More on Ebola from Ann Coulter: The Bankruptcy of “Save Yourself” Christianity

Recently, there has been an outcry from some Conservatives about the Ebola virus and the two Americans who were infected in Liberia. Opposition has arisen to bringing them back to America where they can be treated for fear that the disease will spread here. Conservatives like Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and Donald Trump (or whatever he actually is) have sounded off saying that the Christian missionaries who contratcted the virus should NOT be brought back to this country to be treated. We must protect ourselves, they say.

I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered.

What was the point?

Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals. (This trip may be the first real-world demonstration of the economics of Obamacare.)

There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?

Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”

Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?

Maybe Dr. Brantly went to Africa because he was called by God to do so? Many Christians listen to these voices on the Right, so I thought that I would share an excerpt from my book, When Heaven and Earth Collide, that tells a story about how the early church approached death, disease, plague, and dying in the Ancient Roman Empire. If we wonder what happened to the influence of the Church in America (as Ann Coulter bemoans in her article), maybe it has waned because we are no longer a people who will lay down our lives for others? Here’s the story:
 
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In 260 AD, a great epidemic devastated the Roman Empire. These epidemics had been ravag- ing sections of the empire for a century and when one hit, the death toll was extraordinarily high, at times up to a fourth or third of the people. The common reaction to the onset of an epidemic was for the pagan Romans and Greeks to remove themselves from the sick and leave the cities as quickly as they could. They would leave the dying behind in the hope that they could save their own lives. But during these epidemics, a miracle of sorts happened. The Christians saw things differently.

Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, wrote to the church in an Easter letter that Christians saw this epidemic differently than the pagans did. He said, “other people would not think this a time for festival [but] far from being a time of distress, it is a time of unimaginable joy.” Rodney Stark, in The Rise of Christianity, writes:

Acknowledging the huge death rate, Dionysius noted that though this terrified the pagan, Christians greeted the epidemic as merely ‘schooling and testing.’ Thus, at a time when all other faiths were called to question, Christianity offered explanation and comfort. Even more important, Chris- tian doctrine provided a prescription for action. That is, the Christian way appeared to work.

The attitude of the Christians in Alexandria causes one to think of James 1:2–4 which states:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let en- durance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Instead of running away from the plague so they could be healthy and prosperous, the Christians of Alexandria reacted in the opposite way. They saw it as their duty to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. They saw the plague as an opportunity to depend upon God and to see God do miracles of love in people’s hearts.

Dionysius paid tribute to those Christians who loved their neighbor even to the point of giving up their own lives. He wrote:

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.

Dionysius then explained how the heathen acted. It was very different from the church:

The heathen 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.

Stark goes on to illustrate that Dionysius’s observations of the Christians in Alexandria were not unique. This behavior of Christians all over the Roman Empire was much different from the pagan Romans. He tells the story of the Emperor Julian in 362 who tried to counteract the growing influence of the Christians and their charitable work through his own writings. Julian wrote:

I think that when the poor happened to be neglected and overlooked by the priests, the impious Galileans observed this and devoted themselves to benevolence . . . The impious Galileans support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us.

“Galileans” was a term used to denote followers of Jesus, the Galilean, who said in his parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 that when you cared for those in need, you were caring for him:

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:35–40).

Early Christians were a people who would lay their lives down to care for the sick and those dying of the plague while everyone else was running away to save their own lives. How they became a people in America centuries later who would come to approve of human slavery and race-based segregation or turn a blind eye to the ravages of destitute neighborhoods, orphans, or abuses of consumerism because they did not want their way of life damaged is a great travesty. In Dionysius’s letter, we see an example of Christianity before it was subverted by Greek philosophy or by appeals to use it to enhance one’s way of life. This example has inspired Christians throughout history, as they have in pockets and movements large and small sought to recover the vitality of the early church and reform back to being a sacrificially loving people. But you cannot find this vitality unless you are willing to lay your life down.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:34–37)

