Earlier this week, volunteers began gathering in New York's Central Park to set up a field hospital as an overflow for Mount Sinai hospital. As reported by Gothamist, “The Central Park field hospital will consist of 68 beds specially equipped with respiratory care, powered by generators. The first patients are expected to come from Mount Sinai Brooklyn and Mount Sinai Queens, according to a press release on Samaritan's Purse's website.” The field hospital is a necessary addition to the beleaguered hospital and medical infrastructure of New York City.
The president of Samaritan's Purse, who has organized the endeavor, is Franklin Graham, son of famed Evangelical leader Billy Graham. He said “We are deploying our Emergency Field Hospital to New York to help carry this burden. This is what Samaritan’s Purse does—we respond in the middle of crises to help people in Jesus’ Name. Please pray for our teams and for everyone around the world affected by the virus.”
Major Bill de Blasio praised the effort this past weekend. De Blasio has been pleading with the country to send help from every corner, and a field hospital is precisely the kind of thing he must have been hoping for.
However, the Mayor of New York has since changed his position after LGBT activists complained about Samaritan's Purse. Their concern is with the pledge that medical personnel are required to take prior to joining the ranks of Samaritan's Purse.
As reported in Pink News, that Statement of Faith includes “We believe God’s plan for human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage, that God created man and woman as unique biological persons made to complete each other. God instituted monogamous marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”
In response to LGBT concerns, the major said that he is “keeping an eye” on the organization saying, "We're going to send people over from the Mayor's Office to monitor," de Blasio said. "I am very concerned that this is done right. But if it is done right, we need all the help we can get."
New York City has suffered 678 deaths, 160 in the past few days and has over 32,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. An emergency doctor at Mount Sinai agreed they are in desperate need for help, but complained, "Anytime there’s a disaster, there’s going to be people taking advantage," said the doctor, who asked for anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak on the record. "We should not be politicizing health care in times of need, which is what this organization is all about."
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted, “This is very disturbing. We need reassurances from the city and from Mt. Sinai that Samaritan’s Purse and its volunteers will be monitored, and that the LGBTQ community will not be discriminated against in any way. This is a crisis, but our values remain.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman demanded, “COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, and neither should Franklin Graham," he said. "It’s unacceptable that a New Yorker infected with COVID-19 could be subjected to discriminatory treatment from an organization whose leader calls us ‘immoral’ and ‘detestable.’"
Jane Meyer, the City Hall spokesperson assured, "Our record on human rights is clear; and we are confident that the joint effort by Mt. Sinai and Samaritan’s Purse will save New Yorkers' lives while adhering to the values we hold dear by providing care to anyone who needs it, regardless of background."
Franklin Graham also stated, "We're going to give the best health care we can to all New Yorkers, it doesn't matter who they are or what they are," he said. "We're going to give them the best medical care that we possibly can in Jesus' name."
Despite this, based exclusively on the religious beliefs of its leader and statements on morality and other hot-topic social issues over the last two decades, voices like those of Jacklyn Grace Lacey, a medical anthropologist sound the alarm, "I am tremendously concerned they will hurt far more of our fellow New Yorkers than they will help."
One quoted resident agreed after acknowledging the volunteers are needed saying, "On the other hand, as an LGBT New Yorker, I would be hesitant to make that my first choice of care. I'd much rather be seen anywhere else."
Writer Jonathan Merritt tweeted, after being asked if he really thought the group would turn away LGBT people in need, “I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe they would do that. But I think it’s fair for marginalized ppl to ask for their tax dollars and public healthcare contracts to not go to organizations whose leaders speak hatred and fuel fear against them, don’t you?”
The Christian leader of the group funding a 68 bed field hospital fully equipped to help COVID-19 patients in a time of extreme need is being accused of hate and bigotry by people actively calling for his charity organization to be discriminated against without any evidence other than their own prejudices to back them up.
Those shouting the loudest about protecting ‘inclusion’ are actively engaging in anti-Christian bigotry with absolutely nothing to support their claims. Despite their unfounded assumptions, Christian views on homosexuality do not equate to discrimination, especially within a medical setting.
Mayor de Blasio is under a great deal of pressure by these groups to cater to their paranoia and prejudice and in doing so he may very well cave, denying care to people who genuinely need it over fears hypothetical patients could be discriminated against. The influence of progressive thought is to manifest their own projections.
In this time of crisis, anti-religious bigotry has no place in the public conversation and should be shamed as strongly as antisemitism or Islamophobia would be in the same situation. Samaritan’s Purse is doing good work and the unfounded hatred from activists should not impede their ability to help people in need.