WashPost Reports Samaritan's Purse Charity Is Powerful -- But Franklin Graham Is a 'Polarizing Figure' for Evangelism

At the same time that The Washington Post was recognizing the power and reach of Franklin Graham’s global health charity Samaritan’s Purse, they found it essential to revisit Graham’s “offenses” with the secular left dating back to 1990.

Reporter Brady Dennis noted the two Samaritan’s Purse staffers infected with the Ebola virus highlighted the group’s role on the front lines of global health crises. But horrors and controversy, they’ve also tried to spread Christianity:

The growing worldwide ministry of Samaritan’s Purse has not been free of controversy.

During the 1990-1991 Gulf War, Franklin Graham drew a sharp rebuke from Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf after the group tried to arrange for U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia to distribute thousands of Arabic-language Bibles — an undertaking that violated an agreement between the Saudi and American governments to avoid proselytizing.

In 2001, the New York Times detailed how Samaritan’s Purse, which had received more than $200,000 from USAID, had “blurred the lines between church and state” by proselytizing while helping victims of an earthquake in El Salvador. An official for the group said it did not discriminate in who received aid and that the government knew its role as a faith-based organization. “We are first a Christian organization and second an aid organization,” the official said at the time. “We can’t really separate the two.” The group ultimately was found not to have violated federal guidelines.

Graham himself has proven a polarizing figure over the years. He stirred widespread criticism after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when he referred to Islam as a “wicked” and “evil” religion. More recently, he has sharply criticized President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, while applauding a Russian law that bans gay “propaganda.” In 2012, he apologized after raising doubts about Obama’s Christian faith, saying he regretted any comments “which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president.” The group declined interview requests for this report.


Notice the way the Post makes it sound like Franklin Graham is a "polarizing figure," but Barack Obama is not. He has polarization thrust upon him, because apparently nothing he says ever offends. Dennis then added praise:

Those controversies aside, Smart Money magazine has named Samaritan’s Purse the most efficient religious charity numerous times, and the group maintains a reputation of being among the first to combat the worst public health crises around the world.

“Given the remote and hard-to-reach areas they work in, there’s been many instances in the past where we’ve first heard of specific suspected clusters of illnesses through them,” Rima Khabbaz, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said of NGOs such as Samaritan’s Purse. “They are no doubt very important partners in our global public health work. Not infrequently, [the] first unconfirmed reports reach the public health community through them.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis