As The Daily Citizen has followed, when Samaritan’s Purse began setting up an emergency field hospital in New York’s Central Park to care for the overload of COVID-19 patients, a small but vocal group of city leaders emphatically said the ministry was not welcome because they hold to a biblical view of sexuality. New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the ministry’s leader, Franklin Graham “notoriously bigoted” and “hate spewing” and worried out loud,
“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.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city politicians instructed the New York City Commission on Human Rights to closely monitor Samaritan’s Purse to make sure anyone who identified as gay, lesbian, or transgender was well-served and not turned away. News site AMNY warned with all confidence it was “clear that Samaritan’s Purse intends to inject its religious beliefs into the organization’s work, raising more red flags about the group’s intentions in Central Park.” They quoted Kelli Dunham, who AMNY described as a “genderqueer comedian and author,” who said, “This is scary as hell. In order to volunteer with this organization, you have to affirm their anti-LGBT and anti-trans statement of belief. Well it didn’t take too long into the pandemic to throw queer folks under the bus!”
So, what actually happened in the midst of these dramatic accusations of bigotry and homophobia against Samaritan’s Purse?
The facts are rather anti-climactic for these activists.
No media organization, nor the New York City Human Rights Commission, could document any case of a patient being turned away from Samaritan’s Purse’s service because of their religious belief or sexual desire. There was no record of anyone being turned away for any reason. Everyone who needed help, got help, no questions asked. The New Times noted,
“On Friday afternoon, the City’s Commission on Human Rights closed an investigation into the hospital after finding no evidence it had discriminated against patients, according to its press secretary, Alicia McCauley.”
No one could document any patient complaining of any unwanted Christian beliefs or practices being forced upon them even though The New York Times reported this was a concern because of some because ‘the organization’s slogan, ‘Helping in Jesus’ name,’ was on trucks outside the field hospital and Mr. Graham delivered an Easter sermon on Fox News from the site.” Samaritan’s Purse worker sometimes asked patients if they would like prayer along with their medical service. No patients refused or balked at the offer.
At the very end of their article on the ministry’s time in New York City, The Times concluded,
“But the controversy did not affect the daily routine of the field hospital. Workers there said they had been warmly welcomed by New Yorkers, who sent food and gathered to cheer for them at 7 p.m.”
The Times quoted Jill Pike, a 30-year old woman who came from Oregon to volunteer, “We have been so well loved here, truly,” Of course, finding no trace of discrimination is no surprise to most people who know that Christian service organizations serve all who have need, regardless. They know it’s the rule that Christians have always done so everywhere their faith has taken them.
Samaritan’s Purse treated 333 patients in their 14-tent, 68-bed respiratory care unit in Central Park since April 1. They broke down their field hospital last week after sending home their last patient who came for help.