The way available to us to recover the strength of the early church that “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) is to return to Jesus and his life and teachings on the kingdom, the reality of the cross, sacrificial love, and the idea of a cross-shaped or “cruciform” community of faith called the “church.” The idea of a “consumer” church full of “consumer Christians” who are trying to enhance their life by using God and the Bible to carve out and obey principles that will help them live their “best life now” is foreign both to the gospel and the history of the early church, at least in its vibrant forms. I have not even begun to talk about the martyrs and those who were willing to leave home and family to share the gospel all over the world. of course, that kind of people did not exist only during the time of the early church. They have existed wherever the gospel was really believed and Jesus was truly looked to as Lord. Thankfully, those people exist right now all over the world and all over America, even if we do not always know their names. May their tribe increase.

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I tell a lot of other stories like that in the book. The truth is, Coulter and Trump and others are peddling an anti-Christ message that calls us to care for ourselves and ignore the pain around us. That is neither Christian nor Conservative and it is high time that Conservative Christians said “no” to this kind of rhetoric and join the ranks of followers of Jesus throughout the ages who would run into the disease-ravaged cities instead of running away to save themselves. After all, if one seeks to save his own life, he will lose it. Jesus said that too. Maybe THAT is the real sickness in America. Not Ebola or Christian doctors trying to help the least of these in Africa.

Comments

  1. doug sayers says

    Excellent article Alan. If our hope is in Christ in this life only we are of all men most miserable/ to be pitied. Those who look to education, government, and entertainment for the answers to life’s problems must be on some kind of “opiate” to rely on such unreliable “crutches.”

    You’ve explained one of the ways that the Truth sets us free.

    Thanks

  2. John Fariss says

    Amen, brother. Whatever these folks–Coulter, Trump, etc.–are, it does not reflect a Christ-like worldview. That word has become one of my pet peeves. It has come to mean harsh opposition to anything perceived as liberal, as anti-abortion, as anti-immigration, as anti-Darwin and almost anti-science, all in the guise of “believing what the Bible says.” And yet, in my opinion, the word should reflect the more positive, altruistic, and giving aspects of what the Christian faith, which your article proclaims. Keep on, brother. As one whose adult life was shaped in a significant way by my experiences in Montgomery, I appreciate you.

    John

  3. says

    Great words. Praying this will be a wake up call for more Christians in America who continue to take the bait of far right wing politics. These pundits don’t value Jesus. They are using Christians. And this is just another example of their poor understanding of theology.

  4. says

    To be fair to Ann Coulter, maybe you should have quoted the next couple of paragraphs. But, that wouldn’t have fit your agenda, Alan.

    “No — because we’re doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul.

    About 15,000 people are murdered in the U.S. every year. More than 38,000 die of drug overdoses, half of them from prescription drugs. More than 40 percent of babies are born out of wedlock. Despite the runaway success of “midnight basketball,” a healthy chunk of those children go on to murder other children, rape grandmothers, bury little girls alive — and then eat a sandwich. A power-mad president has thrown approximately 10 percent of all Americans off their health insurance — the rest of you to come! All our elite cultural institutions laugh at virginity and celebrate promiscuity.

    So no, there’s nothing for a Christian to do here.

    If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.”

    • says

      So you are agreeing with Coulter and are arguing that Christians should not go overseas on missions because there is work to be done here? Just because the workers are few does not mean the work does not need to be done! Yes we need to wake up and minister here in America, but we have to go out and reach the world as well. Sounds like you, and Coulter, would have us abandon the world because, after all, we have our own problems. Indeed, it is the section of text YOU quote that I have the MOST problem with in what Coulter wrote.

    • says

      The purpose of my post was not to exegete Coulter’s article line-by-line. I was making a larger point. As has been said, though, those other paragraphs are even worse than the ones I quoted. At some point, I had to stop and get to what I was trying to say. It was a blog post.

      If she had simply said, “Hey, in your work in Africa, don’t forget the need here,” I would have not had a problem with it and I would have agreed. But, that is not at all what she said. She said that we should not go to Africa as long as we have needs here. That is simply false.

