In an AP story from yesterday:
NEWARK, Texas — The teachings of televangelist Kenneth Copeland and his family focusing on the virtues of trusting God to keep healthy are under scrutiny after a cluster of measles cases linked to his family’s North Texas megachurch revealed many congregants hadn’t been vaccinated against the highly contagious disease.
Kenneth Copeland Ministries earlier this month issued following statement on their website:
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.
Since the recent outbreak of measles, KCM has issued the following follow-up statement:
In the past several days there has been incorrect or misleading information being reported about Kenneth Copeland Ministries/Eagle Mountain International Church’s (KCM/EMIC) position on vaccines and receiving medical attention. To be clear, KCM/EMIC believes in, and advocates the use of, medical professionals. If an individual is faced with a situation that requires medical attention, that person should seek out the appropriate medical professional and follow their instructions using wisdom. As an example of KCM/EMIC’s commitment to the importance of the medical profession in the healing process, KCM/EMIC provides its employees with an onsite medical clinic staffed by an MD and a CMA, a first-rate health insurance program, and has sponsored onsite vaccination clinics. KCM/EMIC continues to stand by its original posted position issued August 21, 2013.
If you go to the comment section after the second statement, the media is accused of lying and of misrepresenting the truth about KCM. More than one person claims that you can no longer rely on the media communicating truth, but only opinion.
But now, please go back to the comment section on the original comment. Most of the comments are about how you need to have faith and not go to the physician. There is even more than one comment claiming that the origin of the word pharmaceutical is evil. Therefore, it is not God’s real intent for you to use pharmaceuticals, but to trust him. There is little doubt that the statement was interpreted as meaning that medicine is the third option for the believer, and a poor third at that. A couple of nurses were even slightly fustigated.
So from where does the word for pharmacy come from?
Pharmakeia — in modern Greek it means drugstores. As it is appeared in the New Testament it means pseudo-medicine or even sorcery and use of magical arts. It derives from the word pharmako meaning medicine. The original meaning was poison (as many medicines were created from poisons).
I should mention that, to this day, many medicines can indeed poison, if taken in wrong doses. You only need to read the side-effects panel of all medicines to realize that medicines can truly cause problems. But, many times this is a case of the pains of the cure being better than the outcome of the disease. A painful surgery many times keeps you alive. The alternative is often much less positive. Epidemics can, and do, kill.
It would be easy to argue that one should not go to the comment section and wrongly credit that to the ministry. But, in 2010, Kenneth Copeland was speaking of the vaccinations for his grandchildren and said:
“I got to looking into that and some of it is criminal. … You’re not putting — what is it Hepatitis B — in an infant! That’s crazy. That is a shot for a sexually transmitted disease. What? In a baby?” he said. “You don’t take the word of the guy that’s trying to give the shot about what’s good and what isn’t. You better go read the can or read the thing — find out what’s going on there and get the information on there because I’m telling you, it’s very dangerous the things that are happening around us all the time.”
His daughter, Terri Pearsons, who is a senior pastor at Eagle Mountain, along with her husband, said after the outbreak that people were encouraged to be vaccinated, but then added an important line:
that if, “you’ve got this covered in your household by faith and it crosses your heart of faith, then don’t go do it.”
She ended up having to explain that line, and cited a now fully and totally discarded and repudiated statement on the connection between vaccines and autism. As I have commented in other posts, this study that was never confirmed by any other study, and was eventually decisively repudiated by all medical societies, continues to make the rounds in many circles, particularly in those Christian circles that are prone to have problems with vaccines.
Here is the bottom line. If you are Orthodox, have your children vaccinated. DO NOT try to tell your priest about your responsibility as a parent to evaluate vaccines and decide whether to give them. Have them vaccinated, and do not try to claim that it is Orthodoxy that leads you to not vaccinate them. Do not misuse your responsibility as a parent to refuse your children the protection of vaccination. The OCA website has the following comment in answer to a question about vaccinations:
There are no statements by the Orthodox Church against childhood immunizations / vaccinations. I have never heard of an Orthodox Christian objecting to such immunizations on religious grounds for any reason.
In June of this year, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese here in the USA announced some grants:
Through an already established collaboration with Doctors of the World in Greece, the Jaharis gift will help expand vaccination programs for children and the elderly and establish more polyclinics to provide primary and urgent care to vulnerable populations such as children, expectant mothers (pre/postnatal care), and the elderly.
Since we are speaking about a measles outbreak, it is worth noting that on the Antiochian Archdiocese website, one can find that the Antiochians have been cooperating with some international organizations to conduct:
… screening and measles vaccination for all children between the ages of six months and 15 years in the Dollo Ado refugee camps. Religious and community leaders have also been mobilized to raise awareness, and particularly to encourage families to take the sick to health centers.
So, if you are Orthodox, vaccinate your child. Please do not listen to those pseudo-Christian arguments and ministries that would keep you from your responsibility as a parent, which is to vaccinate your child against childhood diseases. More than that, you need to stop setting up medical science over against God. Our hierarchs do not. If you do so, you do not do so for Orthodox reasons.
If you need some answers for how to resolve your inner conflict, make two appointments. The first appointment needs to be with your priest to speak about your conflict. The second, and later, appointment needs to be with your pediatrician for after your priest points you to him/her for vaccinations.