The leaders of a Texas megachurch did not discourage members from getting vaccinated. In a red-banner statement posted today on their website, the pastors of Eagle Mountain International Church can't make it any clearer: "We Are Not Anti-Vaccination."
Church leaders have been battling a flurry of criticism since it was reported a number of unvaccinated church members contracted the measles earlier this month. Some media reports claim the pastors discouraged members from being vaccinated.
Other reports claim the pastors initially discouraged members from being vaccinated, but reversed their position in the wake of the measles outbreak.
Neither representation is true, according to the statement, which reads:
1. Our church is not and has never been "anti-vaccination."
2. We do not have an "anti-vaccination" policy.
3. In all our years of pastoring, we have never preached against vaccinations.
4. We have never advised anyone against a vaccination.
Read the rest of the statement here.
So how did this happen? As it turns out, a non-church member contracted the measles while on a missions trip in a foreign country and subsequently visited the church and infected some members.
While it is true that the infected members were not properly vaccinated against the measles, their decision to refuse adequate vaccination was not prompted by the teachings of the church. It could have happened anywhere and is certainly not the fault of the church leadership.
It is noteworthy that a number of Americans refusing vaccinations is steadily increasing, in all segments of society, Christian and non-Christian alike. Secular television personalities and movie stars are waging anti-vaccine campaigns, not in church, but in mass media, because of their belief that vaccines can cause autism.
Even a celebrity doctor, while discussing the risks associated with vaccines, said overall, children are safer if they are vaccinated than they are if they do not get vaccinated. The doctor wouldn't admit publicly whether he has had his own children vaccinated.
Measles outbreaks, like the one in Texas, whooping cough outbreaks and meningitis outbreaks have been popping-up all over the country in recent years. These diseases all but disappeared when vaccines against them were introduced to the American public.
However, the diseases have been making a comeback lately as more and more parents refuse to allow to their children to get vaccinated because of concerns that the vaccines might cause autism or other problems. In some school districts, as many as 20 percent of parents reportedly opt-out of vaccine requirements, a decision made by Christian and non-Christian parents alike.
Although the vast majority of health professionals recommend parents get their children vaccinated, not one will guarantee something won't go wrong, just as no pilot can guarantee your plane won't crash. There are risks involved, but those risks are small.
In the past, the leadership of Eagle Mountain International Church may have articulated the risks of vaccines, just as any doctor would, but by no means did they ever discourage church members from being inoculated.