it became a powerful religion by adopting practices, beliefs and stories that already existed.

Isaac Newton is a household hero here too.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 13:37:59

notanyanymore and others who were looking for alternatives to OCC here is a link to a Humanist page that might help. while their perspective is the same as Red's they do offer some good suggestions to those who wish to do something to help children

notanyanymore Sun 03-Nov-13 13:47:44

Thanks Houseseller

jellybeans Sun 03-Nov-13 14:27:53

Don't like it? Don't do it...simple. Why try and stop others from doing it. We are doing it through school and guides and do it every year. i think some people are reading too much into the scare stories.

Heartbrokenmum73 Sun 03-Nov-13 14:30:14

jellybeans - have you actually read the whole thread?

I have and I've decided I'm no longer supporting this because of what it stands for.

But hey, if you're happy supporting islamophobia and homophobia you carry on. Simple.

Our leaflet went in the bin and I told DS we won't be doing it. I'm wondering if I should be explaining why now ...

BlingBang Sun 03-Nov-13 14:44:01

Flowery - wow, the second link (the Greatest Journey) tells exactly what OCC's agenda is. In the words of Franklyn Graham himself.

Lionessnurturingcubs Sun 03-Nov-13 14:50:01

I have always had reservations about this charity and don't like the idea of having to fill a box and then pay for the privilege to do so! I lived in Africa and saw poverty first hand, so one year I bought T shirts, pants, shorts, flip flops etc to put in the box only to be told no clothes,,only toys?! As others have said, children on the streets will play with sticks, boxes etc but a pair of shoes on their feet, or a shirt on their back is worth 100 boxes filled with tat.
After reading this thread, we will definitely not be doing it this year and I will send in the excellent template letter explaining why in a medium sized shoebox.

flowery Sun 03-Nov-13 14:54:17

Scary stuff eh?

jellybeans have a look at the links I posted. These are not "scare stories", they are facts. If you read the links and find out more about Samaritans Purse and what they stand for, and then decide that you do want to support them, great.

But this is not about scare stories, and I expect the OP is concerned, as I was, that many people support OCC without having a clue about exactly what they are supporting.

I was very grateful for MN educating me last year, and posts on here a year ago have directly led to our school not supporting a homophobic islamophobic extreme evangelist organisation.

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 15:01:47

jellybeans Sun 03-Nov-13 14:27:53
Don't like it? Don't do it...simple. Why try and stop others from doing it. We are doing it through school and guides and do it every year. i think some people are reading too much into the scare stories.

Ok, so how does what they do help a child?

Thats a very simple question and doesn't have anything to do with scare stories. Its just a practical question. What are they aiming to achieve and how does it actually achieve that goal?

Wellthen Sun 03-Nov-13 15:53:43

Why stop others doing it? Because it gives money to a man who supports homophobic causes. As far as charity goes it is useless. It isn't harmless. It is the opposite of harmless. I'm not going to stand by and watch people do it in the same way I wouldn't stand and watch someone hit someone or shout abuse at them.

fatlazymummy Sun 03-Nov-13 16:18:02

Don't they also advocate abstinence over safe sex, and reduction in abortion rights? 2 more reasons not to support this 'charity'.
In my eyes evangelising in poorer/third world countries is akin to tobacco compan ies advertising cigarettes in these countries . The west is growing out of these practices (smoking and religion) so they need to recruit new members/consumers anywhere they can.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 16:26:02

This is not specifically Samaritan's Purse, but the kind of thing some American evangelists get up to in Africa. Exporting homophobia from Kansas to Kampala

evelynj Sun 03-Nov-13 16:31:58

Thanks so much to everyone who posted here on this. What an education. I've done it this year at DS nursery, thinking I must check on the logistics of sending these boxes so far etc & if the carbon footprint negates cost. I am disgusted by so much of the information but perhaps most of all by the prayer that they suggest their converts say-'I know I have done wrong & I have sinned' etc. These are really awful things to encourage children from as young as 3 to be saying, (even if they can't read I am sure they would be given the leaflets & have someone read it for them).

I will be using the template to pen a letter/email to my DS schools head this evening.

Hours of work ahead to find a worthwhile charity I think...

Keep up the good work.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 16:34:27

exexpat that is absolutely sickening.

But thank you for that link. Unlike some posters on this thread, I would prefer to know about issues like these, rather than close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears.

clarinetV2 Sun 03-Nov-13 16:55:11

I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but I'm glad I read the OP and the links posted by flowery. I'm horrified that any UK schools are supporting this charity. It's wrong on all levels, and I doubt very much that many parents are making an informed choice to support it - my kids are no longer school age, but I know that I often supported charities selected by the school without taking the time and trouble to research them myself, assuming the teachers would have checked them out carefully. I don't think I'm at all unusual in that. On principle, I always hated the 'fill a shoebox' type appeals anyway because they're so patronising, and I preferred to teach my children to question why the poor are poor, and what kinds of help would be sustainable, rather than give them a momentary feel-good factor by packing stuff they no longer wanted into a shoebox. But this is much worse than patronising, it's downright harmful, and I doubt very much that any teachers supporting it have done their homework properly. So YANBU, thanks for the links, flowery, and good luck to anyone writing a letter to their DCs' schools. The more people who know about this the better.

jellybeans Sun 03-Nov-13 16:55:28

Yes I have read a lot on it in the past. Just because someone has a different view to you doesn't mean they are incapable of researching and coming to their own conclusions. It would never get stopped at my DC school because it is a very religious school. That doesn't make supporters of it homophobic etc.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 16:59:30

But if something is being promoted as a nice, kind thing for children to do at Christmas by a primary school, why would people think they even need to go and do their own research on whether it is actually a front for a group of right-wing evangelists?

All the OP wants to do is ensure that people have the full facts, rather than just the PR message put out by Operation Christmas Child.

I really, really don't understand how you can object to people being given the chance to make an informed decision.

Talkinpeace Sun 03-Nov-13 17:06:18

my DCs school did this - and they were an inclusive CofE
till they read what happens to the boxes

sorry but that "charity" should have no place in state funded schools.

Chris Morris and "cake" springs to mind

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 17:42:37

exexpat this is precisely why I posted upthread that I wished there was an emoticon for exasperation!

Some posters on here seem to be resolutely refusing to acknowledge the OP. They seem to have heard - or at least be pretending they heard - a completely different message from many, many other posters who are supporting people's right to have the correct facts about a charity which peddles their fundamentaliist views through school-children.

Clear enough, jellybeans?

flowery Sun 03-Nov-13 17:52:24

"Yes I have read a lot on it in the past. Just because someone has a different view to you doesn't mean they are incapable of researching and coming to their own conclusions. It would never get stopped at my DC school because it is a very religious school. That doesn't make supporters of it homophobic etc."

My mistake. I don't personally know anyone who would support the islamophobic homophobic views of Samaritans Purse so I do tend to leap to the assumption that people who support charity are doing so without having fully researched it. Most people do trust their DCs schools/nurseries to make appropriate choices, as I did.

If you have fully researched it as you say jellybeans, and still support the charity and it's views and values, then that's great, but I think you are probably the exception rather than the rule.

I'm intrigued as to why you think your DCs school would never change because it's very religious. Perfectly possible to be religious without supporting those views and values...

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sun 03-Nov-13 17:58:00

OP, I wasn't aware that OCC did this stuff. Thanks for letting me know.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 18:06:24

People should be aware of the ethics of 'any charity' they support. There is nothing covert about the aims of this one on their website. They look to equip churches and teachers around the world to serve their communities in a Christian capacity.

The OP hasn't offered an alternative to these organisations, although I see that others through out the thread have. The labelling of all Christians, based on charities they support, or the more radical views held by some branches of the faith has been pretty awful today, across the threads.

Regardless of faith, we are all responsible for charitable giving, so I hope that this thread encourages this one way or another, be it through the Grace of God or respect for humanity.

Thank you, OP and others for this thread. I have made up lots of shoeboxes in the past and was placated by the fact they insisted nothing religious be placed in the boxes. Little did I realise.

Sunshine I haven't seen people criticising Christian charities on principle. On the other hand, people have suggested other Christian charities that do no proselytise, such as Christian Aid and Cafod.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 18:16:38

sunshine, there's a lot that's covert about OCC.

In a previous thread, (linked further back in this thread), the head of Samaritans Purse UK came onto the thread and admitted that the leaflets they give out to schools, supposedly to explain how OCC works, had, in the past, glossed over the evangelical aspect of the scheme.

