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A Christian on Coulter’s Ebola Comments

Don't miss the important point seeded in Coulter's sassy rhetoric.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

August 8, 2014 - 3:19 am

The always provocative Ann Coulter raised a lot of eyebrows this week with her Wednesday column calling a Christian missionary who contracted ebola in Liberia “idiotic.” Headlines making the rounds on social media do a fair job of highlighting her pointed rhetoric without addressing her thesis. Coulter wrote:

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…

She goes on to ask, “Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?”

We can debate the wisdom of Coulter’s rhetorical packaging (though it’s fair to bet that, if she did not communicate as pointedly as she does, we would not be talking about her at all). However, the substance at the root of what Coulter wrote proves worth Christians’ prayerful consideration.

Are missions to foreign lands undertaken at the expense of needs closer to home? From a monetary perspective, in Dr. Brantly’s case, the objective answer is a resounding yes. Two million dollars could go a long way toward providing for the spread of the Gospel. But more importantly, there’s a spiritual danger in what Coulter calls “Christian narcissism,” confusing earthly mileage with spiritual accomplishment.

It may be a bit much to presume Brantly traveled to Liberia to stroke his ego, or to somehow put God in his debt. Coulter does not know his heart one way or the other, and neither do we. Only God does. Nevertheless, there remains an object lesson for the rest of us to consider which could give us a moment of prayerful pause before eagerly traveling halfway around the world before first ministering to our nearest neighbors. Sometimes — I think it fair to say most of the time — God has you where He wants you.

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.
Top Rated Comments   
I usually consider Coulter's points to be valid, but you have to look beyond her over the top rhetoric to find them. Still, there are some valid counterpoints to her argument here.
1) Low hanging fruit. How hard is it to find someone suffering in Africa? Americans have a reasonable safety net, until illegal immigration and Obamacare destroys it, but Africans usually have no resources beyond their family and village.
2) Regulations. Remember post-Sandy when the Fire Department was told they could not run a soup kitchen giving out free food without a health permit? Now you would even be required to post caloric nutritional information. Africa needs and wants their help, American bureaucrats don't want any inputs other than their own.
3) Bang for the Buck. The Africans suffer from problems easy to diagnose and often with known, simple solutions. If you can reduce the suffering of 100 Africans by 50% and 10 Americans by 10% with the same level of effort, where is your effort going to do the most good?

Of course, God's calling is not subject to logic, He calls to the heart.
If I were speculating; perhaps God knows that this Ebola vaccine is desperately needed in the world and the only way to get the FDA off their bureaucratic chairs (or the part that contacts the chair) is to infect an American Doctor who will take the vaccine and do the trials that the Government will not do. Imagine that Louis Pasteur discovered the cure for rabies today, in America. How many thousands would die before the FDA 'approved' it. His ways are mysterious for a reason. We do not see the full picture.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I spent four years in Swaziland and three years in Kenya and came away with the following:

We cannot fix Africa.

They must find their own path. In terms of their souls, they seem to do fairly well (although the Swazi Blue, Yellow or Red Zionists may point towards each other and express strong reservations). The biggest threat they face is Islam (see: Boko Haram). African Christians are fighting the fight that the Western Progressive "Christians" dare not speak.

The more I saw of USAID (Agency for International Development), the less impressed I was, especially of their penchant for shoveling money at dubious projects).

The more I saw of the Peace Corps, the more impressed I was, especially their penchant for the volunteers to live in the bush where they established mucho good will.

Regarding the $2 million: This is what medical evacuation insurance is for.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep, have to agree with Coulter's main points on this one:

1. A tremendous waste of money thrown at people who, for the most part, aren't interested in living the way we live.

2. Self-absorbed Christians (probably Progressives) trying to score Heaven points and increase their own bragging rights amongst other Christians.

I once did a job in Canada, eh. The project engineer there took me to dinner and told me a story:

30 years ago, while in college, this man went to an African island country on a grant from the Canadian government. They were going to help all these poor, subsistence farmers to learn newer, more efficient planting and crop growing techniques that would allow them to produce food in much greater quantities.

This would allow the subsistence farmers to change their entire lives. They would never have to worry about producing enough to eat throughout the year, and they could sell the excess to others, generating income and raising the overall standard of living for the entire country!

It was a miserable and horrible failure. The Canadian government wasted almost $100 M on the project. These people didn't want to change. They had no concept of "working hard to get ahead". The concept of putting in a little extra effort was complete nonsense from their perspective.

By the time this well-meaning do-gooder left the tiny island country, none of the farmers had accepted "the new way".

Do you know what this gentleman said to me the real problem was? American greed. You read that correctly. He knew the Americans could have dumped a lot more money into the initiative, but they'd refused to participate in the original program. Thus, their noble attempt to raise those poor Africans out of poverty failed, because Americans didn't dump truckloads of money on a giant waste of time.

This is a case where a Westerner assumed that everyone in the world thinks like he does. Everyone must want all the comforts I want, right? Everyone wants to live like me. Why wouldn't they?

