While Samaritan’s Purse has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients at its field hospital in Central Park, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is demanding that the Christian charity leave the city over its biblical views on homosexuality.
“It is time for Samaritan’s Purse to leave NYC. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn’t in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed,” Johnson wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community.”
The openly gay speaker said while he’s aware that the coronavirus battle is far from over and that the healthcare system needs ongoing support, “we can’t continue allowing a group with their track record to remain here when we’re past the point they’re needed … Mount Sinai must sever its relationship with Samaritan’s Purse. Its leader calls the LGBTQ community ‘detestable’ and ‘immoral.’ He says being gay is ‘an affront to God,’ and refers to gay Christians as ‘the enemy,” Christian Post reports.
Samaritan’s Purse set up a field hospital in Central Park last month, pledging to assist New York hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. The 60-bed assistance center was designed to provide care to those individuals who did not need ventilators or to spend time in respiratory ICUs.
The Samaritan’s Purse 68-bed field hospital has treated 315 patients since opening on April 1 adjacent to Mount Sinai Hospital in Central Park’s East Meadow to help meet the needs of local hospitals that are facing an unprecedented wave of sick patients.
As the organization faced criticism from the start over its views on marriage, Franklin Graham, who heads the organization, has made it clear that they treat all patients and do not discriminate. While staff are required to subscribe to a Statement of Faith, he stressed that “we have never asked any of the millions of people we have served to subscribe to anything.”
“In other words, as a religious charity, while we lawfully hire staff who share our Christian beliefs, we do not discriminate in who we serve. We have provided billions of dollars of medical care and supplies, food and water, and emergency shelter without any conditions whatsoever. Our Christian faith compels us — like the biblical Good Samaritan — to love and serve everyone in need, regardless of their faith or background.”
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, responded to Johnson’s tweets and argued that Christians are the ones being discriminated against.
“This open hostility to Christianity is breathtaking. Christians have always believed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that all sexual relations outside marriage are by definition immoral,” he tweeted. “It’s not a particularly popular point of view in the secular West, but it is what all faithful Christians everywhere throughout the 2,000-year history of the church have always believed. This is nothing new.
This open hostility to Christianity is breathtaking. Christians have always believed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that all sexual relations outside marriage are by definition immoral.— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) May 3, 2020
“What is new is the notion that real live Christians are unwelcome to live and work and practice their faith in our nation’s largest city. That is an innovation of recent vintage and is nothing more than unvarnished animus—invidious discrimination. If Christians are not allowed to practice their faith in NYC, rest assured that it is only a matter of time before they won’t be allowed to practice it anywhere in the U.S.”
That’s the cost of allowing “this kind of illiberal intolerance” to drive a Christian group from NYC, he concluded.
Mount Sinai, which partnered with Samaritan’s Purse due to the surge in critically ill coronavirus patients, announced Saturday that they will wind down the field hospital operations.
“Now that the surge in COVID hospital admissions is reaching manageable levels, we will stop admitting new patients to the Central Park field hospital as of May 4,” the hospital said, while expressing gratitude for the temporary partnership.
NYC thankfulness 👆 vs— Marie Arf – China lies, don't trust their numbers (@schwingcat) May 3, 2020
Italian thankfulness 👇 https://t.co/owXB83CRkR
Source tells me a decision was made to sever ties after controversy over the group’s religious views on the LGBTQ community caused concerns in NY. They treated 315 patients and were down to 8 by Friday. Mount Sinai statement here: pic.twitter.com/vYracBxq3x— Melissa Russo (@MelissaRusso4NY) May 2, 2020