      My LARGER point is how we SHOULD see the need around the world. God will call some to stay here and He will call some to go there. He knows best. With a church on every corner in America billions of dollars spent in ministry here, sometimes we become more effective here if we give more attention over there. At any rate, we should follow what God is telling us to do. Not Ann Coulter.

  5. Dean Stewart says

    Alan, I hope you did not leave these last two paragraphs out of Ms Coulter’s statement as Jake has said. If so that is a shame. I hope you never have someone one take half of one of your statements to make you look as bad as possible. That is not fair. For one to argue against going to a deadly place to do missions is not exactly the same as arguing not to go to a deadly place to do missions when our own country is in a moral, spiritual free fall with many needs. One is deplorable while many people would argue for the later though I’m not one.

    • says

      those “last two paragraphs” only more greatly reveal Coulter’s outright dismissal of selfless service to the least of these in Africa based on a clear presupposition that Christian work in America is more important. Not only is she playing a role that belongs exclusively to the Holy Spirit, she is doing so with an obvious “America first” mindset that has no place among those who believe that Jesus gave His life for the whole world. Between this woman who does nothing but stir trouble and dissension with a nasty attitude that makes Conservatives like me look like heartless xenophobes and Dr. Brantly, who is actually DOING SOMETHING, give me the good Dr. I find it incredible that followers of Jesus would seek to defend her in this instance.

      • Adam Blosser says

        Absolutely, Joel. It is beyond me how Jake’s paragraphs make Coulter’s statements an easier pill to swallow. Alan has not misrepresented Coulter in any way. Quoting only part of her statement is only wrong if it misrepresents her.

    • says

      No, Dean, I was not trying to misquote her. Her article gets worse and worse as she goes. I linked to the article so that anyone could judge her words for herself. I was just giving an example of the vitriol that she was spewing and then I responded with an overall view.

      She was not simply making a case to not forget America. She seems oblivious to how much work DOES happen here in America with thousands upon thousands of local churches and ministries and millions of Christians with their billions of dollars of resources. She is the one who ignores all of that as though doctors going to Liberia will keep Hollywood executives from being saved. It is NOT a zero-sum game here. We follow where God tells us to go, and for some of us, it is “over there.”

      • Dean Stewart says

        Alan, you are correct that you did not misrepresent her. I apologize for my comment. Please let me make an attempt to clarify my thoughts. Coulter is one of the worst right wing commentators around. She is the right’s equivalent to Rachel Maddow. When she is right I still can’t stand her sarcasim.

        I do believe her last two paragraphs moves her commentary to a realm that at least is discussed in churches. Whether you have ever had the convo or not many people question why so much is spent elsewhere when so much is needed in America. I COMPLETELY DISAGREE WITH THAT POSITION, but many have it. To me, the last two paragraphs softened Coulter’s position more than the ones you interacted with.

        Dr Blantly is a hero and to be held in high esteem and I hope all in the family of God is praying for him. I agree 100% with your position in the article and hope wherever there is disease and pain the children of God will be found ministering. Thanks for your service and the help you have given me. I am grateful.

  6. Debbie Kaufman says

    Joel: Yep.

    “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, and lo I am with you always.”

  7. Dean Stewart says

    Joel, I offered no defense for Ms. Coulter’s comments. I feel even a person who is wrong should still have their comments correctly represented. I have met few followers of Christ who believe we should not go to a place because it is dangerous are has infectious disease. I have, however, met many followers of Christ who believe we should be doing more in America. I was involved in a church that spent huge sums of dollars on missions. I heard many times, “can’t we use that money to make a difference in our nation.” I always was abje to justify what we were doing and educate my brothers.

    My point is simply all of Ann’s thoughts should have been revealed. That is only fair. Please do not hear me agreeing with her. Btw, congrats on new job.

    • Jeff Johnson says

      Well, as long as we’re being fair, it should be noted that Alan specifically wrote that he was quoting an “excerpt” of Coulter’s piece and included a link to the entire article. He didn’t take her statements out of context. If anything, the remaining paragraphs more fully reveal the wrong-headedness of Coulter’s theology.

