How Samaritan’s Purse is Contradicting Its Own Name (and Jesus)

Jamie Arpin-Ricci
5 min readApr 6, 2020

As the global COVID19 pandemic continues to ramp up, New York City has quickly become a hot-spot for rapid transmission and increasingly death as a result. The need for critical and expedient aid has never been higher for the city, prompting many organizations to rise to the occasion to lend a much-needed hand in this time of crisis.

One such group is Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization, headed by Franklin Graham, son of the late preacher Billy Graham. Samaritan’s Purse valiantly rushed to NYC to set up an overflow field hospital in Central Park for the overrun Mount Sinai across the street. Their need for immediate and qualified volunteers- especially medical professionals- was made widely known, with the call going out across the nations.

Yet, surprisingly, many of those very essential volunteers- people willing to put their own lives at risk to serve those in need- were denied the opportunity despite the clear and expressed need. Why? It turns out that, even amidst this humanitarian crisis, the Samaritan’s Purse was requiring all potential volunteers to sign off on their statement of faith.

While such a move obviously excludes “non-Christian” volunteers (in the same way the Samaritan was excluded as “non-Jewish”), it also excludes many Christians who hold to different beliefs than the organization. Among those are LGBTQ+ Christians (and straight yet affirming Christians), including doctors, nurses, and other essential professionals.

When challenged on this, many evangelical Christians have come to Samaritan’s Purse’s defense, citing religious freedom as an essential right. While the merits of that argument should be meaningfully engaged, it wasn’t the point that immediately came to mind for me. Rather, I couldn’t help but recognize the contradiction of such a policy in light of the organization’s name.

“Samaritan’s Purse” is a name inspired by one of the most well-known parables in the Bible, even to many who are not…

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Jamie Arpin-Ricci is a bisexual author & activist with more than 25 years experience living at the intersection of faith, sexuality, and justice.