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August 29th, 2013
01:24 PM ET

Former staffer: Measles church counseled faith, not shots

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) ­ When Amy Arden joined Eagle Mountain International Church in 1997, her 11­month­old daughter had received all the recommended vaccinations. But in the six years the young, single mother worked and worshipped at the evangelical megachurch, Arden didn’t take her child to get a single shot.

“There was a belief permeating throughout the church that there is only faith and fear,” Arden said. “If you were afraid of the illness enough to get vaccinated, it showed a lack of faith that God would protect and heal you.”

Members of Eagle Mountain International Church also believed that childhood vaccinations could lead to autism, said Arden, who is 35.

Arden said she was taught by a supervisor at the church's nursery how to opt out of a Texas law that requires most children to be immunized. She now regrets passing the same lesson on to other parents.

“I didn’t know a single mother who was vaccinating her children,” she said.

Eagle Mountains teachings on health, including disparaging remarks about vaccinations, have been called into question since an outbreak of measles in Texas – an outbreak that state officials tie to the church.

As a Word of Faith church, Eagle Mountain is part of the booming prosperity gospel movement, which holds that God wants to reward believers with riches, health and happiness, if they will just recite certain Scriptures, pray and trust in divine providence.

The church is part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, a vast and profitable multimedia ministry led by its namesake, a longtime prosperity preacher and television evangelist.

In the prosperity gospel world, Copeland, 76, and his wife, Gloria, are considered royalty, said Kate Bowler, author of “Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel.”

“He is a major grandfather of the movement, starting to age out but still incredibly influential,”

Bowler said. “They’ve been on the air forever and stayed largely scandal­free. That’s partly why they are so trusted by lots of people.”

According to Kenneth Copeland Ministries, the Copelands' daily program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network reaches millions of viewers, their magazine more than 500,000 readers.

Based in Newark, Texas, a rural community 25 miles north of Fort Worth, Eagle Mountain is co­pastored by Copeland's daughter, Terri Copeland Pearsons, and son­in­law, George Pearsons.

Twenty­one people in Tarrant County and nearby Denton County have contracted measles during this outbreak, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The victims include nine children and range from 4 to 44 years old..

Tarrant County epidemiologist Russell Jones said the confirmed cases can be traced back to a person who attended Eagle Mountain International Church after visiting Asia, which has higher rates of measles infections than the United States.

Health officials are not releasing the name of that person or the particular country.

Jones said he doesn’t know exactly how many of the infected people are members of Eagle Mountain. At least 11 of the 21 did not have any measles vaccinations, he said. (Doctors usually recommend two shots.)

“Our concern would be that if you have a pocket of people who associate and think alike, if they don’t believe in immunization there’s going to be some other vulnerable people,” Jones said.

Neither Eagle Mountain International Church nor Kenneth Copeland Ministries responded to repeated requests for comment.

Eagle Mountain Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons has said that “while some people may believe she is against immunizations, that is not true.”

“I believe it is wrong to be against vaccinations,” she said in a statement.

But the pastor hasn’t always preached a pro­immunization message.

In an August 15 statement, Copeland Pearsons drew a link between vaccinations and autism, saying, “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.”

Likewise, in 2010, during a broadcast about health, Kenneth Copeland – whose followers consider him a prophet – voiced alarm about the number of shots given to his grandchild.

“All of this stuff they wanted to put into his body,” Copeland said. “Some of it is criminal!”

Copeland was particularly agitated about the Hepatitis B shot.

“In an infant? That’s crazy! That is a shot for sexually transmitted disease!” he said.

“We need to be a whole lot more serious about this and aware, and you don’t take the word of the guy who’s trying to give you the shot about what’s good and what isn’t.”

Dr. Don Colbert, a "divine health" expert who has appeared with Copeland in several broadcasts, then said the autism rate among children has increased with the number of childhood vaccinations.

"I have had so many patients bring their children in and they say, you know what, the week after I had that immunization, for MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – my child stopped talking, my child stopped giving me eye contact. He was not alert, he was not coherent. he quit speaking, he quit being the child I had," Colbert said on the webcast.

Colbert and the Copeland family are wrong about immunizations, said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.

“It's painful because these pastors are trusted spiritual leaders who are speaking to people not only in their congregations but also on television," he said. "They are putting people at risk.”

There is no link between vaccinations and autism, and hepatitis can be passed from mother to child, making the shot necessary and effective, Schaffner said.

Schaffner said that doctors call concerns about bundling immunizations the "pin cushion effect." It's a common but unfounded fear, he said.

Most health experts, including the American Pediatric Association and the Tarrant County Public Health Department, agree with Schaffner.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the church and ministry said that they believe in, and advocate 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," the church leaders said.

After the measles outbreak, Kenneth Copeland said that he “inquired of the Lord as to what he would say regarding these vaccinations,” according to a statement posted on the church's website on August 15.

The pastor said that God told him to “pray over it,” and then to “take advantage of what I have provided for you in Jesus’ name.”

Since the measles outbreak, Eagle Mountain has held two free immunization clinics, where about 220 church members received vaccinations, according to Jones, who said the county assisted with the clinics. Jones said that he is working to ascertain how many of the church’s 1,500 members have still not been immunized.

Eagle Mountain and Kenneth Copeland Ministries also disinfected their shared 25­acre campus, including the nursery and day care center, Pearsons said at an August 14 church service titled “Taking Our Stand of Faith Over Measles.” The church runs schools for children through the sixth grade.

When Copeland announces a change in church policy, it's often after he has claimed to receive a new divine revelation, said former members of the church.

"Kenneth would always come up with a new prophecy to match what's going on," said one

former church member, who wished to remain anonymous in order to maintain business ties with the church.

In this case, Copeland’s new revelation – and the church's recent statements –represent a big shift, said the former members.

Amy Arden worshipped and worked at the church, including in its nursery, for six years, first as a volunteer, then as paid staff from 2000 to 2003.

Arden said she now deeply regrets teaching other parents how to access the Texas immunization exemption forms. But she and another former church employee described a closed spiritual world in which doubts are kept quiet and leaders' words are rarely questioned.

“This was Kenneth Copeland’s ministry, and we did nothing that he did not approve of,” Arden said.

“It’s hard to believe that hundreds of his children in his church were not getting vaccinated and he didn’t know about it. If he was pro­vaccination, we would have vaccinated our children."

Arden recalled a 2002 lecture to church employees in which they were told that every part of Eagle Mountain International Church and Kenneth Copeland Ministries must reflect the founder’s vision.

Arden said she was fired from KCM in 2003 for disagreeing with the church’s willingness to take donations from the mentally ill, including institutionalized patients.

She later cooperated with a U.S. Senate investigation into Copeland’s and other prosperity preachers’ finances. The church was not penalized, but Sen. Chuck Grassley's 2011 report raised questions about the pastors' use of church­owned luxury items like private jets. The Copelands and Eagle Mountain called the investigation an attack on Word of Faith pastors.

Another former church member and Kenneth Copeland Ministries employee who volunteered in the nursery corroborated Arden’s account.

“Being vaccinated was like working against your faith,” said the former church member. “You were trusting a disease's power to infect you over God's ability to protect you.”

Neither Arden nor the other former church member recalled hearing the Copelands or Pearsons preach specifically against vaccinations, however. Nor did the Copelands counsel their flock to reject medical treatment for serious ailments, they said.

More often, the prosperity pastors would preach that faith is the best preventive measure and that some ailments can and should be prayed away, the church members recalled.

That’s a common belief among Pentecostals, said Bowler, the historian and Duke Divinity School professor. According to a 2006 Pew Study, 62% of American Pentecostals say they have witnessed divine healings.

But many Christian traditions teach that God can heal believers. What separates preachers like the Copelands is that they believe Jesus died not only to save humanity from sin but also from sickness.

“When Jesus bore away our sins, he also bore away our diseases,” Gloria Copeland has said in sermons about spiritual healing.

The Copelands also teach that they have unlocked the formula – a combination of words and Scriptures – to guide believers from optimistic faith to tangible results.

“The places they look for those results are their bodies and their wallets,” Bowler said.

In many ways, the Copelands are the spiritual successors to last century's revival preachers, Bowler said, trading traveling tent meetings for lucrative television ministries.

Kenneth Copeland learned at the feet of prosperity gospel founders Kenneth Hagin and Oral Roberts. Copeland calls Roberts, who believed that God had anointed his right hand with healing power, his "spiritual father."

The Copelands have since created their own unique brand of theology, emphasizing that the

spoken word – a Word of Faith – can turn prayers into reality. Kenneth Copeland teaches that simply uttering the words “I’m sick” can lead to illness, and that proclaiming yourself well can likewise lead to health.

“Our health, our wealth and our place in eternity is in our mouths. Everything about us has been, and will be, determined by the words we speak,” Copeland has said.

Arden said that church members were taught to repeat certain Bible passages, almost like a magic spell, to ward off disease.

“There were healing Scriptures we had to recite over and over again, and eventually, whatever you say will come to pass.”

The Copelands don’t claim to be healers, though they teach that believers who sow “seeds of faith” – sometimes through donations – can see miraculous results.

One account on the ministry’s website says that a Dutch boy was cured of autism after his mother attended Gloria Copeland’s healing school and watched Eagle Mountain church services online.

Arden recalled donating $400 – all she had in her savings account at the time – to the church when her daughter had a serious ear malady.

“I was a broke, single mother earning $7.50 an hour, so that was a fortune to me.” Her daughter required four surgeries before she was healed, Arden said.

Now a financial analyst in New York City, Arden said she keeps her distance from organized religion, but understands what draws certain kinds of Christians to churches like Eagle Mountain.

“About 90% of the people were just like me,” she said. “They needed hope, and they needed to believe that there was something bigger than themselves that would guide and protect them and keep the whole crush of life from pressing down on them.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Bioethics • Church and state • Culture & Science • evangelicals • Faith • Faith & Health • Money & Faith • Pentecostal

soundoff (1,318 Responses)
  1. Dyslexic doG

    Matthew 7:7 ”Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

    guess all these people weren't asking, seeking or knocking.

    what a crock your religion is!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Colin

      jesus also says we are not dumb doGs- don't pray like a dumb doG would.
      be a man
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      doG is reading the bible at a 3rd grade level (you flunked

      August 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        so when a line from the bible is shown to be foolishness, Christians don't want to discuss it, they go right into ranting against the person who pointed it out. For a religion claiming to be peaceful, you're sounding very like the Taliban.

        August 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • A loving atheist

          You are acting just like the Christians. 🙂 Seriously. Can you share some truth that you know, that isn't about ridiculing or belittling others? Can you demonstrate true intelligence?

          August 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          I'll try. 😦

          August 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

    guess all these people haven't been asking.

    what a crock your religion is!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Colin

      jesus also says we are not dumb doGs- don't pray like a dumb doG would.
      be a man
      .
      .
      .
      .
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      .
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      dog is reading the bible at a 4th grade level

      August 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      DD,

      They didnt have FAITH. Duh.....

      August 29, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • DD,

        anuther doG fail

        August 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        No, another dog YEA!!!

        August 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          thanks for caring Honey Badger. 🙂

          August 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • A loving atheist

          You both (and a few others) share in the same delusions. Outside of this venue, your viewpoints and language would not be tolerated. 🙂 Seriously.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          what delusions? Seriously?

          August 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • A loving atheist

          The delusion that your understanding of The Bible must be what other people believe. Why don't you try asking their opinion? And if you really don't like them, why don't you go to a message board that would better suit your needs and desires?

