A humanist group in America has ‘bullied’ a school into ending a collection of Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children.
The American Humanist Association sent a letter threatening legal action, saying the collection by school children was a breach of the separation of church and state.
The school caved in, but students and parents vowed to carry on with the gift appeal in a rally outside the school gates.
Lorrie Grove, the school board’s president, said they were “shocked and disappointed” by the humanists’ actions.
She said: “It was hard to believe we were receiving a threatening letter based on the good intentions of our students.”
She said students had taken part for the past two years as part of their chosen community service project.
Parents were informed of the school board’s decision to drop out of the programme last week, days before donations were set to be collected.
One mother, Kendal Unruh, said the legal threat is “the definition of bullying”.
She said: “They know where these toys are going, and this affects innocent children all over the country.”
The Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organisation, runs Operation Christmas Child which sends gifts and a gospel message in shoeboxes to children around the world.
In 2011, a schoolchild in Pennsylvania was banned from handing out invitations to classmates for a Christmas party held in a church.
Local education officials in Pennsylvania say allowing the invitations would breach its rules against promoting Christianity.