It sounds innocent enough - gift filled shoeboxes bringing Christmas
joy to children around the world. Last year over a million shoeboxes were delivered just from Britain - worldwide over 24 million over the past 10 years - making it the world largest
children's Christmas project. So why the campaign against it?
Racist & Poisonous
What most people don't know is that the organisation behind it - Samaritans Purse - is run by that well know islamophobe Franklin Graham - who calls Islam "a very wicked and evil
religion". Its the same group that rode with Israeli army convoys into Lebanon during Israel 's 1982
invasion, and again followed US troops in to Iraq to claim Muslims for Christ.
In 1990 they sent 30,000 arabic bibles for US troops to hand out to the defeated Iraqis -
literally at gun point. In Afghanistan their 2003 report proudly declared that with help from the Canadian military they got "MUSLIM children in the capital city of Kabul to celebrate Christmas for the first time".
Their stated aim is the "advancement of the Christian faith
through... the relief of poverty". Christian leaders in the UK have
condemned this version of Christianity as "racist" and
Just Against Muslims?
Their poison isn't just directed at Muslims, they refer to Hindus as being "bound by Satan's power" and were caught preying on
Catholic earthquake victims in El Salvador in 2001- refusing them temporary homes provided by
US AID unless they first attend a half hour evangelising "prayer" session. Afterwards Frankilin Graham gloated that in one village they converted 150
Exploiting others suffering -
El Salvador Earthquake in 2001 left 300,000 people homeless
What would you do for a shelter for your family?
Other relief organisations were scathing of Samaritan's Purse's actions in Nicaragua in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in 1999 which left over ten thousand people dead or missing and considerably more homeless. Rather than focus on helping people, Samaritan's Purse used up potential relief money arranging an evangalical concert at the national baseball stadium in Managua. 50,000 children - mainly Catholics - were whisked away in rented buses to the stadium to listen to Graham, who flew in on a private jet, preach his brand of Christianity - asking them to accept Jesus as their saviour and be born again, and be rewarded with a shoebox of gifts and a Bible - the Catholic church was furious.
These children work for 76 cents a day (1999) picking peanuts in a field in one of the districts hardest hit by Hurricane Mitch. Their parents went to Costa Rica, trying to earn enough money to send back to Nicaragua so they wont lose their lands to the bank. First came the hurricane - it destroyed almost all their crops, then came Samaritan's Purse - it came for their children...
In 1986 the World Court found the United States guilty of supporting terrorist forces in Nicaragua - Ronald Reagan's administration had been caught training Contra terrorists how to attack farm co-operatives and other "soft" civilian targets. The Samaritan's Purse played their part in the training - they admit on their website that even after the World Court judgment, as late as 1989, they trained chaplaincy corps for the Contras.
Last year the Charities Commission slammed "Operation Christmas Child" for
hiding their missionary aims from teachers and parents of school children
asked to support the scheme, and from volunteers helping the project. They found that Operation Christmas Child "appeal leaflets sent to parents and teachers say nothing about any missionary aim, or religious affiliation."
shoeboxes of "gifts" arrive in their destination countries they are used to target the most vulnerable members of society - the children. The "gifts" are used to bribe desperate children away from their parent's religion.
Last Christmas 6.6 million shoeboxes were distributed in some 95 countries around the world. Missionary literature specially designed to entice children, which comes in 54 languages, is distributed with the boxes - either inside it or otherwise along side it - sometimes covertly.
The children are told "the gift is from Jesus" and upon receiving the "gift", in return, they are enrolled to attend a further 10 lesson indoctrination bible study course - their own annual report for 2003 suggests that four out of every five kids who receives a "gift" shoebox ends up attending such a course.
They boast that tens of thousands of children have been converted in this way. In their Zambia operation they even coldly calculated that one shoebox equated to nearly 24 people being "saved" for Christ!
Case Study Of How Shoeboxes Are Used To Bribe Children Away From Their Parents Religion
Samaritan's Purse in India
Samaritan's Purse Special Report on Operation Christmas Child 2003 gives the example of a 13 year old boy in India:
Like children in the United States, he leaves his house every morning. But the 13-year-old boy is on his way to work, not school. His job is to pick up garbage on the streets of his town in India. It's hard, filthy work, with long hours and little pay.
Every day, Ramakrishna's work route took him in front of a Christian church. As he picked up trash from the gutter, a woman invited him into the church. He always refused. Then one day the woman asked him inside to receive a gift. He was still wary of Christians and their strange beliefs, but the offer of a gift was too tempting. He accepted.
Ramakrishna had been invited to an Operation Christmas Child distribution, and he was given a shoe box filled with presents.
"I was surprised and very happy," he said.
Although he was thrilled to receive the shoe box gift, he wondered who had sent it and why. The woman who had invited him explained.
