First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of Texas, where a megachurch’s leaders are starting to regret preaching against vaccinations.
Officially, measles has been eradicated in the Western Hemisphere, but incidents like these still occur.
The latest measles outbreak is in Texas, where the virus has sickened 25 people, most of whom are members or visitors of a church led by the daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland.
Fifteen of the measles cases are centered around Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, whose senior pastor, Terri Pearsons, has previously been critical of measles vaccinations.
The outbreak was started by a visitor to the church who had recently traveled to a country where measles remains common, according to Tarrant County Public Health spokesman Al Roy.
“This is a classic example of how measles is being reintroduced,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told USA Today. He added, “This is a sadly misinformed religious leader.”
He’s referring, of course, to the megachurch’s senior pastor, Terri Pearsons, who has advocated faith-healing and questioned vaccines. If her name sounds familiar, she’s the daughter of prominent televangelist Kenneth Copeland.
Even now, Terri Pearsons, continues to express misgivings about vaccinations. That said, after the outbreak, she nevertheless said she now believes “children and even adults of all ages need to be immunized now to stop the spread of measles and prevent those potential complications.”
Indeed, soon after, the megachurch abandoned its previous positions and began organizing free vaccination clinics, while posting information to its website about other nearby vaccination clinics.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert (R), perhaps best known for his aggressive social-conservative activism, said this week that he believes it’s “more important to do what is right by God” than anything else, which presumably includes doing right by his constituents.
* The far-right Family Research Council, a leading organization in the religious right movement, was apoplectic after the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, but is now trying to argue that the court’s decision wasn’t too big a deal.
* Alabama evangelist Matt Pitt, who has “led thousands of young Christians in high-energy worship services across the United States in recent years,” has been arrested on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer. He’s continuing to lead worship services from recordings in a county jail.
* And a sign in front of St. John’s Anglican Church went viral this week, thanks to its simple, progressive message. It reads, “Jesus had two dads and he turned out just fine!”