He said that future leaflets would be more transparent about this aspect of OCC's work, but that hard copies of the leaflet would no longer be distributed to schools. Instead, it would "made available" online, though he was rather circumspect about what he meant by "made available" and refused several times to answer the question of whether OCC had publicised the link to view the new leaflet.

I seem to recall that, in order to access the leaflets, one had to register on OCC's site. Which hardly screams 'transparent' to me.

BlingBang Sun 03-Nov-13 18:22:51

So Jellybean - you support Samaritan's Purses agenda and Franklyn Graham, fair enoug as he does have a lot of support.

Some schools are this brand of missionary/evangelist Christianity though. Like minded folk flock together and all that. Went to look at one and it wasn't for us - doubt they would have had us anyway. Imagine the teachers/missionaries were probably fans of Franklyn and Billy Graham.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 18:23:31

"There is nothing covert about the aims of this one on their website"

True, their website is fairly clear about the evangelism. Unfortunately their presentations to schools are not, nor was the piece in the village newsletter the OP was responding to, nor are many of the uncritical publicity stories about OCC you see in local newspapers or hear on local radio.

That is why people like the OP need to respond when they see OCC being promoted in this way, and why we still need threads like this one even though they have been done many, many times before.

I definitely agree that people should be aware of the ethics of the charities they support - that is what this thread is all about.

BlingBang Sun 03-Nov-13 18:26:59

Please don't say that the majority of parents who get asked to do a shoebox know about this organisation and what it's agenda is and who heads it. That is just untrue. Many have said on this thread that they had no idea. Let people know the facts and then make their own mind up.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 18:30:21

Suburban - yes, the new leaflet for schools and parents, which does make the way the boxes are used for evangelism a bit clearer, is 'available' on the OCC website, but you have to go looking for it, and you have to register with the site to be able to read or download it.

I asked Brian/Gooner repeatedly, on two threads, what OCC were doing to let schools know about the new leaflet - it didn't seem to be flagged on the website, I couldn't find any tweets or facebook posts about it etc, so I wondered if they had been emailing schools or something behind the scenes. Turns out, they hadn't - what a surprise.

Brian obviously didn't want to venture back on the threads, because he was digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole with his comments on miserable gays etc, but he sent me a private message which said: "the domestic OCC team is aware and they are communicating this out to volunteer teams that are active across the country. That's all I can do this year. Next year expect a major revamp and unparalleled transparency - you'll have nothing to talk about!"

I await next year with interest.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 18:32:28

sunshinesupernova I think you're right about having to register on the OCC website to view the leaflet.

Didn't one lovely MNetter decide to take one for the team and, against her better judgement, registered and viewed the leaflet?

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 18:32:42

Expat I'd presume that generally evangelism would be part and parcel of a Christian organisation and if I were an atheist, I think that checking out the website would be the first thing I'd do. I have scrolled through the links, they are pretty clear. Let's hope that the organisation spot this, so that they have a right to respond again.

B0b03 Sun 03-Nov-13 18:34:53

As you are disapproving of the religious element of the boxes im assuming you don't celebrate Christmas either?, Christmas being a major Christian celebration Take the shoe boxes in the spirit that's its help children less fortunate than ours.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 18:35:04

exexpat, I remember being on that thread and being almost in awe at Brian's disingenuousness about the whole issue.

I even named him "Teflon Brian" and he thought it was funny confused.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 18:35:18

SunshineMMum - don't you think a charity which goes into schools and gets small children excited about sending presents to poor children overseas has some kind of responsibility to make it clear exactly how it is going to use those presents, without people having to go away and research it themselves?

As I said earlier: if something is being promoted as a nice, kind thing for children to do at Christmas by a primary school, why would people think they even need to go and do their own research on whether it is actually a front for a group of right-wing evangelists?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 18:36:08

B0b03, you are so way behind on this thread you're in danger of meeting yourself coming back wink

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 18:38:41

Also "I'd presume that generally evangelism would be part and parcel of a Christian organisation" - no, evangelism is not necessarily part and parcel of a Christian charity.

Many religious-based charities (Christian Aid, Mary's Meals etc) manage to go out and do good work without using that to get children to sign up for bible classes. They may mention their beliefs as part of their motivation to do what they are doing, and so be a good example of Christianity in action, but they are primarily there to make a real difference to people's lives. That is not the case for OCC.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 18:39:14

Suburban - I think we are starting to go round in circles in many ways...

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 18:40:17

Expat since they are essentially working in missionary work, I'd probably make the assumption that they would be encouraging Christian discipleship. It isn't compulsory, people have every right not to contribute, but I do have personal experience of what gifts such as these mean to the children, regardless of belief systems.

trockodile Sun 03-Nov-13 18:43:59

Just found this website which seems to bring a lot of the criticisms of OCC together-although I wish there was more on the logic and usefulness of shoebox appeals.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 18:52:49

From Trocodile's link

'Christian literature is not banned from Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in the United Kingdom or any other sending country. However, there is a difference in the way the boxes are processed in the U.K. for overseas shipment. The U.K. program removes all religious items (Christian as well as other religions) and forwards any Christian literature to our National Leadership Teams working in countries where shoebox gifts are distributed, so the Christian literature can be used with children through the local church.'

So essentially gifts are being distributed by the leaders of local churches. I think it would be pretty nonsensical to expect churches not to share the gospel alongside the gifts. The children are also 'invited', again by the churches to participate in a bible study classes.

pinkballetflats Sun 03-Nov-13 18:53:01

I feel I have to repeat myself: I am astounded by the complete ignorance of some posters here. Christmas is a Christian celebration? yeas, I suppose way of theft.

I know that adds nothing further but...just flabbergasted....

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 18:54:37

sunshinemum, whatever you personally might assume about OCC, they are certainly not telling the schools they recruit that they encourage children to sign up to bible classes after they've received their gift.

That's the bit that rankles with people. And if you honestly think children whose school has signed up wholesale to the programme are going to want to be left out, when the shoeboxes are piling up in the corridor, as used to happen in a school I worked in, you obviously don't understand how marketing works!

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 18:55:25

exepat, you are so right.

I don't know why I do it, I should really hide these threads sad

pinkballetflats Sun 03-Nov-13 18:55:50

Sunshinemum, imagine this for a moment: have nothing, you are in a vulnerable are offered a rare treat of something fun, something you have perhaps not seen before in your environment, something to take away your worries for a few moments...and are "invited" to participate in an "educational" programme in exchange... ... ... ...'s a simple as dot to dot really....

pinkballetflats Sun 03-Nov-13 18:59:48

And also, there is a huge difference between sharing the Good Word (which I honestly, as a practising Christian, still find very distasteful in such a power dynamic as offering help to those worse off than yourself) and spreading the hateful shit that extreme Right Wing Fundamentalist Christian organisations spread. I spent several years around people who have bought into their particular brand of "Christianity"....there is no word in the English dictionary that comes close to the despicable level this branch of Christianity hangs at.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 19:04:42

I can imagine this as simply as I can the church communities and the two children we that we support, providing clean water, schools (teaching life skills) hospitals, education and safety for girls in vulnerable positions, community projects and the basic necessities that we take for granted thanks.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 19:05:59

Suburban and expat, there have been many people who have I'd on this thread that they were going to give shoeboxes to OCC but have come to the realisation that they don't want to be involved with them and will contribute to a different charity instead. Some of the very people who have jumped in mid-thread ignorantly saying things like "it's just presents for poor children" have gone away, read up on their homophobia, racist and culturally insensitive evangelising and come back to say they've changed their minds.

I actually haven't seen too many threads on mumsnet or other forums where so many people have actually radically changed their opinions based on learning the truth. While it may seem like going round in circles that's not really the case. I think this thread and the others that have cropped up on mumsnet have done massive amounts of good and yourselves plus Red and a lot of other posters should be very proud of that.

pinkballetflats Sun 03-Nov-13 19:11:07

Then I'm afraid you don't have much of an idea of the Right Wing Fundamentalists, who they are and what their goals are. Trust me when I say that their "support" is with a price and they have little to no actual concern for the people they "help".

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 19:17:45

It's not just atheists who are disgusted by OCC and Samaritans Purse, Sunshine. Several Christian ministers have written about their disapproval of OCCs practices. Dont make the mistake of lumping all Christian organisations together with homophobic and hate-filled groups like Samaritans Purse. Not all Christian groups are the same - many are great and do good work.

My husband is a Christian and I'm an atheist. We are BOTH disgusted by Samaritans Purse and OCC!

