Rev. Franklin Graham on Friday cited “hatred … towards Christians” as one of the reasons a Kansas school caved to pressure from an atheist group to cancel the annual Operation Christmas Child shoebox program.
Graham said the decision reflects an increasing hostility towards Christians from some in America. “People have asked me, what will it take to bring this country together? I don’t think our country will ever come together,” he told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
“I think we’re so divided now and it’s going to get worse and the hatred that we see from many in the public square toward Christians is incredible,” he said. (RELATED: Franklin Graham Claims He Was Banned From Facebook)
The noted faith leader and son of evangelist Billy Graham said the Samaritan’s Purse program, where people are invited to fill a festive shoe box with daily essentials and toys to be provided to needy children around the world, has been successful for 27 years and has processed almost 200 million shoe boxes.
Liberty Middle School, in Pratt, Kansas, agreed to cancel the shoeboxes earlier this month after receiving a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation that objected to the Christian focus of the charity.
Instead of attacking the foundation, Graham thanked people for packing shoe boxes.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to the kids; I want to say thank you to everybody who’s ever packed a shoebox. I want people to know that there at Liberty Middle School, you can send your shoe boxes directly to Samaritan’s Purse and we’ll still take them: even though your school doesn’t want to participate — you can participate,” he said.
“I want every child that gets a box to know that God loves them and that He cares for them.”
Graham said the charity makes no attempt to conceal its beliefs. “We don’t hide the fact that we’re Christians. It’s on our website. We’re up front about our position and our faith … I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son. I believe that He came at Christmas.” (RELATED: Atheists Clash With Franklin Graham Over Praying Football Coach)
Host Laura Ingraham asked Graham if he “shared … concerns” with another pastor who said America is in a “moral free fall” because of the prevalence of abortion, transgender sexuality and pornography.
“I think we are on a moral free fall in this country. The only hope for our country I believe is God. For that to happen we’ve got to come to him in repentance, turning from our sins and putting our faith and trust in his son, Jesus Christ. I think if we do that, then God will hear our prayers and He will heal this country.”
Graham has been supportive of President Donald Trump and called some of the opposition to his leadership as “almost demonic” in origin.
In its letter to the school, the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote: “Organizing a donation drive that for all intents and purposes employs school staff and resources to convert people to Christianity violates basic constitutional principles. It is inappropriate for public school teachers to use their authority to encourage students to donate to religious groups.”