Texas health officials have zeroed-in on a megachurch which has a history of preaching against vaccinations, as the point of origin for a measles outbreak.
According to a report from ABC’s WFAA 8, a congregant contracted the virus while visiting a foreign country and then attended a service at the church before he knew he was infected. This Thursday, the Tarrant County Health Department announced its 11th measles diagnosis traced to the man, making it the 16th case to emerge statewide. As a result, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services issued a measles outbreak alert — an unprecedented development given that the virus has nearly been eradicated by vaccines for decades.
Meanwhile this Sunday at Eagle Mountain International Church, Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons was forced to dedicate most of her sermon to the fact that 11 of the 16 measles cases had been linked to church attendees.
“We’re going to talk about some things affecting our church. And as we go through it, we remain steadfast that Jesus is more than enough,” Pearsons told the congregation. “There has been a […] confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Health Department. And that’s a really big deal in that America — the United States has been essentially measles-free for, I think it’s 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department — well, you know, it excites them.”
In a marked shift in the church’s message, Pearsons went on to inform the congregation that the church was setting up free vaccination clinics, and urged those who chose not to participate to voluntarily quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.
Pearson’s father, televangelist Kenneth Copeland, has promoted the unfounded idea that vaccines cause autism. Putting emphasis on the power of faith healing, Copeland urged his followers in newsletters, the church website and television broadcasts to resist vaccinations.
Tarrant County health officials said that 8 of the 11 infected from the church were not vaccinated.
Watch the WFAA report on the story in the video below.