A recent Texas measles outbreak at a megachurch has sickened more than 20 people, and the anti-vaccine movement has been blamed for the number who fell ill with the once nearly eradicated illness.
The Texas measles outbreak has been reportedly traced back to a visitor to the megachurch who’d been traveling in affected areas and brought the illness back to the congregation. As the outbreak seems to evidence, however, lack of vaccination for measles very likely contributed to its severity.
The megachurch involved, the Eagle Mountain International Church, is said to be philosophically less invested in scientific medicine than healing by prayer.
Slate surmises that the Texas measles outbreak may be in part due to faith-related rejection of (among other things) vaccination, noting that the church has been linked to anti-vaccine rhetoric previously:
“The Eagle Mountain International Church is led by pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons, daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland. (The church is part of his ministries.) Pearsons claims she’s not anti-vax, but the church does promote faith healing, and in August Pearsons voiced concern over vaccinations and autism, a link which has been thoroughly debunked. Kenneth Copeland has promoted anti-vax and anti-science nonsense on his television show in the past… “
While the Texas measles outbreak has been held up as an example of what can go wrong when vaccines are delayed or denied, some good may have come out of the rash of illnesses.
Following the outbreak, the church updated its stance on vaccination and other interventions (though somewhat vaguely), saying on its site:
“Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ position regarding dealing with any medical condition involving yourself or someone in your family is to first seek the wisdom of God, His Word, and appropriate medical attention from a professional that you know and trust. Apply wisdom and discernment in carrying out their recommendations for treatment.”
The Texas measles outbreak megachurch statement is appended to include “Vaccinations, Immunizations, Surgeries, Prescriptions, Or Any Other Medical Procedures.”