Talkinpeace Sun 03-Nov-13 19:18:34

as an atheist I have absolutely no problem with "christmas gifts" of the old "blue peter" variety
I have a mahoosive problem with the covert nature of the fundamentalist evangelism in OCC
if they were proud of it they would shout about it on the home page of their website
they don't
therefore they are ashamed
do not do things you are ashamed of

tracypenisbeaker Sun 03-Nov-13 19:23:46

I remember being at school and the £4 taped to the box was meant for 'transport' costs. So if 100 people gave a box, then they would need £400 for transport... doesn't sound right to me. Especially as others have cited the reason given that the money is needed for 'admin'... (printing off evangelical literature, in my head). So which is it?

IMO, if the charity was actually there to help in an altruistic way, they wouldn't be wasting money on these ignorant, tacky pamplets, and actually using their resources to help these children.

kiriwAnyFuckerwa Sun 03-Nov-13 19:26:10

I'm really shocked that people are defending British state school children giving donations to a homophobic, xenophobic, right to life charity.

Really shocked.

What Talkin said. ^^

I'm an atheist and worked for a year at a large Christian charity. The help people gave on the ground was not a part of an effort to get more Christians on board - it was given in the spirit of 'love thy neighbour'. That to me is what organisations like OCC are missing - they're not being clear to the donors that the boxes are essentially tools for bringing souls to Christ.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 19:27:32

I'm not sure they're ashamed, Talkinpeace. I think it's more likely they see us as idiots, most of whom are damned. They think as sinners ourselves were not worthy of being told the truth so we can make an informed decision - and anyway the only "truth" that really matters to them is about Jesus. They don't actually have any respect for us. But they're happy to take our money/presents to use for their own purposes.

VeryStressedMum Sun 03-Nov-13 19:45:24

I'm atheist although I respect a person's right to believe what they choose, I do not agree with trying to convert anyone. However I still make up one of these shoe boxes even though I know it will include a bible, I would prefer if it didn't contain any religious literature but if the children don't have much, if anything, then at least they are getting a box filled quite possibly with tat, but will make them smile and happy. That's not a bad thing. Fwiw, it's not OCC it's blythswood care or something like that.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 19:48:14

SunshineMMum - you said "since they are essentially working in missionary work" you would make the assumption that would involve discipleship. THEY DO NOT TELL SCHOOLS THAT THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY WORKING IN MISSIONARY WORK

Sorry for shouting, but how many times do we have to repeat this: they do not make clear to schools that the main point of Operation Christmas Child is evangelism.

They present it as something nice that everyone can do to bring cheer to underprivileged children overseas. Let me repeat that - they present it as something all children can get involved in, at schools where the majority of parents may not be Christian at all, let alone subscribe Franklin Graham's extreme version of Christianity.

Can you really not see why people object to that, and support the OP in trying to get the full picture across?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 19:54:45

houseseller the "going round in circles" thing was more in response to every new poster who came on saying "what's the problem?" without, apparently, reading the thread and missing the point entirely of the OP.

But you're so right about how encouraging it is that people have welcomed the information about OCC and have revised their plans to support this organisation on the basis of that information.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 19:58:51

Ex pat people have made the assumption that I am ill informed about radical right ring views, this is incorrect. We left our current church around ministries that we found wholly unacceptable. More than that I cannot say.

I understand what you are saying without the need for capitals, however people can make their own minds up. I am surprised that people don't get the agenda that is all.

Housesellerihope Sun 03-Nov-13 20:00:09

Suburban my post was more in response to you saying "I don't know why I do it, I should hide these threads" - well I'm very glad you and others do it!

VeryStressed, Blythswood is a Christian Evangelical charity that mostly operates in Scotland. I tend to think their less I studious than OCC but I'm not sure. They do give out religious literature but whether they're as intolerant and homophobic and manipulative as OCC I really don't know.

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 20:01:32

The article about OCC that was published in the Guardian in 2003 and linked to by flowery was written Giles Fraser.

Thats the Rev Dr Giles Fraser who at the time of publication at least, was the vicar of Putney and lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford.

So, its definitely not just atheists who have a major problem and concerns about how the charity is run. If respected figures who are Christian don't seem to think that this type of evangelical teachings are appropriate and think they are imperialist in nature, then I really think you should take note of that.

There is a way to spread your teachings and a way not to spread your teachings. The difference, is just how free the people you are preaching to are to make a decision or whether they just do so through necessity or by fear.

Power and money are being used here to influence a vulnerable group, and thats what we should be keeping sight of and remembering. Its not about their welfare, but control of their behaviour. That has implications that ripple throughout the world and have consequences for international politics and indeed peace.

So why should we care and try and stop others from supporting this charity? Because it has potentially major implications for all of us. We don't live in isolation.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 20:30:30

SunshineMMum - this is a typical local newspaper piece about Operation Christmas Child, which I would presume is basically a re-write of the press release sent out by the local reps for OCC. Operation Christmas Child needs your help (most local papers these days are 90% full of rewritten press releases).

Please read that, and tell me how anyone is meant to "get the agenda" when it does not once mention god, church, Jesus, evangelism, mission, discipleship etc etc. Presentations to schools are equally misleading.

Does that help you understand why people accuse OCC of concealing their real aims?

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 20:39:12

Ok last post as I have said about all I have to said. It took me three clicks to get this 'The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.' I personally would not donate until I had followed the link.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 20:40:05

...and the links are directly from the article. So we have to agree to differ.

Dawndonnaagain Sun 03-Nov-13 20:40:45
exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 20:45:42

Why should you have to click three links to discover that it is an evangelical campaign? Why does it not say that in the news story or (presumably) the press release? Do you not find it a teensy bit dishonest or misleading?

RedToothBrush Sun 03-Nov-13 20:55:13

And we all know how much people go and read a political party's manifest or what their local candidate plans to do and base their voting on that above what they 'think' the party represents based on whats said in the press and what their friends say...

...the point is a lot of people simply don't bother to look below the surface and properly read up on the aims and objectives of who they support. They simply take for granted that what they are told is accurate and that the people who tell them that are trustworthy and know what they are taking about.

There are very definite ways of telling people what you are doing, without really telling them what you are doing. Its all in the presentation and where the emphasis is placed. The fact they do say what they are doing on their website is beside the point in a way - it always gives them the get out clause that they don't hide what they do.

Except they do, because these aims are not the ones stressed to people initially and when they first come in contact with the charity. They know how people behave and know that they are generally lazy and that by associating and gaining legitimacy though operating through schools, that people will make the automatic assumption that they have been vetted and found to be a 'worthwhile' cause. So they don't have to go and look them up on the internet themselves.

This is the whole point about how propaganda works. It plays on knowing and being able to use human behaviour to your advantage. This is how political communication is deliberately constructed and managed. The flow of information and its source is as important as the information itself.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 21:05:34

exexpat, well tried with sunshinemum, but I think you might have to admit defeat.

Maybe she's really Brian grin

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 21:08:49

I'm kind of missing Brian. I wonder if he will come back on here and tell us that only Christians can be charitable and all gays are miserable again?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 21:13:37

redtoothbrush, completely agree with your points and to add, it is pure cynicism of OCC to recruit through primary schools.

Most parents trust the school staff not to engage them in anything dubious, so I wouldn't expect most of them to think they had to research the organisation first.

And pester power probably accounts for the high take up in schools. My DC were gutted when we stopped supporting OCC because all their friends still did.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 03-Nov-13 21:14:42

I miss Brian, too.

You know, some of his best friends were unhappy gays.

SunshineMMum Sun 03-Nov-13 21:35:54

Oy I am not biting, but it is a massive leap to suggest that in talking about evangelism I support homophobic views, you could not be more wrong smile I'm out.

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 21:41:22

You personally may not support homophobic views, but if you support Operation Christmas Child, you are indirectly supporting the anti-gay agenda of Samaritan's Purse.

Not that they publicise that either, of course, so you could be forgiven for not being aware of it, just as many people are not aware of the evangelism. That's how they work.

evelynj Sun 03-Nov-13 22:25:24

The suggestion that the children are told that the gifts are from Jesus really pisses me off. In the words of Jarvis Cocker-I am not Jesus (but I have the same initials).

However, I thought I had read most of Brians camp America type evangelism about SP but I didn't see the bit about his miserable gay friends. For clarity, please could someone link me to that post so that I can put the final nail in the coffin so to speak?

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 22:47:22

Evelynj - I think it all started here -when Brian said that deep down no one gay is happy with their lifestyle and then he carries on digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole...

exexpat Sun 03-Nov-13 22:49:43

"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"

tracypenisbeaker Sun 03-Nov-13 22:52:06

evelynj are you annoyed at the suggestion that the children are told that the gifts are from Jesus because you don't think its true? Even if the words 'Jesus made these presents for you' don't come out of their mouths, they are still trying to insinuate that it is because of the merciful Lord Jesus that fortune has smiled down on them. I very much doubt they explain in detail where the boxes actually come from.

