August 29th, 2013
01:24 PM ET

Former staffer: Measles church counseled faith, not shots

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. name

    “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.”

    Come on people! You have a brain, use it. Religious people drive me nuts with how idiotic they can be about putting their faith in an invisible being and a book that was written by the RICH MEN of the time to control the uneducated.

    August 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Responding to the Pride

      My you make a lot of as$umptions here. Let's start with the "RICH MEN" claim. What evidence do you have to back that up? Indeed, by most accounts, the initial disciples and Paul (a tent maker by trade) were hardly rich–working class (by modern comparison) at best. Control the uneducated? Tell us oh Bible scholar how the Psalms were written to control the uneducated–what is the control function of that book, let alone Proverbs and Song of Solomon. What about the NT book of Philemon–a letter dedicated to ending the slavery of one man (bet you didn't know that one). How about the NT book of James–dedicated to calling on people to perform acts of charity (how are the rich controlling the uneducated here?) Please, since you know so much, it would be unfair and cowardly of you not to share this unique wisdom you have.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • Howie

        You actually believe that any of those 'disciples' actually existed? Or that any of those fairy tales have any basis in fact? You poor deluded soul. ALL religion is just a control mechanism to help the elites rule the masses. Keep them yearning for a better existence after this life, and they wont rise up and overthrow their overlords in this life. There is not one single word of actual truth in any religious text.

        August 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
        • Responding to the Pride

          The historical fact of Paul's existence (and his letters and their dates) is so overwhelming that no self-respecting student of history would deny his existence, his timing or the ownership of his letters–you poor deluded fool.

          As for your truly sad claim: "There is not one single word of actual truth in any religious text." Try this one on for size: "Love your neighbor" True? You say false. I'm sure your neighbors love your version of the truth–you poor deluded fool.

          August 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
        • Athy

          "Love your neighbor" is not a fact. So it can be neither true nor false.

          August 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  2. polycarp pio

    If you want to place your trust in doctors go ahead, I have nothing against medicine, if you want to place your trust in the Lord go ahead, when it comes to your children you should trust both, medicine doesnt have all the answers and folks dont understand divine healing, God is not against medicine. This network CNN is antichrist and antifaith. They love it when something negative happens with a church so they can rail against the foolishness of faith. Go ahead CNN have your fun but one day you will give an account of your actions. Pax et bonum. PP

    August 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Is the story true or false ?

      August 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Unlo4

      Yet, here you are.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      Res ipsa loquitur.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Howie

      There is no god, there never was a christ. Teaching faith to children is child abuse.

      August 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      If "divine healing" were valid then it should be able to heal all ills, yes?

      Then why has there not been a single account of a regrown limb in all of human history? I think the answer is simple, there is no such thing as divine healing. The only things supposedly divine healing can cure are the same things you can cure with the power of the mind and possitive thinking. I will not refute the large amount of evidence supporting the power of possitive thinking, but to then give credit to some invisible fairy hovering over us is just silly. It's like giving credit to the Stone for such wonderful flavor in the story of stone soup.

      August 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • S-3B Viking

        There's a well-known church in Jacksonville, FL where God was re-filling their cavities with gold fillings...God does have his priorities, ya know?

        August 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  3. jonp

    Good. Let the whacko christians die off due to a lack of medical care.

    August 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  4. kohl

    jesus christ, its 2013. its just utterly absurd people still get away with this garbage. whether its praying vs vaccines or praying for your malnourished kid to get better...gimme a break. there is no god. science has pretty much proven that. give up the fight and just accept it. lol praying really works doesn't it

    August 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  5. Two sides to a story

    "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"

    –This is one of the most unbiased stories of 8/29/2013 thus far.

    August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  6. scient$$money

    give me more money and buy books

    August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  7. heavens gate

    drink more koolaid..

    August 29, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  8. Charley Manson


    August 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  9. jimjones

    Just drink the koolaid, it's Gods will... Jim Jones

    August 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  10. Richard

    What's the over/under that the leaders of this church are multi-millionaires?

    August 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  11. Lynn

    I've listened to the Copeland's ministry for over 20 years. I have never heard them say what this former (apparently disgruntled employee) claims. I am a born again believer. I know Jehovah Rapha as my healer, but I also have enough sense to take prescribed medicines to keep me healthy. Me taking meds is not a lack of faith. I have faith to believe that the Lord has given doctors the wisdom to treat illness. I see this as an ongoing attempt by the media to discredit Christianity. Satan is and always will be an accuser of the brethren. The Bible says "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" Proverbs 4:7. Christians are to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" 2 Timothy 2:15. No doubt the haters of the gospel will try to discredit my post, I don't care. I know that the Word of God is true. I hope you realize it before it's too late (when you take your last breath).

    August 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " Disgruntled" is a label used by those to attempting to quell legitimate criticism.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        I just hope Lynn never loses a limb while still thinking her God can heal her. If it's a cold or measles God can cure it but when it's a lost limb I guess he just isn't powerful enough to help.

        August 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Unlo4

      I know the Earth is flat. I hope you realize the truth before it's too late.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • sam

      It's uncovering one sect's foolishness.

      You thinking it's an attack on all christianity just makes you look even crazier than your first couple of sentences did.

      Crazy people make religion look bad, not the media.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
      • Ken

        Arguably, all the sects have their own foolishness, some just have more of it than others.

        August 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • snowboarder

      satan? lol!

      August 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Diana

      You should spend time studying your religion instead of studying your bible. You will find out that your bible is NOT the word of God. It is a bunch of books that were selected from hundreds of versions by regular men who were not inspired but self righteous, which I think you are too.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • AE

        Yes. Trust in God. The Bible is a book that points to God. But it is not God. God is alive and available to all right now.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • Ken

          If you don't trust the Bible as your source of information about God aren't you just running the risk of inventing some image of God in your own mind? It'd be like having an idea about the vampire Count Dracula while never referring to Stoker's book, for example.

          August 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Athy

          Why not? They're both fictional.

          August 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Ken

      Maybe you could have faith that your doctors remember what they learned in med school too, but it's sometimes prudent to get a second opinion, and to question their decisions. Why do you give credit to God when doctors do their jobs the way we expect them to? I don't know what your line of work is, but imagine if everyone who depends on you comes up to you after you're done and told you that they prayed to God for you not to mess up, as if you had absolutely nothing to do with your own competence, or even accomplishments?

      August 29, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  12. bigbill8517

    I am a Christian and hold a B.A. in Biblical Studies from a highly respected nationally accredited Christian liberal arts college. Bottom line, these folks do not understand Biblical faith, and are testing God.

    August 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • AE


      August 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        What i find most interesting is that according to the bible it is okay to test God. Just look at Elijah calling upon God to prove himself to a small band of nomads. Apparently God has changed since then because he has refused to prove himself even to the largest of crowds. The religious like to claim we shouldn't test God, but his own bible effectively says we should.

        "22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 1 Kings 18:22-24

        August 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • S-3B Viking

          Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

          Bring the whole t.ithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

          Deuteronomy 6:16

          Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Ma.ssah.

          August 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” 34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” 40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there." 1 Kings 18:25-40

          So it's okay to test God just some of the time? Other scriptures say not to test him, then others give examples of his servants testing him, so which are we to believe?

          August 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bill May

      Not testing God, testing the measles. And losing.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
      • Thinker...

        It's a science experiment!

        Hypothesis: prayer cures/prevents illness.
        Results: Measles
        Conclusion: Measles are not cured/prevented by prayer.

        Further hypothesis: testing this on ourselves was not very smart.
        Results: Measles
        Conclusion: results match hypothesis, awaiting independant confirmation. (you know its gonna happen again)

        Well done! Now try to science in a more intelligent, and less infectious, manner. And yes, science is now a verb.

        August 30, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • snowboarder

      biblical studies? holy cow, talk about wasted time and money!

      the only legitimate study of religion is anthropology.

      August 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
      • AE

        There are other areas where knowledge of The Bible is very handy, like literature, law, sociology, history, etc.

        You don't have to hold it sacred, but acknowledging its importance in human existence isn't that far fetched of a thing to imagine.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
      • bigbill8517

        Snowboarder.....Try ministering to people using anthropology. I'd rather use the Word of God.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • Ken

        I minored in biblical studies in university, and I credit that with why I'm an atheist now. 🙂

        August 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
      • Johnny

        Ken you probably went to an actual school, you can't expect to learn the truth about the Bible at a Christian College.

        August 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Nice point!

      That's something that might get through to people like those in this church – that declining medical care is testing god, and you are not supposed to do that.

      Expand it to point out that giving money to the church, in hopes of bigger rewards after, is also testing god. Stop giving these predatory preachers all your money – if god wants you rich, you'll be rich, but you should not test him by not working, by giving money away to those who don't need it, etc.

      August 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Peter

      Funny, I can't think of a single Christian college that highly respected.

