An organization has been refusing to allow LGBTQ people – including medical professionals – to volunteer at its New York City tent hospital set up to help people afflicted with coronavirus.
The group’s president is defending the policy by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, drug addiction, and people who volunteer just “to pick up girls.”
Last week, the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse opened at tent hospital in Central Park to help hospitals that are overflowing with patients.
The organization, which got $700 million in revenue in 2018, requires all volunteers to sign a Statement of Faith that says that “God created man and woman” who were “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,” the statement says. “For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”
At least one person who tried to volunteer without signing the Statement of Faith was turned away, with a staffer at the organization saying it “is a Christian organization.”
The CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham, talked to the Charlotte Observer about why he’s turning away LGBTQ volunteers.
“All of our doctors and nurses and staff, (they’re) Christians,” he said. “We believe it’s very important that — as we serve people and help people — we do it in Jesus’ name.”
He said that opposition to LGBTQ rights is “part of who we are,” but also justified the policy in practical terms.
“I don’t want a person who is going to be on the job and drinks; that’s not a good witness,” he said, effectively comparing homosexuality to drug addiction. “I don’t want a person who’s going to be using drugs to be part of our team.”
“I don’t want someone who’s going to be swearing to be part of our team,” Graham, who drew a $636,451 salary from the charity in 2018, continued. “I don’t want someone who is trying to pick up girls, and using this as an opportunity to do those kinds of things.”
Perhaps it was an oversight, though, that the Statement of Faith says nothing about alcoholism, drug addiction, swearing, or sexually harassing women.
“So, we try to screen the people that work with us,” he concluded. “And we want men and women who believe the way we do and have the same core values that we have.”
Earlier in the week in a Fox News appearance, Graham was asked for God’s opinion on coronavirus. Graham said that coronavirus is God’s punishment for sin.
“It’s because of the sin that’s in the world,” he said. “Man has turned his back against God. We’ve sinned against him and we need to ask for God’s forgiveness.”
While he didn’t specifically mention homosexuality, it’s clear that he believes that it’s a sin and at least one of the things God is punishing the world for.
Franklin Graham says people are dying of the Coronavirus because man has sinned against god. He goes on to say the pandemic is happening because the world has turned its back on god. pic.twitter.com/Kejq9jzeLu
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) April 5, 2020
The group’s discrimination has already gotten it kicked out of a church. Plans to convert the Cathedral of St. John the Divine – the country’s largest Gothic cathedral – into a field hospital with help from Samaritan’s Purse were halted.
The church is LGBTQ-inclusive and came to an “impasse” with the charity. A spokesperson said that staff members at the church had “a really hard time” accepting the organization’s discrimination and Graham’s long history of anti-LGBTQ comments.
Samaritan’s Purse disagreed with the assessment, saying in a statement, “From our perspective, there are no tensions with the cathedral.”