N.L. schools reject Christmas program backed by anti-gay evangelical charity
Kay Cossar is shown in Burgeo, N.L. on Thursday, May 12, 2016. Newfoundland and Labrador schools have quit participation in an annual charitable Christmas program after complaints it is sponsored by an evangelical Christian group that rejects gay marriage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Joe Cossar MANDATORY CREDIT
December 01, 2017 - 9:39 AM
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador schools have quit participation in an annual charitable Christmas program after complaints it is sponsored by an evangelical Christian group that rejects gay marriage.
The evangelical group Samaritan's Purse collects shoeboxes full of items for children in developing countries through its Operation Christmas Child program.
Interim superintendent Tony Stack said the group doesn't fit with the English School District's philosophy of inclusion and has been the centre of complaints, particularly as it relates to LGBT acceptance. The district represents all 259 English-language public schools in the province.
The decision was made at a Nov. 25 board of trustees' meeting, and Stack adds the board supports a variety of charities including those that provide shoeboxes to developing countries.
"Additionally, trustees directed staff to develop guidelines for schools regarding their interactions with outside or third party organizations who wish to participate or organize activities within district schools," the district said in a news release.
Samaritan's Purse says it provides help to people "regardless of their religious faith, race, gender, or socio-economic standing." But it has been criticized for forcing people to attend church services to receive aid.
The district's move was applauded by Kay Cossar of Burgeo, N.L., who was ousted as a regional volunteer leader for Samaritan's Purse because she refused to sign a statement of faith that denounced same-sex marriage and abortion.
Jeff Adams, a spokesman for Samaritan's Purse Canada, confirmed after Cossar's ouster last year that leaders who represent the group must sign a statement of faith recently changed to explicitly reject gay marriage and abortion.
"The amendments include a specific mention that 'human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage,' that a marriage by Biblical definition is between 'a genetic male and genetic female,' and that 'human life is sacred from conception to its natural end,' " he said in a May 2016 emailed response.
"We included these specifics NOT because our views on these issues had changed, but simply because the world's views on these has changed to the point where we felt the need to again remind our volunteers that our organization accepts the Bible as the inspired and infallible word of God."
Samaritan's Purse is headed by Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.
Canadians sent almost 730,600 shoe box gifts to the developing world in 2015 through Operation Christmas Child.
(VOCM, The Canadian Press)
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017