Upon hearing the news that Samaritan's Purse — the relief organization run by Christian evangelist Franklin Graham — is coming to the aid of coronavirus victims in New York City by setting up a temporary hospital in Central Park, a couple of officials were none too pleased.
A temporary hospital is built in Central Park during the coronavirus pandemic on Monday in New York City. The facility is a partnership between Mount Sinai Hospital and Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan's Purse, and equipped with 68 beds to treat COVID-19 patients.Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images
Who are the officials, and what did they say?
First up was New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who tweeted a statement berating the development: "Franklin Graham has a long history of spewing anti-LGBTQ hate speech, and I find it extremely troubling that he and his organization are involved in our relief efforts in any way. New York City is known around the world for its embrace of diversity, and Franklin Graham has spent his career standing against these values. I will be monitoring this situation closely and making sure that our city's values are being represented at all times."
Then there was New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who tweeted that "it's a shame that the federal government has left New York with no other choice but to accept charity from bigots." In a statement on his official Senate page, Hoylman called Graham a "notorious anti-LGBTQ pastor" and said he put Graham "on notice" that Samaritan's Purse must "treat all COVID-19 patients equally at the new medical tents."
Here's Hoylman's full statement:
COVID-19 doesn't discriminate, and neither should Franklin Graham. It's unacceptable that a New Yorker infected with COVID-19 could be subjected to discriminatory treatment from an organization whose leader calls us "immoral" and "detestable."
Today I'm calling on Franklin Graham to publicly assure LGBTQ New Yorkers that they will receive the same treatment as anyone else at the Central Park field hospital. The City of New York and the Mount Sinai hospital network must monitor conditions closely at Graham's facility and ensure every single LGBTQ patient is treated fairly. We cannot abandon our moral compass in the middle of a pandemic.
Sadly, beggars can't be choosers: New York needs every ventilator we can get. 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.
Another view of the temporary hospitals set up in Central Park by Samaritan's PursePhoto by Noam Galai/Getty Images
What was the reaction?
While Johnson and Hoylman tickled a few itching ears with their decidedly virtue-signaling statements, quite a few others found their words rather, er, prejudiced:
- "The vast majority of voters see this as a group of well intended people bringing hope and light into a dark place right now. Put the partisan politics aside for a season and be thankful for the people willing to serve NYC. This is not the time to score political points sir."
- "Now we can all really see where the actual hate comes from."
- "As a gay New Yorker, I'd like to sit down with them over a cup of coffee and thank them for putting themselves in harm's way. That's how change of heart happens. They are risking their lives. We should be grateful."
- "It's a shame that idiots like you would rather people die than have someone you don't agree with help them."
- "Christians build a free hospital to help New Yorkers survive this crisis and you complain? Despicable."
- "Whose the bigot? Christians believe what they believe. Get over it. They love people they disagree with. Even you!"
- "Let it go. They are compassionate and want to help. Now who's the bigot?"
- "Virtue-signaling boob."
- "And spare us your woke outrage. Holding a sincerely held religious belief about marriage (I personally think his scripture read is wrong) is not the same as hate speech. Your religious intolerance in the name of wokeness is a bigger threat to our republic."
- "It's pretty clear who's there to help New Yorkers and who's there to mouth off on twitter and do absolutely nothing."
How did Graham respond?
"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," Graham told NBC News in a statement. "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."
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