As the Dallas Observer noted last week, Eagle Mountain International Church’s pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons told her North Texas congregation last week that there had been a measles outbreak… and it stemmed from a member of her church.
What made that story particularly newsworthy was the fact that Pearsons’ father, celebrity televangelist Kenneth Copeland, had been a member of the Jenny McCarthy School of Bullshit, promoting the theory that there was a link between vaccines and autism even though no scientific testing had shown that to be true.
There are 20 confirmed cases of measles in the latest outbreak, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. At least eight of the patients are members of the Eagle Mountain International Church, church officials said, and 15 of the cases are in Tarrant County where the church is located.
In an August 2010 Believer’s Voice of Victory webcast, Copeland discussed having his first grandchild and being alarmed at the number of vaccinations the child was supposed to be given. He called the process of immunization “downright criminal.”
There’s no evidence that I’ve seen that suggests Pearsons herself ever preached the same non-science (despite a USA Today article that suggests otherwise). And immediately after the outbreak was traced back to her church, Pearsons very bluntly told her congregation to get vaccinated (PDF):
Some people think I am against immunizations, but that is not true. Vaccinations help cut the mortality rate enormously. I believe it is wrong to be against vaccinations. 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. There is no indication of the autism connection with vaccinations in older children. Furthermore, the new MMR vaccination is without thimerosal (mercury), which has also been a concern to many.
The risks associated during an outbreak really outweigh the risks of the vaccination. Therefore I strongly feel that our children and even adults of all ages need to be immunized now to stop the spread of measles and prevent those potential complications. Also, the disease is only shut down when all are immunized.
Keep in mind, though, that her church promotes “faith healing,” which may suggest to members of her congregation that they should trust in God in lieu of vaccines…
Who deserves the blame is a secondary issue, though. The fact is that if there wasn’t so much misinformation about science coming from people who distrust it for religious or other bogus reasons, the outbreak could have been prevented. We need more church leaders to take Pearsons’ lead now and remind their congregations that vaccines benefit all of us and the only kind of science against them is junk science.