      August 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Howie

      I'm so sorry you wasted your education on that foolishness. There is not one thing of value in that load of garbage. Religion is the worst atrocity ever visited on humans by humans. We made it up, we infected ourselves with it. Now we have to cure it.

      August 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  13. Nathan

    I think the best part about it is that these people probably believe what they're doing is right.

    August 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  14. OvernOut

    This isn't a church, it's a cult of personalities–celebrity worship. No thanks, we got our prosperity the old fashioned way–we worked for it.

    I had the measles, I missed three weeks of kindergarten. I could detect this really sickly sweet smell while I was burning with fever, unable to move–I realized that the smell was ME, and I knew then that I could truly "die before I wake". I was 5 years old–what kid needs to be put through that? I gave my own kids the vaccine.

    August 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  15. Age of Reason

    ..Thomas Jefferson and Paine said that "JESUS" never existed! So, why should anyone else believe that this phoney character existed?

    August 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      No they didn't. Did you ever read anything written by these two people?

      August 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • The Really for Real Scotsman

      Even if they did say any of that, why should one care what they said?

      August 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
      • Age of Reason

        I worship them.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
        • ThomasPrydeIV

          Honestly? Because if you did, it would seem that you wouldn't pull phony quotes from thin air and carry on to draw conclusions from lies. Even supposing you speak in all honesty, why are you so ignorant of those that you worship? Even further, why would you assume that the rest of the world "worships" them like yourself?
          This completely baffles me

          August 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  16. JaneGalt

    This is sickening. Not only were the "sheeple" of the Copeland's well and truly fleeced by these lies, they put the general public at risk. People can and DO die from complications of measles, particularly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. I had measles before immunizations became available and it severely damaged my vision.

    August 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Eric

      I am sorry for what happened to you, and you do make some good points. I am not a Christian. But I do have questions. How does the actions of others to not get vaccines affect those who are vaccinated? If one is vaccinated, aren't they good to go? What is their worry. If one is vaccinated for measles then there should be no worries to be around those who are not vaccinated right? Or don't the vaccinations really work? Oh and just because the government says that there is no correlation between vaccines and autism doesn't mean that there isn't. You know the government would never lie...

      August 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • ThomasPrydeIV

        All vaccines do is teach your immune system that a certain strain of bacteria or virus should be attacked and cleared out. If your immune system is suppressed (as it needs to be in transplant patients), then the vaccine does no good for you, and all you've got to protect your body from an infection is a bucketload of antibiotics, which aren't quite as effective.
        In addition, as you probably know, correlation IS NOT, NEVER WAS, AND NEVER CAN BE equal to causation. As vaccinations become more and more widespread, we're also broadening the definition of autism. This doesn't mean that the are more autistic people, it just means that we call more people autistic. Besides, what would our government gain from lying about the effects of vaccinations? In any case, having autism is WAY better than dying from smallpox.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        You don't know much about vaccines.

        The vaccine works by DECREASING your odds of getting the disease, substantially. And making it so if you do get the disease, you'll have an easier time getting rid of it. It doesn't mean you are 100% protected. So vaccines work by slowing the spread of the disease down to the point where it just doesn't get anywhere. With enough non-vaccinated people, it can continue to spread, and will infect the non-vaccinated people, who will spread it to some of the vaccinated people.

        Worse yet, there are some who legitimately cannot be vaccinated. They are normally protected by most people being vaccinated, but when there are enough who are not vaccinated, that doesn't work – and they get the disease and being medically fragile, are more likely to die from it.

        August 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "How does the actions of others to not get vaccines affect those who are vaccinated? If one is vaccinated, aren't they good to go? What is their worry?"

        I have a 4 year old but when she was a new born we had to be very careful not to have her around other people or children who had not had all their shots as there are several that can kill infants before they are at an age where they can receive the vaccine. So if you are a parent who thinks they are smarter than the doctors and chose not to get your children vaccinated, don't you dare bring your child anywhere near other children or babies or you might find yourself with baby blood on your hands that no amount of praying to your false God will wash away.

        August 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  17. t

    ........Been there........Done that..............But my BRAIN started working.....and I believe GOD gave us BRAINS TO USE........and therefore.............to NOT use our brains,...is a SIN AGAINST GOD....................

    August 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Roger that

      Catch 22. An atheist's brain tells them that God doesn't exist.

      August 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
      • Colin

        An atheist's ego tells them that they are god

        August 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
        • Pole dancing for Jesus

          Don't get too excited it is a school night.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • Unlo4

          I don't believe Santa exists. Does that mean that I believe that I am Santa?

