I don't want to worry about Franklin Graham during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now I need to

It is encouraging to see all manner of people and organizations stepping up in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. We need all the help we can get to flatten the curve, treat those who are infected, and keep the rest of our health care system running for every health emergency not COVID-19 related.

During a time of coming together to help and support those who are infected and at risk, I don’t want to be worried about the motivations of those who are stepping up to help. I just want to be grateful that people are answering the call to help their neighbor. 

However, I can’t help but worry about the news that Samaritan’s Purse is setting up a field hospital in Central Park in New York City. On one hand, we need more beds, we need more hospital staff, we need more medical supplies, and this hospital could relieve an overstrained hospital system in New York.

On the other hand, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse is Franklin Graham, a harsh and vocal opponent of LGBTQ equality and acceptance. Graham isn’t just a conservative Christian pastor, but an attack dog that hasn’t passed up an opportunity to demonize LGBTQ people.

My fears are well-founded. Apparently, Graham has specifically sought to recruit only his narrow version of Christian (that is, anti-LGBTQ) medical staff to the Central Park facility. According to the group's website, all volunteers, including health care workers, should adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as "exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female" and the unrighteous are sentenced to "everlasting punishment in hell."

I’m not surprised at this. When Graham claimed Satan is behind LGBTQ rights and advocacy, it signaled his willingness to prevent LGBTQ people from receiving access to coronavirus treatment. He can direct doctors to deny medications to HIV-positive patients, leaving them further at-risk for coronavirus. He may tell his hospital that they must turn away transgender people who come to them in a medical emergency.

As the CEO of a religious institution, Graham can legally instruct his field hospital to turn away LGBTQ people with symptoms, leaving them on their own to find care elsewhere. It’s terrible to think that he would issue such an order, but Graham has long fought for religious hospitals, or even individual staff members, to be able to do just that. Graham has been vocal in opposing protections against such discrimination. Last year, he called the Equality Act, which would include provisions to protect LGBTQ people in health care, “the most crushing threat to religious liberty in our nation’s history.”

I don’t trust Franklin Graham to help those in need in the LGBTQ community. I’ve seen far too many anti-LGBTQ activists like Graham ignore the suffering of LGBTQ people. In this instance, Graham is capitalizing upon a crisis to inflict more pain and suffering on an already marginalized population. He has stated, loudly and proudly, too many times that the LGBTQ community is a threat for me to want to place my life, or the lives of people l love and care about, in his hands.

During this unprecedented national crisis, Franklin Graham must go on record and clarify that he will not turn away or discriminate against LGBTQ people at his field hospital, and that he will repeal his discriminatory ban on LGBTQ staff members. With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting LGBTQ Americans, our lives may very well depend on it.