A presumptuously titled blog post, “God Does Not Support Vaccines,” has recently been making the rounds, garnering more than 8,500 “likes” on Facebook. It first appeared on a website called Living Whole, which is run by a woman named Megan who has this to say about her family:

“We practice attachment parenting.

We do not vaccinate.

We do not medicate.

We do not use any chemical products in our home or on our bodies.

We believe in natural childbirth and had our last baby un-assisted at home.

We home school.

We greatly limit the use of technology in our home.

We are barefoot…most of the time.

We believe in Jesus.”

“God Does Not Support Vaccines” is a remarkable example of scaremongering. The Big, Bad Government, Megan alleges, is steadily chipping away at the religious exemption currently allowed by 48 states. When that happens, you’ll have to home school, but even then, you can’t rest, because They Will Be Coming For You.

Anti-vaccination protester at Tea Party Rally. Photo courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr Creative Commons.

Anti-vaccination protester at Tea Party Rally. Photo courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr Creative Commons.

In some states, religious exemptions are simple to get. In others, it’s more complicated. Iowa, for example, requires that the parent demonstrate that

“immunization conflicts with a genuine and sincere religious belief and that the belief is in fact religious, and not based merely on philosophical, scientific, moral, personal, or medical opposition to immunizations.”

(Twenty other states allow a “personal belief” exemption, meaning that parents can simply decide, for whatever reason, that they don’t want their kids vaccinated and that is that.)

Megan’s post, as the title suggests, seems an attempt to offer vaccine skeptics a “genuine and sincere” belief “that is in fact religious,” this despite the fact that, as Judge William F. Kuntz II of Brooklyn’s Federal District Court noted in January, SCOTUS decisions have

“strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccination.”

(Let’s hope that remains the case given the recent decision on Hobby Lobby…)

In any case, Megan’s “religious” objections are founded on very shaky theological ground. She cites Genesis 1:31, the creation account, as ‘proof’ that vaccines contradict God’s will:

“God saw all that he had made and ‘it was very good.’ God’s perfect. Nothing further needed.”

Anticipating the objection that this “very good” condition was before the Fall of Adam and Eve from Paradise, Megan goes on to attribute the development of vaccines to human arrogance:

“We actually think ‘we’ hold the key to improving upon His design…as if He forgot something when He created the immune system.”

She goes on to assert

“Despite what you’ve been told, aborted baby goodies are in your vaccinations”

and to argue that for pro-life people of faith, the ‘fetal cell argument‘ constitutes a religious objection as well.

Finally, she relies on the old “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” verse, which I’ve heard invoked as a religious justification for everything from eating gluten to doing Crossfit to not drinking wine.

There’s nothing really new in this piece, except perhaps that it is a good example of the Lernaean Hydra qualities of the vaccine-suspicious. Cut off one argument (it’s the thimerosal! It’s the MMR!) with good science and something else pops up: this is about being pro-life; this is about trusting ‘God’s good design,’ this is about not giving into fear when, according to Megan,

“Simple childhood diseases [measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis polio] are deceptively portrayed as deadly diseases.”

Maybe Megan would do well to spend a little time in nursing homes (except I don’t think it’s a wise or compassionate decision to visit elderly people unless your vaccinations are up to date…) and ask folks to tell stories about what it was like when they were little, and

– children under 5 and adults under 40 had a one-in-five chance of dying of diphtheria
– babies >1year died of whooping cough at a rate of 68% when my grandma was a teen
– playmates would be fine one moment, and their muscles would be shriveling from polio the next

Paul Offit, who is chief of infectious disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (and regularly excoriated by anti-vaxxers, who call him Dr. Profit because he developed a rotavirus vaccine that, OF COURSE, garnered him financial success) tells of when, in 1991, as a young attending at Children’s, he saw 9 children die of measles.

Some of those were part of a church that “didn’t believe in medical care.” Some were kids who’d simply come into contact with those kids.

