You often hear talk about how religious groups ought to do more than offer thoughts and prayer in a time of crisis, and one group was doing just that! Evangelist Franklin Graham‘s group Samaritan’s Purse helped fund and erect a “68-bed respiratory unit” in Central Park, in New York City.
That’s great. They have the funds — $664 million to be exact — and they’re helping people with it. Good on them.
But as Gothamist notes — and just as you’d expect — there’s a catch: Anyone who volunteers to help must sign off on a Christian faith statement that, in Graham’s case, includes a clause that says you reject same-sex marriages (and the existence of transgender people).
Because they don’t want to work with you unless you’re sufficiently bigoted.
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.
There’s also a section about how non-Christians will be tortured and set ablaze in Hell:
… we believe that God will reward the righteous with eternal life in heaven, and that He will banish the unrighteous to everlasting punishment in hell.
And then there’s a section requiring volunteers to oppose abortion in all cases, including rape and incest.
We believe that human life is sacred from conception to its natural end…
To be clear, these are standard awful evangelical Christian beliefs. They’re not surprising in a church context. Everyone knows those pastors preach hate no matter how delicately they try to sugarcoat it.
But when your mission is to help people who are suffering, there’s reasonable concern over whether LGBTQ people will be given proper treatment in these facilities given the inherent bigotry of the Christians who work with Graham’s group. The organization says yes, of course, but if you’re LGBTQ, would you trust your life in their hands?
“I don’t want to demonize people who are volunteering their time, but it is a concerning thing,” said Amy Martin, a Brooklyn resident and former nursing assistant.
“On the one hand, this is absolutely an all hands on deck situation,” she continued. “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.”
We already know that the group crosses the line. When they work with public schools to send Christmas care packages to poor families, they’ve been known to include religious tracts in the boxes. The beliefs aren’t just limited to the volunteers.
While New York City is no doubt happy to get any help it can, officials need to make sure this group won’t proselytize, treat patients differently, or attempt in any way to spread Graham’s despicable views while working with people who are usually victims of his verbal abuse.
And if they can’t get that guarantee, then if nothing else, it’s a clear sign that Graham is more interested in preaching hate than helping people.
One official, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, is asking for that guarantee.
You know those medical tents being constructed in Central Park?
They’re being set up by notorious anti-gay bigot Franklin Graham.
Mr. Graham must promise to treat EVERY patient with dignity and respect. pic.twitter.com/9ynZ4jHvrU
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) March 30, 2020
He hasn’t received those assurances yet.