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American Humanist Association sues Colorado school district over the separation of Church and State

American Humanist Association sues Colorado school district over the separation of Church and State

Samaritan’s Purse, a charity, has a Christmas appeal called Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse is run by Franklin Graham, conservative evangelical son of Billy Graham. The Douglas County School District, in a suburb of Denver, has teamed up with Samaritan’s Purse to request that the children and their families in the district put together Christmas gift boxes. However, three families in the district feel that things have been taken too far and with the aid of the American Humanist Association (AHA) have taken the school district to federal court. The families have sued the district on the grounds that the district has violated its responsibility of not promoting religion.

The Douglas County School District has a history of crossing the line and promoting the mission of other Christian organizations to the children in the district. In the past, schools in the district have been involved with a mission trip to Guatemala organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Douglas County schools have additionally teamed up with Adventures in Missions, that emphasizes prayer & relationships in its work with the poor. Colorado schools also have an ongoing history with the AHA. Previously, districts in two states, Colorado (CO) and South Carolina (SC) were sent letters of warning by the AHA in 2013 when it was discovered that schools in those states were teaming up with Operation Christmas Child and being invited into classrooms to promote the appeal. The schools in SC severed their ties with the appeal, the CO schools did not.

Last Wednesday’s hearing in the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver CO, dates back to the 2013 incident. In Operation Christmas Child the school children are told that they being given an “opportunity . . . to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.” Additionally, after the Christmas boxes are delivered to Samaritan’s Purse, the charity puts Christian tracts in with the gifts.

The main photo, from the American Humanist Association, shows David Niose outside the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals on 16 NOV 2016. This story was originally covered by the Religious News Service.

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Tim Kruse

“The last act is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” T.S. Eliot

They nearly had me until I read the last line “The charity puts Christian tracts in with the gifts.”

Oh, so THAT’S what they are about. and seducing children in publicly funded education to boot. Kudos to the Humanists for their work

Paul Woodrum

Learned friends. You are quite right. The “Great Commission” comment was something I inadvertently transferred from the Lutheran/Jews item. What I had originally said, that disappeared, was that perhaps the more neutral term “holiday” should be used rather than “Christmas.”

Harry M. Merryman, Ph.D.

My dear Woodrum: You’re the one who brought up the Great Commission. Now you seem to be walking that back to “car(ing) for the ‘widow and orphan.'” I doubt anyone here would object to public school children helping the poor and needy so long as it is not done in the name or at the behest of a religious organization.

Paul Woodrum

My dear Orloff: I doubt first century folks would understand your argument that seems, even in the 21st century, to have little to do with a public school program requesting holiday gifts for children. While even I would question the propriety of partnering with religious organizations (including, but not limited to Mr. Graham’s), I think Jesus would approve their care of the “widow and orphan.”

Gregory Orloff

Jesus would most certainly approve of anyone’s — even a humanist’s or an agnostic’s or an atheist’s or a pagan’s — caring for the widowed and the orphaned, Mr. Woodrum. But caring for the widowed and the orphaned is not what the Great Commission, whose “overtaking” by “political correctness” you decried, calls for. Public schools can instill a sense of civic duty and charitable giving in students without linking it to a specific religious organization or agenda with which students, parents or tax-payers may not agree.

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