Offit has argued for an end to religious exemptions, saying that it’s tantamount to child abuse, and that

“Children whose parents hold certain religious beliefs shouldn’t be afforded less protection than other children.”

I’m inclined to agree, on the same principle that parents’ religious beliefs against, say, antibiotics don’t excuse them from charges of manslaughter if their child dies from a treatable illness. And in the case of vaccines, the children who come into contact with the children of those parents shouldn’t be afforded less protection, either.

Of course, those who fear vaccines more than the diseases that vaccines have very nearly eradicated in this country (and in the world — notice we don’t vaccinate against smallpox anymore, because it’s not IN THE WORLD anymore?) will not be able to hear me. To them, I can only issue the same invitation I’ve issued before:

If you truly believe that vaccine-free is best, get on a plane with your kids and go to one of the countries where measles, mumps, diphtheria, and polio are not even close to eradicated. Then realize anyone from there can come into your community, your school, your church, your grocery store and start an outbreak — if not in you, than in the vulnerable people you come in contact with you.

And if that truly doesn’t bother your conscience, you don’t deserve a religious exemption of any kind, since virtually every religion includes something like this: take care of others as you’d take care of yourself.

{Highly recommended viewing: The Vaccine War, from FRONTLINE.}

 

 

33 Comments

  1. Any exemption to vaccines besides being not being medically prudent due to a given physical condition of the child are going to be dangerous bullcrap.

    There is no objectively credible rational argument against vaccination. The dumbest of the bunch is worrying about autism or some kind of physical side effect when a disease is known to be lethal to children. Would parents rather have an injured child or a dead one?

    • There is no objectively credible rational argument against vaccination.

      How about these rational arguments:
      U.S. CHILD CHRONIC DISEASE INCREASES
      1976: 1 child in 30 was learning disabled
      →2013: 1 child in 6 is learning disabled.

      1980: 1 child in 27 had asthma
      →2013: 1 child in 9 has asthma.

      1990’s: 1 child in 555 developed autism
      →2013: 1 child in 50 develops autism.

      2001: 1 child in 500 had diabetes
      →2013: 1 child in 400 has diabetes.

      THREE TIMES AS MANY VACCINATIONS FOR CHILDREN
      1953: CDC recommended 16 doses of 4 vaccines (smallpox, DPT) between two months and age six.
      1983: CDC recommended 23 doses of 7 vaccines (DPT, MMR, polio) between two months and age six.
      2013: CDC recommended 49 doses of 14 vaccines between day of birth and age six and 69 doses of 16 vaccines between day of birth and age 1.

      **********************************************************************************
      Over 50% of children have a chronic condition and 1 in 6 have a neurodevelomental disorder (aka vaccine caused brain injury). Autism and autoimmune disorders are skyrocketing. Injecting aluminum, mercury, aborted fetal tissue, formaldehyde, MSG, diseased monkey kidney, etc. does not bring health.
      Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children, 1997–2008

      Are you aware of this:
      -There is not ONE INDEPENDENT double-blind, placebo-controlled study that can prove the safety and effectiveness of vaccines? All the studies have been done by the people who make and market the vaccines.

      -Can you provide INDEPENDENT scientific evidence on ANY study which can confirm the long-term safety and effectiveness of vaccines? Neither has the CDC? There is no scientific data to confirm that vaccines are safe or effective.

      -Can you provide scientific evidence which can prove that disease reduction in any part of the world, at any point in history was attributable to inoculation of populations? Neither can the CDC or the WHO. Look at this:
      Vaccines Did Not Save Us – 2 Centuries Of Official Statistics
      http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/graphs/

      Educate before you vaccinate.

      • Your data is either phony or crap. Nothing you have mentioned has any relation to vaccination. The only study which linked vaccination to autism turned out to be a hoax. You dangerous idiots have been glomming off it ever since.

