Debunking “Why do some parents choose not to vaccinate?” article in The Christian Science Monitor, February 3, 2015, by Amanda Paulson, Staff writer.
It’s a question that’s being asked with increased intensity and often hostility in the wake of a measles outbreak at Disneyland. Parents who decide not to vaccinate their children are often well educated and cite complex reasons….”
Full disclosure: I probably–no, definitely, fall into the “hostility” camp for reasons that I make plain in my memoir “fathermothergod.” (Crown Publishers, 2011.) In the days to come I would like to delve more deeply into the Christian Science Church’s position on the measles outbreaks (or lack thereof) , and the Christian Science Monitor’s curious coverage of the recent and very newsworthy Measles/vaccine exemption debate–but my knee-jerk reaction to the February 3, 2015 article is this: in 1800 words, Christian Science gets a mere ten, buried almost half-way down the piece. Here they are:
“Many Christian Science families also seek religious exemptions from vaccines.”
The Christian Science Church has been–until relatively recently, anyway– a strong advocate–and a powerful one too boot– for religious exemptions to states’ vaccination laws. Why? The Christian Science Church’s most devout members practice radical reliance on prayer over medicine. And they do this because for over a hundred and twenty-five years, radical reliance has been the linchpin of religious observance in the practice of Christian Science. What is noticeably absent from the Monitor article : Christian Science affiliated institutions have been ground zero for well-documented, vaccine-preventable outbreaks. In 1972, a polio outbreak at Daycroft, a Christian Science boarding school in Greenwich CT (which closed in 1991) resulted in nine boys and two girls contracting the paralytic form of the disease, and prompted a subsequent–albeit delayed–quarantine and ensuing public health crisis. In 1985 an outbreak of measles at The Principia College (for Christian Scientists), resulted in three deaths and over 120 confirmed or suspected cases. In 1985, and again in 1989, there were measles outbreaks at Christian Science summer camps (the first in Colorado, the second in Missouri) which later spread to the campers’ home-states. In 1994, another measles outbreak, again at the Principia schools, spread beyond the two campuses and led to a significant public health problem, infecting 241 people.*
Christian Science doctrine denies the “theory” of contagion.
PS: the byline. Amanda Paulson. Ring a bell? Think: Christian Science, Politics, Finance, Clout. Father is Hank Paulson, Christian Scientist, former CEO Goldman Sachs, former Treasury Secretary circa 2008, of Too Big To Fail fame. Amanda: where do you stand on vaccines and religious exemptions?
I regret to announce that my talk and reading from fathermothergod, scheduled for tomorrow at Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich, CT has been canceled. Stay tuned for an alternate date/location.
I just got off the phone with Faith Middleton. We had a great conversation about fathermothergod. She is the consummate radio journalist, asked terrific questions, and most importantly (for me) set me at ease even though I was feeling a little flustered at being interviewed for NPR! If you reside in CT, RI, MA and parts of New York (eastern Long Island) please tune in to Connecticut Public Radio’s The Faith MIddleton Show on Friday afternoon at 3 , and again Friday evening at 9. If you are out of range of CT Public Radio, you can hear the show on NPR as a podcast. I will post the link when it’s up. Thank you Faith Middleton!
Please join me for a reading at Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich CT on Wed. Nov 7 at 7:30 pm!
Thank you for your interest in fathermothergod! I am really enjoying our skype sessions and the spirited discussions. It is amazing that I can be sitting in my home in New York, and you all can be in a friend’s living room…anywhere… and we can share a glass (or two!) of wine together and engage in such lively conversation. Please let your friends in other book clubs know that, schedules permitting, I’m happy to join them for their conversations. They can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org :-)
It’s there! Thank you, “Target Emerging Author” Decider(s), whoever you are. I am so very lucky, and grateful to have been selected and to be on your shelves! And to any book clubs out there, if you’d like me to join your group’s discussion of fathermothergod, please email me and I will do my best to chat with you. Skype and chardonnay go great together!