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USA News

School stops support for Samaritan's Purse after parents bash Christian charity's marriage beliefs

by Tola Mbakwe

A boarding school in Kent has stopped supporting an international Christian charity due complaints about its traditional views on marriage.

St Lawrence College in Ramsgate has said it will no longer be backing Samaritan Purse's Operation Christmas Child programme, which delivers gift-filled shoe boxes to children in need across the world. 

According to legal Christian charity, Christian Concern, the school ultimately came to the decision to cancel its support for the programme after parents, whose child attends the college, accused Rev Franklin Graham, the founder of Samaritan's Purse, of being "homophobic". The parents also claimed the college's support for Samaritan's Purse was "disturbing".

Christian Concern says a now deleted web page created by the complainants said: "It's time for the school to change, not us." Humanists UK has backed the parents. 

St Lawrence College, which has a Christian ethos and starting supporting Samaritan's Purse in 2021, initially dismissed the complaint. Christian Concern said the college told the parents that the views of Samaritan's Purse were legal and that their objectives are in line with the college's "mission as an Evangelical Christian foundation".

However, in March the college backtracked and released the following statement:"The College carried out due diligence on Samaritan’s Purse… and believed its values were in line with the College’s Christian ethos. We now accept our research, which was conducted in good faith, did not give sufficient consideration of the wider potential impact that supporting Operation Christmas Child may have on the existing College community, or a proper assessment of the charitable purposes of Samaritan’s Purse. We have therefore decided not to support this charity in future.

“Having reflected on the implication that supporting Operation Christmas Child is an endorsement of Samaritan’s Purse, we recognise that it sent a confusing message to our pupils, who are entitled to fair and equal treatment irrespective of their religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Christian Concern had described the situation as sad and has defended Rev Graham as "a man whose faith drives him to serve the poorest and most in need across the globe."

The organisation's chief executive, Andrea Williams, also described the situation as an example of toxic cancel culture.

"This is another in a long line of cancel culture stories where the pressure of an ideological LBGT lobby has forced people in charge into submission because they are scared to resist. This has to stop," she said. 

One parent, who wished to be anonymous, told Christian Concern: "I feel very let down as the school has failed to stand with Christian children and parents on this issue. It is a betrayal of the purpose for which the College was founded.

"Many Christian parents, especially in Africa, have spent vast amounts of money sending their children to board at the school because of its Christian ethos. They would expect their children's faith to be respected and not for support for a charity to be dropped on these discriminatory grounds."

Since 1990, Operation Christmas Child has supported more than 186 million children in over 160 countries.

Last month, in response to the Ukraine crisis, Samaritan's Purse delivered some 660,000 Operation Christmas Child gift-filled shoebox to the country, in partnership with more than 3,200 churches.

St Lawrence College will not be adding further comment to their orginal statement sent out to their school community. 

Listen to Premier's interview with Rebecca Bensted, Director of Christian Legal Centre. 


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