Christian missionary doctors fighting Ebola irritate Brian Palmer and other liberals

I read an interesting opinion piece in the liberal online magazine Slate, by atheist Brian Palmer, who also writes for the National Resources Defense Council. He noticed that many of the people working in West Africa with the Ebola patients are Christians. Worse, they are Christian missionaries, Christian missionary nurses, and Christian missionary doctors. He is at once amazed that people would volunteer for such a task, and at no pay (which blows his mind!) yet at the same time he is irritated.

Caduceus, Wiki CC
Why? They talk of Jesus too much.

His attitude was, 'if they want to be do-gooders, at least shut up about Jesus and keep the medical science free from all that ... religion'. He also notices that governments and corporations are not rushing in there to help, and that's just too irksome to deal with. The Christians are showing up the organizations that are supposed to help.

You can read his original piece here. His title is telling, don't you think?

In Medicine We Trust
Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?

This piece at NewsBusters responding to Palmer's opinion about the Ebola missionaries is interesting. NewsBusters nailed Palmer's tone. They put Palmer's quotes in bold.

'Mingling of Religion and Health Care' in Ebola Crisis Stirs 'Visceral Discomfort' at Slate
Brian Palmer revealed what many secularists feel about Christian missionaries in Africa in a Thursday piece on Slate, especially the role on the front lines of the ongoing fight against Ebola. Palmer acknowledged how "missionary doctors and nurses...have undertaken long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans," but added that "for secular may be difficult to shake a bit of discomfort with the situation....It's great that these people are doing God's work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?"

The writer later hyped that "some missionaries are incapable of separating their religious work from their medical work. Whether implicitly or explicitly, some missionaries pressure their patients, at moments of maximum vulnerability and desperation, to convert." He admitted, "That troubles me. I suspect that many others have the same visceral discomfort with the mingling of religion and health care."

Mr Palmer's attitude is nothing new. It is as old as the hills. In 250 AD in northern Turkey, there was a terrible pandemic. Bodies piled up. Terrified healthy people fled. Some cities were decimated. Afterward, they found battlefields littered with dead soldiers but without wounds. They had simply dropped dead from the pandemic.
Camp Fuston, KS, Spanish Influenza

Christian pastors Dionysius and Cyprian, along with many deacons and laypeople, stayed behind to help. It's not that they were immune, they weren't. It's that the Christians had the hope of Jesus in them, knowing He had come to earth to reconcile men to Himself. His loving sacrificial act spurred the Christians to do likewise of the pagans dying in droves. They laid down their lives for them. Dionysius later wrote about the nursing efforts of the Christians
“Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead … The best of our brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and laymen winning high commendation so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal of martyrdom.”

Dionysus noted next how the Christians even prepared the pagans for burial. He also described how the pagans reacted:
The heathen [pagans] behaved in the very opposite way. At the first onset of the disease, they pushed the sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into the roads before they were dead and treated unburied corpses as dirt, hoping thereby to avert the spread and contagion of the fatal disease; but do what they might, they found it difficult to escape.”
Screen shot, Monty Python & Holy Grail, "Bring Out Your Dead" scene
Human nature is no different then as it is now. When the Ebola deaths spiked this summer, The Liberian Observer reported,
Guarded by heavily armed platoons of officers from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Police Support Unit (PSU) several weeks ago, two mini trucks conveyed the corpses of Ebola victims to be buried in Johnsonville. This dumping of about 45 bodies on the bank of the Kpan-wein River under the heavy guard of police and soldiers immediately created a stampede, with people running in all directions, for fear of being contaminated or afflicted with the Ebola disease.
One hundred years after the plague Dionysius wrote about had abated, Roman Emperor Julian (the last Emperor) tried to get the pagan priests to perform such heroic acts of charity and care. They wouldn't. It is perplexing to the unsanctified mind that people would lay down their lives for a stranger, would give and provide for them. It further perplexes them, as it does Mr Palmer now, that the government won't step up neither will the pagan religions, but the Christians always do. Julian wrote,
“The impious Galileans support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us.”

The bible tells us:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Gill's Commentary explains,
His sense is this; that the light of the Gospel, which he had communicated to them, the spiritual knowledge of the mysteries of grace, which he had favoured them with, were to be openly declared, and made manifest before men. Light was not given merely for their own private use, but for the public good of mankind; and therefore, as they were placed as lights in the world, they were to hold forth, in the most open and conspicuous manner, the word of light and life:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, (Ephesians 2:10)

In 1 Peter 2:12 we read,

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

We are called to live a good life before the pagans. This glorifies Jesus. In some cases, we are called to live a good death. This glorifies Jesus.


Further Reading

Why Do So Many Liberals Despise Christianity?
Liberals increasingly want to enforce a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. And they see alternative visions of the good as increasingly intolerable.

Oh Yuck, Christian Doctors


  1. Well written article Elizabeth.

    This all reminds me of the latest Walgreens "Shot at Life" commercials showing all of these poor, sad, children and happy, with BIG RED WALGREENS band-aids on. These abominable commercials really rub me the wrong way, seeing all those kids "branded" with their W product logo.

    Hey this "TROUBLES" me Mr. Palmer!

    I guess they could not give shots without turning them into billboards? If it's all about helping and good will, why not use a generic, plain adhesive bandage?

    Where is Mr Palmer's follow-up article on the "trouble" and "visceral discomfort" with the mingling of BUSINESS and health care? I doubt we will see it.

    Instead, the sheeple and celebrities flock to endorse it.

    Mr Palmer what bothers me is "That troubles me. I suspect that many others have the same visceral discomfort with the mingling of religion and health care."

  2. Excuse me, Elizabeth, for my plain talking, but it takes a special kind of idiot to complain about the "religion" of people who will serve where no one else is willing to serve, including the author himself.

    I was gratified to see that the comments on his article for the most part (from what I skimmed) call the author on his gall.

  3. Sad, this man wants to ‘get rid of all the Jesus talk’. Even sadder, I fear, is that once more and more financial government aid and humanitarian aid comes into play in this Ebola crisis the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be sacrificed. Those giving the financial support will be able to dictate sentiments like this Brian Palmer is doing. It always happens. People will only be allowed to hear of a loving God, a meek Jesus who will help them in their time of need. They won’t know how holy God is, how much the righteousness of Jesus Christ is needed in order to stand before a Holy God to escape His wrath in eternity. If these poor souls are not told this they will perish into a worse fate.

    I wish all of these faith representatives for Louise Troh and her family would have taken the opportunity to preach the Gospel message. Sadly, they didn’t. Preaching the Gospel may have stopped a lot of mouths from the vicious fear-filled and hate-filled comments, forcing the dissenters to question their own standing before Holy God instead of striking out.

    I hope the Liberian faith community does a few things with this Ebola scare:
    a) ensure their communities are well educated about Ebola signs; have a help line for those who need help with language and cultural barriers that may be present in hospital situations so that someone who may be suspected of infection can get immediate help.

    b) ensure protection for those affected from media frenzies that happened in Dallas. People, out of fear and panic, behaved like wolves around this family and there really didn’t appear to be any protection from the Liberian faith community to stop the family from making comments that escalated things, nor were they protected from the likes of Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    May God in His Mercy and Long-suffering strengthen and protect the front line workers and may He also bring His peace to the families affected by this terrible disease.

  4. I may be mistaken, but the missionaries were Church of Christ, preaching faith + baptism= salvation, were they not? There was a man from Payson, Arizona who went after them to Liberia to preach ---faith in Jesus alone--- just so they would have the truth.

  5. I don't know what church the missionaries were from. But it's true that not all missionaries are from truth-bearing churches.


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