Two Public Schools Drop Out of Christian Program 'Operation Christmas Child'

| by Michael Allen

SkyView Academy, located in Douglas County, Colo. and East Point Academy in West Columbia, S.C. have severed their ties with Rev. Franklin Graham's "Operation Christmas Child" project.

"Operation Christmas Child" is a yearly program of Rev. Graham's evangelical organization Samaritan's Purse.

According to The Christian Post, both schools were allowing students to collect donations for "Operation Christmas Child" and assemble shoe boxes filled with hygiene items, gifts and a pamphlet on Christianity, which urged children to become Christians.

The American Humanist Association sent letters to both public schools, warning them that "Operation Christmas Child" is run by a Christian organization and their participation would be violating the separation of church and state.

"[The gift boxes were] essentially a bribe, expressly used to pressure desperately poor children living in developing countries to convert to Christianity," wrote the American Humanist Association in its letters.

No other religions are included in the shoe boxes and nor is any other religion benefiting from free work by the students.

SkyView Academy sent an email to parents last week announcing that it chose to stop participating in the program to avoid any legal fees and media attention.

"Our school has never endorsed any particular religious view," the email stated. "This decision is based on the importance of protecting our school's program, resources, and reputation, which would be at risk if we chose to engage in this national argument."

Parents of some students at SkyView Academy are now raising funds for "Operation Christmas Child" independently. The parents also held a "Religious Rights Rally" outside of school last Wednesday, notes 9 News (video below).

"We felt shocked and disappointed," Lorrie Grove, SkyView Academy board president, told The Denver Post. "It was hard to believe we were receiving a threatening letter based on the good intentions of our students."

However, it was not the intentions that were in question, counters Kimberly Saviano, president of the Humanists of Colorado, a local chapter of American Humanist Association.

"I love the idea of the gifts to children, but there are certain proprieties tied with something like this, and that is when they go off the rails," stated Saviano.

Some parents of SkyView Academy children are threatening a lawsuit against the American Humanist Association because of what they call bullying, even though the American Humanist Association has not made any physical threats.

"It's the definition of bullying," parent Kendal Unruh told The Denver Post. "They know where these toys are going, and this effects innocent children all over the country."

According to, South Carolina's East Point Academy wrote in an email to its students' parents: "In an abundance of caution because we do not want to expend school financial resources defending a lawsuit, we are not going to accept Operation Christmas Child boxes. If you and your child had planned to donate a shoebox of supplies, you are encouraged to find a charity of your choice for the gift."

Sources: The Denver Post, 9 News,, The Christian Post