Missionary returned with measles and triggered outbreak (UPDATE: anti-vax stance and worse)

Now the church is under greater scrutiny and anti-vax sentiment emerges. See below.

Originally published Aug-22-2013

A textbook example of why we need community immunity vaccination plans.

Measles outbreak traced to megachurch near Eagle Mountain Lake | wfaa.com Dallas – Fort Worth.

Tarrant County health officials have zeroed in on a megachurch near Eagle Mountain Lake as where a measles outbreak began to spread.

A congregant contracted the viral infection during a visit to a foreign country and attended a service before he knew his diagnosis, according to a written statement from Eagle Mountain International Church spokeswoman Nancy Alto. The individual was not a member of the church and was visiting the facility as part of a multi-nation mission trip.

There have been 16 cases reported in Texas with the affected ages between 4 months and 44 years. The 4 month old was likely too young to have been vaccinated which is why everyone who can be ought to be vaccinated against such diseases – to aid in community immunity for those that can’t benefit from immunization.

I am a bit concerned that foreign travel was allowed without such vaccinations already. That’s an easy way to spread it, jumping from country to country. The church is promoting vaccinations.

UPDATE (24-Aug-2013): USA Today is reporting that the Copeland church was not so excited about vaccines prior to this event…

In an Aug. 15 statement, Eagle Mountain’s pastor, Terri Pearsons, said she had reservations about vaccines. “The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time,” she said.

More than 20 studies have failed to find any link between autism and vaccines, even when children receive multiple shots at once. “At this point, this is not only sad, but silly,” Schaffner says. “This is a sadly misinformed religious leader.”

UPDATE (31-Aug-2013)
Measles cases put Texas megachurch under scrutiny.

Although church officials were quick to act after the outbreak — including hosting clinics in August where 220 people received immunization shots — and have denied they are against medical care or vaccinations, people familiar with the ministry say there is a pervasive culture that believers should rely on God, not modern medicine, to keep them well.

“To get a vaccine would have been viewed by me and my friends and my peers as an act of fear — that you doubted God would keep you safe, you doubted God would keep you healthy. We simply didn’t do it,” former church member Amy Arden told The Associated Press.

It went farther than vaccines. People were encouraged to pray instead of going to the doctor. I don’t think they learned anything from this measles outbreak.

  10 comments for “Missionary returned with measles and triggered outbreak (UPDATE: anti-vax stance and worse)

  1. August 22, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    One interesting article: Copeland’s church finds hope in vaccinations:

    After 50 years in ministry, Kenneth Copeland is now preaching for emergency vaccinations.

    His church worried over a sudden measles outbreak, the elder statesman of American televangelists has delivered a bold message that left no doubt.

    Which is apparently a change of heart:

    For an evangelist who preached as recently as four years ago that parents should be skeptical and “don’t take the word of the guy who’s giving the shot,” it was a noble turn away from doubt and fear.

    This article is more pointed: There’s a Measles Outbreak at Vaccine-Denying Pastor Kenneth Copeland’s Fort Worth Church:

    The sermon was awkward, to say the least. Pearsons is the eldest daughter of megapastor Kenneth Copeland, and her church is one of the cornerstones of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, his sprawling evangelical empire. He’s far from the most vocal proponent of the discredited theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism, but, between his advocacy of faith healing and his promotion of the vaccine-autism link on his online talk show, he’s not exactly urging his flock to get their recommended shots.

  2. Geoff Offermann
    August 23, 2013 at 5:10 AM

    Vaccines? Wherefore prayer?

  3. August 25, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    “Copeland church was not so excited about vaccines prior to this event…”

    Why am I not surprised? There seems to be a pattern to these outbreaks. For example: Measles Outbreak Associated with a Church Congregation: A Study of Immunization Attitudes of Congregation Members.

  4. One Eyed Jack
    August 26, 2013 at 11:17 AM
  5. Chris Howard
    August 31, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Is there a correlation between evangelical Christians and conspiracy theorist? As in are many evangelicals also conspiracy theorists, or is anti-vaccination merely a shared belief?

  6. neko
    August 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Hi Chris —

    Most Evangelical sects believe in faith healing to different degrees, but very few of them promote the view “If you go to a doctor, you are showing God you don’t trust him!”. Most of them don’t tell you not to wear seat belts, either.

    This one, though, is a large church that bought the antivax crap, until now, because their founder did. Seems like they’ve done a 180. Although this is one of the more famous and larger churches, so many of these are basically charismatic organizations.

    As for conspiracy theories, I don’t know if there is a correlation in numbers or depth of belief. I tried searching just now, but most of the studies were more on how some CT played well in different demographics. Point of Inquiry had a number of podcasts on this subject with various authors on this issue.


  7. Brian
    August 31, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    “To get a vaccine would have been viewed by me and my friends and my peers as an act of fear — that you doubted God would keep you safe, you doubted God would keep you healthy.”

    And we see how much god can be trusted, hmmm?

  8. Chris Howard
    September 1, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    @ neko Thank you. 🙂

  9. Colin O' Scoppy
    September 2, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Medical science is on the verge of developing a vaccine for HIV, which will undoubtedly be rejected by the prominent anti-science crackpots who ducked class to concentrate on their makeup (I’m talking to you, Jenny) Pity there will never be a vaccine for ignorance and stupidity.

  10. YetAnoutherBrian
    September 3, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Believing God will fix everything never made sense to me. They argue god of the gaps yet turn around and preach to trust god and ignore science. If anything reason should dictate that God made science and vaccines and therefore a true believer should take advantage of the benefits of research. They have no problem using cell phones, speakers, cars and planes.

    Once you buy in to the improbable Christian narrative then any argument becomes plausible.

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