          August 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          This board suits my likes and desires very well thank you.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

    guess all these people haven't been asking.

    what a crock your religion is!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Colin

      only if you take that verse out of context liek an idiot and don't read what else jesus says . youve got a 4th graders understanding of the theology.
      ..
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      .....
      .
      .you don't think anyone else thinks you are a crock? what does your family say about you posting on here all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long all day long

      August 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        so when a line from the bible is shown to be foolishness, Christians don't want to discuss it, they go right into ranting against the person who pointed it out. For a religion claiming to be peaceful, you're sounding very like the Taliban.

        August 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it

    guess all these people haven't been praying right.

    what abject foolishness your religion is!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Colin

      only if you take that verse out of context liek an idiot and don't read what else jesus says . youve got a 4th graders understanding of the theology.
      ..
      .
      ..
      .
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      .....
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      .you are an embarasment to atheists.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        so when a line from the bible is shown to be foolishness, Christians don't want to discuss it, they go right into ranting against the person who pointed it out. For a religion claiming to be peaceful, you're sounding very like the Taliban.

        August 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • Hoss

        If you are truly a Christian, then you also possess a basic knowledge of scripture and the teachings of Christ. You call someone a jerk and display judgmental arrogance.

        August 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

    what a crock your religion is!!!

    August 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Colin

      only if you take that verse out of context liek an idiot and don't read what else jesus says . youve got a 4th graders understanding of the theology.
      ..
      .
      ..
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
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      .
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      .you are an embarasment to atheists.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        so when a line from the bible is shown to be foolishness, Christians don't want to discuss it, they go right into ranting against the person who pointed it out. For a religion claiming to be peaceful, you're sounding very like the Taliban.

        August 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Our church holds healing services. We come together for prayer and meditation. There are usually three teams that are led by a Deacon. The deacon and others pray with people who have any number of ailments from broken arms, multiple sclerosis, cancer, addictions, colds, depression, you name it. The priest anoints with oil and absolves sin. Before you ask, I've yet to see the lame walk or sight restored to the blind. But, it's almost indescribable the peace and I would say "healing" that occurs. Peoples spirits are lifted, their pain is diminished, isolation and fear are breached, symptoms are lessened and folks leaved encouraged to engage the struggles of life for another period, whether that be until their cold clears or until they pass. I've attended both for my own needs and in prayerful support of friends. It is a beautiful and worthwhile event.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Do you go to a doctor? If so then you are a hypocrite.

        August 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • AE

          Nope.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  6. EnjaySea

    I'm sorry, but I couldn't devise a comment that was sarcastic enough to address the absurdity of these imbeciles.

    August 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      here's mine:

      Going to a preacher for medical advice is about as dumb as going to a doctor for spiritual advice. While either one might be conversant in the field he doesn't specialize in, it's actually an ethical breech to transgress into territory one isn't qualified to practice in. Copeland makes the same mistake Galileo did. He presumes his expertise in one area grants him privilege in an unrelated field.

      Not sarcastic I know, but sorta. Hi NJ!

      August 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        As absurd as going to someone who took a vow of celibacy for marriage advice?

        August 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You persist in confusing seex with love Doc. Hope you get past that at some point.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Would you consult a vegetarian about cooking a steak?

          August 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I appreciate that you're unable to reconcile a discussion of sacramental marriage with your lust filled arrangement. But, the vegetarian analogy is just a little too unwieldy.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Bill
          Priests do not marry.
          They have eschewed normal, human relationships for their relationship with God.

          Vegetarians do not consume meat.
          They have eschewed normal, human diets for their relatioships with animals.

          I would not consult people on a given topic if they have made the conscious choice to abstain from engaging in said topic.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • A loving atheist

          -Would you consult a vegetarian about cooking a steak?

