Christian Education

St Lawrence College in Ramsgate withdraws support for charity Samaritan’s Purse after parent complains about Christian beliefs

An independent school in Ramsgate has been criticized for severing ties with a Christian charity after a parent complained about its beliefs about marriage.

St Lawrence College has been working with the Samaritan’s Purse for a year, participating in its ‘Operation Christmas Child’ project which sends supplies to vulnerable children overseas.

St. Lawrence College

However, the College Road school said it would no longer work with the charity after a group of parents asked it to drop its support due to the charity’s stated religious beliefs on its website.

The charity run by Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, follows the Church of England’s position that marriage is the exclusive union of one man and one woman.

But the parent in question described Franklin Graham as “homophobic” and called the college’s support for Samaritan’s Purse “disturbing”.

They also alleged that anyone who shares these beliefs is a “danger to children”.

Other parents have described the college’s £12,485-a-year decision – which follows Christianity – as a “betrayal of Christian children and parents at school”.

The Chapel of St Lawrence College
The Chapel of St Lawrence College

However, a since-deleted webpage created by the complainants – who are backed by Humanists UK – said: ‘It’s time for the school to change, not us’.

Humanists UK is campaigning to eradicate faith-based schools from the education system.

Although the college initially dismissed the complaint, it released a statement last month that read: “The college has chosen to support Operation Christmas Child – a charity program that involves filling shoeboxes with gifts and sending them abroad for disadvantaged children.

“The College performed due diligence on Samaritan’s Purse and believed that its values ​​were consistent with the College’s Christian ethos.

“We now accept that our research, which was conducted in good faith, did not sufficiently consider the potential wider impact that support for Operation Christmas Child may have on the existing academic community, nor a proper assessment of the charitable goals of Samaritan’s Purse.

“It is important to be clear that such opinions are not in keeping with a school where students can be themselves and are respected and celebrated for who they are”

“We have therefore decided not to support this charity in the future.”

The statement goes on to refer to how Samaritan’s Purse opposes same-sex marriage, and that: “While it is important to respect the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of thought, and religion within the bounds of the law, it is also important to make clear that such views are not consistent with a school where students can be themselves and are respected and celebrated for who they are.

“We recognize that teaching throughout our curriculum and pastoral care must respect and reflect the diversity of today’s society, as well as the importance of equality in our society and institutions.”

A parent at the school of 625 students, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I feel very disappointed that the school has not supported Christian children and parents on this issue.

“It is a betrayal of the purpose for which the college was founded.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern.  Photo: Ruth Towell
Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern. Photo: Ruth Towell

“Many Christian parents, especially in Africa, have spent huge sums of money to send their children to boarding school because of its Christian ethos.

“They would expect their children’s faith to be respected and not for support of a charity to be dropped on these discriminatory grounds.

“The school tries to have a foothold in both the secular and Christian worlds, which just doesn’t work.

“If the school does not reverse its decision, it will encourage the complainants and the governors who support them to go further.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “This school has an amazing history tied to its Christian roots and has sadly bent the knee to pressure from a small minority lobby group – Humanists UK.

“How sad to see a Christian school, with such an incredible heritage, forced to drop its support for one of the world’s most effective emergency relief organizations simply because it won’t dilute that by what she believes.

“This is another in a long line of cancel culture stories where pressure from an ideological LBGT lobby has forced officials into submission because they are afraid to resist. This must stop.

St Lawrence College has been approached for further comment.