Because not everyone grows up with your education and culture, that's why. The African country he wanted to help simply didn't have the cultural background to accept the new programming.

This guy told me he knew that if America would've dumped another $100 M into the project, they could have built schools staffed by Canadians to teach the children of the farmers to want to change their lives. So, he understood on one level he couldn't change the mentality of the older generation, but could instead indoctrinate their children with his belief system and turn the children against their parent's beliefs.

All for their own good, of course. Since, you know, do-gooders always know what's best for you - better than you know what's best for yourself.

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (91)
All Comments   (91)
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First, God has the right to tell anyone he wants to go wherever he chooses. This is why we call him Father. He is the dad and we are the kids. There is a degree where he decides and we obey. If he tells someone to go to Liberia, then they do right to go.
Second, Coulter makes valid points about the needs spiritually around us and the lack of Christians tending to them. That 's because they are busy in their churches preaching and eating and drinking and generally ignoring anything God says to them at all. They are also ignoring their nation, once "one nation under God". They are waiting to be wafted away - oh, how rapturous! - to a country that would be totally unrecognizable to them with a King whose voice they utterly do not know, hear, or obey now.
Africa needs help. Those who love them, and love God, will help. America needs help. Those who love her, and love God, will help. The rest of the Christians? They will go to church.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two famous pundits who "work the system" for all its worth...Jesse Ventura and Ann Coulter. Both, mouthy gadflys. Pray. Amen.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Amen. American Christians have been giving away fish and attempts to teach fishing still have yet to succeed. It is long past time to remember - and to act - on the admonition that charity begins at home.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with Ms. Coulter entirely. I worked as a missionary in Haiti and contracted shigella, a nasty gut microbe. I almost died due to severe loss of fluids. The illness presented similarly to cholera. The climate in the tropics exacerbated it. I went to the Haitian hospital with my friends watching over me and insisting on the use of clean needles and no transfusions. None of us ever considered for a moment to be flown back to the U.S. for treatment. If you are a missionary for Christ, you throw in your lot with the people you are serving. I worked with Mother Teresa and the idea that we would be flown home was never once in our hearts or minds. I never heard of Samaritan's Purse until recently. I think they need to re-examine their policies and make it clear to those who serve that they will not be flown "home" at the organizations expense, if they become ill. These types of things need to be made clear prior to taking on a mission. As far as this recent issue with ebola; I'm a family nurse practitioner (FNP) and introducing the ebola virus, via a human patient, into the U.S. is not a decision I would have made. I believe there are other things going on here that we (the public) have not been told.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
There has been a lot of comment about “Sometimes — I think it fair to say most of the time — God has you where He wants you.” I admit that I am currently reading books like “The Crook in the Lot” by Thomas Boston, which addresses how and why God puts us in desperate situations. On the other hand, we are to be content, but not to accept sin, in ourselves and in our spiritual family. And we are not to be blithely or blandly fatalistic.

I do not know if Paul consciously knew (or heard) a call to Rome, but it was God’s will working in His own way. Like this, I had a disagreement with a fellow at church (and I might have been wrong here) when I suggested we pray for Miriam Ibrahim to be released with her family to a safe country. And the man said, “Sure, it that’s God’s will”. And I said, “God’s will is peace, joy and righteousness.” And Miriam was released. But other Christians are being slaughtered. What is God’s “will” in each of these circumstances. God is always in control, but He does allow very bad things to happen, and then uses them for His glory. I think God’s will is for us to embrace peace, joy and righteousness where we are, and to act in a holy, righteous and loving manner as we walk step by step.

From experience I don’t believe for a second that every missionary is in any way motivated by self-aggrandizement. But I also have seen missionaries blind to the people, family, and neighbors around them as they look toward a distant horizon.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"From experience I don’t believe for a second that every missionary is in any way motivated by self-aggrandizement. But I also have seen missionaries blind to the people, family, and neighbors around them as they look toward a distant horizon."

Wow! Do you mean that they might not be all this way or all that way? Do you mean that some might be doing it out of a pure heart and a genuine call, and some might need to reexamine their motives?

No! Please tell me it's a slam dunk and doesn't require actual thinking!



10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's another point about medical missionary-ism beyond the stepping over the poor to get there. A surgeon can repair a hair lip, or revise a stump for a prosthesis. And a dentist can fill or pull a tooth. And a deitician can teach new dietary rules (if the rules are welcome or practical is a different thing).

