September 7, 2013
Does God want your kids vaccinated?
A precept of American law is that, absent a special relationship, an individual is under no legal duty to act to help another in need. That means that a passerby is under no obligation to help people escape from a burning car. Even if the act would be of minimal effort and no potential harm, an individual generally has no duty to act unless he or she created the other's peril.
But what about refusing to have your children vaccinated? Jed Lipinski recently argued in Slate that parents who don't vaccinate their kids should be sued for damages--or criminally charged. That's going a bit far, and there are a lot of moving parts in American jurisprudence that would make such a regime challenging, to say the least. But the consequences of refusing vaccines are real.
Just ask the folks at Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Neward, Texas. There the AP reported that a recent measles outbreak at the church of televangelist Kenneth Copeland revealed that many church members had not been vaccinated:
As the parent of a young child and as a Christian, I find this news horrifying. And I blame "The View." OK, I don't. But I find the anti-vaccine crowd to be among American society's more troubling social problems. Seriously. Vaccines are the classic public good--and they only work best, in particular by protecting from infection those who are too young to be vaccinated, if everyone buys in.
I also don't see how Christians can think that taking health precautions means not trusting God. Do the same people not wash their hands after using the bathroom?
This 2007 story from Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network--"Are Vaccines Safe for Your Kids?"--feeds into the anti-vaccine pathology. It's only slightly less crazy than when Robertson said this or this or this or this.
On the other hand, Rachel Marie Stone's 2012 article for Christianity Today explains how if you love your neighbor, you'll get your kids vaccinated:
So what should Christians do? First, they should be educated about the real risks of vaccines--the really, really small risks. Second, they shouldn't pretend that God eschews good medicine. And then they should stop endangering the lives of others because, you know, that's not a very Christian thing to do.
JewishJournal.com is produced by TRIBE Media Corp., a non-profit media company whose mission is to inform, connect and enlighten community