Since the return to the U.S. of Ebola patients Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who have been brought to Emory University Hospital’s isolation unit, sharp contention has been sparked among conservatives. The discussion centers not so much as why they had to be brought back to the U.S. when highly contagious, but rather why they went to Africa in the first place.
Ann Coulter wrote in her Aug. 6 column that Brantly would have done more good treating “uninsured editors, writers and pundits in Gotham” than “marinating himself in medieval disease of the Third World.” She contended that “your country is like your family” and acknowledged “The same Bible that commands us to ‘go ye into all the world and preach the gospel’ also says ‘For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy, and to the poor, in your land.”
Coulter accused Dr. Brantly of leaving Texas to “fly to Liberia and get Ebola” while near to his home is one of the poorest counties in the U.S. and he “wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.” Coulter maintained that Americans “slink off” to Third World countries because they are tired of fighting the culture war in America, “forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.”
Her words set off a chorus of disagreement. Erick Erickson tweeted, “St. Thomas should have never gone to India and Jim Elliot should have never gone into the jungle. Sigh” Peter Rosenberger, president of Standing with Hope, responded that he had been working in Africa for almost 10 years and his motives were far from what Coulter ascribed to him. “I went because they had a need,” he said.
Rosenberger explained that his passion flows from his wife, Gracie, who lost both legs in a car accident. After she walked on her prosthetic limbs for the first time she rested in her room and watched a documentary about Princess Diana’s work for victims of land mines in Southeast Asia. Gracie wanted to give others the same hope and help she had experienced. Rosenberg points out, “Christ took the ultimate mission trip when He went to, as Ann Coulter would describe it, to ‘the disease ridden cesspool’ of this world and offered salvation.” He feels he is a better American for having gone to Africa, and maintains Coulter “doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Donald Trump tweeted “Stop the Ebola patients from entering the U.S. THE UNITED STATES HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMS.”A known conservative, he sparked controversy by contending that the U.S. cannot permit Ebola patients to return, saying “People that go to faraway places to help out are great – but must suffer the consequences.” Dr. Ben Carson, a presidential hopeful, was also critical of bringing the infected missionaries back to the U.S.
The head nurse at Emory, which is the facility treating Brantly and Writebol, feels all Americans will benefit from what they learn by treating the patients. She declares their humanitarian mission to “help eradicate a disease that is especially deadly in countries without our health-care infrastructure” was “generous.” She added that if they refused care for the patients it would “raise enormous questions about the ethical foundation of our profession.”
Danny Burk, a biblical studies professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary called Coulter’s remarks “pagan foolishness.” Andrew Walker, of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, declared her comments to be “absolutely reprehensible, Christ-denying vitriol.” Russell Moore, head of the commission responded “I have no words for this. Actually, I think I do, but the Holy Spirit will not let me say them.”
Russell Moore, commenting in The Christian Post, admitted sometimes conservatives have “adopted allies on the basis of their intensity of outrage rather than on their consistency with the gospel.” With the new contention among conservatives sparked by the return of the Ebola patients to the U.S., Moore quotes I Corinthians 4:20, exhorting, “The kingdom of God, after all, is not a matter of talk, but of power.”
By Laurie Stilwell