Why else would they be handing out presents and giving out these materials out simultaneously? In what other possible way could they be linked?

Strumpetron Sun 03-Nov-13 22:55:27

Don't like them at all. I believe they're using disadvantaged children and people in poverty to spread their message and it's not on. Some of their views are downright vile, as highlighted by exexpat.

Me and my nan used to do them. Until I read up on it and saw all the leaflets that went into the boxes. Doesn't sit right with me.

evelynj Sun 03-Nov-13 23:30:33

Thanks all. It was an entirely different thread I'd read I think. O.M.G. I am agog & haven't even read past that post yet.

Tracy-yes I'm annoyed that they don't say the gifts are e.g. from charitable people in the UK. From Jesus?! Even in a religious sense, Jesus was only the physical presence on Earth as the son of God & no longer exists. At least if they said they were from God, it's a bit more all encompassing but I'm guessing that's what they want to avoid as 'God' is more meaningful & open to personal interpretation?

I'm slightly worried that in my small (extremely) presbyterian town the head teacher will think I'm a troublesome parent & refuse my DS a place in the primary school when I highlight this issue. Feel like I can't be the only parent out of 800+ that has learnt of this? Has anyone who has challenged supporting this organisation faced any opposition from schools?

Off to read the rest of Brian's thread & will keep you updated if I hear anything from the school.

SomethingOnce Mon 04-Nov-13 01:12:43

I've never heard of OCC, until this evening.

Tbh, if I'd been asked to pack a box by DC's school I suppose I might have done so without checking up on the organisation. And I'd have been pissed off to discover later about the evangelical Christian stuff.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, OP.

WelliesandPyjamas Mon 04-Nov-13 09:26:56

Just read that thread, exexpat. Fascinating. I also saw in it the bit where he assured parachuti that he would contact me to look in to the incident at my son's former preschool (where all the rich kids were given boxes of stuff they had plenty of at home ).

Did he contact me?! I'll let you guess the answer!!!

exexpat Mon 04-Nov-13 17:15:40

Oh, what a surprise, Wellies.

Evelynj - there is no legal way a headteacher could refuse you a place at a school because you objected to OCC or anything else religious, and I hope no headteacher would stoop low enough to try to take it out on you or your DS. Much more likely that they would just ignore your objections, unfortunately.

LornMowa Mon 04-Nov-13 18:14:31

Thanks for highlighting this issue OP and others. I tried writing to my child's headteacher about this organisation but did not even receive the courtesy of a reply. This thread has inspired me to try again to highlight the issues that have been raised.

I was brought up CofE (now lapsed) but as a child did experience this type of sneaky, manipulative evangelism back in the 1970s whilst on holiday in Lyme Regis in the form of the United Beach Mission. I remember the uncomfortable feeling when we were encouraged to sit down and do bible study on the beach when we just thought we were joining in with some beach games. .

This thread has reminded me of the uncomfortable feelings I had as a child and encouraged me to see if the UBM is still operating and I see that unfortunately it still is although thankfully some efforts are being made to discourage their operations.

mrsravelstein Wed 06-Nov-13 16:34:15

thanks to many of the posters on this thread, the head of my dc's school has agreed that the school will not be supporting this hateful organisation again... the school were "completely unaware" of the background to OCC/Samaritan's Purse/Franklin Graham... it really is worth writing to the schools and putting pressure on them to stop.

Great news smile

Shallishanti Wed 06-Nov-13 17:56:39

all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good (wo)men to do nothing

or something-
or in other words it IS worth speaking up

Housesellerihope Wed 06-Nov-13 19:07:18

That's great news, mrsravelstein, hopefully as word spreads more and more of these collections will be shut down.

StrictlySazz Wed 06-Nov-13 20:09:56

Well done mrs ravelstein. I have written my letter and posted it so will let you know how we get on...

clairedunphy Thu 07-Nov-13 13:40:45

Thank you all for the heaps of information about OCC, I have drafted my letter to the school today and hope for a positive response. Another one here who is ashamed to say that this is the first time I have really looked into the charity, despite living in an area where the "shoebox campaign" seems to be part of the Christmas tradition in school, toddler groups, nurseries etc.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 11:50:08

Dear all, I had hoped my earlier involvement on Mumsnet would have been sufficient to address genuine concerns about Operation Christmas Child and put people straight on so much myth, lies and misinformation that abounds on a programme that brings joy and happiness to so many disadvantaged children around the world. I have been open, honest and transparent about Operation Christmas Child and the work and ministry of Samaritan's Purse, the organisation I am privileged to work for.

I see that some of what I have said to another Mumsnet member (you know who you are!) on a previous thread is being taken out of context and used against me - shameful. If anyone participating in or viewing this thread wants to know the truth, if you have any genuine concern, please feel free to ask me and I'll be happy to respond.

But bear in mind we're closing in on another million shoeboxes from so many wonderful people in the UK - we're very busy and I cannot guarantee instantaneous responses, but I'll do my best to respond as quickly as I can.

In closing can I just say a BIG THANK YOU to all the wonderful people on Mumsnet:

a) Who have been working throughout 2013 to ensure that we are organised and fully staffed with volunteers to enable us to receive and process shoebox gifts,

b) Who have selflessly organised Operation Christmas Child in their school, church, workplace, community or elsewhere

c) Who have wrapped and packed shoeboxes, or who are wrapping and packing shoeboxes right now!

d) Who have volunteered to collect shoeboxes from drop-off points in their area, to check them and cartonise/containerise them for shipping to needy children overseas

You know you are part of something really special but I hope you also know and can appreciate the difference you are making in the lives of children overseas! THANK YOU!

To the rest of you, it's not too late to get involved!

Brian Bennett - - Head of Communications, Samaritan's Purse

jellyboatsandpirates Fri 08-Nov-13 11:59:43

hopefully as word spreads more and more of these collections will be shut down.

Yay! So great you're all getting more and more collections shut down. Those pesky kids don't need anything frivolous at Christmas.
They're poor. They should be happy getting clean water supplies and some more grains to eat.
They don't want anything (I quote) plastic and tatty.'
So, Father Christmas isn't coming. YAY. hmm

Brian, you may have been completely open and honest but it's clear that some schools haven't been. I'm sure you wouldn't want people to feel coerced or misled, so I'm sure you support pps' intentions to inform their friends and perhaps choose another organisation with similar generous aims if they feel that a conflict of interest exists.

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 12:38:45

Brian, did you see this thread on mumsnet earlier this week: Operation Christmas Child and punishments for not taking part. Do you think OCC could do something to stop schools putting pressure on children to take part?

Also, I have been keeping an eye on media coverage of OCC this year, and I suspect you are putting out highly misleading/selective press releases to local newspapers, because 90 per cent of the stories I have seen do not mention anything to do with evangelism, bible story booklets etc, even though they are appealing to the the general public to donate shoeboxes. This one is typical: Operation Christmas Child needs your help.

And it doesn't sound like the new leaflet has reached many/any schools yet.

I think you still have an awful lot of work to do before you can claim the way you present yourselves in the UK is open, honest and not misleading.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 12:54:36

HorryIsUpduffed We are so encouraged to see so many schools taking part in Operation Christmas Child, over 6,000 in the UK alone! Are you suggesting that these schools are setting out to deceive parents?

From what I know and from what I have seen first hand, nothing could be further from the truth. It is generally the case that children in schools wishing to participate in this programme are either given a leaflet to take home, or a letter. I have dealt with enough 'correspondence' from parents - on here and via email - to know that this is happening.

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 13:00:51

Brian - schools may not be setting out to deceive, because half the time they don't know about OCC's evangelical aims either, because - as you have admitted yourself in the past - the materials and presentations OCC makes to schools have not been making it clear. That was why you wrote the new leaflet for schools, remember? Shame you haven't been doing enough to promote it. Any intention to deceive/mislead comes from rather higher up the chain, I think.

This is what one parent on another thread said: "We got a very basic leaflet telling us what to put in the box. No mention of the evangelising."

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 13:16:16

Exexpat, as you know, I have recognised the disparity between what schools were being told about Operation Christmas Child and what churches were being told, in their respective 'guides'. Both guides have been removed and I wrote a new parent/teacher guide which has been active on the website since the end of September.

Most schools order or download resources for Operation Christmas Child in October. Since May 2013, ANYONE going to the Operation Christmas Child website lands on a page which has the following statement:

Since 1990, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

We always give shoeboxes to children based on need, regardless of their background or religious beliefs. It’s an unconditional gift of love.

