Franklin Graham’s Central Park COVID-19 Field Hospital Delays Opening as Controversy Rages and Quality of Care Concerns Grow
Franklin Graham’s 68-bed COVID-19 field hospital is now mired in controversy as concerns grow about exactly how his Samaritan’s Purse Christian fundamentalist ministry came to set up shop in Manhattan’s historic Central Park, what their actual mission is, and if they will not discriminate. The 14-tent project was due to take in patients after a tour by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday, but both events have been delayed. Local officials are expressing concerns about Graham’s group’s intentions, their ability and desire to treat all patients equally, and the quality of care New Yorkers are expected to receive.
Graham is a far right wing religious extremist who has spent decades attacking LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage. He is closely tied to President Donald Trump, who praised the tent city mission on Tuesday.
“Franklin Graham is an extraordinary person. And Samaritan’s Purse has been, like so many others, has been amazing. And so fast. They did it so fast. He’s been doing that for a long time but I think people are really seeing what they have done,” Trump said.
Samaritan’s Purse uses only Christian staff, including doctors. Graham specifically called for only Christian medical professionals to work in his Central Park project. All are asked to sign his Statement of Faith that includes anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion declarations.
The City of New York originally said Samaritan’s Purse would operate the field hospital jointly with Mount Sinai Hospital. That is not the case. The prestigious medical center will be providing patients but no oversight.
Related: Franklin Graham Is Behind NYC’s Central Park COVID-19 Field Hospital – Volunteers Asked to ‘Support’ Anti-LGBTQ Beliefs
“The Hospital personnel are not Mount Sinai employees but paid staff of Samaritan’s Purse,” Lucia Lee, the Senior Director of Media & Public Affairs at Mount Sinai Health System told Gothamist.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who initially praised Samaritan’s Purse, now says he has concerns.
De Blasio says the City will monitor the field hospital, but “told reporters on Tuesday that he was assured the group will act in a manner ‘truly consistent with the values and the laws of New York City.’ He said he spoke personally with Mount Sinai CEO Dr. Ken Davis, who told him Samaritan’s Purse had signed a written pledge to treat all patients equally.”
“We’re going to send people over from the Mayor’s Office to monitor,” de Blasio said. “I am very concerned that this is done right. But if it is done right, we need all the help we can get.”
Graham claims “Samaritan’s Purse has been asked to help in New York as the state and their medical infrastructure has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus.”
But U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney told NBC News, “We sent out a call for help, and they responded.”
Meanwhile, experts are expressing concerns and criticism.
Samaritan’s Purse “is a dangerous religious propaganda machine that uses international medical aid to further their agenda,” Jacklyn Grace Lacey, a medical anthropologist who has closely tracked the Ebola response, told Gothamist. “The medical care they provide is dangerously sub-standard.”
She added that the optics of the group setting up a facility in such an iconic location as Central Park were not a coincidence.
“The Graham family is well trained in how to create a spectacle,” Lacey said. “I am tremendously concerned they will hurt far more of our fellow New Yorkers than they will help.”
Samaritan’s Purse’s goal is quite clear. Its primary mission is not healthcare.
“The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the organization says, adding: “The primary mission of Samaritan’s Purse is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we seek volunteers who have the same mindset.”
The group for decades has been accused of using disasters to convert victims to Christianity.
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US Secretary of State Denounces Uganda’s New ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is publicly denouncing Uganda’s latest Anti-Homosexuality legislation, which is being called a “Kill the Gays” bill for its capital punishment penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”
The legislation passed in a nearly-unanimous vote and now heads to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni‘s desk.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament yesterday would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ugandan Government to strongly reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” Secretary Blinken said via Twitter Wednesday morning.
Uganda, a far-right religious country has a long history of targeting and marginalizing its LGBTQ citizens, including passing a modified “Kill the Gays” bill that was signed into law in 2014, only to be overturned in court on a technicality. That law was drafted and promoted with the aid of American far-right evangelicals.
READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation that makes being LGBTQ illegal, proscribes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, and decades or life in prison for identifying as LGBTQ. It also requires anyone with knowledge of another person being LGBTQ or engaging in same-sex acts to be reported to the government.
“All but two of the 389 legislators voted late on Tuesday for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill, which introduces capital and life imprisonment sentences for gay sex and ‘recruitment, promotion and funding’ of same-sex ‘activities’,” The Guardian reports.
“A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death,” the bill states.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in a statement warned: “If the bill is signed into law, it will render LGBTIQ+ people in Uganda criminals simply for existing, for being who they are. It could provide carte blanche for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and serve to incite people against each other.”
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One of the two Ugandan Members of Parliament who voted against the bill, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, calls it “ill-conceived,” and says parts are “unconstitutional.”
