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- Samaritan's Purse, the group that built coronavirus field hospitals in New York's Central Park, is seeking Christian staff members and volunteers to treat patients.
- The evangelical Christian organization, run by Franklin Graham, has been criticized as anti-gay and Islamophobic, with its faith statement noting that the group believes marriage is inherently between a man and a woman.
- New Yorkers took to social media to share their concern over whether the treatment center would discriminate against patients and medical personnel.
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The group that built COVID-19 field hospitals in New York's Central Park is expected to open its tents to patients from Mount Sinai hospitals on Tuesday. But as it seeks medical personnel for its facilities, Samaritan's Purse, a Christian 501(c)(3) organization, has specified its desire for Christian staff members.
The leader of Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelical Rev. Billy Graham, called for employees of his Christian creed in a tweet on Sunday. "If you are a Christian doctor, nurse, paramedic, or other medical professional interested in serving COVID-19 patients in our @SamaritansPurse Emergency Field Hospital in NYC, please visit http://samaritanspurse.org," he said.
—Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) March 29, 2020
On the organization's website, it says that "the primary mission of Samaritan's Purse is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we seek volunteers who have the same mindset," and that volunteers should review the faith guidelines. One of those guidelines is anti-same-sex-marriage, noting, "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."
The group has also been criticized as being Islamophobic for sending Christmas gifts to children in Muslim nations, a project seen as a conversion scheme, according to Gothamist. Graham also said in a 2011 Newsmax piece that the "Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country," and has called Islam "a very wicked and evil religion."
New York politicians took to social media to share their concern. State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, posted a statement on Monday demanding that the organization treat "all COVID-19 patients equally," and called on New York City to "monitor this field hospital to ensure there are no victims of discrimination."
—Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) March 30, 2020
"This is very disturbing," Corey Johnson, New York City council speaker, said in a tweet. "We need reassurances from the city and from Mt. Sinai that Samaritan's Purse and its volunteers will be monitored, and that the LGBTQ community will not be discriminated against in any way. This is a crisis, but our values remain."
—NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) March 30, 2020
Playwright Paul Rudnick said "God bless all healthcare workers," but that any discrimination "isn't Christianity, medicine or humanity."
—Paul Rudnick (@PaulRudnickNY) March 30, 2020
"Help is welcome, hate is not," said Mikki Halpin, editor-in-chief of the publication Damn Joan.
—Mikki Halpin (@mikkipedia) March 30, 2020
Gothamist reported that the field hospital must follow Mount Sinai's policies against discrimination, according to Jane Meyer, a City Hall spokesperson. "Our record on human rights is clear," Meyer told Gothamist, "and we are confident that the joint effort by Mt. Sinai and Samaritan's Purse will save New Yorkers' lives while adhering to the values we hold dear by providing care to anyone who needs it, regardless of background."
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