Franklin Graham's anti-LGBTQ history undermines his NYC tent hospital

Over the weekend, Samaritan’s Purse announced it was building a tent hospital in New York City’s Central Park in response to the COVID-19 crisis. In a Twitter video, CEO Franklin Graham put out a call for Christian doctors, nurses, paramedics, or other medical professionals to work in his privately run tent hospital.

The highly public move has prompted wariness among LGBTQ advocates and government officials. Graham’s history of demonization of the LGBTQ community, along with several other marginalized groups, contradicts his call to help the citizens of New York City.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman called on New York City to require any medical provider intending to provide services in a place of public accommodation to sign an agreement and acknowledgment related to non-discrimination.

“We can’t let a pandemic change New York’s values,” Hoylman said in a statement. “New York City must require every doctor or volunteer working at Graham’s Central Park field hospital—along with anyone providing medical services in a place of public accommodation—to sign a statement affirming their commitment to following New York City’s Human Rights Law.”

Graham responded to Sen. Hoylman in a statement to Gizmodo on Wednesday, which reads: “I want to respond to concerns you have expressed about the work of Samaritan’s Purse in New York’s Central Park with our Emergency Field Hospital and medical teams. Regardless of my strongly held religious views—or actually because of them—Samaritan’s Purse treats everyone we help the same. 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. Our doors at the Emergency Field Hospital in the East Meadow are going to be open to all New Yorkers who need our help. We are here to save life, which is precious in God’s sight—and we do it all in Jesus’ Name. I hope you will be able to come by for a visit and see for yourself. This is a time for all of us to unite and work together, regardless of our political views. Let’s support one another during this crisis, and we pray that God will bless the efforts of all those battling this vicious virus.” 

Samaritan’s Purse also released a statement, which reads: “We are a Christian organization and we hire Christians who share our statement of faith. We have a common denominator of our faith in Jesus Christ and sharing that hope.”

GLAAD's Ross Murray responded on Wednesday with the following statement: “Franklin Graham’s call for people to ‘unite and work together’ would be much better received if not for his track record of publicly and vocally vilifying LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups. By continuing to enforce a strict anti-LGBTQ ‘statement of faith’ among his staff, Graham is not creating a safe space for New Yorkers during this crisis, especially without affirming that his tent hospital will abide by New York City’s human rights law.”

Graham’s anti-LGBTQ statements include:

  • Says: “LGBT agenda wants to force everyone to accept & condone their lifestyle which God’s Word defines as sin.”
  • Claims Satan is behind LGBTQ rights and advocacy: "This is a full-scale assault against Christianity and the followers of Christ. When prayer is banned from the public square, when our President fails to defend biblically defined marriage, and he openly and zealously advocates for gay rights; when legislators rush to overrule existing laws to promote gay marriage; when schools and courts consistently suppress religious freedoms; we know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith, not culture. The architect behind this offensive is none other than Satan himself. The Scripture says that the devil, our archenemy, is bent on as much destruction as possible."
  • Accuses gay people of "recruiting" children.

Perhaps the most telling about Graham’s attempt to “serve” the diverse constituency of New York City is the quote in which Graham claimed he loves gay people "enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it's the flames of hell for you."

Even if the 70-bed tent hospital doesn’t turn away LGBTQ people, Muslims, Jews, or others, the fact that they are only allowing Graham-approved versions of Christians to provide service means Graham gets to control the narrative. He sees New York City residents, particularly those of different “religion, race, sexual orientation, or economic status” as depraved people in need of their charity, not people who are working diligently to bring health and healing to the people of our city.

Hardly. New Yorkers, the LGBTQ community, and people of all faiths (and no faith at all) are coming together and working to get through this crisis in the city. Around the United States, LGBTQ people continue to provide leadership, health care, groceries, deliveries, and other resources needed to help all Americans weather this crisis. That service may not come with drastic publicity, but it is provided in service without conditions.