A Health Crisis Is No Time to Pick a Fight Over Beliefs About Marriage

After New York City became America’s epicenter for COVID-19 infections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on medical personnel from around the nation to help if they can.

Hundreds,
possibly thousands, answered the call, including the nonprofit, faith-based
organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist
Billy Graham.

Despite the fact that New York City said it desperately needed the 68-bed field hospital constructed by Samaritan’s Purse in Central Park’s East Meadow, critics complained that Graham and his Christian organization are “anti-LGBTQ.”

True,
Samaritan’s Purse does ask that its employees and volunteers abide by a
statement of faith acknowledging that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Despite no evidence that employees or volunteers associated with Samaritan’s Purse have mistreated anyone, particularly based on opposing political views and specifically the LGBT agenda, local politicians immediately sounded the alarm.

NBC News
in New York reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to
visit the site, saying that the views of Samaritan’s Purse are “very
troubling” to him and that he will keep an eye on the situation.

“I’m
very concerned to make sure this is done right. But if this is done right, we
need all the help we can get,” de Blasio said at a press conference in
Queens.

New York
police on Sunday arrested a well-known activist known as Reverend Billy near
the field hospital. Wearing a pink suit and a bandana around his face, William
Talen, 69, was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting
arrest.

Talen claimed
to be upset about Samaritan’s Purse, citing the group’s deeply held religious
beliefs that he regards as biased against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
or “queer” individuals.

Mount Sinai Health System oversaw planning and construction of the field hospital, and of course maintains that the respiratory care Samaritan’s Purse offers is for anyone with COVID-19, regardless of ideology or sexuality.

According to a formal statement from Mount Sinai, the New York health network and Samaritan’s Purse are “unified in their mission to provide the same world-class care to anyone and everyone who needs it, no questions asked.”

Here we
have a situation where Cuomo called for help and a faith-based organization
answered that call–as they often do.

Yet as Samaritan’s
Purse works to prevent people from becoming increasingly ill or dying, local
politicians are creating divisiveness and starting a culture war where there
isn’t one.

New York desperately needs medical resources, not a battle over ideology.

For years
we’ve been told that conservative Christians are the aggressors in the culture
wars: They won’t bake the cake. They won’t paint the painting. They won’t honor
the commitment. They won’t officiate the marriage. They won’t leave the
abortion clinics.  

I’m sure
the progressive left, and particularly the evangelical left, would claim that
the reason New York officials and others reacted with such immediate skepticism
and criticism is that religious people and organizations for years, if not
decades, have used their beliefs as a tool–a shroud, even–for bigotry and
discrimination in America.

With a
few exceptions, this is not the case: It is not discrimination to espouse
closely held traditional religious beliefs that happen to differ from the
left’s political agenda.

Many
faiths include centuries-old beliefs that civilizations have based their own
moral codes upon, including the act of charity.

Samaritan’s
Purse, like many other faith-based aid organizations, genuinely is helping. The
war on religious organizations that practice their faith has been based on a
false premise.

Although there
was no good time to reignite such battles, now especially is not the time.

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