Staff at the New York coronavirus field hospital in Central Park are being asked to sign a ‘statement of faith’ which says same-sex marriage is against god’s plan.
The hospital has made headlines around the world as it set up in tents in Central Park. It’s helping to take pressure off struggling New York hospitals which are dealing with spiking numbers of coronavrius patients.
But as the hospital opened yesterday, few realized the organization which runs it has homophobia at its heart.
Anti-LGBT+ preacher Franklin Graham is the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse which is funding and erecting the facility.
And activists believe Graham has specifically tried to recruit only anti-LGBT+ Christians to run it.
The Samaritan’s Purse website says all volunteers, including healthcare workers, must sign its ‘statement of faith’.
This statement says marriage should only be between men and women. And it says unrighteous people should end up suffering ‘damnation and eternal punishment’ in hell.
Of course, staff may well sign the statement but defy the rules. However, the organization may be able to force them to refuse treatment to LGBT+ people.
Graham is famous as one of Donald Trump’s favorite preachers. Indeed he spoke at the president’s inauguration. More recently, he told gay Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg that he should repent for his sexuality.
Moreover, Graham is so homophobic that LGBT+ activists forced stadiums around the UK to cancel his speaking tour in 2020. They feared it would spread hate.
Samaritan’s Purse stance against marriage equality
Samaritan’s Purse says it bases its work on its statement of faith. And that statement specifically says:
‘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.’
Now US LGBT+ organization GLAAD has demanded that Franklin suspends his organization’s rules at the New York field hospital. They say he must allow all staff members, whatever their sexuality and he must be clear he will not discriminate against LGBT+ people who need help.
Notably, the Samaritan’s Purse website says it offers help regardless of ‘race, creed, gender, religion, or ethnicity of the beneficiaries’. However, that list does not include sexuality or gender identity. So it is not clear if LGBT+ patients may face discrimination.
Graham has long argued for the right to discriminate
Ross Murray is senior director of the GLAAD Media Institute. He said the new field hospital worries him:
‘On one hand, we need more beds, we need more hospital staff, we need more medical supplies, and this hospital could relieve an overstrained hospital system in New York.
‘On the other hand, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse is Franklin Graham. [He is] a harsh and vocal opponent of LGBTQ equality and acceptance. Graham isn’t just a conservative Christian pastor, but an attack dog that hasn’t passed up an opportunity to demonize LGBTQ people.
‘When Graham claimed Satan is behind LGBTQ rights and advocacy, it signaled his willingness to prevent LGBTQ people from receiving access to coronavirus treatment.’
Murray believes Graham may deny medication to HIV positive patients. Or he may tell staff to turn away transgender people.
Moreover, he is even more worried as the evidence suggests COVID-19 may be particularly affecting LGBT+ Americans.
He added: ‘As the CEO of a religious institution, Graham can legally instruct his field hospital to turn away LGBTQ people with symptoms, leaving them on their own to find care elsewhere.
‘It’s terrible to think that he would issue such an order. But Graham has long fought for religious hospitals, or even individual staff members, to be able to do just that.’