          August 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
        • worldlypatriotusaveteran

          What a preposterous and ignorant statement! Can you name any atheist who thinks they are "god?" PLEASE EDUCATE US WITH FACTS.

          Since most atheists do NOT believe in any "GOD," why would any of them believe they ARE a god?

          Do you actually know any atheists, or do you hate anyone who simply doesn't believe in religious faith?

          August 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
        • Ken

          I see it the other way round. I see people believing that they are so special that the most powerful being imaginable has a personal relationship with them. That's like saying that you're close, personal friends with the president, or Oprah, or the Pope, or Sarah Palin. 😉

          Me, I just think that I have ordinary friends, but you want to say that my ego is inflated compared to a Christian's?!?

          August 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
        • Howie

          As mankind is the only intentional creative force in the universe, we ARE god. You want something to worship, look in the mirror.

          August 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  18. chieftrainer

    I am a Christian, but there are so many Christians with blinders on. Sorry about this oft repeated joke...A man is on top of a roof during a great flood. Another man comes by in a boat and says "get in, get in!" The man replies, "God will grant me a miracle". Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that God will give him a miracle. With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, to which he replies, "God will give me a miracle". He dies and meets Peter, "I thought God would give me a miracle and I have been let down." St. Peter responds, "I don't know what you're complaining about, we sent you two boats and a helicopter."

    August 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Here's the problem. The Copelands, and the Schiables before them, use the EXACT same book you use, and they use it to justify their actions.

      August 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
      • chieftrainer

        Yes, true. It sounds like you are ready to discredit the bible if someone interprets a verse out of context. Would you do that to any other book?

        August 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Where did I say that ? The Copelands, and the Schiables before them, feel just as strongly about their interpretation as you do about yours ? Who gets to be the referee when innocent lives are put at risk as a result ?

          August 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
        • Ken

          Maybe you're too quick to give credit to those who happen to do good with their interpretation of the Bible? If anyone says that they will do something based on "the proper interpretation" of the Bible you might as well toss a coin as a prediction whether it'll turn out to be a good thing, or a disaster.

          August 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • chieftrainer

          midwest rail – my apologies if that was not your intent. There will always be people who will cherry pick verses to fit their view as opposed to changing their view to fit the verse. It is sad when so-called Christians claim their view of specific verses is right when their views cause innocent people to die. In specific cases like this, when it comes to life and death decisions and the religious view is not one of the basic tenets of the faith (like this one isn't), the life side of the debate should win. If that means that is the side of the atheist or the government over Copeland, so be it.

          August 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Chief – there are probably many things we would disagree on, but thank you for a well thought out, articulate, and respectful response. I wish there were more like you here.

          August 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
        • chieftrainer

          Ken – I see your point. One of the problems is people cherry picking verses. They should take the bible as a whole and see what other verses say about the subject. That is just basic good interpretation. The more "evidence", the better. It's kind of like me observing the actions of a single dog. If that dog bites someone, if I came to the conclusion that all dogs are mean and bite people, I would be wrong.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
        • chieftrainer

          midwest rail – same sentiments to you as well. A reasoned debate of different views is rare on sites like this. Have a good evening.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
        • BE

          Chieftrainer – I believe the problem is you have to cherry pick the bible. If you gave the Bible to a person who knew nothing about it and asked them to write a one paragraph synopsis, I don’t believe they would say that the book is about a loving God and that Jesus preached peace and love. I am not religious, but I do like when someone uses part of the bible to teach love, acceptance, goodwill and dislike when they use it to teach hatred. But as a complete text, I have my doubts.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • chieftrainer

          BE – I agree with you. I think the difference I see is that while you have your doubts about the complete text, for me, not being anything close to a biblical scholar, I just have doubts about how certain passages should be interpreted.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • Ken

          Problem is that the Bible contradicts itself so often that it's impossible to get a clear opinion in many cases. By your analogy, it's like encountering a dozen dogs, and half of them bite you while the other half lick your hand. You may not come off fearing all dogs from that experience, but you would likely never trust any of them completely. Why some people trust the Bible to give clear instructions in every case is beyond me.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • Johnny

          The problem with the bible is that it can be used to justify any type of behavior you want. Anything from stoning gay people to death to loving your enemies. In my opinion that makes the whole thing fairly usesess.

          August 30, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • Colin

        atheists use logic and reason to justify all kind of bad behavior, but i wouldn't suggest humans stop using logic and reason. i would suggest we stop using logic and reason to justify bad behavior....we dont want a nationa of people acting like them

        August 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • Ken

          What bad behavior do you see being justified using logic and reason?