    • says

      Thanks for the clarification Dean. I agree that everyone should be heard in context. I just think the context you bring up only further incriminates her. Have a blessed day!

  8. Jeff Johnson says

    If anything, I think Alan was being gracious not to quote the entire article. I have no idea what “midnight basketball” or “rap[ing] grandmothers” have to do with the Ebola virus. But here’s the sentence that bothers me most:

    “If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia.”

    There is so much I could say in response, but I’ll just quote God: “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor. 1:26-29)

  9. says

    I’m a political conservative (for the most part), and a Christian. I agree with most of what conservative political commentators have to say. Christians should be informed and vote their convictions.

    But I have seen conservative political commentators are often profoundly wrong in their understanding of conservative, biblical, Christianity.
    Don’t count on political commentators, just because they are conservative, to understand the Bible or understand our faith.

    Ann Coulter apparently does not understand that God often calls believers to what she would call the cesspools of this world.
    In the eyes of Almighty God, serving others does not lead to greatness, serving others is greatness.
    David R. Brumbelow

  10. Bill Mac says

    My wife and I are heavily involved in Operation Christmas Child, and speak at local churches and other groups, to persuade them to get involved. One question we hear all the time is: “None of these gifts go to kids in America”?

    We’re collecting gifts to go to children, many of whom have never had a single gift in their life, who live in dumps, or are at risk for sex slavery or becoming child-soldiers. And people are concerned that American kids aren’t getting their cut.

    I’ve been saying this for years: Christians are far too closely joined at the hip to the political right wing. Many of my Christian acquaintances aren’t sure what the book of Joel is about but can tell me what O’Reilly said in his commentary last Monday.

    • says

      I remember years ago Bill O’Reilly on his show,
      disparaging Dr. Paige Patterson
      for affirming faith in Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and the only way to Heaven.

      Let’s join the conservative pundits when they are right,
      but don’t forget they often do not understand or respect our biblical values and our commitment to serving others and Jesus Christ.
      David R. Brumbelow

      • says

        When O’Reilly speaks on matters of faith, I cringe. We must also understand that most national anchors and commentators of “faith” are coming from an RCC background, and this greatly adds to the error

      • John Fariss says

        I agree completely. In fact, that is exactly what I said last Sunday: agree with political conservatives (I was speaking specifically of Israel at the time) when they are right, and call them out when they are wrong, immoral, or fail to uphold a Christian, New Testament perspective. Just because we may agree with them, whoever “them” is at the time, on one issue does not mean we are obligated to agree with them all the time. That demands that we give up our brains, or at least a good bit of it. And besides that I need every brain cell I have left, I refuse to call bad that which God intended us to use for good. I think Jesus called that . . . what was it? Some kind of sin.

        John

    • Mike Bergman says

      I think part of it, Bill, is that we just don’t grasp the realities in some of these places. I spent my life hearing about 3rd world countries and seeing poor living conditions represented on tv screens, yet it took my first trip to Zambia a few years back and a walk out to a village where there was no electricity, no running water, no cars, actual grass roofed huts, and boys who had to make their own toys from clay, for me to walk into WalMart here and realize just how much junk we have.

      On the flip side, a lady in my church does a backpack food ministry for school kids in our town. In a town of 1700 people, we have 30-40 kids who have little to no meal offerings on the weekends, for whatever reason. That blows people’s minds that our town has even one child who goes without food for a day.

      Our reality and gospel must be both/and… We got to wrap our minds around the truth that even if we can have 3 meals a day and get our ailments treated, there are people in our communities and halfway across the world who can’t. The church’s call is to strive to reach both–wherever there are poor and needy we will open wide our hands in the name of Jesus–and God will lead some of us to look in the shadows of our neighborhoods and others to wade into the “cesspools” elsewhere.

  11. Greg Harvey says

    Ann is wrong. Donald is dumb. Savage’s last name is self-describing.

    With that said: remember the fear of HIV that led to an insistence on quarantine that was politically rejected and therefore led to the development of management regimes that are highly effective (if not curative)? This is the same fear.

