Religion

South Carolina Elementary School Can’t Participate in "Unconstitutional" Christmas Toy Drive; Toys For Tots OK

| by Allison Geller

An elementary school in Cayce, S.C. is canceling its Christmas toy drive this year out of fear of legal repercussions.

East Point Academy, a publicly funded charter school, participates in “Operation Christmas Child” every year. Students pack shoeboxes with toys, pencils and other small items they’ve collected to donate to children in need.

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The American Humanist Association issued a letter to the school stating their mission "to protect one of the most fundamental principles of (American) democracy: the Constitutional mandate requiring separation of church and state,” WBTW News reported.

It called the school's involvement in the toy drive "unconstitutional."

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"The letter was very explicit that there would be litigation against us if we did not stop," the school’s principal, Renee Mathews, told WLTX.

Matthews said that she was shocked to receive the letter, and that she has previously had no community outcry against the program in the two years the school has participated in it.

The American Humanist Association sent the letter on behalf of a parent, pointing out that Operation Christmas Child is associated with “Samaritan’s Purse,” an international Christian-based organization led by Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham.

The American Humanist Association, which underscores its mission with the slogan “Good Without a God,” is a nonprofit devoted to nontheistic views and the separation of church and state. It comprises 20,000 members and 125,000 supporters across the country.

"There's no religious literature tied with it," Mathews said of Operation Christmas Child. "There's no speakers who come. There's no religious affiliation at all."

Matthews advised parents who already prepared boxes for donation to give them to another charity. She said the school will still participate in Toys For Tots and other gift-related holiday programs.

Sources: WBTW News, WLTX