Topline: Concern about Ebola and other serious diseases is rational, but blaming immigrants is not. A serious response to these illnesses leaves no room for fear-mongering. As Christians, we need to think about this first and foremost from the perspective of our faith, not from a foundation of fear.
Question: Are immigrants to blame for the arrival of Ebola and a severe strain of enterovirus in the U.S.?
Answer: No. Given the scale of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, it is not surprising that a case appeared in the U.S. But Ebola is not immigrant-caused, and an outbreak here is extremely unlikely. Plus, we take care of our own: if an American is sick, he or she should have access to proper medical care here, in the U.S. The enterovirus was first detected in the U.S. in 1962. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no evidence that the recent strain has anything to do with immigrants.
Question: Shouldn’t we close our borders to people from countries where there is an Ebola outbreak?
Answer: No. In fact, closing borders could be counterproductive. In the words of Centers for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden, “One strategy that won’t stop this epidemic is isolating affected countries or sealing borders. When countries are isolated, it is harder to get medical supplies and personnel deployed to stop the spread of Ebola. And even when governments restrict travel and trade, people in affected countries still find a way to move and it is even harder to track them systematically.” We need to address Ebola head-on to stop its spread, not try to hide from it.
Question: How big is the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.?
Answer: Ebola does not transfer easily, and we have one of the best health-care systems in the world. These factors make the risk of outbreak here small. Quickly identifying patients who may have Ebola, isolating those who are ill and following up with those who may have been in contact with a patient prevent the virus from spreading. In addition, only those who show symptoms are contagious.
Question: How should I respond as a Christian?
Answer: While the presence of the Ebola virus in the United States has been isolated to a few cases, the situation in West Africa is very stark, affecting thousands of people, many of whom are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We encourage Christians to join in prayer for an end to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (see www.PrayToEndEbola.org) and to financially support Christian ministries and mission agencies actively providing care and support such as World Vision and SIM International. Our response, as Christians, should be driven by Christ’s love, not by fear or scapegoating (1 John 4:18).
- Immigrants and Ebola, Café Con Leche Republicans
- CDC Questions and Answers on Ebola
- CDC Director Blog
- CDC page on Enterovirus D68
- World Vision
- SIM International