How did anti-vaccination get mixed up with Evengelical Chrsitianity?

Before we get any further, I’m a pretty conservative Christian myself, but this whole anti-vacccine thing is nuts. I know that it goes back to the 1800’s, but it more or less disappeared for a long time. As I grew up in the 1980’s and 90’s, I never met a kid in my church or Christian school that was not-vaccinated. Science and basic childcare precautions had defeated the stupidity of anti-vaccinations.

However, there is a rise of this nonsense again. I even posted a thread about it almost two years ago.

Anyway, I believe anti-vaccination stances push people away from Christianity because, well, if someone believes the “anti-vaccine” stupid thing, then…perhaps their religious beliefs are stupid, too.

On to my actual GQ:

Over the last 20-30 years(or so), how did anti-vaccination get all mixed up with Evangelical Christianity? Was there a push for it from a major leader or something?

Thanks, folks.

There are very old theological ideas that diseases are the will of God, (think Job) so interfering with them is interfering with God’s will. Even things like providing pain relief during childbirth is interfering with the “curse of Eve” – essentially letting someone get out of their just punishment (cite).

Those attitudes were mostly always “fringe”, but I expect that current anti-vaccination attitudes descended from them.

Hard to provide a GQ factual question – my impression is this is cross-contamination from general antiscientific attitudes (which coincidentally happens to also fit in with newage woo) plus the paranoia about how the Libruls want to keep Christians from raising their children the way they want to – the god-hating scientists are the ones behind teaching Evil-ution in schools, after all, and want to teach about Global Warming (of course is just a plot to keep us from ruling the Earth as God commanded); now it is expected a dose of something be administered to the children based on scientific counsel? Must be a nefarious plot.

Add to it the already extant fringe who rejected scientific medicine on behalf of faith healing or the “don’t thwart God’s will” that **leahcim **mentions, and you have a receptive audience.

It might also involve the common right-wing (hence associates with Christian conservatism) meme that the big bad liberal communist egghead athiestic government is trying to force or trick us into destroying our bodies by adulterating them with evil poisons.

This seems to have been the common theme of the anti-fluoridation panic too.

Also, in the past decade its gotten a boost from the anti-HPV vaccine movement. After all, why would a good christian young girl need any protection against diseases of the flesh?

The more insistent the government gets that it is important to be vaccinated, the more it proves the nutbars’ point that the government is out to pollute their precious bodily fluids.

Is there evidence the anti-vax movement is unusually concentrated in evangelical Christians? It has a very substantial following that does not appear to me to be disproportionately Christian.

Yes, it’s not just some evangelicals, it’s an attitude in a lot of different groups with different motivations and beliefs. The common thread is that the government is either deliberately (sinisterly) trying to destroy our bodies, or is so misguided by big-brother authoritarianism that they will recklessly endanger their population without properly evaluating the risks.

there’s something visceral about the government invading our bodies that appeals to these different groups’ sense of david-and-goliath martyrdom, or Rage Against The Machine. For the libertarian bunch, it’s proof of the evil of faceless big government. For evangelicals, it’s liberal pinkos destroying those beautiful bodies God has made. For the vegan-organic-health nuts, it’s another man-made substance defiling their temple; And so on…

Perhaps you are quite right. I didn’t mean exclusively, but more like I wondered if there was a source we could trace back to find how it entered Evangelical Christianity.

All the anti-vax nonsense I’ve seen comes from people who are pretty much the opposite of evangelical Christians. Around here, it’s highly-educated, relatively affluent people who aren’t having their children vaccinated. People who do their grocery shopping at the Park Slope Food Co-op (New Yorkers will know what I mean) and are locavores and progressive and all that.

Strange. They’re the last people one would expect to fall for this crap.

Not really. In various ways things tend to wrap around and meet at the extremes–md2000 summed it up pretty well for this particular example.

