School cancelled support for evangelical charity 'after one complaint about Christian beliefs'

Samaritans Purse's Operation Christmas Child delivers more than 11 million shoeboxes a year to children in need in at least 100 countries around the world.Operation Christmas Child

An independent school has been accused of bending to cancel culture for reportedly withdrawing its support for an evangelical charity after "one complaint about its Christian beliefs on marriage". 

Christian Concern said St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, said it would no longer be part of Samaritan Purse's Operation Christmas Child programme after being challenged by some parents.

Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical charity led by American evangelical Franklin Graham, who has been outspoken in his defence of biblical marriage, sexuality and gender identity. 

Each Christmas, Samaritan's Purse collects and donates millions of shoeboxes filled with gifts for children in deprived parts of the world. Last month, over 660,000 were delivered to children in war-torn Ukraine.

Parents opposed to the college's involvement in Operation Christmas Child are reportedly being supported by Humanists UK.

The parents are said to have complained that Graham was "homophobic" and that anyone who shares the beliefs of Samaritan's Purse are a "danger to children".

The college, which describes itself as having "Christian values", took part in Operation Christmas Child for the first time last year but said in a statement last month that it would not participate in future campaigns. 

"The college carried out due diligence on Samaritan's Purse... and believed its values were in line with the College's Christian ethos," it said.

"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."

The statement went on to reference Samaritan Purse's views on same-sex marriage.

"Whilst it is important to respect the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion within the bounds of the law, it is also important to be clear that such views are not in line with a school where pupils can be themselves and are respected and celebrated for who they are.

"We recognise that teaching across our curriculum and our pastoral care should respect and reflect the diversity in today's society, and the importance of equality in our society and institutions."

Responding to the decision, one parent who wished to remain anonymous said it was "a betrayal of the purpose for which the college was founded".

"I feel very let down as the school has failed to stand with Christian children and parents on this issue," they said.

"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.

"The school is trying to have a foot in both the secular and Christian world, which just won't work.

"If the school does not reverse its decision, it will embolden the complainants and the governors who support them to go further."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: "This school has an amazing history linked to its Christian roots and has sadly bowed the knee to pressure from a small minority pressure group – Humanists UK.

"How sad to see a Christian school, with such an amazing heritage, pressured into abandoning its support for one of the most effective emergency relief organisations in the world just because it won't water down what it believes in.

"Humanists UK is a militant organisation waging war on Christianity in schools with a stated aim to 'eradicate faith schools'.

"Franklin Graham is a man whose faith drives him to serve the poorest and most in need across the globe. What he has achieved through Samaritan's Purse is nothing short of miraculous. He's a faith hero just like his father Billy.

"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."

Responding to the claims, Humanists UK said, "The head of Samaritan's Purse, Reverend William Franklin Graham III, has an established history of making homophobic and racist comments, and has even gone on the record to describe homosexuality as an 'abomination'.

"He also said Muslims 'should be barred from immigrating to America' and called on Christians to convert Muslims. Graham recently participated in the so-called March for Life, demanding a total ban on abortions across the United States.

"Given this, we stand by our opposition to Operation Christmas Child. We believe that parents and schools who wish to give an altruistic gift at Christmas can do so through other reputable, transparent charities, rather than one such as Samaritan's Purse that seeks to use outwardly benign gifts to vulnerable children to impose its own narrow views."

St Lawrence College has been contacted for comment.