    We know a bit more about virology than we did then. Solving the difficult problems will lead to more knowledge. Fear leads to more fear. We are believers in a kind of courage that–like the peace that informs it–passes all understanding. But our fellow wayfarers may not enjoy that same peace nor that same courage.

  12. Bennett Willis says

    I have often seen the excuse that we have people here who need care given. I regard it as just an excuse. The people who say it are generally not active (and practically not interested) in helping local people.

    Surely there are people who read this site who (personally) are interested in helping people in need locally. Keep it up! However, if you think that you are one, please examine your actions to be sure.

    You don’t have to read a lot on “the net” to decide that the term “compassionate conservative” is often self contradicting.

  13. William Thornton says

    Coulter would skewer you guys in thirty seconds.

    The old saw about missions being as much across the street as overseas is one heard often. I don’t question that God calls some to difficult places in spite of opportunities across the street. But let’s be honest about it. This isn’t the 19th century of Sweitzcher and Livingstone.

    Here’s her point you guys are ignoring. We have these grand, heroic individuals called to leave good homes, family, and incomes to serve “the least of these” overseas. They go. They sacrifice. She calls it narcissism. I do not so label those involved but hear her point anyway.

    In Dr. Brantley’s case, he went to Liberia, a place with a risk of a known, incurable disease, ebola. Admirable. Commendable. Exemplary. He caught the disease. Someone spent 2,500 times the average per capita annual income of Liberia so that he could be brought to the states to live or die with this incurable disease.

    What must Africans think about selfless Christian missionaries in such cases? Their citizens drop and lay in the streets for hours because no one will touch them and no medically appropriate entity is available to see if they are drunk or have ebola.

    Is it about us or about them? It’s tough to conclude that it’s about the poor, downtrodden, sick Liberians with this juxtaposition.

    Sure, I understand that it is not a zero sum game and the one mil spent on transport could not presume to have been spent on Liberian medical needs…maybe.

    We have all kinds of distorted thinking about our missions and mission trips. I can go to Kenya for 250 times their PCI and feel good about it because I am more attuned to missions, will give more here, will be more selfless here. I’m not sure I can convince myself of this any more.

    • says

      William, now you are touching on something that I have talked about for years, which is how we should support and work through the indigenous church in these places instead of just going ourselves. But, however you assess the worth of the doctor who was working to care for the sick in Liberia, to just let him die there because we want to prove the point that his life is not more valuable than the Liberians life seems wrong-headed to me.

      The truth is that this doctor IS from America and was trained here. He was sent by an American ministry to Liberia to help the poor THERE. From all accounts, he was doing good work. He went there before the Ebola outbreak and was a benefit to the community. To just leave him there to die because we don’t want to spend the money doesn’t make any sense either.

      If we want to talk about the economic sense of sending American missionaries to Africa, we can do that. There are some things that we add that might not be present in those countries already. You are right. This is not the 19th century. In the 19th century, Dr. Brantly would have died. But, if we can save him, shouldn’t we do so? And, if we can send more doctors to save Liberians, shouldn’t we do so as well? I think we should.

      No, I don’t think that Coulter would rip us to shreds. I think that she has ripped her own position to shreds.

      • Christiane says

        if we can save Dr. Brantly, then we must try . . . that is who we are as a people

      • William Thornton says

        Alan, I appreciate your writing but this article and this comment is not your best work. It is the least thoughtful piece that I have read of yours. You border on being unkind on the “just to make a point” section. I’ll ignore it. Your OP on the historical, sacrifices of believers is interesting but not comparable. A truly selfless sacrifice would be to say, “I was called here. I’ll stay here. Spend the million on these people in the streets. Spend it on the Liberian doctors and nurses who have to deal with ebola in far more risky situations.” No, I don’t get to decide what others will or must do to exhibit a genuine sacrifice.

        You ignore the “Christian narcissism” Coulter mentions, something I do not attribute to Dr. Brantley because I do not know him. I have known plenty of whom I would, though. It is rampant.

