LGBT activists are protesting about a field hospital set up in New York’s Central Park because of its Christian statement of faith.
At the end of March, Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian organisation run by Franklin Graham, set up the 68-bed crisis centre to treat COVID-19 patients.
However, the Reclaim Pride Coalition claim the hospital is ‘spreading hate’ because its volunteers sign a statement of faith which includes the mainstream Christian belief that sex should only take place within the marriage of one man and one woman.
The activists converged on the hospital with placards reading “Help not hate”, with the organisation’s co-founder asking: “How was this group ever considered to bring their hatred and their vitriol into our city at a time of crisis when our people are fighting a pandemic?”
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “hostility towards LGBTQ people does not comport, in my opinion, with his desire to provide assistance and relief to New Yorkers during this time of crisis.
“That said, the federal government has put us in the unfortunate position of having to accept charity from bigots like Franklin Graham”.
He claimed the hospital gives Graham a platform “to spew his hatred of LGBTQ people”, and that Samaritan’s Purse’s presence in the city would cause “incalculable” damage, despite having treated 119 patients in its first two weeks.
Graham responded: “It seems tone-deaf to be attacking our religious conviction about marriage at the very moment thousands of New Yorkers are fighting for their lives and dozens of Samaritan’s Purse workers are placing their lives at risk to provide critical medical care.”
Our Christian faith compels us — like the biblical Good Samaritan — to love and serve everyone in need, regardless of their faith or background.
He added that the organisation has never discriminated against any of the millions of people it has served over its 50 years of operations.
“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.”
Graham continued: “In a country that cherishes freedom of speech and religion, we don’t object to opposition or criticism of our beliefs as a Christian organization.
“What we do object to is being harassed into diverting precious resources of time and energy and personnel away from serving COVID-19 patients in New York City in order to respond to demands for documents and other information”.