          That is probably what a Christian feels like trying to listen to atheist claims about having a better understanding of god.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Loving
          The diference being that meat is proven to exist.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • A loving atheist

          Well than that flaws your priest and marriage analogy. The priest isn't denying the existence of marriage.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Bill, I don't think it is just about sex although the priest theoretically is unqualified to counsel on that topic; marriage is different than most if not all other relationships – the daily proximity, the differing mind and thoughts, the stress of daily life that many endure. A priest has little experience of that.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Priests haven't eschewed "normal" human relationships. That's you're problem. You think to be "normal" a relationship has to be seexualized. There are probably more celibate people on the planet than there are married or even seexually active. Are you saying none of those people know anything about love or commitment or sacrifice and compromise or any of the other attributes that make not only a successful marriage but a successful relationship? Do you see my point? You are overly focused on one dimension. I know I used to have the same opinion. But I can tell you that a priest knows a lot about marriage because the problem with most troubled marriages isn't the marriage, it's the people in it and a good priest knows how to help people. Until the individual people are "right", no relationship advice can help them.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          At the outset, I should clarify that, today, most priest do not engage in any kind of counseling. They typically perform the priestly duties they are consecrated for. Some people do go to priests for advice about life stress, having to live in close proximity to others and the other things you describe. Where the priest does have an advantage in these cases is with perspective. He can help people by recalling for them that while their troubles seem imminent, they are temporary but that their vows span the present trouble. He can remind them of the value that they and their spouse have as children of a loving God and call them to treat their spouse with the respect, care and attention that Christ would. He can remind them that both parties probably have faults and we are better served in fixing ourselves and leaving others to come to their own revelations and changes. Most priest are great listeners and well educated, compassionate men who are willing to meet people where they are and genuinely want what is best for every person they meet. They also usually know both spouses and may know the kids too, so they have a particular insight into the family dynamics. They have a spiritual understanding of the covenant made in Christian marriage. I can think of numerous reasons a priest would be a good person to visit with about marriage.

          August 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Bill
          Do you think that Catholics are somehow less lustful that other couples? Newlyweds are allt he same.
          My "arrangement" is no more or less "lust filled" than any other that has lasted nigh on a decade. We are well past the honeymoon era.
          There is no denying that a successful marriage can exist despite the absence of s.ex, but it also cannot be denied that physical intimacy is an important component to most normal relationships.
          Though we've had no ceremonies before God, our family is sacred to us.
          We treat each other with love, compassion and respect not to emulate Christ but because that is how we choose to demonstrate our support and commitment to each other.
          Of course we are both flawed. Of course there are disagreements. Of course we both have foibles that can annoy the other. We are regular people, after all.
          I'm not contesting that most priests are well intentioned, compassioante men with a sincere desire to give what solace and serenity they can to those who are troubled.
          They can help a strained couple look at their relationship through God tinted lenses and maybe give them the strength to work it out.
          But if one's marriage is held together by a bond of mutual god-fearing, it isn't a particularly healthy one, but I digress.
          In the end, a priest can still only understand marriage as an abstract. Their vows to God preclude vows to share themselves completely with another human being. Maybe being outsiders looking in can give them a unique perspective, but I am more apt to trust the word of someone with direct experience.
          I am not in the least bit concerned with what God would think of my relationship – I am concerned with what my partner thinks of our relationship.

          August 30, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  7. Ted

    Some serious "evolution in action" going on here. Fine stuff.

    August 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      So very true. We should allow religious exeptions to the Affordable Healthcare Act to anyone who is religious. If you are religious you are not allowed in a doctors office.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  8. AE

    Faith without works (action) is dead.

    August 29, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Ted

      Subtract the faith and the end result is the same. In other words, faith in your sky fairy is completely pointless, as well as unfounded.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • AE

        I'm not talking about an imaginary sky fairy.

        As a human being, you place faith in unseen things every single second of your life. Do you not? It would be easy for me to call those things you place your faith in "imaginary sky fairies", too.

        August 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          I dont have faith in anything. I have a reasonable and measured expectation based on past experience.

          If I let go of a ball at shoulder height I expect it to fall until it encounters something. I know this because of past experiences NOT faith in gravity.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
        • AE

          Well, that is what my trust and confidence in God is like, too.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          The intellect, being attached to it's senses, becomes a slave to it's passions

          Ignatius of Loyala

          August 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Good question

          Should a flawed and illogical being really trust his or her senses? Surely Honey can admit he or she can not be completely logical or rational – and that nobody is.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          It is much more illogical to believe in something for which there is NO reasonable evidence than to believe in what you can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear.

