Operation Christmas Child: goodwill at a price

Every year local newspaper the Shields Gazette press covers the voluntary work of local Christian organisations preparing shoeboxes, filling them with gifts for children in impoverished areas around the world.

It’s represented in the media as altruism in action, and local politicians, like Coun John Anglin and Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, attach their names to the charitable endeavour.

However, all isn’t as it seems.  OCC is a campaign run by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian organisation run by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.  Samaritan’s Purse shows pictures of smiling children with their shoeboxes, with the banner ‘The power of a simple gift’.  The real power of the ‘simple gift’ for Samaritan’s Purse is not just the toys packed with compassion, it’s the additional extra that Samaritan’s Purse adds.  Christian literature.

That’s right, the main purpose of OCC is to gain converts to Christianity at the point of a gift.  I think bribing children is sick, and it’s unfortunate that so many good people in South Tyneside are colluding in this campaign.

I’m sure that most of the people involved in OCC genuinely want to put smiles on faces around the world.

Our politicians should know better.  Instead of supporting a cynical missionary strategy, perhaps next year they should support genuine giving charities, like Oxfam, which offer real tangible help, not prayer and conversion.

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