        Did you were stop to think that we see more resuts because our reporting of such ailments in the population got more accurate.

        You are saying you would rather have dead children than some with a possible condition whose source is not clearly linked to vaccines. that is not ration. Its stupid.

        The effect of vaccines on populations has been well documented fr decades. Just because you are too lazy to look up des not mean it does not exist.

        The resurgence of DEADLY diseases thought almost eradicated in te populations of developed nations is proof of the dangerous stupidity of people like yourself. I hope you do not have children. You will put them and those around them at risk for your brand of narcssistic ignorance.

      • While I am not going to dispute your statistics about chronic diseases, I will ask do you have any proof that these increases are caused by vaccines? A lot has changed since the 70′s, 80′s, 90′s. There are more environmental issues, pollution, allergens, food additives, we have become a fast food nation, eating more processed chemical laden foods all of which can lead to an increase in things like asthma, diabetes, etc. Not to mention the fact that there have been great medical advancements, we are able to diagnose problems sooner and more efficiently. As a whole our society is more accepting of people with things like severe autism when in the past they may have been locked in an institution sheltered from the world. Blaming vaccines is a knee jerk reaction because we feel the need to blame SOMETHING for the problems. Vaccines are just the bandwagon of the week. I have a 2 year old daughter, she was born 13 weeks premature. I did not allow ANYONE around her that did not have their Pertussis vaccine, that included family, friends, and our home nurse that we required for about a month after she came home. I am sorry, but your rights end where mine begin, people not vaccinating their children and themselves puts my child’s life at risk, it’s irresponsible, and it’s dangerous, and I have a problem with that.

        • His stats are from a crank website.

          Here are links with examples of their dubious assertions
          http://jdc325.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/anti-vaccine-blunders/

          http://slippdigby.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/child-health-safety-the-fake-measles-epidemic-a-misunderstanding-or-wilful-mis-information/

          Its safe to assume his assertions are phony.

  2. Thank you for this! I have commented on many of Megan’s blog posts, in an attempt to correct some of her misinformation and ignorance, but – perhaps not surprisingly – my comments are no longer accepted.

    Megan has already attempted to “rise to the challenge” of speaking with the older generations about vaccine-preventable diseases; she took a massive survey of one person (her own great-grandmother, who also opposes vaccinations): http://www.livingwhole.org/i-was-told-to-ask-the-older-generation-about-vaccines-so-i-did/

    She definitely resides in her own world of confirmation bias and denial of the benefits of vaccination.

  3. Needless to say people like this Megan will never be able to serve in the armed forces that ultimately protect their right to be fools. Uncle Sam banged multiple shots into each arm that first day, and I sure wasn’t asked if I wanted them!

    But of course getting those shots wasn’t about what was good for me; it was about what was good for the group. And that is precisely what that military service itself was–and is–all about: Making sacrifices for the good of others.

    isn’t that what patriotism really is? And, more importantly,what the Christian life is?

    I confess I no longer understand so many of my fellow evangelicals…

    What am I to make of flag-waving patriots who, as is so often the case, avoid military service, resent every penny they’re taxed, and resist programs for the common good?

    In what way can they be said to love their country? If patriotism isn’t about sacrifice for the common good, what is it? A yellow ribbon on the back of an SUV?

    God help us.

    And I am really supposed to believe that if the all government social programs were to be stopped tomorrow, and all their funding returned to the taxpayers, that these folks would spend this great tax refund on feeding the poor?

    Again, God help us.

    I never thought I would live to see large numbers of people fervently trying to undo nearly everything that made the 20th century so healthy and prosperous for so many Americans.

    Worst of all, I am forced to see them do this in the name of Christ and country.

    God help us.

    • Ironic indeed, as he will have been vaccinated many time, as mandated by Uncle Sam, for the good of his fellow soldiers.

      By the way, this summer being the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, it may be interesting to note that the U.S. Army lost more men to the 1918 flu than it did to German guns.

