I might agree with an atheist
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{/source}I think this is the first time I might agree with an atheist’s position. The Christian Post reported that Roy Speckhardt, the executive director of the American Humanist Association, stopped two schools from participating in a popular Christmas toy drive. My first reaction was anger at an organization that would issue threats of lawsuits just because the schools were encouraging their students to create shoeboxes filled with small toys that could be sent to needy children throughout the world. Had I written this blog post immediately, it might have reflected that initial viewpoint. But I took some time to think – and changed my mind. I want you to read this post thoughtfully – then let me know what you think.

Operation Christmas Child has been a project of Samaritan’s Purse since 1993. They expect to collect 9.8 million shoebox gifts this year. Franklin Graham has led the Samaritan’s Purse since 1978 and the international relief organization has provided spiritual and physical aid to hurting people all over the world.

Roy Speckhardt threatened his lawsuits because he claimed the shoeboxes were “an effort to proselytize these poor kids.” Speckhardt said, “These are gifts with strings attached. They come with religious tracts and even places for kids to sign off on that they’ve converted to this particular brand of Christianity.”

I know many of you are wondering why I could possibly agree with this man’s position. If you have read my blog posts, you know I believe in evangelism and using every opportunity we have to spread the gospel message. I have made these shoeboxes in the past and wholeheartedly support the mission of Samaritan’s Purse. But, I think the schools involved may have done the right thing by backing down after Speckhardt’s threats. Let me explain why…

East Point Academy in West Columbia, South Carolina and SkyView Academy in Douglas County, Colorado are both public charter schools. I feel certain the schools were targeted by the atheist organization because they are magnet schools, trying to educate and influence children who exhibit leadership skills. Atheists would rather not have Christian leaders. But, at the end of the day, they are public schools supported by tax dollars. If the schools had collected these shoeboxes, they would have been sent to Samaritan’s Purse and Bible tracts would have been placed inside. The public schools would have supported a “certain brand of religion.”

Everything in my soul wishes those boxes had been put together and sent – because Samaritan’s Purse represents MY brand of religion. The reason I am writing this post and asking you to think about this today is because I think Christians are going to need to be very careful going forward. We cannot create precedents that we don’t want our great-grandchildren to be forced to live with.

If the public schools in Utah want to put together boxes for the needy, and put a copy of The Book of Mormon in each box, what would you want to say? If the public schools in Hawaii want to share Buddhist beliefs with their charitable gifts – would you feel that was a good idea? If the California public schools want to include tracts about Scientology…and now you understand my train of thought.

Evangelical Christians need to pause and think these days. We are now a minority vote in the United States. The laws that support the separation of church and state may be our great protection in the coming years. News and influence travels at the speed of the Internet now – it is hard to know how Christianity will fare in the decades to come.

Am I suggesting we give up? Of course not. The parents of those two schools didn’t. The article said they “were so incensed by the threatened lawsuit that they organized a Religious Rights Rally to independently raise funds for Operation Christmas Child. My guess is there were a lot more children who paid attention to building those shoeboxes this year because of the atheist attack. The schools didn’t collect the shoeboxes, God’s people did.

I would end by quoting Jesus when he said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). I think Christians are going to need to remember that we have been called to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We don’t want to change the laws that keep us from using the public schools for evangelism. Instead, why don’t we think about raising our children to be disciples who can change the lives of their fellow students in those public schools? We need to see our Christian teachers as missionaries to the public schools and support them as much as possible.

I don’t agree with the atheist’s belief, but I do agree with his political position. I don’t think we want our public schools to promote religions. That job has been given to us. We are supposed to be God’s disciples. Could it be that we have been too happy to assign the job of evangelism to the institutions of the world? Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

How would God lead you into the world today, sword drawn and ready for battle? One of the last statements Jesus made was, “You will be my disciples” (Acts 1:8).

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