A televangelist’s flu-season advice: Inoculate yourself with the word of God’
At least 53 children across the country have died during a nasty flu outbreak that is already one of the worst on record, even though the season typically peaks in February.
But Texas televangelist Gloria Copeland thinks there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, the minister who advised President Trump’s campaign says she doesn’t believe there’s such thing as a flu season.
“We got a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season,” she said in a video posted to Facebook last week. “And don’t receive it when somebody threatens you with, Everyone’s getting the flu!’ ”
Her remarks come as physicians insist people get their flu shots, as 80 percent of the children who died did not have a flu shot. The flu vaccine does not guarantee against illness, but experts say that data suggests that vaccinations make the flu milder.
It’s not the first time Copeland who told her viewers in the video that “Jesus himself gave us the flu shot” and “redeemed us from the curse of flu” has insisted that people put their health in God’s hands. She once bragged during a conference that she and her husband did not need prescription drugs because the Lord heals all illnesses, according to the Associated Press.
In 2015, Copeland was featured in a segment of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” that accused televangelists of manipulating and defrauding their followers. Oliver played a clip of her preaching to her viewers, talking about cancer.
“We know what’s wrong with you. You’ve got cancer. The bad news is we don’t know what to do about it except give you some poison that will make you sicker,” Copeland said in the clip. “Now, which do you want to do? Do you want to do that, or do you want to sit in here on a Saturday morning, hear the word of God, and let faith come into your heart and be healed?”
[Paramedics said her 6-year-old had common flu symptoms and left, she claims. Now her daughter is dead.]
In 2013, her husband, Kenneth Copeland, also a televangelist, was criticized when the family’s North Texas megachurch found itself at the center of a measles outbreak. Many of the congregants had not been vaccinated, and 21 people fell ill with the contagious disease, the AP reported.
“To get a vaccine would have been viewed by me and my friends and my peers as an act of fear that you doubted God would keep you safe. We simply didn’t do it,” former church member Amy Arden told the AP at the time.
Copeland last week told her viewers to protect themselves with the “word of God.”
“If you say, Well, I don’t have any symptoms of the flu,’ well, great! That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” she said. “Just keeping saying that. I’ll never have the flu. I’ll never have the flu.’ Put words. Inoculate yourself with the word of God.”
The family’s organization, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, could not be immediately reached for comment.