Should charity and religion go together?

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A member of Brackley Town Council is asking if it is right to use charitable giving to promote the message of religious organisations.

Alex Dutton, 24, won a seat on the council this year after confronting members about whether prayers should be part of council meetings.

He has since submitted Freedom of Information requests to Brackley primary schools asking whether they would be taking part in the Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoebox appeal.

Last year 1.1 million children in 12 countries received shoeboxes filled with toys, sweets, educational material and personal hygiene products.

Of the schools which responded one said it is participating in collections, one said it usually takes part but not this year due to the economic climate, while a third said it is not taking part as it supports an African school.

But Mr Dutton believes the appeal is used to impose religion on others and is backing calls from the British Humanist Society to promote collections by secular organisations.

He said: “In the case of OCC, I object to them abusing people’s charity for their own ends, particularly as those taking part are ill-informed of the charity’s intentions. By the time it’s filtered down from the charity to the school, through the child to the parent, the religious aspect seems to get lost.”

Spokesman for Samaritan’s Purse UK said it does not put religious material in the boxes, but local churches in recipient countries may add material where culturally appropriate.