In a land as prosperous as that of the United States, from time to time parents must remind their offspring that the Christmas season is not suppose to be as much about the gift as about the sentiment behind the present. However, as charities themselves degenerate into bloated bureaucracies more concerned about perpetuating themselves than about assisting the downtrodden, those administering these organizations no longer view the giving public as the real heroes behind what use to be considered grassroots eleemosynary but rather as dimwitted cogs to be lectured as to how the acts once perceived as selfless are actually reactionary gestures undermining the progressive vision of their enlightened betters.
Even within my own short life thus far, at one time Toys for Tots was grateful to receive any new toy or even a good used one in reasonable condition (as from my own experience I can tell you that a second-hand Millennium Falcon is as nearly as much a delight as one fresh out of the box). However, like a spoiled child getting too much at Christmas, now not only aren’t second-hand toys not good enough for these philanthropic agencies, but now they also dictate what kinds of new ones may be donated as well.
Before having their rears handed to them and deciding to reverse their position as a result of the public humiliation, Toys for Tots initially turned down a donation of 4,000 Bible quoting Jesus dolls not because the figurines might be seen as a tad tacky but rather because the doll might offend non-Christian families such as Jews and Muslims. As a charity distributing its beneficences based upon the destitution of the intended recipients, when was the last time a Jewish family even qualified for goodies from Toys for Tots?
Seriously though, if an individual finds Christmas (and more importantly) the Christ inspiring this particular celebration so odious, why are they accepting gifts anyway? If this charity is being thrust upon the recipients against their will in the same spirit of “we’re doing this for your own good whether you want it or not” characterizing many of the programs directed at manipulating those targeted into accepting their status as “underprivileged”, perhaps its is Toys for Tots that needs the cliched lecture about not imposing its values on others rather than the American people receiving a lecture on the matter from Toys for Tots.
If those paraded before us these days as destitute can be as selective of the charity bestowed upon them as Jabba the Hutt at an all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s about time that a civic dialogue was convened to consider whether or not Toys For Tots has outlived its usefulness. For in the current retail environment with a Wal-Mart in nearly every county and a dollar store in almost every other strip mall, frankly if you can’t afford to buy your kid a small toy, a $0.75 pack or notebook paper, and a Snicker’s bar or two, one really ought not to be doing the kinds of things that result in children in the first place.
No where does it say your progeny are entitled to Lionel Trains, Tonka Trunks, or Nintendo Sets under the Christmas tree. Maybe if these parents didn’t spend their money on gold teeth, pierced noses, and nightclub boogie dances, they wouldn’t need the Marines (or at least the Reservists) to charge in to save Christmas.
Over the past decade or so, one has come to expect secularists to get their dander up over Christmas. Surprisingly, even Christian organizations that don’t have all that much of a problem using the Christmas season as an excuse to pander for handouts are now themselves thinking they are too good for the religious underpinnings of Christmas.
Over the last several years, Franklin Graham has earned a reputation for being outspoken about certain trends prominent in the world today. However, if certain developments within the family’s ecclesiastical domain are any indication, it seems Junior may have developed a touch of daddy’s degenerative spine disorder where one becomes so accustomed to the accolades of world leaders and the influential that such praise slowly becomes just as important as standing for the uncompromised truth.
As part of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child is a program organized to distribute Christmas gift boxes to children in impoverished nations around the world. One would think little controversy would erupt as theoretically the program involves little more that the distribution of gift boxes assembled by well-meaning believers and delivered to enthusiastic youngsters.
However, even this has turned into yet another scheme for fostering political correctness around the globe. In being taught a lesson in gratitude and appreciation, most children learn to say a polite thank you and not to complain in front of the giver should they find something they don’t care for when they open a present (after all, you can always regift if the giver is not that close of an acquaintance). Yet now contemporary Christian leaders are so concerned about offending international sensibilities (i.e. afraid a Muslim is going to riot) that these ministries have issued elaborate decrees on what the average believer may or may not give.
For example, according to a Daily Mail story entitled, “Christian charity bans Christian themed children’s gifts”, Samaritan’s Purse has expressly banned “war-related items such as Action Man-type figures.” So basically anything a young heterosexual adolescent boy would want to play with. Sure, toy cars and planes might still be allowed, but if Ted Haggard hadn’t gotten caught letting another man shift his gears, one wonders how long it would have been until these had been banned as well since, according to the limpwristed pansies coming to predominate the ranks of Evangelical leadership, these modes of transportation are coming to be seen as just as evil as the implements of war (unless of course you happen to be one of those bigshot leaders who will still be permitted to jet around the world telling the rest of us just how evil we are for manifesting the disease of individualism as embodied by driving our own automobiles to work and refusing to carpool).
Peaceniks will respond that the last thing boys need in these mudhole countries is additional encouragement to make war. If that’s the case, I hope the girls will be denied baby dolls as the last thing they need to be encouraged to is to have more kids, though it might be politically incorrect to say, the rest of us are going to have to pay for in terms of foreign aide or as the result of one too many missionary sob stories playing on the guilt pounded into our own psyches over the fact for simply being American.
Unfortunately, there is even more at stake than the lads of the Third World being feminized to the same degree as their counterparts here in the West. For not only is male vitality to be removed but the strength of explicitly Christian convictions as well.
We rubes sitting in the pews with our limited mental capacity would no doubt conclude that the primary reason for sending Christmas boxes overseas would be to tell the children there about Jesus Christ since, as unpopular as the idea might be, those without Him still die and go to Hell even in this age of runaway tolerance. However, our theological betters (at least those in endowed positions that keep reminding us they are our theological betters) would tell us that the best way to tell someone about Jesus is to not tell them about Jesus at all.
For while Christians are free to jam the boxes with assorted miscellany, items of a religious nature are promptly removed. Despite claming to do it for fear of offending non-Christians, it makes you wonder what percentage of objects attained through this pious five-finger discount end up under the trees and in the stockings of the offspring of Samaritan’s Purse personnel.
Frankly, if those these gifts are being sent to are all that hostile towards information about Jesus that mere mention of His name is going to send the recipient into homicidal conniptions, perhaps missionaries to these countries in question should pullback to the lands of the West and fortify our borders by refusing to let anymore from these nations into our countries and work on converting those already here.
Those studying institutional change over time will note that usually religious organizations with even the best of intentions inevitably slide towards theological liberalism. And like the fate that befell the mainline denominations, eventually confusion and distorted purpose will come to grip the administration of Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse if steps are not taken now to curb the “sensitivity” tide.
Most of the time, a good Christmas story rings with an eternal truth that cannot be denied. It seems the truth in this tale is that you are better off donating your charity dollar to an organization that you yourself have direct contact with such as a reliable church, a family that you know, or maybe your own savings account for when you’re old the way Social Security is headed the only charity that will be there to lend you a helping will be you yourself.
Those duped by the professional altruists might be shocked by such a statement. Such noble outrage would be better directed towards those manipulating our sympathies through direct mail fundraising and the like.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.