Where appropriate, with each shoebox, our church partners will offer a little booklet of Bible stories. They may also invite children receiving shoeboxes to join a discipleship course called The Greatest Journey. This is a “no strings attached” programme and participation is with the consent of their parent or guardian.

I think your concern that schools are still 'not in the know' is misplaced.

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 13:22:30

So how come you still get so many people on these threads whose schools are getting involved, but who had no idea about the evangelism?

And what about the press releases for local newspapers?

puntasticusername Fri 08-Nov-13 13:26:10

Operation Christmas Child has been advertised at my workplace, this month, with no mention whatsoever of the evangelical angle. Purely as a "nice thing to do" for deprived children at Christmas.

So, sorry Brian, but I think it may be your optimism that is misplaced.

MyDogEatsPoop Fri 08-Nov-13 13:36:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

I'm not suggesting schools are deliberately misleading children and parents, but somewhere between your organisation and bookbags the full implications are being lost. There are examples on this thread of schools which have withdrawn from the scheme, or transferred to similar projects through other organisations, once school management have fully realised your mission.

Your intention to be more open and clear about the evangelical side of the project is laudable - perhaps in next year's promotional material to schools you could push that even more and encourage the schools to make more of it in their letters home? I can see that for many/most denominational/maintained schools that would be a real positive that they'd be glad to promote; schools which are nominally non-denominational* would have a clearer idea of whether that was appropriate for their families/catchment.

* try saying that fast twice without your teeth in grin wink

autumnwinds Fri 08-Nov-13 13:42:22


Thanks for coming on this thread.

I started this thread because the school were asking local people to donate shoeboxes without passing on the information about the evangelical nature of your charity.

It is pretty clear that even if you are trying to be more open about your organisation (and your website is a good start compared to many others), the message isn't getting through to the people 'on the ground'. Which is what this thread is all about - making sure people make an informed choice.

Many people don't agree with evangelical missions of any type, Christian or otherwise. Other people do support your aims. I didn't intend to start an anti-evangelical or pro-evangelical argument. I just want people to make an informed choice when they choose what charities to donate to.

I hope you have more success next year in passing the message on, and then hopefully you will have no more of these threads to join in on Mumsnet! (Although maybe you'll become hooked on AIBU like the rest of us?!)

conkercon Fri 08-Nov-13 13:52:09

Having visited my Ds's secondary school yesterday there were leaflets for OCC up all over the place. Nothing had come home though. My son said that his form tutor had asked every child to bring in something. I hope the OP doesn't mind me plagiarising some of her letter to send to the organiser at my DS's school.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 14:54:31

autumnwinds I would much rather that I didn't need to be here, as I fear my workload is suffering! I am fully committed to making sure that there is no disparity, no 'grey areas', in what we communicate and doing all that we can reasonably be expected to do to ensure everyone s made aware.

I'd like to think that such informed choice, as you put it, would silence our critics, but I am not that naive! They will simply 'move the goalposts' ... so I'm sure I'll be back!

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:05:36

Horryisupduffed What's sad here is that Operation Christmas Child is being 'condemned' by a minority of people mostly because of local church involvement in distributing shoeboxes and their desire to share Jesus with their own children who is, after all, the 'reason for the season'.

There is such compassion in the hearts of children here for disadvantaged children overseas. They get it. They recognise how blessed they are to have so much and their natural response is to give something back. That's the beauty of this amazing programme. And as someone who has worked at both ends, it's a joy to behold.

I still have my own teeth!

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:16:21

Gotta go, be back later.

Have a nice afternoon, hope it's nicer where you are than where I am right now!


Dawndonnaagain Fri 08-Nov-13 15:18:09
fromparistoberlin Fri 08-Nov-13 15:18:39

everyone in entitled to an opinjuion

but of all the things to hate???? a box of gifts for a kid?

Its like your hatred for organised religion is so strong that it overshadows any benefit the children will get

anyway they wont even fucking read the leaflet!!!

badtime Fri 08-Nov-13 15:23:28

Brian, If OCC is completely altruistic, surely it makes no difference to you if people give Christmas gifts through other charities and schemes?

If the aim is to give gifts, surely it doesn't matter where they come from.

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 15:34:04

fromparistoberlin - if you read the thread, you would see it is not the box of gifts people are objecting to, it is the use of a box of gifts to evangelise, and also the promotion of the scheme in the UK without being clear about its aims. And it's not just a leaflet, it's a way in to a 12-step discipleship programme.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:36:43

Just nipped back and saw a few more posts!

Dawndonnagain, it's a bit complicated. We have two websites, one that is exclusively Operation Christmas Child (OCC) and one that is Samaritan's Purse (SP); within the month, we hope to launch one website that encompasses both. Things like ordering resources, making donations, etc. are handled on the SP website; we link to the Resources page on there from the OCC website. Ostensibly you can't get to the Resources page on the SP website without going through the OCC website.

There is such compassion in the hearts of children here for disadvantaged children overseas. They get it. They recognise how blessed they are to have so much and their natural response is to give something back. That's the beauty of this amazing programme. And as someone who has worked at both ends, it's a joy to behold.

Nobody "hates gifts for children" (although a pp does mention being in receipt of one in a previous year, despite her children and the rest of the class being not remotely in need).

The thread has repeatedly emphasised that Giving Generously To Those In Need is capturing the true spirit of Christmas - the greatest gift of all, "for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that those who believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn 3:16) which knocks an engraved iPad into a cocked hat.

But OCC is not the only way to Give Generously To Those In Need, and many of us believe it isn't the best way either.

Saying "You don't want poor children to have presents at Christmas" is a bit like Bounty saying "You don't want women to have their newborns' photos taken". Missing. The. Point.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:40:22

Badtime I'm not sure if I'm 'hearing' you right, but we certainly don't claim exclusivity on giving gifts to needy children, the more people involved in doing this the better!

jellyboatsandpirates Fri 08-Nov-13 15:41:54

*but of all the things to hate???? a box of gifts for a kid?
Its like your hatred for organised religion is so strong that it overshadows any benefit the children will get
anyway they wont even fucking read the leaflet!!!*

Well said, fromparistoberlin. smile

Badtime I'm not sure if I'm 'hearing' you right, but we certainly don't claim exclusivity on giving gifts to needy children, the more people involved in doing this the better!

In that case you should be agreeing with this thread, no?

jellyboatsandpirates Fri 08-Nov-13 15:43:27

But OCC is not the only way to Give Generously To Those In Need

Nobody said it was. But people should be allowed to donate to if they want without people trying to take the choice away from them.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:48:03

Exexpat, you are so naughty!

Let's be very clear about what Operation Christmas Child is! Here's the text, once again, for the Operation Christmas Child Parent/Teacher Guide which is on the Operation Christmas Child website:


Since 1990, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

We always give shoeboxes to children based on need, regardless of their background or religious beliefs; each gift-filled shoebox is an unconditional gift of love.

Where appropriate, with each shoebox, our church partners on the ground may offer a little book of Bible stories; The Greatest Gift.

They may also give children receiving gift-filled shoeboxes the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey discipleship programme, subject to the consent of their parents, carers or guardians, with ‘no strings attached’.

Good News, Great Joy
Operation Christmas Child: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children around the world and, together with the local Church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Since 1990, Operation Christmas Child – an initiative of the Christian relief and development agency Samaritan’s Purse – has been blessing underprivileged children around the world with gift-filled shoeboxes wrapped and packed by children and adults in the UK.

It’s a campaign that thousands of schools, churches and other organisations from across the UK get involved with between the September and November each year. In fact, it is now the UK’s largest children’s Christmas appeal.

The idea is simple. Children and adults wrap and pack shoeboxes with a range of gifts and take to a convenient ‘drop-off point’. We collect these gift-filled shoeboxes and, after processing for export purposes, we send them overseas where local churches distribute them to children, on the basis of need alone. Each shoebox is an unconditional gift, given to a child with nothing asked for, or expected in return; no pledges, no obligation to go to church or attend classes; ‘no strings attached’

These shoebox gifts are an expression of God’s love to us, and the gift of His Son Jesus at Christmas. They give local churches the opportunity to show God’s love to children in a tangible way and, during the distribution event, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, perhaps through age-appropriate music, dance and puppet shows, or through a little book of Bible stories distributed with their shoebox, not inside it: The Greatest Gift.

A Life Touched

Thembani is 11 years old. His mother and father passed away some years ago, so Thembani now lives with his eight brothers and sisters high up in the hills of rural Swaziland, near South Africa.

When Operation Christmas Child came to his village, Thembani and each of his brothers and sisters received a shoebox filled with presents. “I really enjoyed opening the box,” said Thembani. “I’ve never received anything like this before.”

