FLORENCE, S.C. – In the classic Dr. Seuss tale, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the dreadful Mr. Grinch is reformed at the end.
After spending Christmas Eve robbing the village of Whoville of its mistletoe, wreaths, gifts and the “roast beast” meant for Christmas dinner, he finds himself holding hands with the residents the next morning, merrily singing Christmas carols.
His heart grew three sizes that day, as the story goes.
But for every reformed Grinch, a new one seems to materialize every year.
The latest comes in the form of an organization called the American Humanist Association (AHA), which apparently dislikes anything connected with religion.
The folks at the AHA recently learned that the Florence, South Carolina public school district has long been endorsing a charity called Operation Christmas Child, which encourages Americans to donate shoe boxes filled with toys and other gifts for needy children around the world.
Operation Christmas Child was established by the Rev. Franklin Graham and is operated by a Christian outreach organization called Samaritan’s Purse, according to WBTW News 13.
So every year thousands of less fortunate kids received a dose of holiday cheer due to the efforts of this charity. Most of the children probably don’t care, one way or the other, that the toys come from an organization that wants them to know the “true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Christ.”
Many of them probably receive few if any other gifts at any time of year, and likely cherish the goodies they receive at the Yuletide.
It’s a simple matter of a religious organization doing good deeds for those less fortunate. Other groups have been doing similar deeds for centuries, and most people agree that their efforts have made the world a better place.
But not the people who run the AHA. They sent a threatening letter to the superintendent of the Florence school district, demanding that the district stop endorsing Operation Christmas Child, and encouraging residents to contribute, because they say it violates the constitutional separation of church and state, according to News 13.
The letter said, “The boxes of toys are essentially a bribe, used to pressure poor children living in developing countries to convert to Christianity.”
AHA spokesman Roy Speckhardt was quoted by the television station as saying, “Public schools can encourage charitable giving but must remain neutral on religion.”
The AHA now claims that the school has agreed to drop its support of the charity. That’s probably due to a direct or implied threat of a lawsuit by the AHA, which could potentially cost the district thousands of dollars in legal fees.
That’s how groups like ASA and the Freedom From Religion Foundation manage to bully schools and local governments across the nation into dropping all sorts of harmless references to Christianity, year after year.
In Portland, Oregon last month, the FFRF pressured a school into dropping a long tradition of having its choir sing at a local Catholic Christmas celebration, because Christian songs are performed at the event.
Operation Christmas Child issued a statement saying ” Our purpose is to show God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. We do this by distributing millions of shoebox gifts to hurting children to let them know that they are not forgotten. These shoeboxes are given to children as free gifts, with no conditions attached.”
Of course the charity will still receive contributions from thousands of good people, and will again be giving countless children boxes of toys this season.
But a handful of kids could possibly be left out this year, because the Florence school district did not participate.
Perhaps the cold-hearted souls in charge of AHA can explain to those kids that it’s all for the best – they didn’t get any gifts this year, but their sacrifice is helping to preserve a fundamental constitutional principle.
We’re sure the children who go without will feel much better to know that.