          August 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  9. Woody

    "When Copeland changes his mind, it's after he has claimed to receive a new divine revelation, said former members of the church."

    As Maxwell Smart would have said, "Ah, the old 'new divine revelation' trick"

    August 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      He must've consulted the Mormon Prophet and the 12.

      August 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Sokesky

      I miss that show.

      August 30, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Woody – kudos for any Get Smart references... (I also miss that show)

      August 30, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  10. Doc Vestibule

    Vaccines do not cause autism.
    Vaccines save lives and protect society from deadly diseases.
    Remember polio? Why do you think it isn't around anymore? How about smallpox?

    There is an interesting theory being explored now linking the increase in cases of autism to changes in gut bacteria during early childhood develeopment.
    Infafnts inherit a stock of intestinal bacteria from their mothers. Poor maternal diet can contribute to abnormalities in intestinal flora – the normal development of which is crucial in the first 20 or so days of life.
    Specifically, three bacterial genera – Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae -are diminished in subjects with autism, when compared with samples from normal children.
    The toxicity flowing from their gut throughout their bodies and into their brains continually challenges their nervous system, preventing it from performing its normal functions and process sensory information.

    There is an immigrant community in Toronto, Canada, with an abnormally high prevalence of autism.
    Many of the mothers' children born in their home country are perfectly fine, but those born in Canada are affected.
    This has been linked to the drastic change in diet – from naturally grown, unprocessed foods to the chemically treated foods laden with artificial ingredients that comprise the majority of the lower class' diet in North America.
    Changing the diets of young autistic children to only natural foods has had positive effects on behaviour and mental development.

    It's not vaccines – it's cheetos!

    August 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Dark Lady of DNA

      Another thing with increased autism rates is that the definition of autism has broadened, so individuals who would not have received a diagnosis before now are. So, I think some of the increases in autism rates are artificial. I know a British research group looked into this area, but I can't find the reference.

      That being said, more and more research is showing the importance of gut bacteria to overall health and I think it would make much more sense if diet is linked to autism.

      August 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  11. bostontola

    Sadly, the omniscient god didn't know about bacteria and viruses, there is no mention in the bible. So why should we believe they exist? You've got evolution deniers, and we have micro-organism deniers. What a group.

    August 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  12. In Santa we trust

    Is that the Gospel of Jenny McCarthy?

    August 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  13. Zombie God

    When Copeland changes his mind, it's after he has claimed to receive a new divine revelation, said former members of the church.
    ---------
    Church = ignorant followers...sheeple

    August 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Zombie God

      Granted we must tolerate the ignorant in our society but can we take superst i tious people seriously?

      August 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • Jake

        No, we don't have to tolerate them. They should all be eliminated, preferably through education.

        August 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  14. MrHighMighty

    A sure sign of a false prophet: Changing their "divine revelations".
    A sure sign of a false Gospel: Extolling worldly riches.
    A sure sign of false doctrine: Promising God's protection from the dangers of the physical world.

    August 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  15. Apple Bush

    Who needs wikileaks when you have wikipoops.com? Enjoy today!

    August 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  16. Really?

    Pastors say,

    Don't get vaccinated

    Don't get divorced

    Don't fo rnicate

    Get over yourselves, people listen to 'immunization' advice but not the advice on not getting divorced?

    August 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  17. CommonSensed

    Faith healers are crazy and should not be allowed to breed.

    But still, not every infant needs a Hep B shot. It's quite unnecessary in the majority of births.

    August 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  18. Bootyfunk

    these are the faces of evil.

    telling people not to get vaccinated? god will heal them?
    bad, bad advice.
    these con-artists care about lining their pockets with their parishioners money - and that's it.

    the pillars of religion are guilt, ignorance and fear.

    August 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  19. Baby 'Faith' made it!!!

    Where is that story?

    August 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Roger that

      Good luck finding that story. Natural selection always wins.

      August 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.