"She told me it's a gift sent to me by Jesus," Ramakrishna said. "She told me the greatest gift of all is Jesus, and He will also come to me if I ask Him...
Then the report explains how they uses the shoeboxes to get around local laws preventing missionary activity:
India can be a difficult mission field. Many states have anti-conversion laws that make it hard for Christians to work. But Operation Christmas Child breaks down barriers and provides a way to reach the children. More than 325,000 shoe box gifts were distributed in 2003, and 265,000 children were enrolled in follow-up Bible study programs.
"Operation Christmas Child has opened up new doors without question," said a Samaritan's Purse ministry partner. "We're seeing the Lord do wonderful things."
Their website mentions another similar case in Haiti where they used a shoebox gift party to entice an11 year old girl from her parents religion which eventually lead to the break up of the family.
Against International Law
The United Nations Declaration of the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, 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.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child see our collection
of referenced articles:
Exposing Operation Christmas Child
 The evangelicals who like to giftwrap
islamophobia, Rev Dr.Giles Fraser, Guardian 10 Nov 2003.
 Franklin Graham: Spiritual carpetbagger, Mas'ood Cajee,
Counterpunch 11 Apr 2003.
 Shun 'racist kids charity, says vicar, Manchester News, 13 Nov
 Presents imperfect, Patrick McCurry, Guardian 18 Dec 2002.
 US aids conversion-minded quake relief in El Salvador, David
Gonzalez, New York Times, 5 Mar 2001.
 Division of faith, Patrick McCurry, Guardian 15 Jan 2003.
 Samaritan's Purse Special Report on Operation Christmas Child 2003, http://www.samaritanspurse.org/occ/pdf/2003_OCC_SR.pdf
This is calculated based on the figures for India as given in the Samaritan's Purse Special Report 2003:
325,000 kids given shoeboxes, out of which 265,000 kids were enrolled in Bible Study Programs. thats 82%
Letter written by Richard Walden, President of international relief organization Operation USA to the LA Times, 7 April 2003, http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-le-walden7apr07,1,5451308.story
What Can We Do?
Tragically most people who support Operation Christmas Child - from parents
gift wrapping shoeboxes to organisation acting as collection points for the shoeboxes
- don't realise the racist reality behind the innocent facade. Our job is simple - to inform people of the truth behind Operation Christmas Child.
Gedling Borough Council supporting
a racist project on their homepage
We have a list of UK organisations who are supporting Operation Christmas Child by acting as collection points for its shoeboxes. Its sorted by postcode. Look up your postcode - you will be shocked to see so many organisation in your area supporting this vile venture. But more shocking is when you read who the supporters are - they include town councils, public libraries, community centres, hospitals and schools. All of these are forbidden by their charter to support racist or divisive projects - their purpose is to serve the whole community irrespective of race and religion -
that's why they are funded by our taxes.
of organisations supporting Operations Christmas Child (large
We want you to write to them and complain - demand they pull out. We have a
sample letter, which you can customise depending on who you are writing to, and a 12 page information pack for you to include with the letter. The information pack contains referenced articles exposing Operation Christmas Child.
Its as simple as that!
website for Operation Christmas Child lists your organisation
as one of its supporters, acting as a collection point for its
shoeboxes. Are you aware that Samaritan's Purse which is
behind Operation Christmas Child, is well know for its
leader Franklin Graham has publicly attacked Islam as “a
very wicked and evil religion”. On Hinduism he says “…we
traveled to the subcontinent of India, with its hundreds of
millions of people locked in the darkness of Hinduism… These
people were bound by Satan’s power.”
they exploit children’s generosity by using their gift boxes
to bribe desperate children in developing
nations towards a divisive form of
Christianity. In their Zambia operation they even coldly
calculated that one shoe box of gifts equated to nearly 24
people being "saved" for Christ!
Rev Vernon Marshall, vicar of Old Chapel in Dukinfield, and
New Chapel in Denton, has publicly condemned it in the
following words: “Millions
of shoeboxes full of gifts are collected, but are then
inserted with poisonous literature and leaflets thrusting an
intolerant and racist form of Christianity on these poor
Muslim people. This is not a normal form of Christmas
charitable giving and anyone who usually helps this appeal
should think carefully about the implications."
such as the fire service in South Wales and the Co-operative
Society, which had previously allowed their premises to be
used as collection points for shoeboxes, have withdrawn their
support from the project. The Co-op spokesperson said “had
we been aware of his [Franklin Graham] views in advance, we
would not have participated in Operation Christmas Child...”
am sure you will agree that such racism has no place in an
organisation like yours which is there to serve the whole
community irrespective of race and religion. I demand that you
immediately stop supporting this bigoted organisation.
an information pack consisting of referenced articles exposing
Operation Christmas Child so that you can make an informed
Awaiting your prompt reply,
Your Signature ]
[Your Name ]
letter to any organisation (Word Format)
Information Pack (12 pages, Word Format)
Is Your Child's School
Nearly half the schools in the UK are believed to be taking part
in Operation Christmas Child - that over 10,000 schools. Ask your child's
school if they are supporting this scheme - if they are then use our
school sample letter below with the information pack to demand they
stop their support.
