August 29th, 2013
01:24 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Acceptance Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) Back Amy Arden aing Eagle Mountain International Abbey in 1997, her 11monthold babe had accustomed all the recommended vaccinations. But in the six years the young, distinct mother formed and admirable at the evangelical megachurch, Arden didn’t booty her adolescent to get a distinct shot.
“There was a acceptance biting throughout the abbey that there is alone acceptance and fear,” Arden said. “If you were abashed of the affliction abundant to get vaccinated, it showed a abridgement of acceptance that God would assure and alleviate you.”
Members of Eagle Mountain International Abbey additionally believed that adolescence vaccinations could advance to autism, said Arden, who is 35.
Arden said she was accomplished by a administrator at the church’s nursery how to opt out of a Texas law that requires best accouchement to be immunized. She now abjure casual the aforementioned assignment on to added parents.
“I didn’t apperceive a distinct mother who was vaccinating her children,” she said.
Eagle Mountains article on health, including calumniating animadversion about vaccinations, accept been alleged into catechism aback an beginning of measles in Texas – an beginning that accompaniment admiral tie to the church.
As a Chat of Acceptance church, Eagle Mountain is allotment of the booming abundance actuality movement, which holds that God wants to accolade believers with riches, bloom and happiness, if they will aloof recite assertive Scriptures, adjure and assurance in all-powerful providence.
The abbey is allotment of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, a all-inclusive and assisting multimedia admiral led by its namesake, a longtime abundance preacher and television evangelist.
In the abundance actuality world, Copeland, 76, and his wife, Gloria, are advised royalty, said Kate Bowler, columnist of “Blessed: A History of the American Abundance Gospel.”
“He is a above grandfathering of the movement, starting to age out but still abundantly influential,”
Bowler said. “They’ve been on the air consistently and backward abundantly scandalfree. That’s partly why they are so trusted by lots of people.”
According to Kenneth Copeland Ministries, the Copelands’ circadian affairs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network alcove millions of viewers, their annual added than 500,000 readers.
Based in Newark, Texas, a rural association 25 afar arctic of Fort Worth, Eagle Mountain is copastored by Copeland’s daughter, Terri Copeland Pearsons, and soninlaw, George Pearsons.
Twentyone bodies in Tarrant Canton and adjacent Denton Canton accept apprenticed measles during this outbreak, according to the Texas Department of Accompaniment Bloom Services. The victims accommodate nine accouchement and ambit from 4 to 44 years old..
Tarrant Canton epidemiologist Russell Jones said the accepted cases can be traced aback to a actuality who abounding Eagle Mountain International Abbey afterwards visiting Asia, which has college ante of measles infections than the United States.
Health admiral are not absolution the name of that actuality or the accurate country.
Jones said he doesn’t apperceive absolutely how abounding of the adulterated bodies are associates of Eagle Mountain. At atomic 11 of the 21 did not accept any measles vaccinations, he said. (Doctors usually acclaim two shots.)
“Our affair would be that if you accept a abridged of bodies who accessory and anticipate alike, if they don’t accept in immunization there’s activity to be some added accessible people,” Jones said.
Neither Eagle Mountain International Abbey nor Kenneth Copeland Ministries responded to afresh requests for comment.
Eagle Mountain Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons has said that “while some bodies may accept she is adjoin immunizations, that is not true.”
“I accept it is amiss to be adjoin vaccinations,” she said in a statement.
But the pastor hasn’t consistently preached a proimmunization message.
In an August 15 statement, Copeland Pearsons drew a articulation amid vaccinations and autism, saying, “The apropos we accept had are primarily with actual adolescent accouchement who accept ancestors history of autism and with bundling too abounding immunizations at one time.”
Likewise, in 2010, during a advertisement about health, Kenneth Copeland – whose followers accede him a astrologer – accurate anxiety about the cardinal of shots accustomed to his grandchild.
“All of this actuality they capital to put into his body,” Copeland said. “Some of it is criminal!”
Copeland was decidedly agitated about the Hepatitis B shot.
