CALGARY – Christmas charities run by some public schools of Calgary met opposition by a group of parents. Concerned parents expressed that Christmas related charities could potentially pressure children from other countries to convert to the Christian religion.
A evangelical Christian organization known as Samaritan’s Purse involve students in a program called Operation Christmas Child, where children fill shoeboxes with Christmas gifts to send to poverty-struck children overseas.
Rita Sirignano, parent of one of the program’s helpers, said at first she thought it would be a good way for her soon to learn about charity. Upon further research into the Christian organization, Siriganano says that she learned the group pressures the children who actually receive the gifts are pressured to attend church.
The shoebox presents are sent to those countries that are heavily populated with either Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus, says Siriganano.
Ivan Giesbrecht, spokesperson for Samaritan’s Purse said that parents such as Sirigananno fail to see the entire picture, in response to Siriganano’s comments.
Many countries don’t even allow Samaritan’s Purse to present themselves as a Christian organization to the participants, says Giesbrecht. “In countries that we have been given permission to do so, we do tell these children we are Christians and that we are compelled by the love of God to do this and we want to beless these children.”
Gieesbrecht says he respects the decisions of those parents who don’t want their children being involved in the program. “Operation Christmas Child has tremendous support in more than a thousand schools across Canada.”
By Daniel K.