Thembani’s favourite gifts were his notebook, pens, and socks. “I love the notebook,” he said. “I am going to write in it all the time.”

An hour after the shoebox distribution, Thembani sat in the doorway of his home avidly drawing and writing in his new notebook. When asked how he felt about the gifts, he said, “I’m so happy, I’m tongue-tied!”

The gift that Thembani received was more than just a shoebox. It was the gift of education, and toys so he could be a child again. It was also a gift of love at Christmas, and the gift of hope for the future.

The hope is there because the same church that gave Thembani his shoebox has also been supported by Samaritan’s Purse to care for him and his siblings – providing them with food, clothing and ongoing loving care.

That’s the power of a shoebox gift – a gift that enabled an adult or child in the UK (who created it) and a local church in Swaziland (who distributed it) to touch the life of a child in need.

The Greatest Journey

The Greatest Journey is a voluntary follow-up course for children who have received shoeboxes through Operation Christmas Child, enabling them to interact with the Gospel, through Bible stories and Bible teaching.

The mission of The Greatest Journey is to help local churches overseas reach children with the Gospel, to establish them in their faith in Jesus Christ and to equip them to pray for and share the Gospel with their family and friends.

The Greatest Journey is a series of 12 lessons containing exciting Biblical content exclusively delivered and presented by trained volunteers from local churches, with training and all resources needed provided free of charge, at their request. Through this programme local believers are being empowered and enabled to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with children in their own communities.

Children completing The Greatest Journey are awarded a personal certificate and many will receive a special copy of the New Testament in their own language, which also contains Old Testament stories, colourful illustrations, memory verses and other learning aids. In many countries around the world, Bibles are rare, or hard to obtain; these Bibles become instant treasures, not only to the children receiving them but to their friends and families as well.

Not all children receiving shoeboxes will want, or be able to participate in The Greatest Journey, either by reason of their own free will, because there are no trained teachers in their locality to take the classes, or because resources for the children are not yet available - either in their local language or in sufficient quantities.

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.

badtime Fri 08-Nov-13 15:48:19

No-one is trying to remove peoples choices. All anyone is trying to do is to ensure that people have the opportunity to make informed choices.

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:49:21

I'm really going now!

fromparistoberlin Fri 08-Nov-13 15:49:41


I am sure alot of children cant even read the leaflet, and are a completely different religion!

hand on heart how many children become evangelised gay hating people due to this? very little I suspect

anyway, lets agree to disagree hey

mrsravelstein Fri 08-Nov-13 15:49:42

my school's HT was 'completely unaware' of the background to OCC as the people who came in to talk to her about it made ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION of the evangelical aspect, or of the 'political' nature of samaritan's purse. HT was horrified to find out what she'd agreed to and cancelled immediately.

this has been the case at several local schools. in fact i don't know personally of any individual or organisation who, having read all the facts, has gone ahead with OCC. including local christian schools who you might have thought would be more relaxed about it.

conkercon Fri 08-Nov-13 16:14:27

Do people not understand the difference between choice and informed choice? When my DSs were at Primary School we filled shoe boxes for OCC as their school supported it. I also filled a shoe box as someone from work organised it. I would not have supported OCC had I been aware of its evangelical stance and also it other activities, for example paying out USD 150,000 to support anti gay marriage (that money could have surely gone a long way in helping the disadvantaged.....).

I suppose I consider myself a Christian, I believe in God (brought up a catholic), I believe in helping people less fortunate then I am, I believe in treating people with compassion. I don't believe in forcing what I believe in on to anyone else who believe in something different, I believe that is called respect.

So I will be looking into donating in another form that lets people believe in what they want and give gifts for the pleasure of giving and not because they hope to get more followers to their way of thinking as I am now aware of OCC's stance.

For those who are happy to participate with OCC knowing how they work then fill your boots, but no one on here is suggesting not to be charitable, they just want to do it in a different way.

You can evangelize without gifts and give gifts without evangelism, how is it moral to entice children to evangelism with toys?

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 16:18:21

"Exexpat, you are so naughty!" hmm What exactly are you referring to here, Brian?

All I have been doing is pointing people to the facts of how OCC operates, usually by linking to your own websites.

jellyboatsandpirates Fri 08-Nov-13 16:19:25

Yes, I understand what informed choice is. hmm
You're presuming that everyone doesn't have a clue that it's a Christian organisation and so are going in, telling schools how 'bad' it is and therefore removing the choice for those who DO want to donate.
What if they already know and WANT to donate at their school, then suddenly can't because someone else has decided the school shouldn't be doing it?

MrTumblesKnickers Fri 08-Nov-13 16:20:27

fromparistoberlin so you're cool with the fact that money you've donated for 'expenses' or 'admin' along with the shoeboxes might have been used as part of that $150,000 anti gay support mentioned above?

I had no idea about OCC before reading this thread. Am horrified by some of the stuff posted, and the links. Good grief.

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 16:22:26

fromparistoberlin - well, Samaritan's Purse seems to think the Operation Christmas Child programme is quite effective at converting children to christianity.

This page of their website claims that between 2009 and (I think) 2012, "665,332 children have confirmed decisions for Christ in writing, and
711,088 children have committed to praying for/sharing their faith with family and friends."

fromparistoberlin Fri 08-Nov-13 16:23:22

I have actually never done it, purely as I am a lazy fucker

I just happen to think the greater good, overshadows the negative if that makes sense? and dont get all cross, its an opinion, in a debate

What if they already know and WANT to donate at their school, then suddenly can't because someone else has decided the school shouldn't be doing it?

Who, the head teacher? If the head doesn't think it's appropriate, because one or two parents have raised concerns, then of course the school doesn't do it, but I'm sure OCC accept individual donations as well as organised collections.

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 16:24:15

jellyboats - anyone whose school decides to stop promoting Operation Christmas Child can still donate directly as an individual - their website has lots of ways to do that. No one is removing their choice.

I just happen to think the greater good, overshadows the negative if that makes sense?

It does make sense but I don't think it's a good argument. It's a bit like voting for a party who have several good manifesto promises that you believe in very thoroughly, but a couple of bad policies that you're prepared to overlook, rather than seeking out a party that you can support wholeheartedly.

I find it sort of lazy, I suppose. It's easy to support the headline charities (say Oxfam, Children in Need, RSPCA) because you hear a lot about them and they set up easy ways for you to donate. But that doesn't absolve you of the responsibility to look for other ways to meet need elsewhere. You can't walk past an old lady staggering in the street just because you have a direct debit to Age UK.

Mignonette Fri 08-Nov-13 16:30:02

I didn't know about the proselytising. Neither is the OP telling me what to think. If you believe that is what she is doing then so are 99% of the threads on Mn which incidentally don't attract such a hostile reaction (projection maybe?).

I would certainly prefer to use a non religious charity to help. You know, one that just does good and doesn't expect anything back (like new converts)? I will look at the other charities mentioned on here.

MrTumblesKnickers Fri 08-Nov-13 16:30:47

I just happen to think the greater good, overshadows the negative if that makes sense?

That's pretty much what Mao said about his Great Leap Forward!

jellyboatsandpirates Fri 08-Nov-13 16:34:01

It's a Christian charity. So bloody what if, at a few select churches over there, put a leaflet in?
Most kids (well, all the ones I know, including my own!) wouldn't even read the thing anyway - would be too interested in the toys to care about a boring waffling on leaflet!It'd get discarded and ignored.
It's not like OCC batter you round the head with the leaflet and make you chant the Lords Prayer on loop before you're allowed to so much as touch a shoebox. hmm

fromparistoberlin Fri 08-Nov-13 16:34:27

you cannot surely be comparing me to Chairman Mao shock

and horry is suggesting I ignore staggering old ladies sad

Look, I think its good that people care about issues. I just feel that there are such awful things going on that...this does not really inflame me

DO not copy and paste this, as I said "lets agree to disagree" yes?

Mignonette Fri 08-Nov-13 16:37:25

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Nataleejah Fri 08-Nov-13 16:41:31

Where are those boxes going? The recipients will hardly give a toss about religious literature.

I don't think you're ignoring old ladies really grin

I think that OCC is definitely an "agree to disagree" area. I choose not to support the charity because the evangelism bit isn't something I can support. You choose to support them because you think the good they do is enough greater than the potential harm <grammar>

What I refuse to let go, however, is the idea that schools and parents currently have enough information easily enough to make a real decision, and I don't think it's enough for one organiser to make the judgement call of what information is enough/most important to tell parents.