      And THAT is why Uncle vaccinates all his people!

  4. The evidence of vaccine failure and injuries is more clear than ever. Like cigarettes and lung cancer, the evidence of harm is overwhelming…many families are experiencing it. It is only those who profit from vaccines who continue to push vaccines and in the face of mounting evidence of the harm from them, the push is harder than ever. The time has come to repeal vaccine mandates. Everyone should be able to freely, without coercion make this medical decision for themselves and their children in consultation with their trusted healthcare providers, just like every other medical decision they make. Religious, medical, philosophical, scientific, moral, conscientious, personal are all reasons to reject these risky and unnecessary pharmaceutical interventions.

    • The evidence of unnecessary DEATHS caused by failing to vaccinate is a helluva lot more documented than your alleged injuries. You are basing your hysterical dangerous stupidity on a hoax study that has echo chambered among those who do not think very hard. You are a hysteric who wants the right to put the public at danger. There is nothing to respect about that view.

      The basic stupidity of your argument is that you are trying to prevent possible remote unfounded harm by risking children to almost certain LETHAL harm to themselves and others. You would rather have dead children than risk a possible certainly non lethal improbable condition.

      Freedom of choice does not extend to causing deliberate harm to the public. Not that people like yourself have any regard for the public in general.

      • “The basic stupidity of your argument is that you are trying to prevent possible remote unfounded harm by risking children to almost certain LETHAL harm to themselves and others. You would rather have dead children than risk a possible certainly non lethal improbable condition.”

        Almost certain LETHAL harm?

        I am amused at the near-hysteria of so many who would insist that every child in America be vaccinated with whatever regimen is currently in vogue. Do you adults also keep all of your vaccinations up to date? Perhaps I should deman proof of vaccination of every adult I encounter because…oops, I don’t go to the doctor enough to know what the current recommendations are for people my age.

        I stopped vaccinating my children for everything recommended when one of my children had a rather alarming reaction to the pertussis vaccine and I found out — guess what — so had his uncles, great aunts, etc. Some of our six children are partially vaccinated; two have never been vaccinated against anything but tetanus. We are not opposed to vaccinations, but consider their merits on a case by case basis.

        We know quite a few non-vaccinaters. We know even more partially-vaccinated children. I realize that anecdotal evidence is not compelling, but it does seem interesting indeed that non of the in-vaccinated or partially vaccinated children I know, including those now grown to healthy adulthood and raising children of their own, have suffered the “almost certain LETHAL harm” that hysterical vaccinators insist they will. The people I know have not caused outbreaks of disease or made vaccinated children sick — my children have been exposed to childhood diseases by fully vaccinated children and yet not gotten sick. Ironic, huh? Even more ironic, I have not been able to convince a few vaccinating parents that their kids had diseases they were vaccinated against (pertussis in one case) and shouldn’t be out in public. Said parents were convinced their kids couldn’t be seriously ill and couldn’t be putting others at risk because “their shots were up to date”.

        Junk science is just that. So is hysteria and a refusal to face facts. None of that is compelling, whichever side of the debate it’s coming from.

  5. People do not realise that most vaccines are grown on animal tissue such as MDCK – dog kidney cells (Flucelvax) Human diploid tissue (rubella and polio) aborted fetal cell lines polio, MMR, chickenpox, Hep B, chick embryo – influenza, bovine serum MMR. No one knows the long term effect as these cells lines are immortal and the fda has expressed concern over their ability to cause tumours. Vaccines are tested on mice, rats and hamsers etc but humans are different – it also depends on the laboratory doing the testing. Pharmaceutical companies do their own testing which in itself gives me no confidence due to Pharma’s track record of corruption.

