Coronavirus: Radical evangelist who says gays will burn in 'flames of hell' builds Covid-19 hospital in Central Park

Openly gay New York senator reportedly says it's a 'shame that the federal government has left us in the position of having to accept charity from such bigots'

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 01 April 2020 22:35
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An anti-gay evangelist who spearheads Samaritan’s Purse has erected a 68-bed hospital in New York City’s Central Park to assist with an influx of Covid-19 patients — while calling for “Christian” volunteers to join his crusade.

Franklin Graham, the leader of the controversial evangelical Christian humanitarian group, who has been known to compare transgender people to paedophiles and say gay people will burn in the “flames of hell”, was reportedly behind the makeshift medical facilities built in Central Park’s East Meadow this week.

The notoriously anti-LGBTQ organisation’s involvement in the treatment centre drew media attention after Mr Graham reportedly required all medical volunteers at the facility to oblige by his nonprofit’s “statement of faith”, which specifically rejects the idea of marriage equality.

Mr Graham wrote in a tweet: “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 SamirtansPurse.org.”

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman swiftly demanded Mr Graham “publicly assure LGBTQ New Yorkers that they will receive the same treatment as anyone else at the Central Park field hospital” in a statement on Monday.

Mr Graham later told NBC News: “Samaritan’s Purse treats everyone we help the same.”

The emailed statement continued: “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.”

Samaritan’s Purse has reportedly instituted a policy at the medical facility that all volunteers follow the 11-Point Statement of Faith, which suggests human life begins at conception and calls out same-sex relationships.

One item in the Statement of Faith reads: “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.”

“God instituted monogamous marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society,” the statement continues. “For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”

The makeshift hospital was constructed to assist Mount Sinai Hospital, a New York City-area hospital that has found itself at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. New York City has more confirmed Covid-19 cases than anywhere else in the country, as official estimates said more than a thousand people died throughout the state as of Wednesday.

Infectious disease experts have said the figures surrounding official confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are likely far higher in reality, citing significant issues the federal government had in distributing testing kits to state across the country.

Mr Hoylman, who is gay, told NBC News it was a “shame that the federal government has left us in the position of having to accept charity from such bigots”, while New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also issued a statement on Tuesday expressing concern over Samaritan’s Purse having involvement in the state’s coronavirus response efforts.

The council speaker called the group’s involvement “extremely disturbing” and said he would be “monitoring the situation closely and making sure that our city’s values are being represented at all times”.

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