A mobile clinic erected in New York City to help residents infected by COVID-19 (a.k.a. the “coronavirus”) is not only run by radical homophobic cleric Franklin Graham, it is requiring volunteer workers to express support for an anti-LGBTQ view of matrimony before being allowed to join their effort.
State lawmakers have been critical of the decision to allow Graham’s group, Samaritan’s Purse, to set up the 68-bed facility in Central Park, which opened on April 1 2020. State Sen. Brad Hoylman told NBC News he was disappointed that New York had “to accept charity from such bigots.”
“This health crisis is too delicate to leave it to televangelists, purveyors of the faith, to handle our medical needs,” he added:
This is a man, after all, who has said that the LGBTQ community recruits children, he’s said that families like mine are invalid, he compares the transgender community to pedophiles and perverts, so I think it would behoove us to watch him and his followers’ actions extremely closely.
Graham has claimed that he does not fear gay people, but has made statements that indicate otherwise, such as: “I love them enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it’s the flames of hell for you.”
As Graham has publicly called for Christians to join staff at the makeshift facility, the group is requiring people looking to volunteer to agree by its guidelines; one item in the group’s “statement of faith” contains one such guideline:
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.
However, Jane Meyer, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told the local news site Gothamist that because it is operating as a Mount Sinai Health System facility while treating COVID-19 patients, Samaritan’s Purse must adhere to Mount Sinai’s non-discrimination policy, which includes gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Our record on human rights is clear,” Meyer said. “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.”
In a statement, Hoylman urged residents to contact either his office or the city’s commission on human rights if they had reports of discrimination committed by the staff of Graham’s non-profit group.
“Sadly, beggars can’t be choosers: New York needs every ventilator we can get,” the statement read. “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.”
Graham responded with his own statement:
We do 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. 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.
Graham has a long history of homophobic remarks. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) compiled a list of some of his public statements on the matter, including:
— Says: “LGBT agenda wants to force everyone to accept & condone their lifestyle which God’s Word defines as sin.”
— Says: “LGBT activists are trying to hook their caboose to the “freedom train” & drag an immoral agenda into our communities”
— When HB2 was rolled back in North Carolina, tweeted: “Thanks to the gov, people of NC will be exposed to pedophiles & sexually perverted men in women’s public restrooms.”
In January 2020, a number of venues in the United Kingdom canceled plans to host appearances by Graham that May, following opposition by LGTBTQ activists as well as local officials and a group of seventeen evangelical Christians who wrote a letter to the newspaper The Guardian saying that they “find it hard to reconcile his public and partisan statements on such issues as immigration, poverty, gun control and Israel with our understanding of the teaching and values of Jesus Christ.”
At the time, Graham said his attorneys were working on reversing the cancellations. “We had contracts signed and, in some cases, deposits paid,” he said. “I haven’t broken any laws. We are being denied because of religious beliefs and our faith. It’s a freedom of religion issue and also a free speech issue.”