          August 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • Colin

          Cherry picking christian behaviour while ignouring athiest behavior
          ever seen a thread where all kinds of horribe crap is being said?-and somoeone says ~i believe in god~?
          atheists freak out like that is the worst thing you could say. yet all around it people are basicallyl crapping on other people. and they ignore that.
          not all athiests. but santa, dog & colin are guilty of that PATHETIC crap.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
        • Colin

          santa, dog and colin justify their behaviour by saying it is ok – cuz the other people are so PATHETIC.
          santa, dog and colin are just like fred phelps, who justify their bad behaviour by saying they are trying to help their g@y victims. get it? some of thse militian atheists are just like the fundie xtians.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • Ken

          And some Christians cherry pick their own behaviour, citing only the best examples, while ignoring any positive atheist behavior. Usually, saying that you believe in God isn't the horrible part. Usually, a Christian will say something horrible first, and justify it by saying they believe in God. See the difference?

          August 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          If you're referring to me – show me an example of my bad behaviour.

          August 29, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Ken

      The problem with that joke is that rescue helicopters and boats are human responses to disaster, not god-sent miracles. Amazing how people tend to forget the budgets and training put into preparing such things.

      August 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
      • :(

        people dont' forget that. it actually can make one appreciate the people more.

        how one interprets that story is telling. you use it to find a way to make you look better.

        August 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
      • JaneGalt

        HaHa Ken! I'll bet if you were drowning up to your neck and a boat came along, you'd feel like it was heaven-sent!

        August 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • Roger that

          Who builds the boats and helicopters? Man. We have to take care of each other. There is no God to help you in a crisis.

          August 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • Colin

          ever been on a plane during extremely turbulent weather? the kind where you don't think you will make it to the ground safely.
          everybody starts crying out to god. even the atheists!

          August 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • Unlo4

          > everybody starts crying out to god. even the atheists!

          Unsubstantiated assumption.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • Ken

          I've been on a plane where a bird got sucked into an engine. It caught on fire and everything, but I never saw anyone praying or heard a single word about God. Luckily, we had good pilots and ground crews. They did their jobs according to training and we got down safely at the next airport. Nothing divine about it at all.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Colin. I've been in several planes going through rough turbulence. I didn't hear anyone change over to the fairy tales.

          August 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • chieftrainer

        You are limiting God to only doing the supernatural to accomplish things.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • Ken

          And you are limiting the ability of the natural to act without some supernatural cause. It's like building an airplane and claiming that angels are making it fly, even though we understand the science of aerodynamics. Why can't firefighters, for example, just be doing their jobs when they manage to save someone from a blaze? That's what we train them to do, and pay them for, after all! Why is it suddenly a "miracle" when they actually manage to do what we expect them to do?

          August 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • Ruby Long

        Man made the boat and the chopper, God made man with the potential to do these wonderful things. We are well served to appreciate the wonder of both

        August 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • AE

      This story is a helpful reminder to me on how God works through other people. Thanks!

      August 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
      • Ken

        There are also times when routine rescues go horribly wrong. Is that also God working, or is it all just up to people either rising to the occasion or fouling up all by themselves? Typically, people who believe in this kind of "miracle" fail to account for the stupid deaths people suffer at the same rate. Ever watch the show 1000 Ways To Die? You mostly have average outcomes, with a few atypical examples on either end of the curve, stupid accidents on one end and "miracles" on the other. Why people don't see this is completely beyond me.

        August 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  19. Wootings

    Any and all people who spread lies about modern medicine, like the Copelands and Jenny McCarthy, should be convicted of anything ranging from child abuse to mass murder. Lock 'em up and throw away the key. The suffering and death caused by cretins like them is staggering.

    August 29, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Colin

      We should round them all up and execute them. we could concentrate them all into camps. & whoever doesn't meet my standards of reality – RIP.
      are you in?

      August 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • Thread Nanny

        Fake Colin, you know stealing one's name and pretending to be them is extremely immature and says more about you than his posts ever could about him. Refute what he says under your own moniker, or shut up.

        August 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
        • Colin

          colin is a common name
          Thread Nanny (or whoever you are pretending to not be 🙂

          August 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
        • sam

          School starts up again in most places next week, so some of our little trolls will have better things to do with their time. I hope.

          August 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • Colin

          my pretend school is starting soon! yay! i better go copy some more tests from looneyatheist.com

          August 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  20. SmartPotato

    No one to blame but themselves for idolizing people and not looking out for their own children.

    August 29, 2013 at 5:21 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.