Anti-vax stupidity is not a left or right issue. It has morons on both sides of the aisle. Probably the most notable right wing Christian who is anti-vax is Phyllis Schlafly. Here’s an example of the sort of fact-free rants shelikes. Dan Burton was a right winger who ran the infamous vaccines = autism hearings in Congress. Conservatives were also bitching about the HPV vaccine. Because it’s hey SEX and girls who have SEX deserve to die. In Utah anyway.

But then again there’s a lot of stupidity on the left as well. You get the crunchy types who don’t trust big pharm and love to imagine that giving birth comes with a mandatory biology degree. There’s a lot of left wing stupidity where they argue that vaccines for the poor should just be replaced with good sanitation and nice fresh air.

I was going to mention this. My daughter lives in Park Slope (about 8 blocks from the Co-op) and is really quite concerned since so many of her son’s classmates are not vaccinated. Yes, he’s had all his shots, but herd immunity is even better.

There is left-wing woo, just as there is right-wing woo. My family doctor says that leaving your child unvaccinated is child-abuse.

I don’t think there were any anti-vaxxers when I was growing up. There was too much childhood illness for us to spurn this. How quickly they forget.

Author Seth Mnookin says about liberal vaccine opposition:

Never mind the measles, mumps, and chicken-pox. Or even the tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria! When the likes of you and I were growing up, there was POLIO – :eek: to the 10[sup]th[/sup] power! Nuff said!

What do y’all think will be the prevailing public reaction (or various reactions among various factions) when we get a genuine, bona-fide, effective HIV/AIDS vaccine?

Will the masses glom onto it just like we lined up for our POLIO shots in the mid-50’s? (I mean, aside from the predictable anti-vax-and-sex-and-gays-and-all-of-that crowd.)

Oh, and did we mention smallpox?

What anti-vaccination nuts share with evangelical Christians is a deep, fundamentally irrational and profoundly ignorant suspicion of science. Not surprising there’s some overlap!

I’m friends with an anti-vaxxer. Great friend, though this particular belief pains me.

She’s a crunchy, far-left liberal. Masters degree in a sciency field. One of her kids (I haven’t verified this, or know if she has had him properly diagnosed) allegedly shows signs of being on the autism spectrum. So she’s all vaxxer based on the nonsense vaccines=autism. And I would never confront her on this because it’s all wrapped up in the well-being of one of her children.

This particular brand of crazy runs the gamut, politically, educationally and religiously-wise.

It seems to me both are faith-based movements that strongly dislike facts and evidence.

Moreover, if god wants your originally-sinful child to get infected with a killer virus and die, who are you to try to interfere with the will of god? If you’re a christian, how does a vaccine work better than prayer (again, evidence notwithstanding)? If god kills your child, suck it up - he works in “mysterious ways” after all. If god controls everything, he controls and decides who gets smallpox and who doesn’t, and if you’re “meant” to die that way, then accept god’s will and don’t try to interfere. It’s no different than putting lightning rods on a church (at least some ultra-fundamentalist groups refuse to do that, and accept it when their churches burn down over and over again)… a futile attempt by man to interfere with the will and mysterious ways of god. Never mind that evidence shows lightning rods work, churches get struck by lightning, and vaccines save lives.

Someone scheduled to go on an international placement just came down with a contagious disease easily prevented by a vaccination that we required but this person decided wasn’t needed. Farewell, plane ticket and international internship.

I do think there is a weird strange-bedfellows thing going between two groups: a particular strand of evangelical Christianity and a particular type of liberal/organic food/save-the-earth types. You see these bedfellows cropping up in homeschooling, you see them cropping up in anti-vax, you see them cropping up in certain anti-consumerist/anti-TV type circles.

I think what both groups share is a deep suspicion of mainstream culture. They are coming from different directions, but both are populated by people who feel like the world, in a broad sense, has gone to hell in a handbasket, and anything that is accepted as normal in the world is most likely corrupt and damaging.

Obviously, this isn’t all Evangelical Christians and it isn’t all Organic Food/Save the Earth types. But both share this “Don’t listen to The Man” element, and so it’s not surprising that they end up with a similar position on many issues, especially regarding child-rearing.