When a makeshift hospital arises in a community during a health emergency, the people there typically embrace it with hope and admiration. After the facility has closed, people tend to remember it with gratitude for the help offered during a time of need. Unfortunately, one such hospital that is winding down operations is likely to be remembered more for the hate that it brought than for any healing it accomplished.
On April 1, an evangelical Christian relief organization named Samaritan’s Purse set up a 68-bed temporary field hospital in New York City’s Central Park to help support the Mount Sinai Health System as the coronavirus pandemic spread. This temporary medical facility is closing in about a week after having treated 300 patients, according to a statement. The thing is, everyone who works at that facility had to sign a “statement of faith” that, among other things, condemns homosexuality as if it were a plague.
Samaritan’s Purse’s founder and president is Donald Trump’s pal Rev. Franklin Graham, who has a history of polluting the environment with hateful rhetoric, such as his warning that homosexuals must change or face the “flames of hell.” On the eve of Samaritan’s Purse’s new opening, Graham appeared on Fox News and assured Sean Hannity that his organization will “give the best healthcare we can to all New Yorkers. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they are.”
As a practical matter, if physicians aren’t asking patients about their sexual orientation, they’re probably not discriminating. However, Samaritan’s Purse stands guilty of sending an ugly and unwelcoming message during what should be a time of unity and healing. Furthermore, as James Finn, who posed as a medical applicant, recounted in his Medium article, there is evidence that Samaritan’s Purse has discriminated when hiring volunteers to help fight the pandemic.
A week before Samaritan’s Purse set up their tents, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offered encouragement to New Yorkers in the wake of the pandemic, reminding the nation what caring, competent, and smart leadership is like. “Black and white and brown and Asian and short and tall and gay and straight. New York loves everyone,” he began. “And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day—and this is a long day—love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus.”
The premise behind Cuomo’s words can apply to the entire country. If ever there was a time to love and respect each other, it is now. COVID-19 does not care about what type of people it infects, and so our medical community has no business signing a medieval pledge that smugly denigrates a certain class of patients before they even walk in the door. Good riddance to Samaritan’s Purse.