NBC News criticized an evangelical Christian group for its religious beliefs while the group set up a field hospital in New York City’s Central Park.
Samaritan’s Purse, an organization run by Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, will staff between 60 and 70 medical professionals to help treat patients infected with the coronavirus.
The facility will have 68 beds for patients and Samaritan’s Purse’s stated mission is to provide “physical relief and the Gospel to hurting people around the world.” Some of the group’s projects include providing food, clean water, shelter, and medicine to impoverished or struggling regions of the world. The group previously sent teams to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the Ebola outbreak.
NBC News headlined its criticism, “Group behind Central Park’s COVID-19 field hospital run by antigay evangelist.” But the news outlet’s treatment of Samaritan’s Purse highlighted the mainstream media’s hypocrisy when it comes to coverage of conservative religious groups.
For example, NBC News blamed Orthodox Jews for gentrification and resulting anti-Jewish sentiments in parts of New York City.
The news outlet reached out to Graham for comment on the group’s Statement of Faith, which included pro-life and traditional marriage statements. “Samaritan’s Purse treats everyone we help the same,” Graham said, “We do not make distinctions about an individual’s religion, race, sexual orientation, or economic status.” He added, “We certainly do not discriminate, and we have a decades-long track record that confirms just that.” Graham told NBC News, “This is a time for all of us to unite and work together, regardless of our political views. Let’s support one another during this crisis, and we pray that God will bless the efforts of all those battling this vicious virus.”
Statements of faith in Christian organizations are not unique; several Christian-based organizations require their employees to acknowledge and live by these Christian tenets. NBC News should understand that this is nothing new for Christian organizations, but it demonstrated its lack of cultural knowledge by highlighting these statements of faith.
Even though Graham confirmed that there will be no discrimination at the facility, NBC News quoted a New York state lawmaker, who said it was “a shame that the federal government has left us in the position of having to accept charity from such bigots.” The article then outlined Graham’s past controversial statements on family and gender to reinforce its criticism.
NBC News did not demonstrate the understanding that although some Christians like Graham disagree with society’s standards on family and gender, their beliefs do not prevent Christians from helping others. It presented Graham’s beliefs as all-or-nothing, which was not the case as Graham reiterated that Samaritan’s Purse will not discriminate between patients.
Also, it was unclear what NBC News’s goal was, whether to shame Samaritan’s Purse or Graham to publicly apologize for their beliefs or close the field hospital. Instead, the article negatively portrayed the organization’s efforts to help coronavirus patients and it detracted from their mission to nurse patients back to health.