He says it “reverses the gains registered in the fight against gender-based violence and criminalises individuals instead of conduct that contravenes all known legal norms.”
President Museveni, who signed into law a modified version of the 2014 “Kill the Gays” bill, will now have to decide if he wants to sign this version as well.
Image: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock
Christian Nationalist Former Lawmaker Wants Right-Wing Evangelicals to ‘Take Authority’ Over All Levels of Government
Jason Rapert, a former Arkansas state senator and founder of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, appeared on the “Give Me Liberty” program late last year and laid out his vision for a nation in which every congressional seat is occupied by Christian conservatives.
“Give Me Liberty” is produced by Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center, which was originally named the Falkirk Center in honor of its founders, former Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr. and right-wing youth activist Charlie Kirk. The organization changed its name in 2021 after Falwell resigned in disgrace and Liberty decided to part ways with Kirk.
Despite the departure of Kirk and Falwell, the center’s “Give Me Liberty” podcast appears to have kept its Christian nationalist bent.
A longtime religious-right activist and ardent Christian nationalist, Rapert declared on the December 17, 2022 episode of the “Give Me Liberty” show that right-wing Christians must rise up and “take authority” over everything from their local school boards to the federal government.
“When people quote the Bible and say, ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord’—Psalm 33:12—how in the world do you expect to ever have that if you are not electing somebody that would adhere to that worldview?” Rapert asked. “You can’t have a nation whose God is the Lord when you’re electing people that are holding up Sodom and Gomorrah as a goal to be achieved rather than a sin to be shunned.”
“What we need is a revival of spirit that will change individual hearts, and then once that happens, then we need to have men and women that say, ‘We need to take authority so that in our school boards, our city councils, our state legislatures, and in Congress, that we’ve got people that love God and want to do what is right in the sight of God and man,’” Rapert added. “I’ll tell you, there’s over 330 million people in this nation in the last census; I think we could find 535 more people to serve in the Senate and in the House. Are you telling me that the evangelical community can’t muster 535 men and women qualified to run for office that would stand up for God and country? Oh, yeah, we can.”
“There’s only 7,383 state legislators,” Rapert continued, “You’ve got more students at Liberty than serve in our state capitals. What if one crop of the Liberty classes all went home and ran for office? You’d make a difference, you’d change the community, and you just might save the nation.”
Christian nationalists like Rapert believe that the country was founded as an explicitly Christian nation and that right-wing Christians must keep it that way. Via the National Association for Christian Lawmakers, Rapert is putting this talk into action, advancing so-called “biblical” legislation in statehouses throughout the country that would roll back abortion rights and the rights of LGBTQ Americans. As Rolling Stone reported last month, the group’s advisory board includes politicians like Mike Huckabee and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as well as influential religious-right activists like Tony Perkins of Family Research Council and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
‘Bait and Switch’: Minister Slams Hobby Lobby Founder’s ‘He Gets Us’ Ads
The mysterious “He Gets Us” ads airing around major sporting events have been traced back to groups tied to the billionaire conservative founder of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, David Green, who is using the spot as an effort to “rebrand Jesus” and bring religion more prominently into the public square.
But his effort is just a “bait and switch,” argues Rev. Darrell Goodwin of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, in an opinion for the CT Mirror.
The Super Bowl ads, which highlighted Jesus as a “refugee” who “confronted racism with love,” first appeared to be “a breath of fresh air,” wrote Goodwin, a progressive, Black, and openly queer minister who preaches in Bloomfield, Connecticut. “However, the funders of this invitation are the same folks who promote anti-LGBT legislation, a denial of women’s rights to their own bodies, the campaigns of clear white supremacists, and the evangelical church.”
“This approach to sharing faith can lead folks to feel violated, abused, and most of all can cause irreparable harm and even death,” Goodwin warned. “Instead, I would rather these ads promote a gospel of radical inclusion, a path that says no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here.”
READ MORE: GOP ‘buffoons’ hate Biden so much that they’re giving ‘aid and comfort to Russia’: Morning Joe
This comes as all around the country, progressive Black ministers have sought to push a more inclusive and justice-focused Christianity, from Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who preaches at the baptist church that was once home to Martin Luther King, to Everett Mitchell, an activist pastor turned reformer judge now running for the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
In contrast to what he claims is the contradiction of the “He Gets Us” campaign, Goodwin promoted a site his own conference is launching, known as “Find Hope Now.”
“It may not be a flashy ad on the Super Bowl but it’s an invitation that isn’t funded by right-wing propaganda or a false attempt to love,” wrote Goodwin, saying that his effort is funded by small contributions throughout Southern New England “so that there will be hope centers all over New England awaiting you with open arms.”
Image: Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock
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