If I get a letter from school, I assume the contents are factual and complete; doesn't everyone? I haven't got the energy time to get on Google to check the background of every project or organisation that ever comes in my way: I trust school, nursery or work to have done the "due diligence" for me.

Brian's quotations above are unequivocal. They shouldn't just be on the website for maybe 5-10% of participants to look at, they should be front and centre of every information pack or leaflet or bookbag letter, etc for all participants to see.

fromparistoberlin Fri 08-Nov-13 16:55:33

i nned to read more about this Brian chappy hey

Dawndonnaagain Fri 08-Nov-13 18:55:46

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Bluestocking Fri 08-Nov-13 19:00:15

I have just discovered that DS's school is supporting OCC. I will be writing to the head teacher to ask him if he's aware of OCC's evangelical agenda, and the unpleasantly socially conservative and xenophobic agenda of its parent organisation in the US.

I appreciate that giving children the opportunity to express their generosity to people in need is very worthwhile, so I'm going to recommend that in future, the school supports the Trussell Trust's Christmas Box appeal, which sends boxes to some of the poorest people in Bulgaria. According to their website: "People of all ages receive boxes, ranging from Roma people living in freezing conditions and struggling to survive, to abandoned and orphaned children living in state care. Last year we hand-delivered thousands of shoeboxes to: orphanages, Roma communities, women’s refuges, prisoner’s children, housebound elderly people, rural schools and refugee centres."

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 22:34:26

Exexpat, I say you are 'naughty' because you have an agenda and you will seemingly twist anything you see and hear to support that agenda.

As a case in point ... you have just posted the following comment:

This page of their website claims that between 2009 and (I think) 2012, "665,332 children have confirmed decisions for Christ in writing, and 711,088 children have committed to praying for/sharing their faith with family and friends."

The link you provided points, correctly, to The Greatest Journey page on the Samaritan's Purse website and NOT Operation Christmas Child. Do I need to reprint The Journey of a Shoebox which clearly states that The Greatest Journey is a voluntary, FOLLOW ON programme to Operation Christmas Child?

MyDogEatsPoop Fri 08-Nov-13 23:07:33

Oh good, Brian's back again! Brian - are you ever going to address the issue of Franklin Graham spending $150,000 of the charity's donations on anti-gay proaganda?

exexpat Fri 08-Nov-13 23:07:47

If we are talking about agendas, isn't signing children up for The Greatest Journey a crucial part of the agenda of Operation Christmas Child?

gooner1956 Fri 08-Nov-13 23:52:37

MyDogEatsPoop I am not able to comment on where Samaritan's Purse in the US receives funding from or how it spends it. Nor will I be drawn on rhetoric. If this is something that you desperately want to know then send me an email and I'll get you an official response. My email address is,uk.

cestlavielife Sat 09-Nov-13 00:11:53

The occ website is pretty clear. I pointed this out to head of my dd school and he has promised to change the shoebox scheme to something more suited to a common city school..,

The where the shoebox go stories are all about god.

Fine for a faith school maybe but not a secular state school
And where does the minimum 3£ per box go? Presumably literature as well as shipping

You can donate toys pens etc direct to eg kids company helping UK kids
Scroll down to donate in kind

Or donate to local women's refuge or contact centre etc

cestlavielife Sat 09-Nov-13 00:12:23

Suited to a community school

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 00:12:31

Exexpat while it is certainly our hope that children receiving gift-filled shoeboxes will want to know more about Jesus - the reason for the season - it is their decision, and that of their parents/carers, whether or not they take the classes. And that is how it should be. There is no coercion on our part, or on the part of the local churches involved, no manipulation, no pressure and no abuse.

Sit emptor decernere - let the buyer decide!

cestlavielife Sat 09-Nov-13 00:15:09

I think asking school if they are aware of the overtly evangelical nature of occ is enough to have them respond yes I know and I am fine with it and I as head thinks it is wholly appropriate...
Or errrr nooooo

cestlavielife Sat 09-Nov-13 00:26:48

See Brian when I look on this site I see that cafod ..another Christian org to "reduce poverty" laudable whatever your faith.
On the same page I click n Samaritans purse and its aim is to "help those in need and proclaim the work of the gospel"
Giving the evangelical purpose the same weight.

Cafod works "for a safe sustainable and peaceful world "

Sp Works "to proclaim and demonstrate the love of god "

People need to be aware what they are supporting.

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 00:36:56

I didn't know this was an evangelical Christian charity until MN

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 00:48:39

cestlavielife If people want to know the mission and purpose of Samaritan's Purse it's not hard to find! From what I see and know from my experience on Mumsnet, there's an agenda, a concerted campaign by some for people to know the truth about Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child. I want that too. What gets these others agitated though is people knowing this truth and yet still wanting to support the work and ministry of the charity!

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 00:50:38

Grennie is that a problem?!

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 01:10:42

I would not support an evangelical Christian charity. Especially one that actively campaigns against gay marriage.

It's a problem for those of us who don't want to be involved in evangelism, yes. That is, I don't think SP should stop evangelizing just because I don't like it, but it is an absolute bar against my getting involved with OCC.

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 01:17:31

It is a problem for me as it seems that OCC's biggest priority is using these boxes as an excuse to teach and convert vulnerable children to their more extreme brand of Christianity. A brand of Christianity that usually sits at odds with the majority of people in the UK, IMO. You might not want to hear this Brian but many folk in the UK do not feel comfortable with what Franklin Graham believes, represents and politically campaigns for. Issues like banning or restricting abortion, evangelising vulnerable children in the hope of converting them, campaigning against same sex marriage as they believe homosexuality is a sin, etc.

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 01:20:09

And just received my OCC leaflet from school today. Will have to consider what approach I wish to take. Will not be filling a shoebox but undecided whether to take it further with the school.

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 01:21:02

Grennie and HorryIsUpduffed, you are entitled to your opinion ...

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 01:22:14

I think it is worth at least checking with the school that they know what kind of organisation this is.

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 01:24:56

True, there are atheists, gay parents, women who will have had abortions, Muslim families at the school. I wouldn't imagine they would have much in common with Franklin Graham.

Bling what information did your leaflet give.

Brian that's the coward's way of saying "You're wrong." I'm not fooled grin

insert missing ?

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 01:46:08

BlingBang You make telling children about Jesus, in a safe and comfortable environment, with the full knowledge and consent of their parents. sound something so terrible. This is no more than what the Christian church does here in Sunday school classes or school assemblies all over this country. You can read The Greatest Journey curriculum online for yourself. Do that and tell me it is as awful as you make out!

While we love to see and hear of children receiving the Gospel message, please remember it is local churches who are spending time with the children, faithfully communicating it, not us. Conversion to Christianity is a decision, one that only you or I, or a child can make once we have heard the Gospel.

You may be familiar with John 3:16, but read on!

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

I don't doubt there are many people in the UK who don't like what the Bible says about the kinds of issues you have raised, regrettably inside and outside the church, but what the Bible says is quite clear. That isn't going to change!

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 01:48:10

HorryIsUpduffed No, I'm simply saying you are entitled to your opinion, as I am mine. There are things we may never agree on, that doesn't make either one of us wrong. It's called tolerance!

StrictlySazz Sat 09-Nov-13 08:08:34

Oh dear, according to the bible I am condemned and cannot be saved < sad face >

Good job I don't believe any of that then grin

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 08:51:42

Brian, I'm not anti religion as long as it is practised in what I condider a tolerant, totally by choice and on judgemental way. however, I don't belive in god or Jesus being his son. How can I promote this being spread to vulnerable children then, especially through organisations which are headed by the likes of Graham.

I see Graham and his followers to by quite unethical and dangerous. Why would I support this? But nic try at deflecting what I was actually saying and making it about me being mean and not wanting to givlittle children some plastic tat at Christmas (a time of the year that many of them don't even celebrate).

Why not give these poor children the shoe boxes at Eid or such if they are Muslim when it will be a real treat for them and mean something to them. Spread your love, tolerance and understanding.

Wisteria15 Sat 09-Nov-13 14:59:12

I was unaware of the true nature of OCC as an evangelising tool until last year, when I was horrified to find that the boxes were not simply a gift to needy children with no strings attached. Billy Graham is on record as saying that Islam is 'wicked and evil'. I note that on another thread about OCC, Brian Bennett said you cannot believe everything you read - true, but I think you CAN believe your own eyes and ears: Our school has a largely Muslim population, and for Muslim families (and others) to be pulled into this scheme without the full facts being totally transparent is abhorrent. I want nothing to do with it; our school was alerted to the facts about OCC this week, and full credit to the Head that the scheme has been withdrawn immediately and replaced with another one. Please don't believe that it is 'too late this year' to do something about it - a simple note to parents to explain, together with redirection to another scheme is all that is required. At the very least links should be provided to parents so that they can decide for themselves; most people simply take things at face value and trust that a scheme is what it portrays itself to be. Personally, I would rather donate funds directly so that the basics that people really need can be purchased, but many people like their children to enjoy the pleasure of giving and passing happiness on to others - it's just that this absolutely should be done with no strings, without the agenda of organizations headed by the likes of Billy Graham and his disrespect for other people's life choices.

