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Letter: Nothing tolerant in decision to cancel shoebox drive

Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child logo
Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child logo

If the decision by the English School District to disassociate from Operation Christmas Child was made without contemplating the unintended consequences, it would seem more forgivable. I fear it may have been a result of a social inertia driven by political correctness.

There is a sector in our society that arguably may be shrinking. It’s the one that holds certain moral views based on a worldview shaped by their faith.

One can only hope first consideration was some unfortunate child who sees little of this world’s goods and whose rare moment of excitement will not arrive this year. I fear that wasn’t the case. When school district CEO Tony Stack referred to “other shoebox organizations,” I’d like to believe he had already made arrangements with one such organization in order to mitigate the negative consequences of his last-minute, just-in-time-for-Christmas decision. Yet I’m fearful it was a nebulous statement to justify what was cold and reckless. Did Stack honestly believe some child in St John’s with two fathers would have been offended at the thought of filling a shoebox for some less fortunate child, just because the founder of the sponsor organization in the United States holds a moral view inconsistent with his family?

The message is clear and disturbing: all those who hold convictions based on such anchor points as their faith should be marginalized. Their benevolence must not be supported; their charity efforts, rejected.

I quote a comment published recently about a similar matter: “I don’t care if someone is L, G, B or T, but when they stand in the way of people helping people simply because their own personal noses are out of joint, they lose my respect and any sympathy I have for their cause.”

Did Stack consider that his decision contributes to that inevitable groundswell that will contribute nothing positive to any part of society, including the LGBTQ2 community? This kind of thinking only serves to create a new target for discrimination, one that is unlikely to find any support from philosophies and policies of inclusion. Intolerance operates in reverse polarity. Stack is an educated and informed man whose opinion matters in a community of impressionable minds. He can do better. He should see this. Did he ask himself the most fundamental question: who will be next?

The Salvation Army is one of the greatest forces for good this planet has ever known. If the faithful officer standing by the red kettle has signed a pledge that includes a traditional view of marriage in a set of convictions based on scriptural interpretation, would Stack encourage his schools to disassociate from the work of the Salvation Army? Would he encourage rejection and disassociation from those who selflessly hand out hot meals to destitute souls this Christmas just because some of those who lead the effort may have signed a pledge to adhere to a set of Catholic principles that may not align with his inclusive philosophy? Or are such organizations acceptable as long as they remain secret about their positions, never express their convictions publicly, and never ask anyone to sign a pledge?

It’s a loaded question. It’s advisable to think long time before answering. The media report quoted Stack: “…there have been nasty calls.” Surely in his years of public service those responses must have come without surprise. Stack surely needs no convincing that principles worth standing on are never based on such facile elements.

There is a sector in our society that arguably may be shrinking. It’s the one that holds certain moral views based on a worldview shaped by their faith. Their views are seldom expressed in media. Their flags aren’t waving in the street. Most of them serve without discrimination to person or class of persons. Yet regardless of their indiscriminate works of charity, and even if they’re silent about their convictions, the simple fact they hold such convictions eliminates their right to expression. It excludes them from the list of acceptable charities and relegates them to society’s new marginalized. All under the guise of tolerance and inclusion. What a paradox!

In a society so easily polarized, we have to find ways to show love and respect without having to compromise deep convictions. It doesn’t seem to me that we’ve discovered one here.

Ivan Butler
St John’s


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