COMMENTARY: Zika virus spread by Christianity, 'experts' say

by Dr. Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)Residents are reflected in a puddle of stagnant water as they walk in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 1, 2016. The World Health Organization on Monday declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus an international public health emergency. The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is notoriously adaptive. The insect thrives in puddles, nooks and crannies common in tropical cities peppered with chaotic and unplanned neighborhoods, where rainwater, open sewers and litter offer ample habitat.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Raw Story, an anti-Christian, anti-conservative, and anti-Republican online magazine has identified the culprit behind the spread of the Zika virus.

Just don't rush out to kill those mosquitos scientists have blamed for decades. The real enemy, according to Raw Story, is the faithful. And the story isn't satire.

According to the report, the virus – which the media claims is responsible for microcephaly in newborns – is spreading because Christians have made it near impossible for the poor in predominantly Catholic countries in Latin America to have access to contraceptives and abortion. If the governments of the Third World simply remove restrictions on abortion and hand out condoms (or perhaps rid themselves of Christians?) the spread of the virus will grind to a halt.

Isn't it Christians who are normally accused of rejecting science – and history?

The Nobel laureate scientists at Raw Story cite as one source in the article World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, who said last week the virus was "spreading explosively" in North and South America. Brazil, she said, has nearly 4,000 cases of the disease, but neither she nor the CDC has ever claimed it was the result of any Christian doctrine.

In case you're wondering, those 4,000 represent 0.0002 percent of Brazil's 200.4 million people. 

Zika originated ... well, who knows how long ago? It was first "isolated" as a distinct virus in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947 when scientists went to the heart of the jungle to research other mosquito-borne viruses.

Yellow Fever, Dengue and Chikungunya likely also originated in similar locations deep in the sparsely-inhabited, hot, wet and dirty jungle of Africa – the world's petri dish.

Yellow Fever was brought to the Americas with the slave trade beginning in the 1500s. Dengue Fever was likely spread through similar means, in slaves brought to the West Indies. In fact, some have speculated that the word Dengue itself comes from a Swahili phrase "ka-dinga pepo" or "cramp-like seizure caused by an evil spirit." It spread to merchants, who then carried the disease to Southeast Asia.

They were bitten by mosquitos and voilà. That's French for "see there."

It stands to reason that Zika also came to the Americas as a hitch hiker aboard slaves snatched up and sold to the highest bidder. It was able to survive because the tropical climates in South America were virtually the same as the location in which it originated.

As old as the virus probably is, Zika received its official classification in 1952. An interesting thing happened in the following year in India. About 15 percent of the people tested for the antibodies of the virus already had them. Zika was already alive and well in that culture – a predominantly Hindu culture.

A year later, the first "diagnosed case" of the virus popped up in Nigeria – where Muslims were and are the majority. It has also been found in Thailand – a predominantly Buddhist culture – and other parts of Southeast Asia. All were stops along Muslim and European trading routes.

So it wasn't Christianity that caused the spread of the Zika virus long ago. It isn't now. The culprit was then and is now international commerce and the movement of peoples infected from one location to another where people were not infected. This is the most basic premise of Virology 101.

With the flood of illegal immigrants from South and Central America into Mexico and the United States, there is no reason to point the finger at the Catholic Church or Christian morality. Why not point the finger at the root causes of microcephaly in infants? The Mayo Clinic lists those as malnutrition, drug use, and exposure to other common diseases (German measles, rubella and varicella), along with chromosomal abnormalities and other rare diseases.

All of this leads me to believe Raw Story isn't really interested in the truth and accurate reporting. The progressive site is interested in scoring points against Christians and driving them to the margins of the culture. This a well-worn path – blaming a religion you dislike for a disease that isn't easily explained or controlled.

That's why Hitler devoted 14-pages of Mein Kampf to his discussion of Syphilis, a disease which he said had aided in Germany's collapse after World War I. In the book that laid out the future dictator's blueprint for Germany's expansion and the Holocaust, he wrote that the task of combating syphilis – a disease resulting from the "Jewification of our spiritual life and mammonization of our mating instinct" – should "have been made the task of the entire German nation."

Syphilis, Hitler believed, would go away when the Jews and Judaism went away. 

So, congratulations, Raw Story on a splendid piece of Hitleresque propaganda, straight from the playbook of one of the world's most notorious mass murderers.

Dr. Gregory Tomlin covers the intersection of politics, culture and religion for Christian Examiner. He is also Assistant Professor of Church History and a faculty instructional mentor for Liberty University Divinity School. Tomlin earned his Ph.D. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and also studied at Baylor University and Boston University's summer Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs. He wrote his dissertation on Southern Baptists and their influence on military-foreign policy in Vietnam from 1965-1973.

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