The New York Post isn’t exactly a great source of news, but on the other hand it doesn’t purvey lies, either—at least not in this case, since the report has appeared at other sites. And what the article below says (click on screenshot) is depressing.
If you follow Trump’s missteps in the pandemic, you’ll already know that our “president” ordered U.S. funding of the World Health Organization (WHO) to be suspended, accusing it of buying into Chinese rhetoric that the virus wasn’t dangerous, and wasn’t easily transmitted from person to person. That was true at the time to some extent, but our completely bailing out of WHO at this point is more or less cutting off our nose to spite our face. (Trump’s good at that!)
WHO’s annual budget is $4.8 billion, with the US providing a bit more than 10% of that. However, the Post says this:
The US provided roughly 10 percent of the WHO’s $4.8 billion annual budget. Most US contributions were “voluntary.” Annual US dues were just $58 million, with the next installment not expected until September.
Unless my math is off, $58 million is 1.2% of 4.8 billion, not 10%. On the other hand, Politico says the U.S. contributes $400 million per year, which gets it about right. The Post’s math appears to be wrong.
But never mind. If the next part is correct, it’s worrisome:
The White House budget office has told federal agencies to redirect World Health Organization funds to groups that do similar work, indicating a 60-day suspension of WHO funding ordered by President Trump will be permanent.
The funds will flow instead to outfits such as the Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse after Trump said Tuesday the WHO needed reform after failing to vet coronavirus data from China, contributing to a pandemic that infected more than 650,000 US residents.
The Red Cross is okay, but remember Samaritan’s Purse? As I reported a week ago, that is Franklin Graham’s (son of Billy Graham) evangelical Christian organization that agreed to help set up an emergency Covid-19 facility in Central Park—but only under the stipulation that the workers must adhere to its statement of faith, a hard-nosed religious testimony that disallows abortion, prohibits gay marriage, and touts the divinity of Jesus as well as other Christian doctrine. The Wikipedia article on Samaritan’s Purse details a history of controversy involving the organization blending disaster relief with religious proselytizing (see this article from the New York Times in 2001).
Of course the money Trump is giving to Franklin’s organization will promote conservative and evangelical Christian proselytizing. The use of government funds to promote religion is illegal: a violation of the First Amendment. I object to Trump’s petulant withholding of funds from WHO, but if those funds must be directed somewhere, it should be to organizations working to alleviate the pandemic, and to purely secular organizations. The Red Cross is one of those. Samaritan’s Purse is not.