“In an infant? That’s crazy! That is a attempt for ually transmitted disease!” he said.
“We charge to be a accomplished lot added austere about this and aware, and you don’t booty the chat of the guy who’s aggravating to accord you the attempt about what’s acceptable and what isn’t.”
Dr. Don Colbert, a “divine health” able who has appeared with Copeland in several broadcasts, afresh said the autism amount amid accouchement has added with the cardinal of adolescence vaccinations.
“I accept had so abounding patients accompany their accouchement in and they say, you apperceive what, the anniversary afterwards I had that immunization, for MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – my adolescent chock-full talking, my adolescent chock-full giving me eye contact. He was not alert, he was not coherent. he abdicate speaking, he abdicate actuality the adolescent I had,” Colbert said on the webcast.
Colbert and the Copeland ancestors are amiss about immunizations, said Dr. William Schaffner, a assistant of antitoxin anesthetic and communicable diseases at Vanderbilt University.
“It’s aching because these pastors are trusted airy leaders who are speaking to bodies not alone in their congregations but additionally on television,” he said. “They are putting bodies at risk.”
There is no articulation amid vaccinations and autism, and hepatitis can be anesthetized from mother to child, authoritative the attempt all-important and effective, Schaffner said.
Schaffner said that doctors alarm apropos about bundling immunizations the “pin beanbag effect.” It’s a accepted but unfounded fear, he said.
Most bloom experts, including the American Pediatric Association and the Tarrant Canton Public Bloom Department, accede with Schaffner.
In a collective annual on Wednesday, the abbey and admiral said that they accept in, and apostle the use of, medical professionals.
“If an alone is faced with a bearings that requires medical attention, that actuality should seek out the adapted medical able and chase their instructions application wisdom,” the abbey leaders said.
After the measles outbreak, Kenneth Copeland said that he “inquired of the Lord as to what he would say apropos these vaccinations,” according to a annual acquaint on the church’s website on August 15.
The pastor said that God told him to “pray over it,” and afresh to “take advantage of what I accept provided for you in Jesus’ name.”
Since the measles outbreak, Eagle Mountain has captivated two chargeless immunization clinics, area about 220 abbey associates accustomed vaccinations, according to Jones, who said the canton assisted with the clinics. Jones said that he is alive to ascertain how abounding of the church’s 1,500 associates accept still not been immunized.
Eagle Mountain and Kenneth Copeland Ministries additionally antiseptic their aggregate 25acre campus, including the nursery and day affliction center, Pearsons said at an August 14 abbey annual blue-blooded “Taking Our Stand of Acceptance Over Measles.” The abbey runs schools for accouchement through the sixth grade.
When Copeland announces a change in abbey policy, it’s generally afterwards he has claimed to accept a new all-powerful revelation, said above associates of the church.
“Kenneth would consistently appear up with a new apocalypse to bout what’s activity on,” said one
former abbey member, who admired to abide bearding in adjustment to advance business ties with the church.
In this case, Copeland’s new adumbration – and the church’s contempo statements –represent a big shift, said the above members.
Amy Arden admirable and formed at the church, including in its nursery, for six years, aboriginal as a volunteer, afresh as paid agents from 2000 to 2003.
Arden said she now acutely abjure teaching added parents how to admission the Texas immunization absolution forms. But she and addition above abbey agent declared a bankrupt airy apple in which doubts are kept quiet and leaders’ words are rarely questioned.
“This was Kenneth Copeland’s ministry, and we did annihilation that he did not accept of,” Arden said.
“It’s adamantine to accept that hundreds of his accouchement in his abbey were not accepting vaccinated and he didn’t apperceive about it. If he was provaccination, we would accept vaccinated our children.”
Arden recalled a 2002 address to abbey advisers in which they were told that every allotment of Eagle Mountain International Abbey and Kenneth Copeland Ministries charge reflect the founder’s vision.
Arden said she was accursed from KCM in 2003 for antagonistic with the church’s alertness to booty donations from the mentally ill, including institutionalized patients.
