Schools in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) are rejecting the Franklin Graham-run Operation Christmas Child Program because Graham and his Christian ministry oppose same-sex marriage.
According to the National Post, the school board representing all English schools in the province made the decision on Nov. 25.
The program, supported by schools and churches across North America, is administrered by the Samaritan’s Purse ministry founded by Graham, the son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham.
Donors collect Christmas-themed shoe boxes and fill them with everyday essentials that are then sent to needy children around the world. Last year, Canadians sent stuffed almost 750,000 boxes full of items like toothbrushes, socks and mits.
But interim NL school superintendent Tony Stack has given the boot to the shoe boxes because the ministry’s official position on same-sex marriage and abortion doesn’t complement the school district’s efforts to preach inclusiveness and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
“Additionally, trustees directed staff to develop guidelines for schools regarding their interactions with outside or third party organizations who wish to participate or organize activities within district schools,” he said in a statement.
Samaritan’s Purse confirms that it accepts the traditional definition of marriage but provides assistance to anyone, “regardless of their religious faith, race, gender, or socio-economic standing.”
According to email response provided to The National Post from Jeff Adams, a spokesman for Samaritan’s Purse Canada, anyone in a leadership position within the ministry must agree with a statement of faith that recognizes traditional marriage and condemns abortion. It emphasizes that “human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage” between “a genetic male and genetic female,” while “human life is sacred from conception to its natural end,” Adams wrote.