    Word for word you will find in the following government documents
    As links are held for moderation just put the next paragraph in google

    The next tumorigenic cell line under consideration was the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line, which was proposed for the production of inactivated influenza virus vaccines (VRBPAC 2005). The MDCK cell line is a spontaneously immortalized cell line established from the kidney of an apparently normal dog. Some variants of MDCK cells are highly tumorigenic, while others are not [reviewed in Omeir et al. (64)]. The Committee accepted the use of tumorigenic MDCK cells for inactivated influenza vaccines and their evaluation in clinical trials.

    The presence of adventitious agents is a safety concern in the use of any cell substrate and throughout the manufacture of any biological product. Adventitious agents are defined as microorganisms that are not intended to be present in a biological product and include bacteria, fungi, mycoplasma/spiroplasma, mycobacteria, rickettsia, protozoan parasites, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy agents, and viruses. In addition to specific regulatory requirements for adventitious agent testing, FDA has issued regulatory guidance for industry and points to consider documents to help manufacturers formulate a comprehensive testing regimen for viral contaminants based upon the cell substrate, raw materials, and manufacturing steps for each vaccine.

    • Unlike a cut and paste job, I will give sources about why anti-vaxxers are dangerously stupid.

      Vaccines & Autism-A Deadly Manufactroversy
      \http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-06-03/#feature
      “Anti-vaccine groups have viciously attacked medical doctors and researchers for simply stating what the current scientific evidence shows. They accuse them of being shills for “Big Pharma” or covering up for government agencies, and they call them offensive names; but they don’t stop there. They threaten people who write about the scientific evidence, and they threaten their children”

      http://www.nature.com/ni/journal/v9/n12/full/ni1208-1317.html
      “The anti-vaccine movement is driven mainly by ‘junk science’, litigious greed, hype and ego, as noted in Paul Offit’s new book on the autism controversy. Many skeptics have an obvious conflict of interest. One glaring example described by Offit is the father-and-son team of Mark and David Greier. Mark, under the patronage of the anti-vaccine movement, has published many papers on the adverse effects of vaccination and advocates chelation therapy to treat autism. Conveniently, his son David runs a medical-legal consulting firm that provides expert testimony in vaccine injury trials.”

  6. Drug companies have spent billions in fines for corruption and criminal behaviour – vaccines are a lottery and if you get a bad batch you or your child might suffer lifelong illness. I personally do not want to be part of the lottery.

    The company that makes much of Canada’s annual flu vaccine and has the country’s pandemic flu vaccine contract has been issued a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    The letter, dated June 12, lays out a number of concerns, many related to sterility issues and microbial contamination problems at the GSK manufacturing facility in Ste. Foy, Que. The problems were identified during an FDA inspection of the plant from March 31 to April 9.

    The U.S. regulatory agency notes that since 2011 it has rejected multiple batches of flu vaccine from the Quebec plant. It warns that if the problems identified are not fixed promptly the company’s licence to produce flu vaccine for the U.S. market could be suspended or revoked.

    “The deficiencies described … at the close of the inspection referenced above and this letter are an indication of your quality control unit not fulfilling its responsibility to assure the identity, strength, quality, and purity of your licensed biological drug product and intermediates,” the letter states.

    “You should take prompt action to correct these deviations. Failure to promptly correct these deviations may result in regulatory action without further notice. Such actions may include license suspension and-or revocation.”

    • CDC Reports About 90 Percent of Children Who DIED From Flu This Season Not Vaccinated
      http://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/children-flu-deaths.htm

      Measles Outbreak Triggered by Unvaccinated Child
      http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/infectious-diseases/articles/2010/03/22/measles-outbreak-triggered-by-unvaccinated-child

      Parents Not Vaccinating Kids Contributed to Whooping Cough Outbreaks
      http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/30/parents-not-vaccinating-kids-contributed-to-whooping-cough-outbreaks/

      Btw “the Big Pharma profits” argument is inherently boneheaded. A vaccine prevents a disease from occurring. It prevents repeat customers. Not much profit to be made in a developed nation where populations are generally stable to declining.

