Other Christian's views on Samaritan's Purse?(18 Posts)
I know what a lot of atheists think- I used to be one of them. I used to object strongly to it, and read a lot of stuff and decided against it. However I am a Christian now and wonder about it. We have had the stuff about it in church this morning.
Can other Christians give me their views? Are they immoral? I don't mind if a bible/leaflet type thing is given with box for children to read, but remember reading something about having to agree to Sunday school?
I would like to give something, but am still unsure.
It doesn't matter if you are. Christian or not, the reasons you objecting when you were an atheist remain the same. You don't have to support covet prostetyzing just because you're now a Christian!
The Samaritans Purse website does address the type of issues that have led to them being controversial.
They don't force children to become a Christian or join any Sunday schools. There's no point in forcing somebody to become a Christian - they have to come of their own accord, otherwise it's just fake and your heart belongs elsewhere.
I'm a Christian and ds2 came home from his Catholic primary school with a leaflet about doing a shoebox. I have no objections. I didn't receive Christmas presents when I was a kid due to rotten circumstances and I'm looking forward to finding some nice things to put into the box.
No, it's not independant, but they have at least addressed some concerns that people have. They could be lying of course, but that's a chance I'll have to take, that's between them and their consciences.
They could help more people in need if they didn't waste time/money on trying to convert them. This tells you what their priorities actually are.
But there is no law against targeting the vulnerable and starving so they can if they want.
Has anyone actually read their website?
They assist with aid work as well.
How many vulnerable and starving people have you helped?
They do good work. But they distribute christian propaganda with the aid. So that makes them completely unacceptable in my book.
I would feel the same about any other sort of propaganda by the way - this isn't an anti Christianity thing.
On their own website Samaritan's Purse state that anyone not accepting their particular brand of Christianity is damned. www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/statement-of-faith
My local Catholic school has quietly stopped co operating with the S.P. scheme. During Advent the children and their families are instead invited to donate essentials, nappies etc. to a local charity that supports young families, which are made up into boxes and made available to people in need if they want it, no strings attached. No carbon footprint to be made flying stuff miles away, stuff that is often cheaply made abroad anyway which in itself raises ethical questions. I wonder how the parents of the recipients feel when their children receive this stuff which they can not afford to provide themselves.
Cafod and Christian Aid are examples of Christian charities who make it clear that they work with all faiths and none and who devolve power down to the recipients, with partners on the ground who decide how donations are spent, rather than stuff arriving from on high through S.P. from comparatively rich Western people, and they do not proselytise.
Link to the British Humanist Association - this gives a reasoned explanation of why they have problems with Samaritan's Purse.
The important point for me is that their actual aim is evangelism, not aid - they are only giving out these gifts as a way of pushing leaflets, childrens gospels, and a "follow-up Bible Study program". Which would be OK (ish) if they were more open about that aim, and gave the schools and churches which take part some samples of the evangelical literature which they give out alongside the boxes.
But they don't - they sell the idea to families here as a nice thing to do, to give a present to someone who otherwise might not get one, and keep quiet about the version of Christianity which they are hard-selling to small children.
That's not the way that I personally think Christians should be operating - we should help people in need because we believe it is a good thing to do, and not try to gain converts to Christianity by doing it. If the people handing out the boxes are known to be Christians, and there is a church around, then the recipients might occasionally think "I'd like to know more about Christianity, if it makes people be kind to strangers", and I'm fine with that. But not with the hard-sell, or the dishonesty.
I find the way that they are not up front about their motives for distributing shoe boxes really unacceptable. I have no objection to their doing evangelical work themselves, if they feel honestly that that is their duty and desire, but they are a bit sneaky about it imo. They keep the evangalising aspect pretty quiet in the literature they distribute to potential donors. It doesn't take much diggin to find out, true, but many people take their info at face value. Not fair.
Oh, just read AMumInScotland's post - fantastically put!
Thanks. I think my first instincts were right. I agree that Christian Aid and cafod fit more with my ideal.
I won't be filling a shoe box.
Can I offer as an alternative Link Romania? They are a Christian charity but they don't put any materials with the boxes, and they are distributed to those most in need. I know because I'm in Moldova and for the last 3 years we've distributed boxes for them!
I also like them because they ask for family boxes rather than for a specific age group. We still mainly (although not exclusively) give them to the children but it means that the whole family get to benefit
and you can put in more useful things than just plastic tat
Wow Millie - our church takes part in the Link Romania shoebox scheme. In fact, I've got a half filled shoebox sitting next door at the moment. It's great to hear they are well received. I've always suspected that they went to people who appreciated them because the forms we get from Link Romania don't ask for expensive items but things like toothpaste and toothbrushes. What do people like to receive most in the boxes?
Milly that looks great
I knew someone years ago who worked with SP and OCC. They really weren't going in all guns blazing to brainwash little children. First and foremost their goal was to make children happy by giving gifts and this works alongside their aid projects in various countries - things like working with women to set up their own businesses and working with people with AIDS. The evangelism thing is part of SPs overall vision, they see that as important but they don't force that on people. There's no sneaky agenda as far as I see. They say themselves
'Where culturally appropriate, our overseas partners will make available a booklet of Bible stories, which gives a message of hope and an explanation of the true meaning of Christmas - God's gift of His Son, Jesus.'
So they don't give out this booklet in places like Muslim countries for eg or where it may actually endanger people, and there is no forced programme of indoctrination - children are sometimes invited to workshops etc where they are told about the gospel and can make their own choices.
As I see it, from another side, if a child is given some gifts at Christmas then lovely. If they are given a gift which may change their life for the better - including education, welfare etc then better. I believe the best gift of all is to know God's love, so do see where SP are coming from. I am willing to be corrected about the level of 'forcefulness' that goes on - as I say this was a few years back. As far as I can see they are indeed a Christian charity, and I can see the wisdom in schools etc choosing a different charity that won't enclose the books etc, but for churches etc I would support this. hth
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