The Southern Baptist church I am undercover in has been fond of participating in Operation Christmas Child, a yearly campaign by Samaritan’s Purse, a charitable organization started by Franklin Graham, the son of legendary Protestant evangelist Billy Graham, who was an influential leader in US Christianity at the height of his career.Operation Christmas Child is a campaign that encourages Protestant churches around the
They distribute information about what to include in the boxes, and what not to, and get a church in each local area to act as the local receiving and distribution center, gathering the boxes from local churches as they are dropped off, and coordinating the transport of them to Samaritan’s Purse.
One interesting aspect of this campaign is if someone doesn’t have the time to pack and donate a box to them, they can donate a set amount of money to “sponsor” a box, to cover the average cost of Samaritan’s Purse employees and volunteers to build one themselves, and send it off in the name of that person.
Before the church service, they played the normal promotional video clips for OCC, showing the children receiving the gifts, and what it takes to get the gifts to some locations, such as donkeys carrying into villages in the mountainous areas of
At the end, however, it talked about the pamphlets that they include in each
box in the child’s native language, encouraging them to convert to
The video said that toys wear out, and “if that is all we give them, then we have given them nothing”, then the video carries on about how these gifts bring the “eternal gift” to them, a chance to “accept Jesus Christ as their savior”.
This really annoyed me, this is often the attitude that fundamentalists have when it comes to giving aid, whether in their home country, or elsewhere, that carrying out charitable aid is not done simply for the purpose of helping your fellow human beings live a better life, it’s done solely for the purpose of getting access to people to try to convert them. Carrying out charitable work solely to help people is seen as kind of pointless and ineffective.
In some cases, listening to the attempts at conversion isn’t even voluntary. Some religiously run homeless shelters in US cities actually make attending church services mandatory for those who need to stay in their shelters. One shelter in
Washington was actually
doing this, despite the fact that they were receiving taxpayer money, until the ACLU
In the case of Operation Christmas Child, I find their attitude not only repulsive, but highly ironic since it’s lead by an organization (Samaritan’s Purse) that takes it’s name from the famous “Good Samartian” parable that Jesus told his followers.
In the story, the Samaritan man never expected anything from the man whose life he saved, and never tried to convert the man, who was Jewish, to his way of thinking, even though the two men would have had different opinions about religion. If the man in Jesus’ fictional story (which he used as an example for how people should act towards others) didn’t try to convert the man he helped, then why should an organization that takes it’s name from this story try to do exactly that? Why can’t helping others just be done for the purpose of helping others?