        Sure, spend the millions, just acknowledge to all Africans that their lives are far less valuable than Americans, than American doctors trained in America, and we will prove it to them as often as we must. There is a hypocrisy in this. Don’t think it is noticed only by Coulter.

        I get it. We will not stint in taking care of ourselves. Just don’t question us about it.

        • Bill Mac says

          “I get it. We will not stint in taking care of ourselves. Just don’t question us about it.”

          Isn’t Coulter’s whole point that we should take care of ourselves? ie: Forget the rest of the stinking world. Stay here and help good, deserving Americans.

          It’s frankly none of Coulter’s business where Christians go to serve or whether they are backed up and helped by their organizations. To call him an idiot and narcissist is beyond the pale. Coulter gets paid to run her mouth, and it seems she’s loving her job. It is difficult to believe she really cares about any of the alternatives she laid as better choices for Brantly to serve. She, like all her conservative mouthpiece colleagues, is only interested in using evangelicals to support her far right ideology.

          Maybe Brantly did offer to stay in Liberia. Maybe he didn’t. Perhaps his courage slipped a little when faced with the horrible death Ebola promises and agreed to leave. Maybe he feared dying without seeing his family again. Maybe he feared dying period. aI think he can be forgiven that. Perhaps Samaritan’s purse was prepared for some such contingency. It’s only money.

          I don’t see the hypocrisy. Our own missionaries come home all the time, do they not, when they are ill or injured? What’s the difference? Would we not bring a missionary to Mexico home if he contracted malaria? Is that hypocrisy? Does that mean we value American lives over Mexicans?

        • says

          I do not think that it is hypocrisy to say that we should not just let the doctor die. Are we to say that American doctors are to never go overseas and do work? And, if they do and get sick then their sending organization should not try to save them just because they cannot save everyone in the country who gets sick? What if the doctor is on a bus and it crashes and he is injured terribly in a life- threatening way – but 40 others are injured as well? Should his sending organization not provide him medical treatment to save him unless they also save the other 40 as well. That would be a new way of doing things.

          But, with all of that said, my point in bringing up the history is to say that the traditional attitude of Christians has been to run toward tragedy and problems and “rescue the perishing” while providing hope to the dying. This is why Christians started hospitals all over the world. Whether we do it here or there is up to God. Both are valid.

          I respect your view and always appreciate your comments. I disagree with you here but appreciate the feedback. You are more charitable to Coulter than I. Her lead of calling the doctor “idiotic” probably colored my reading of anything else she said, although I disagree with her anyway.

          • William Thornton says

            She’s a talented provocateur…but didn’t ignore things in this case that we should pay attention to.

          • Christiane says

            the United States Navy hospital ships serve our troops first, and then ALSO serve in disasters world-wide . . .

            an example is the Comfort which was sent to Haiti after the earthquake, with a full compliment of doctors, nurses, and trained health professionals on board . . . the ship has operating rooms, and advanced equipment for diagnosis as well . . .

            YES, it is part of the United States military policy to respond to international disasters, if possible . . . because that is who we are as a nation

            very proud of my niece who was a Navy nurse aboard the Comfort in Haiti

        • Jeff Johnson says

          What has Alan said that borders on being unkind? What is unkind (and unfounded) is Ann Coulter’s accusation that Dr. Brantly was motivated by “Christian narcissism” in going to Liberia, presumably because he would not have been lauded as a hero had he ministered to neighbors in his native Texas or celebrities in California. Coulter is also uncharitable and misguided in labeling Dr. Brantly an “idiot” for failing to share her belief that Christian work done in America will necessarily have a greater impact on the well-being of the world than work done in other countries. Coulter’s entire point rests on several faulty assumptions:

          1. That Dr. Brantly was motivated by some kind of hero complex in traveling to Liberia. Although there no doubt is a type of Christian narcissism motivating some missions endeavors, why attribute it to Dr. Brantly? Why assume the worst of those who minister in the third world? Maybe he truly felt called to minister directly to Ebola patients — something he could not have done at all in the states.

