EDITORIAL: Religion and charity

It’s likely that more than a few people will be irked after reading that a local school abandoned a charitable project ...

It’s likely that more than a few people will be irked after reading that a local school abandoned a charitable project due to religious concerns.

Operation Christmas Child is an annual drive staged by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian organization. Participants in OCC pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene products and other items, which are shipped to kids in a dozen different countries.

Dr. Thomas A. Swift Elementary will no longer participate in the program, after the school’s principal became aware that the effort may contravene the B.C. School Act, which requires that public schools be operated as secular institutions.

Initially, it was thought that religious materials were included in the gift boxes, although that turned out not to be the case. However, the shoeboxes are distributed at Christian events, and related books and pamphlets are offered in the course of those, which can be declined.

Many of the boxes are distributed in Muslim-majority West African countries.

Certainly, parents there can avoid having their children attend the Christian events, but that means missing out on the charitable gift. Therein lies the problem – and the possible contravention of the School Act.

One local student posed the question of why religion had any bearing on the initiative – why can’t people just help other people?

Why indeed? Many Christian organizations do exactly that, with local and overseas programs such as food distribution that do not require attendance at special religious events, or exposure to evangelizing or associated materials.

There is plenty of opportunity to spread the Christian belief without requiring attendance to receive charity – especially if that charity was undertaken with help from public schools, and the secular laws governing them.

Just Posted

Stolen stamp collection has been returned to owners in Abbotsford

Good Samaritan found the stamps hidden away in some bushes and turned them over to police

Police find loaded rifle in car of ‘prolific offender’ prohibited from driving

Tyler Houle of Abbotsford arrested Wednesday in Chilliwack

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

George Ferguson Way apartment building goes to public hearing Monday

Bike lockers signal shift in Abbotsford developers’ thinking, Banman says

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Body found after fire at Surrey homeless camp, police say

Surrey RCMP say the body was found inside a shed after firefighters extinguished the fire

RCMP probe hit-and-run of Richmond senior

The man, who is in his mid-70s, was walking with his wife when he was allegedly struck

Most Read