Sometimes, there is no winning — even when winning doesn’t matter.
Samaritan’s Purse, the charity arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has set up an emergency field hospital in Central Park in New York City, an epicenter in the coronavirus pandemic. But with some people, no good deed goes unpunished.
The temporary tent hospital set up by Samaritan’s Purse houses 68 beds and includes a respiratory field unit.
As our @SamaritansPurse medical personnel finish setting up the Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park to take in #COVID19 patients later today, would you pray for them and the patients they will be treating? pic.twitter.com/wfe4kdi4L9
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) March 31, 2020
Some, though, are more concerned with the fact that the doctrinal beliefs espoused by the North Carolina-based charity, helmed by the Rev. Franklin Graham, don’t jive with the secular understanding of sexuality.
In fact, according to The Gothamist, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said he is so “very concerned” about the issue — mainly, the charity’s 2,000-year-old Christian understanding that marriage is a union between one man and one woman — that he assured members of the press he would be sending some of his staff over to the park to “monitor” the faith-based humanitarian group.
The Samaritan’s Purse field hospital will be specifically working with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, providing care to overflow hospital patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. And in a move that can be seen as little less than belittling, Mount Sinai CEO Dr. Ken Davis reassured de Blasio he made Samaritan’s Purse leaders sign a pledge to “treat all patients equally.”
Davis’ apparent suggestion is that he believes the medical personnel with Samaritan’s Purse would have withheld care from those in the LGBTQ community, or simply would have allowed them to die of COVID-19 complications.
“We’re going to send people over from the mayor’s office to monitor,” said de Blasio. “I am very concerned that this is done right. But if it is done right, we need all the help we can get.”
The mayor of the Big Apple said he finds the charity’s understanding of sexuality to be “very troubling” and told his team “that we had to find out exactly what was happening.” Thankfully, for him, de Blasio said he has received “assurances” from the Christian group that they will treat every patient, regardless of his or her sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, and amazingly, de Blasio isn’t the only one concerned about the Samaritan’s Purse presence in New York City.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson bad-mouthed the charity for coming to the Empire State, rebuking Graham for his “long history of spewing anti-LGBTQ hate speech.” He went on to say he finds it “extremely troubling that he and his organization are involved in our relief efforts in any way.”
Franklin Graham has a long history of spewing anti-LGBTQ hate speech and I find it extremely troubling that he and his organization are involved in our relief efforts in any way. I will be monitoring this situation closely.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/2cg6dHYHwA
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) April 1, 2020
And then there is New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who said it’s “a shame” the city of New York is accepting help from Samaritan’s Purse.
“It’s a shame that the federal government has left New York with no other choice but to accept charity from bigots,” he wrote.
It's a shame that the federal government has left New York with no other choice but to accept charity from bigots. https://t.co/rFSDitIn5Q
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) March 31, 2020
"Sadly, beggars can’t be choosers,” he wrote in a statement. “New York needs every ventilator we can get. But homophobic pastor Franklin Graham and his field hospital operation in Central Park must guarantee all LGBTQ patients with COVID-19 are treated with dignity and respect.”
“We’ll be watching,” added Hoylman.
As Dan Darling said, this bizarre line of attack against Samaritan’s Purse is nothing if not nonsensical.
I confess I don’t get this take. Why would we disqualify people from helping to alleviate human suffering based on their 2,000 year old beliefs? By this measure you’d have to eliminate almost every evangelical NGO. And right now we need all hands on deck. https://t.co/d0UZjjS80O
— Daniel Darling (@dandarling) April 1, 2020
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission vice president rightly pointed out just how odd it is “to accuse evangelicals of not caring or not taking the pandemic seriously while also criticizing them for actually volunteering and putting themselves at risk by helping set up mobile hospitals.”
Darling was, of course, referring to the since-edited New York Times op-ed blaming evangelical Christians for somehow creating the coronavirus pandemic.
For his part, Graham responded in a statement to NBC News, telling the outlet his charity does “not make distinctions about an individual’s religion, race, sexual orientation, or economic status.”
“We certainly do not discriminate, and we have a decades-long track record that confirms just that,” he continued. “This is a time for all of us to unite and work together, regardless of our political views. Let’s support one another during this crisis, and we pray that God will bless the efforts of all those battling this vicious virus.”
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