AN INTERNATIONAL Christian charity is asking people to pack presents into glittering gift boxes for disadvantaged children this Christmas - but pictures of baby Jesus are banned
AN INTERNATIONAL Christian charity is asking people to pack presents into glittering gift boxes for disadvantaged children this Christmas - but pictures of baby Jesus are banned.Samaritan's Purse has launched its annual Operation Christmas Child campaign and is asking schoolchildren, business owners and residents across Weston to wrap shoeboxes with festive paper and fill them with gifts for disadvantaged youngsters all over the world.But the charity, which has a slogan on its website saying: "Meeting critical needs of victims of war, poverty, famine, disease and natural disaster while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ", has banned people from putting any religious, political or racially-related items in the boxes, including Christmas cards with nativity images or books with traditional Christmas pictures in them.A charity employee who works in the Samaritan's Purse's call centre, but who did not wish to be named, said it is the first year the organisation has had to introduce the measures. She said they had to enforce the new rules because last year they were accused of pushing Christianity onto people by including religious images in the boxes.Barbara Hill, who works in the donor care department at the charity, said: "Anything we find in the boxes which has a religious nature will be removed."If a box was opened by a Muslim child in a Muslim country they may be offended so we try to avoid religious images."The charity has also banned war-related items, such as action figures, as well as chocolate and cake.The Rural Dean of Locking, Reverend Mike Slade, said: "Personally I think it is a shame that we can't share the gift of Christmas, which comes from the Christian faith."I think a number of Muslim people would respect Christians sharing their faith as they would accept respect from us."Political correctness is creeping into many spheres."Samaritan's Purse is a charity which provides gifts throughout the year to needy people across the world. An Operation Christmas Child spokesman said: "This is a project run by the Christian humanitarian charity, Samaritan's Purse. "The Operation Christmas Child instruction leaflet, of which over four million are issued annually, is very clear - items of a religious, racial or political nature should not be put in the shoeboxes. "In addition, all shoeboxes are checked in the UK warehouses in case someone has ignored the instruction and put an item of a religious, racial or political nature into a shoebox and, if found, any such item is removed."This has been standard practice since 1990 when the programme began in North Wales, and it is not correct to say it has only been introduced this year.