          2. That Dr. Brantly’s mission work in Africa is somehow incompatible with, or detrimental to, ministry in America. Maybe he is very much engaged with the culture wars here. Coulter suggests that missionaries such as Brantly want affirmation from the secular world, while at the same time chiding him for not caring for Hollywood A-listers in an attempt to influence them for Christ. Maybe Brantly’s work in Liberia will actually gain him an audience with the big-wigs Coulter thinks he should be ministering to. They certainly are more likely to have heard of him now than before he went to Africa.

          3. That work done in America is inherently more valuable than that done in Africa or other less prosperous and prominent places. Who is Ann Coulter to say that one conversion of a Hollywood celebrity is worth more than a lifetime of work in Liberia? That’s Christian narcissism if anything is. When Jesus called the rich young ruler, he didn’t tell him to use his influence and riches for the cause of Christ. Jesus told him to give up his worldly position and riches, give to the poor, and then follow him. Let’s stop pretending that Jesus needs American wealth or influence to further His kingdom. It’s not only narcissistic, it’s idolatrous.

          • Jeff Johnson says

            Here’s an article from CNN on Brantly’s background. Only 33 years old, he was serving a two-year, post-residency fellowship with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia and was in country prior to the Ebola outbreak. Brantly was practicing general medicine until SP appointed him director of their Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia.

            http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/02/health/ebola-kent-brantly/index.html

          • William Thornton says

            Jeff, I disavowed her ad hominem conclusions about the Dr., neither did I argue that his work has no value. He sounds like a super guy. She posited two alternative scenarios that were quite plausible.

    • Tim B says

      Most missionaries and wise 3rd world international travelers carry medi vac insurance. It is doubtful that donated dollars were spent to evacuate him.

  14. says

    Astoundingly, Coulter considers herself a “non-denominational” Christian. Nothing I have ever seen or heard from her, however, supports that claim.

    • Dave Miller says

      As nasty as she is sometimes, she could do well in some circles of Baptist blogging.

  15. Jeff Johnson says

    Another tidbit . . . According to the CDC’s records, the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia is the first in the country’s history. So when Dr. Kent Brantly moved to Liberia last year (before the current outbreak) to begin his fellowship with Samaritan’s Purse, he moved to a country where there had been exactly ZERO documented Ebola cases.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/resources/outbreak-table.html

    • Jeff Johnson says

      In fact, other than 1 reported case in a scientist who had performed a monkey autopsy in the Ivory Coast way back in 1994, NONE of the previous outbreaks were anywhere near Liberia. They were in central and east Africa. Calling Brantly an idiot for going to Africa because of Ebola is like calling someone an idiot for going to Oklahoma City after a disease breaks out in Mexico City.

      • Greg Harvey says

        Too logical Jeff. Your contribution to the national dialog requires too much thought and consideration to be considered useful. Could you use more invective instead??

        ;)

  16. says

    Good article, and good analysis. I’m glad I didn’t find your “fanboys” article here, then I would have been tempted to write in a more excoriating manner. I hope you reconsidered and pulled it.

  17. says

    While there may unfortunately be many examples of what appears to be what Ann Coulter refers to as “Christian narcissism” these days, Dr Brantly’s efforts appear to represent the antithesis of that concept. One of the most disappointing features of her article is the way she calls the doctor’s motives into question.

    Also, I’m not real clear on her complaints about the cost to the charities. Maybe I’m missing something but these are private charities, right? If private funds pay the bills, what is Ann concerned about? She admits she considers the danger of the Ebola virus spreading in the U.S. to be low.

    Another puzzling aspect of the article is it does not appear to be good politics. I understand the need for the Church, from a spiritual standpoint and eternal focus, to resist becoming automatically identified with any particular political party. But the reverse is not necessarily true. It would make sense for the Republican Party to court the evangelical vote, which often turns out to be a critical factor when Republicans win elections. Ann Coulter seems to regularly turn up on talk shows and political events supporting the Republican candidate whenever election time rolls around. She appears to have just dissed a critical segment of the voting coalition Republicans need to recruit, and this does not seem like good political strategy. While evangelicals might not worry about Republican strategy, it seems like Republicans would.