      Pretty much any argument that posits that some remote (unproven) harm caused by vaccination is worse than a high likelihood of DEATH is not based on anything sane or rational.

  7. Um, doesn’t this make the argument against your position? It appears that the “corrupt” government actually works in preventing unsafe vaccines from being introduced into the US market. Not very convincing. I wonder if you and your spouse could be charged with criminal endangerment if others became sick or died from diseases that your children picked up and passed on? If not criminally liable, I’m sure there would be grounds for civil suits galore.

    • Rachel Marie Stone

      Post author

      Which, quite frankly, is all the more troubling, given that I regard the ideas contained within as irresponsible and foolish at best.

    • 1. What are you talking about, which child?
      2. Better to ask the thousands people who lived before the vaccine who got polio.
      3. Better even more, ask what it is like to live in a country where such vaccinations are not common

      I know that your hypothetical child won’t be giving polio to me or close relations since vaccination is a given. That is a more rational argument than your nonsense.

  8. Interesting– vaccinations are so terrible, but we don’t want those poor Central American kids on our soil one minute longer because…uh, why is that again..?

    Oh, yeah– because they’re full of dangerous diseases, having of course not been vaccinated back home!

    Unbelievable.

  9. When we are injected with dog kidney, monkey, human embryonic cells etc they can be contaminated with unknown viruses which cannot be removed as to do so would remove the virual particles which are a necessary part of the vaccine.

    Dr. Palevsky…” in my research of the vaccines, and of the basic microbiology and virology that we’re trained to know in our medical training, I cannot understand how a vaccine with a virus can be safe.” it is so tiny that it can only be seen under an electron microscope. It is much smaller than bacteria, which can only be seen in the regular microscope. So viruses cannot be isolated when you make a viral vaccine.
    when a viral culture or a set of cultures are made including the specific virus, you’re going to have the DNA of people or animals who were already infected. Those cells are then taken and grown on animal cells, whether it’s monkey kidney cells or chicken embryo cells. When mixed together, these cells will splice and recombine, which means that DNA from animal cells are going to mix with DNA from the known infected cells with the virus.

    So by definition, a viral vaccine contains foreign animal and, even possibly, foreign human DNA. That’s why if you have an egg allergy, you shouldn’t get certain vaccines because it is known that there’s going to be egg protein in the vaccine. So the question is, how safe is it to inject viral material that is embedded into the DNA of foreign DNA cells? What studies have been done to actually test whether foreign DNA is getting into your body; whether it stays in your DNA; whether it gets into your brain; and whether there are foreign animal viruses that are inherently present in animal DNA to begin with?”

  10. It was hoped that following polio eradication, immunisation could be stopped. However the synthesis of polio virus in 2002, made eradication impossible. It is argued that getting poor countries to expend their scarce resources on an impossible dream over the last 10 years was unethical.

    Furthermore, while India has been polio-free for a year, there has been a huge increase in non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP). In 2011, there were an extra 47,500 new cases of NPAFP. Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received. Though this data was collected within the polio surveillance system, it was not investigated. The principle of primum-non-nocere was violated.

    The authors suggest that the huge bill of US$ 8 billion spent on the programme, is a small sum to pay if the world learns to be wary of such vertical programmes in the future.

    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been’!”

    http://www.issuesinmedicalethics.org/index.php/ijme/article/view/110/1065

  11. Why is it whenever there is a non vaccination or delayed/select vaccination argument made that is credible and based on fact and logic, the militant pro vaxxers have to run and write a blog to “attempt” to discredit it? If you are so almighty convinced of how wonderful your vaccines are then stop worrying about what other people are doing. You(general) have no right to trample on anyone else’s religious freedom and as a Libertarian, I agree with the HL ruling too. I hear Uruguay mandates vaccines if that intrigues you. Good work, Megan, you know what they say about publicity. We are moving towards a day where more people are realizing that if the product was so great, there wouldn’t need to be scare tactics and shaming or guilting involved.

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