Major crises such as the world is experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic always bring out the true character in people, particularly political leaders. It is during these momentous events that we see specific separation between charity and avarice, between hope and despair and even between good and evil.
That separation was very apparent last week as New York political leaders took umbrage with the announced opening of a Samaritan’s Purse field hospital in New York City’s Central Park.
The non-denominational evangelical Christian outreach program founded by Franklin Graham, at the request from the city, constructed a 14-tent, 68-bed respiratory care unit to treat patients suffering from the COVID-19 virus. In the first day of its opening, April 1, Samaritan’s Purse nurses and doctors were treating 30 patients.
At the same time the field hospital was opening, N.Y. State Sen. Brad Hoylman, an aggressive supporter of LGBTQ concerns, was demanding that the hospital and its staff treat all comers, no matter their sexual preference. The motivation of Hoylman’s heavy handed demands and criticism stems from Samaritan’s Purse request that all their health care workers and volunteers - not the recipients of care, only the providers - adhere to a statement of faith that includes opposition to same-sex marriage.
Samaritan’s Purse founder Franklin Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, quickly responded by stating the obvious - that there would be no discrimination. Nowhere in the organization’s operations is there a denial of service to those who do not share the same perspective or faith beliefs of the organization and its founder. In fact, Samaritan’s Purse is noted for its outreach efforts around the world, even in countries that oppose Christianity. In 2004 the organization set up hospitals and sent medical personnel to Indonesia, where Islam is the predominant religion, to assist in the recovery following a devastating tsunami that killed more than a quarter million people.
Sadly, the New York state senator’s remarks exemplify the way politicians are using the suffering of others to promote a political or cultural agenda. The medical, scientific and business communities are focused on solving the immense threat to humanity caused by the COVID-19 virus and yet this New York state senator looks at the contribution of assistance as an opportunity to slap the extended hand of help just to make a political statement.
In closing his remarks, Hoylman stated. “It’s a shame that the federal government has left New York with no other choice but to accept charity from bigots.” We wonder, will this New York state senator say the same should assistance be provided by Muslim or Jewish organizations that also have strong faith beliefs that do not accept same sex marriage?
It is oxymoronic that Hoylman accused the charitable Samaritan’s Purse of bigotry. Considering his obvious revulsion of Christians and the Christian ethic, it is painfully obvious that N.Y. State Senator Brad Hoylman and others who were equally critical are the real bigots.