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Published: November 18, 2020  Updated: November 18, 2020 at 9:35 am EST

A middle school in Kansas was forced to stop participating in the popular Christmas Program, Operation Christmas Child, which collects and sends school supplies, hygiene products, and toys to children worldwide. The school received an official complaint from an atheist organization – claiming that the school’s participation was unconstitutional.

Liberty Middle School is located in Pratt, Kansas, and the complaint was filed to the Superintendent by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). Liberty was scheduled to participate in the annual program Operation Christmas Child, program which is regularly put on by the nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency led by Franklin Graham.

“The District must cease participation in Operation Christmas Child or taking any other actions promoting Christianity like including religious references over morning announcements,” the FFRF said in their Nov. 3 letter.

“While it is laudable for a public school to promote student involvement in the community by volunteering and donating to charitable organizations, the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to fund a religious organization with a religious mission,” FFRF wrote in their letter. 

Founded in 1978, the FFRF claims to represent 33,000 members across the country. It describes its members as “free-thinkers (atheists and agnostics).”

According to the official complaint, as referenced above, the FFRF is accusing the school of funding a religious program. However, the school is not funding the program by choosing to participate in the yearly program that gives shoeboxes full of items to children the world over.

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Regardless, this is not the first time that the FFRF, along with other Atheist Organizations, have filed a complaint against a school that is participating in the Operation Christmas Child. The American Humanist Association filed a federal lawsuit in Denver to stop Colorado students from putting together Christmas gift boxes for children in need.

According to Religion News Service, an Operation Christmas Child spokesperson said the organization does not tell anyone to participate in the annual gift box program. That decision is left to whoever wants to participate. 

The organization also fought the program in South Carolina schools in 2013. The FFRF and other atheist organizations alike use the ‘Establishment Clause’ or the ‘Separation of Church and State’ to stop any involvement of religious organizations like Operation Christmas Child. However, as you can see in the video below, that was not the clause’s intent.

Over the course of history, that phrase has been twisted to handicap, and silence Churches and their affiliations, even though, within the United States’ Constitution, the First Amendment explicitly bars the government from infringing on those rights who practice. The First Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”