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 15:18:51

People can preach what they want. But I do not want to unknowingly fund that. There would rightly be an outcry if I tried to fund my beliefs about feminism and get others to fund it, in this duplicitious way.

gooner1956 Sat 09-Nov-13 15:28:23

BlingBang It's not uncommon for Imams and Muslims in some of the communities where we work to support and give their approval for the distribution of gift-filled shoeboxes at Christmas. They recognise that this is a Christian festival and respect our right to celebrate the birth of Jesus; as I have said, we don't get any complaints from the people and communities we serve!

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 15:38:41

Brian , maybe they are as unknowing about those behind Samaritans Purse and what they stand for -you know pretty much the way that most parents where this scheme is run in their schools are. You definitely keep it quiet.

azzbiscuit Sat 09-Nov-13 15:39:29

I love it when religious people quote their fictional work of choice as if it is some kind of proof of something.

starlightloz Sat 09-Nov-13 16:39:42

I commented on the last thread something similar. I have distributed shoeboxes in Romania myself. The joy they provide to the families that receive them is immeasurable. Some families that received them were Christian, some Muslim, some of no faith. I find it so sad that people who, may possibly, have the means to provide a gift that genuinely provides some happiness would choose to refrain from doing so because of this stance. I am closely acquainted with people in impoverished circumstances and I feel a bit aggrieved on their behalf as the opinions expressed almost demean their ability to make their own informed choices on what they believe. People in poverty are no more susceptible to 'brain washing' or covert evangelism than you or I. They can choose to listen, digest, accept or discount whatever is put in front of them. Just as I can choose to look at a Jehovah's Witnesses magazine put through my door and decide it doesn't sway my belief. If it came with gifts for my children that I would not otherwise be able to provide I would be grateful and not offended by the reason behind why it had been given. I assure you that the receiving shoeboxes brings joy and moreover, a gratitude that someone far away could care enough to send it as often the communities in receipt are shunned and scorned in their own locality because of their race and poverty. So the notion of acceptance, especially from the Western world which they often perceive as knowledgeable, is a boost to their self esteem. Please consider not sabotaging OCC. Thankyou hugely Brian for the hard work you and all those involved in the shoe box appeal put in. I guarantee the effort is massively appreciated in the communities that get them.

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 16:52:10

do you have a problem with people being more fully informed about a charity they are choosing to donate time and money to? Surely if it is that great, it will easily survive people knowing about it and who heads it.

this just sounds like you are trying to keep the truth hidden and guilt trip people into supporting something they do not agree with or are uncomfortable.

When I read the OCC web site and Franklyn Graham's own words on it, it seemed to me that these shoeboxes were seen as a means to an end, an opportunity to do their proper work - bringing people to Jesus. They are a form of enticement, it's not about giving these kids a treat - it is all about trying to bring Jesus to their life.

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 16:55:38

OCC try and hide what people are donating to. And that says it all.

Bluestocking Sat 09-Nov-13 16:56:53

Starlightoz, I've identified a charity which distributes Christmas gift boxes to very poor people in Bulgaria, without any religious agenda at all. Can you really not see why many of us would prefer, if we wish to adopt this model of charitable giving (which does have significant disadvantages in terms of value for money/return on investment) to opt for that charity rather than OCC?

SuburbanRhonda Sat 09-Nov-13 16:59:59

starlightoz, OCC shoeboxes are sent to children.

That is the reason why people object to the evangelising that accompanies the programme, not because we don't think vulnerable people can make their own minds up.

And don't forget that Brian Bennett, Head of Communications for Samaritans Purse, has stated on this forum that he does not believe the shoeboxes actually help children. That's your donation he's talking about.

Because of this thread I emailed DS school yesterday. Let's see what response I get.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 09-Nov-13 17:06:14

And, starlightoz, if you think it's demeaning to assume impoverished people would find it hard to refuse a free gift, just think how offensive is your view that by sending shoeboxes the West is raising the self-esteem of vulnerable people shock

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 17:07:59

Are they a charity?

SuburbanRhonda Sat 09-Nov-13 17:08:58

Apparently, grennie

Tuhlulah Sat 09-Nov-13 17:13:28

But some of those boxes contain things like hats, gloves, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, as well as plastic tat that the children probably like.

You have a very valid point, I Don'tDo, but I presume the gift boxes are not given subject to immediate commitment to Christianity. In lives of struggle and dreariness, a few plastic pens and the occasional flannel and hat aren't going to make a difference longterm, but children are children all over the world, and might like a few bits of tat -and it might be tat to you, but it might be valued highly by a child who has nothing.

So while I agree wholeheartedly with you that they need water and food and safety, the two are not mutually exclusive are they?

If I don't forget, I will be sending one this year again.

Grennie Sat 09-Nov-13 17:20:59

Thanks. I am going to contact the charity commission. Charities are supposed to be open about what people are donating to.

emuloc Sat 09-Nov-13 17:21:29

I will be getting a box together this weekend. OP you will get no help from me to write your letter.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 09-Nov-13 17:23:19

tuhlulah, on these threads, it is generally agreed that if people want to spend their money sending a shoebox, they should.

What a lot of us object to is OCC hiding their true agenda, which is to use the shoeboxes to evangelise vulnerable children. References to the shoeboxes being a way to bring the Gospel to children are all over their website.

You may think instant conversion to Christianity is not a caveat to receiving a shoebox, but the parents are asked at the same time as their child receives the shoe box, whether they want to sign up for the discipleship programme.

A casual search on OCC-critcal websites shows children with the leaflets already on their laps, as they await their turn to receive a shoebox.

And I think you're deluding yourself if you think most people will send a shoebox and send money for water and sanitation.

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 17:24:36

I would be happy to send a shoe box - not just by this charity. Will look at doing something similar but with a charity without this agenda and headed by someone that most folk int the uk would be uncomfortable with.

Just think how much more shoeboxes OCC could send if they dropped any mention of Jesus and no one would be offended. Ifnitnisnall about the children receiving a gift to brighten their lives - why don't they do this? Just give without any mention of religion?

SuburbanRhonda Sat 09-Nov-13 17:27:28

emuloc, if you have read the information about OCC and how it sees the shoeboxes as a way to bring Christianity to vulnerable children, and if you've also accepted Brian Bennet's statement on this forum that the shoeboxes don't actually help the children, then knock yourself out.

I think the OP now has plenty of support for her letter to the school smile

SuburbanRhonda Sat 09-Nov-13 17:28:48

You know the answer to that, don't you, bling.

It's not about the gift at all, is the answer.

emuloc Sat 09-Nov-13 17:32:54

Thanks SurbanRhonda I will.

BlingBang Sat 09-Nov-13 17:38:58

Don't believe in God or consider myself Christian. Why would I then be trying to convert others to something I don't believe in by supplying the opportunity or tool even that this organisation has decided is very effective - why? Franklyn Graham would ban abortions, ban same sex marriage, would try and make gay people feel they are sinners if they practice their sexuality - why would I support an organisation and people who believe this and use the money from these organisations to lobby and campaign for things I am very much against - why?

starlightloz Sat 09-Nov-13 17:45:15

Bluestocking - fair play to you, definitely a decent response to not wanting to support OCC, totally respect that.
SuburbanRhonda - I know that shoeboxes are given to children, have done it personally, however the children always grabbed the boxes and ran off to give them to their parents who shared everything out between their whole families, a box might be done for say, an 8 year old boy but in reality the hat and gloves contained would fit their 12 year old brother IYSWIM. You are right, I didn't express myself clearly, half watching DS1 at his swimming lesson, feeding DS4 and sleep deprived, knew I would come across wrong in type. I mainly wanted to say that I think, having worked with people in Romania for over a decade, that anything sent over is a fabulous thing and IME much appreciated. This was with a non-affiliated charity I might add, not a Christian one.
I just wonder if, rather than being vitriolic and trying to prevent OCC in their project, could those who don't like the Christian element of it find an alternative charity to send shoeboxes with ie... (from an appeal last year but just to show it only takes a facebook search) ((
and leave OCC to get on with it? I would have thought honestly that most people do actually now know that it is a Christian charity.