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Thursday, April 2, 2020
Bill De Blasio ‘Very Concerned’ About Samaritan’s Purse Help At Emergency Hospital
The Mayor of New York is reportedly very concerned about an emergency hospital being built in Central Park by Samaritan’s Purse. The Gothamist, a New York website, ran an article on March 30 claiming that the Christian group “asks volunteers to support anti-gay agenda.”
The text of the article, however, fails to present any evidence that Samaritan’s Purse is asking its volunteers to take action against gays. The claim is totally dependent on a statement on the group’s website that says that all volunteers ” should read and adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as ‘exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female’ and the unrighteous are sentenced to ‘everlasting punishment in hell.'” In other words, a Christian group asks that its volunteers agree with traditional Christian theology and morality.
In a followup piece, Gothamist presented a tweet from the speaker of the New York City Council, who asked for “assurances” that the “LGBTQ community will not be discriminated against in any way.”
The second article quotes De Blasio as saying, “We’re going to send people over from the Mayor’s Office to monitor. I am very concerned that this is done right. But if it is done right, we need all the help we can get.”
The tent hospital in Central Park, which will handle overflow patients from Mt. Sinai Hospital, will be staffed by volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse. The group’s website reported that the facility consists of 14 tents and 68 respiratory care beds. The tent hospital opened on April 1.
Per the Gothamist report, “a spokesperson for Samaritan’s Purse would not say whether they would work with medical personnel who are not Christian or those who decline to affirm the faith statement.”
De Blasio said that the CEO of Mt. Sinai had assured him that Samaritan’s Purse had signed a pledge to treat all patients equally. Samaritan’s Purse will operate the hospital in a manner “truly consistent with the values and the laws of New York City.” De Blasio said.
Franklin Graham, the founder of Samaritan’s Purse and the son of the late evangelist, Billy Graham, denied any discrimination on “The Sean Hannity Show.”
“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,” Graham said. “We’re going to give them the best medical care that we possibly can in Jesus’ name.”
Graham echoed the message to Sean Spicer on Newsmax, saying, “Of course we don’t discriminate.”
While it is easy to blame New Yorkers for slapping the hand that reaches out to help them, Graham’s hyper-political persona is probably at least partly to blame. Unlike Billy Graham, who avoided partisan politics, Franklin Graham has embraced them as a strong supporter of President Trump. It is saddening but hardly surprising when people on the other side of the political spectrum question his motives. The Central Park hospital brouhaha is a logical consequence of politicizing Christianity.
The bottom line is that New York needs hospital beds and Samaritan’s Purse is there to provide them. Christian medical professionals want to serve and the people of New York need them. Where Christian doctrine conflicts with liberal beliefs there will always be tension, but hopefully, both sides can put aside their suspicion and disagreements in a time of crisis.
Whatever New Yorkers think of Graham and Samaritan’s Purse, the group is following in the footsteps of other Christians down through history who have risked their own lives to minister to the sick and dying in other epidemics. Maybe the Coronavirus pandemic will serve as a bridge to bring conservative evangelicals and progressive New Yorkers closer together for the common good as well as the furtherance of God’s Gospel.
After all, I doubt that those dying of COVID-19 care about the politics of the doctors and nurses who are treating them.