by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the volunteers for Samaritan’s Purse, an Evangelical relief organization run by the televangelist Franklin Graham, have been the most notable heretics in New York City. After weeks of protest from the city’s diversity clerics, the volunteers are at last collapsing the group’s field hospital, disinfecting its tents, and leaving New York City in apparent disgrace. In two weeks, the volunteers will return home, shunned by the city whose sick they treated free of charge without regard to race, religion, or sexual preference. The city officials who usher them out offer the group nothing but scorn: A statement released by New York City council speaker Corey Johnson instructed Samaritan’s Purse to leave Central Park, calling the group’s presence in the city “an affront to our values of inclusion.”
New York is an inclusive city, he says: Get the hell out.
The demonstrations outside the Samaritan’s Purse COVID-19 field hospital have been covered, perhaps too closely. Many of the protesters were clearly disturbed. Their anger at an innocuous group of religious volunteers provided a window into some of the excesses of LGBT politics and the desperation for enemies in a moment in history when enemies are scarce. But the protesters were a small, if vocal, group without much pull. The way in which the presence of Samaritan’s Purse has exercised the organs of government, however — the city council, the mayor’s office, and even the federal government — is another issue entirely. As the volunteers prepare to depart, it is worth pondering what this entire debacle says about the state of religion and culture in New York City.
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