Many groups, organizations, and people in general have taken the sad and unfortunate stance of harming public health and ostracizing a certain group of people by refusing to vaccinate their infants and toddlers. The anti-vaccine stance in the developed world has been built entirely on the false and disproved belief that the vaccines, or some aspect to them, will cause autism, a unique mental identity that some have considered a crippling disease in its most acute forms. Now, one megachurch who held firm in these beliefs, despite comprehensive evidence proving them wrong, has switched sides after a measles outbreak overruns its congregation.
The Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, located northwest of the Dalla-Fort Worth area in Texas, is a megachurch that is part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, an evangelical ministry in the Pentecostal tradition. The megachurch relies heavily on the faith of God to help with medical conditions, and accepted the studies of since-disgraced Dr. Andrew Wakefield linking autism to the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine as truth.
Recently, a church mission sent abroad returned with some of its members contracting measles. Kenneth Copeland Ministry stood by its principles initially, saying that,
...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.
Unfortunately, such faith proved to be misguided. Eventually, 20 members of the Eagle Mountain International congregation contracted measles from the missionaries. After some deliberation, Terri Copeland Pearsons, daughter of ministry founder Kenneth Copeland and leading pastor, announced in a sermon last week that the church will be running a vaccination clinic, and has urged the congregation to attend the clinics.
That it had to take a measles outbreak for a church congregation to change its mind is unfortunate for those who had to suffer needlessly under the pain of sickness. Furthermore, the turnaround was triggered not by compassion towards the autistic, but rather the congregation's self-preservation, which leaves the question of former's place in the church unfortunately unanswered. Still, that the Eagle Mountain International Church changed its mind on vaccines is still a step in the right direction.