New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson attacked Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization operating an “overflow” hospital for coronavirus patients who do not need intensive care, calling the group “bigoted” because it believes in the traditional definition of marriage, and demanding that the group be booted from New York City now that the coronavirus pandemic seems to be slowing.
Samaritan’s Purse set up a field hospital in Central Park last month, pledging to assist New York hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. The 60-bed assistance center, The Daily Wire reported at the time, was designed to provide care to those individuals who did not need ventilators or to spend time in respiratory ICUs.
LGBT activists and progressive New Yorkers immediately raised an alarm and demanded to know whether Samaritan’s Purse, which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, would turn away openly gay patients. NYC blog Gothamist worried that there were “growing fears that some New Yorkers could face discrimination and substandard care from the religious organization.”
The furor became so aggressive that NYC mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to keep an eye on Samaritan’s Purse, and even made the organization sign an agreement assuring the city that no LGBT individuals would be turned away.
It does not appear that Samaritan’s Purse turned away any patient requesting treatment, but Johnson demanded the “discriminatory” organization be banished from NYC as soon as possible, regardless.
My statement on Samaritan's Purse:
It is time for Samaritan's Purse to leave NYC. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn't in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed. 1/
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) May 1, 2020
“It is time for Samaritan’s Purse to leave NYC. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn’t in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed,” Johnson tweeted Saturday.
“Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community,” he said. “I’m aware that our battle against COVID-19 is still ongoing, and that our health care system—and the amazing workers who have been the heroes of this unprecedented time in our history—still needs support.”
Samaritan’s Purse healthcare workers, though, he seems to indicate, are a notable exception to the title of “hero.”
“The @NYCCouncil is committed to supporting those workers and protecting our city’s public health. But as a city that values diversity and compassion for all, we can’t continue allowing a group with their track record to remain here when we’re past the point they’re needed,” Johnson whined.
He then called on Mount Sinai health system — the health system that saw the vast majority of coronavirus patients — to end its contract with Samaritan’s Purse, citing leader Franklin Graham’s position on social issues.
“Mount Sinai must sever its relationship with Samaritan’s Purse. Its leader calls the LGBTQ community ‘detestable’ and ‘immoral.’ He says being gay is ‘an affront to God,’ and refers to gay Christians as ‘the enemy,” Johnson wrote without citation.
He then railed against an agreement Samaritan’s Purse makes healthcare providers sign, attesting that they abide by Christian values: “Samaritan’s Purse requires its volunteers to agree to a written affirmation ‘that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.’ Hate has no place in our beautiful city.”
It took only moments for Johnson to meet with a wave of criticism on social media, including from fellow leftists, who accused the City Council speaker of being ungrateful and of stoking the fires of division.
“I’m 100% usually behind @NYCSpeakerCoJo but this statement is most ungracious thing I have ever heard him utter. Appreciate sentiment behind it but didn’t the group specifically agree to treat everyone equally as a pretense of operating here? Do we have proof they forsook this?” one vocal critic said. “Because if they stuck to their promise and put the work in & treated every single person with the same care it seems to me to be a lesson to seize on to try to educate and change that group. Scorning them in the wake of their service only serves to deepen moral dividing lines.”
Regardless of how Johnson feels, Samaritan’s Purse says it will wrap up its mission in New York City in two weeks.