She afterwards cooperated with a U.S. Senate analysis into Copeland’s and added abundance preachers’ finances. The abbey was not penalized, but Sen. Chuck Grassley’s 2011 address aloft questions about the pastors’ use of churchowned affluence items like clandestine jets. The Copelands and Eagle Mountain alleged the analysis an advance on Chat of Acceptance pastors.
Another above abbey affiliate and Kenneth Copeland Ministries agent who volunteered in the nursery corroborated Arden’s account.
“Being vaccinated was like alive adjoin your faith,” said the above abbey member. “You were dupe a disease’s adeptness to affect you over God’s adeptness to assure you.”
Neither Arden nor the added above abbey affiliate recalled audition the Copelands or Pearsons deliver accurately adjoin vaccinations, however. Nor did the Copelands admonition their army to adios medical analysis for austere ailments, they said.
More often, the abundance pastors would deliver that acceptance is the best antitoxin admeasurement and that some ailments can and should be prayed away, the abbey associates recalled.
That’s a accepted acceptance amid Pentecostals, said Bowler, the historian and Duke Divinity Academy professor. According to a 2006 Pew Study, 62% of American Pentecostals say they accept witnessed all-powerful healings.
But abounding Christian traditions advise that God can alleviate believers. What separates preachers like the Copelands is that they accept Jesus died not alone to save altruism from sin but additionally from sickness.
“When Jesus bore abroad our sins, he additionally bore abroad our diseases,” Gloria Copeland has said in sermons about airy healing.
The Copelands additionally advise that they accept apart the blueprint – a aggregate of words and Scriptures – to adviser believers from optimistic acceptance to actual results.
“The places they attending for those after-effects are their bodies and their wallets,” Bowler said.
In abounding ways, the Copelands are the airy breed to aftermost century’s awakening preachers, Bowler said, trading traveling covering affairs for advantageous television ministries.
Kenneth Copeland abstruse at the anxiety of abundance actuality founders Kenneth Hagin and Oral Roberts. Copeland calls Roberts, who believed that God had all-powerful his appropriate duke with healing power, his “spiritual father.”
The Copelands accept aback created their own different cast of theology, emphasizing that the
spoken chat – a Chat of Acceptance – can about-face prayers into reality. Kenneth Copeland teaches that artlessly uttering the words “I’m sick” can advance to illness, and that proclaiming yourself able-bodied can additionally advance to health.
“Our health, our abundance and our abode in aeon is in our mouths. Everything about us has been, and will be, bent by the words we speak,” Copeland has said.
Arden said that abbey associates were accomplished to echo assertive Bible passages, about like a abracadabra spell, to area off disease.
“There were healing Scriptures we had to recite over and over again, and eventually, whatever you say will appear to pass.”
The Copelands don’t affirmation to be healers, admitting they advise that believers who sow “seeds of faith” – sometimes through donations – can see amazing results.
One annual on the ministry’s website says that a Dutch boy was convalescent of autism afterwards his mother abounding Gloria Copeland’s healing academy and watched Eagle Mountain abbey casework online.
Arden recalled altruistic $400 – all she had in her accumulation annual at the time – to the abbey back her babe had a austere ear malady.
“I was a broke, distinct mother earning $7.50 an hour, so that was a affluence to me.” Her babe appropriate four surgeries afore she was healed, Arden said.
Now a banking analyst in New York City, Arden said she keeps her ambit from organized religion, but understands what draws assertive kinds of Christians to churches like Eagle Mountain.
“About 90% of the bodies were aloof like me,” she said. “They bare hope, and they bare to accept that there was article bigger than themselves that would adviser and assure them and accumulate the accomplished drove of activity from acute bottomward on them.”
The CNN Acceptance Blog covers the acceptance angles of the day’s better stories, from breaking account to backroom to entertainment, adopting a all-around chat about the role of adoration and acceptance in readers’ lives. It’s edited by CNN’s Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN’s common account acquisition team.
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