We are shocked and deeply hurt to see our
son's/daughter's school give its
support to an Islamophobic organisation that uses toys to
bribe children in need to a divisive form of
You may not be
aware that Samaritan's
Purse, which is behind Operation Christmas Child, is well known
for its religious bigotry. Its leader Franklin Graham has
publicly attacked Islam as “a very wicked and evil
religion”. On Hinduism he says “…we traveled to the
subcontinent of India, with its hundreds of millions of people
locked in the darkness of Hinduism… These people were bound
by Satan’s power.”
I am sure you will agree that such racism has no place in school, where
all faiths should be respected. We all wish to instil a sense
of caring, charity and good citizenship in our children but
this surely is not the way. We want a reassurance that [school
name] will stop supporting this divisive organisation.
Please find attached a few articles which
further expose what Operation Christmas Child is really about.
Awaiting your prompt reply,
Your Signature ]
Mr & Mrs [name]
letter to school (Word Format)
Information Pack (12 pages, Word Format)
This letter and information pack has already been used
successfully in bringing awareness and change to one infants school.
Within hours of the school receiving the letter, to their credit,
they tore down all the posters for Operation Christmas Child which
had adorned every classroom and that same day they issued a memo to all parents telling them not to bring any shoeboxes as the school had pulled out of the
Your child's school may not be so reasonable. If it refuses to
distance itself from this racist organisation even after you as a
parent have complained and made them aware of the facts then please
do let us know.
The collection period for shoeboxes started on 5th November and ends 21st November 2004, so there is very little time - act quickly, send your letter today.
Note that even if you read this after the 21st November its still
important that you write that letter. Operation Christmas Child rears is ugly head every year. When you write, demand that they give you an undertaking that next year they will not support this scheme. Forward these promises to us and we will hold them
to it next year.
We appeciate the many organisation who have written to us to distance themselves from this racist project - most simply were not aware of the bigotry behind Operation Christmas Child.
We had planned to publish a progress report on this on-going campaign on 1st December 2004. This would include, as demanded by our readers, the list of those organisations who despite having received clear evidence of the bigotry behind Operation Christmas Child, have chosen not to distance themselves from it. Shockingly these include publicly funded bodies who in total disregard for the Equality policies that govern their operation are giving their support to this racist project.
We have however been requested by a number of the organisations for a little more time, whilst they conclude their own investigations in to Operation Christmas Child. In respect of this we are holding back the publication of the results for a short period.
In The Media
Against Operation Christmas Child
campaign has been jointly launched by the Islamic Human Rights
Commission (www.ihrc.org) and Innovative Minds (www.inminds.co.uk).
(H Ahmad, Campaign Co-ordinator, IHRC)
Campaign Website: http://www.inminds.co.uk/occ.html
Address: IHRC, PO BOX 598, Wembley HA9 7XH
Operation Christmas Child:
Kindness or Crusade?
12 Dec 2004, BBC Radio Wiltshire,
Mark Jones Breakfast Show.
Massoud Shadjareh (Chairman of IHRC) Vs
Mark Smith (Chairman of Samaritan's Purse UK)
Download (right-shift-click) audio (real audio 14min 1.7Mb)
Interesting debate, the only point Mark Smith (chairman of Samaritan's Purse International UK) seems to make is that shoeboxes from the UK do not include missionary literature INSIDE the boxes - as if it really makes any difference whether the literature is given WITH the boxes or INSIDE the boxes. When challenged about Franklin Graham's islamophobic remarks, rather than distance himself from them, he defends Franklin Graham saying he's "a man who has enormous care for people regardless of religion, race, or creed"!
"Evangelists exploit Christmas cheer to target Muslim children"
Red Pepper Magazine
issue 126, December 2004/ January 2005
"Christmas charity exposed as a missionary crusade"
The Muslim Weekly
issue 59, 17-23 December 2004
Interview with Asheville Citizen-Times
4 February 2005
Missionaries Preying On Tsunami Survivors
"first they lost their parents, now they are asked to give up their religion in return for biscuits and water"
Pursestrings- excellent Canadian site dedicated to exposing Operation Christmas Child.
need your feedback! If you write a letter please email us a copy, if
you receive a reply then again please email a copy. If your child's
school stops its support for the scheme after you complained please
let us know. This is essential for gauging the success of the
campaign. All information will be treated in confidence so for
example if you tell us your child's school refuses to stop its
support we will treat it in confidence and co-ordinate with you in
determining whether action should be taken.
for feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form below.