Progressives keep promising conservative evangelicals they’ll be our friends if only we stop harping on sex and serve people. The problem is that every time evangelicals try to serve people, progressives want to harp on sex.
A few years back, the late Rachel Held Evans wrote an opinion piece at CNN on why millennials are leaving the church. As a left-leaning Christian, she took it upon herself to speak for her generation. One of the explanations she offered for the millennial exodus from the pews was evangelicals’ preoccupation with the “culture wars,” especially sex.
“[T]he evangelical obsession with sex,” wrote Evans, “can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules…” She added that “We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed [and] pursuing reconciliation…”
Fast-forward to 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, and no one has more clearly embodied the ideal of service-over-sermons than Samaritan’s Purse, the evangelical medical charity run by Franklin Graham. Early in New York City’s COVID-19 outbreak, Samaritan’s Purse set up an ICU in Central Park to treat overflow patients, mostly from Mount Sinai Hospital.
From almost day one, the ministry was beset with criticism, not from the over three-hundred patients who were treated by their personnel, but from city officials, journalists, and LGBT activists who were worried about (you guessed it) sex.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called Franklin Graham “notoriously bigoted,” and “hate spewing.” Protesters with the Reclaim Pride Coalition marched around the field hospital with signs demanding “help, not hate.” The New York Times quoted one member of the coalition who said the very presence of a non-affirming Christian charity has made the city’s LGBT community feel “personally attacked and personally at risk.”
Religion News Service reporter Jonathan Merritt added his voice, sounding the alarm over Graham’s long “history of bigotry,” and stoking fears that his traditional Christian views might “open the door to substandard care or even discrimination.”
Local news site AMNY struck an even more ominous note, warning that “Samaritan’s Purse intends to inject its religious beliefs into the organization’s work, raising more red flags about the groups intentions in Central Park.” The piece went on to quote one “genderqueer comedian and author,” who described the cluster of white tents filled with Christian medical personnel as “scary as hell.”
Under all this pressure, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the city’s Commission on Human Rights to investigate the field hospital, looking to ferret out discriminatory practices against gay, lesbian, and transgender patients. That investigation closed on Friday, having found “no evidence that [Samaritan’s Purse] had discriminated against patients.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, G. Shane Morris