But most people don't need surgery, they need medicines. And all too often the benign missionary MD gives a few samples for hypercholesterolemia or hypertension, and then knows when the samples run out, no one is ever going to give him more. There is a high degree of futility to it. But it makes everyone feel good, so there's that.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Hudson, maybe it's different in America, but here in Africa we help the family and hold our tongues as the family is already suffering with pain and fear. It is a kindness to the wife and children in their acute distress to not hear opinions that their father as he struggles to live was 'idiotic' or such ‘sassy’ insults. Is it showing any kind of grace and compassion with these hurtful words?
Now, Why are so fearful? You don't have the ebola vaccine? But your laboratories have the ebola virus for thirty years. Kept inside your country already for a long, long time. M.r Hudson, don't all of you already have everything in hand needed to fix the problem?
So what important point purpose is telling the so few people who actually come here, not to come to help Africans to survive and contain this epidemic that was ignored for months? I tell you the truth, they are appreciated by those with the least of all.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
So tell your "people" to stop eating bush meat, reusing needles, giving the bodies back to the families, and on and on and on with your stupidity. Face it, you africans are sub human and incapable of learning a damn thing. You still wouldn't have the wheel if whites hadn't given it to you. I'm tired of dumping money on you idiots. Starve, drink cow piss, too stupid to dig a water well, I just don't give a f*^$ anymore. And stop breeding for cripes sake. You have the frakking internet, nigerian princes prove it. Make your own damn medicines and invent SOMETHING for once in your worthless history. If I was in charge, none of you would EVER be allowed to come here and your "airlines" can all fly directly into the frakkin sea before I let one in.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
You probably need to back to the Storm Front or whatever neo-Nazi garbage pit you came from. People around here prefer rational thought.

10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Liberia is an overwhelmingly Christian nation. The Christians in Liberia are the people who should be evangelizing Liberia. I imagine that there is an ongoing shortage of medical personnel in Liberia. But sending an American doctor there to serve for a few years and then return to the US is just not an efficient approach to alleviating the shortage for many reasons. This is true aside from the huge cost of repatriating a doctor who caught Ebola. An exception would be a doctor with special skills that are critical and can't be foundor trained locally. This is like sending American teenagers to Haiti to build housing for homeless Haitians while they busy themselves with caring for the special needs of their American guests who have no idea how to manage the local culture or sit around and watch the Americans work.

Those who are called to mission work in non-Christian areas should settle permanently and integrate into the local culture. Historically, much of this work was done by the members of religious orders, men and women who did not have conflicting family obligations because they were celibate.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Celibacy aside, I whole-heartedly agree with you. The apostles were sent out to the nations. Paul was sent by the Holy Spirit to Rome (against the insistant advice and warnings of his friends).

But, short of being a parchment-carrying messenger, all other Christian obligations, duties and requirements to love, care for, protect, advise, support counsel, teach, preach and comfort direct Christians to those around them. Not in the next town, the next country or the next continent. There is far more cachet and chance for a legacy and historical recognition for the man who travels to Africa to treat and evangelize and who dies in the process than for working in the soup kitchen in the alleys behind your neighborhood.

This is an unspoken and often unrecognized and unaddressed cultural component that applies to Doctors Without Borders and the Peace Corps and NGOs, but also to missionary work as well. An exciting Adventure Do-gooder-ism.

My best friend was a missionary in Haiti for a decade. I don't know what ultimate good she did, but I know that BEING THERE, residing there year after year gave more opportunity for showing the meaning of the love of Christ than all the kids who came for summer-missions build-a-cinderblock-house-for-the-local-church evangelism that is so popular.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Paul was sent by the Holy Spirit to Rome (against the insistant advice and warnings of his friends)."

Um, no. Paul's friends did not warn him against going to Rome, but against going to Jerusalem.

You might want to read it again.

10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Historically, much of this work was done by the members of religious orders, men and women who did not have conflicting family obligations because they were celibate."

Historically, yes. Biblically, no. The call to celibacy is rare, and there's nothing even remotely resembling an "order" in Scripture.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hon, Scripture is not and was never written to be the complete, definitive how-to guide for the Church. Your error is in assuming that it was. Rather, the Church is where the Bible came from.

Try again. Next time, show your work.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Try again. Nowhere are we told to listen to the Church, but rather, the Church is told to listen to the Word of God. Among other passages, when Paul left the elders at Ephesus for the last time, he commended them.

"I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.Therefore watch, keeping in memory, that for three years I ceased not, with tears to admonish every one of you night and day. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, who is able to build up, and to give an inheritance among all the sanctified." Acts 20:29-32 DRC

Did he commend them to the elders? A priest? The bishops? The cardinals? The church?

No, never, He, like Peter, commended them to the written word, not to shifting fables and oral traditions.

10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well said
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, then there's a conflict here. The Bible says that one day men will come as wolves in sheep's clothing forbidding men to marry and telling them to abstain form certain certain foods such as meats. I do believe there is a Christian-affiliated trans-national institution that has done that.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree that we can't look into someone's mind and know what motivates them.

Maybe there's some kind of moral calculus going on. A starving Ethiopian baby is, arguably, worse off and more in need of someone's help than a homeless American adult. Here in this country, we're not (at the moment) dealing with an Ebola outbreak. In Liberia, people are.

We have it pretty good here in the States. People in other countries are much worse off than we are. So perhaps some Christians feel obliged to minister where people are suffering the worst. Whether that's hubris or compassion, I don't know.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, if the various aide groups who are there working very, very hard against impossible odds trying to contain a deadly disease in countries without medical systems decided to just let well enough alone ... what then? Do we just let people die and turn away? How long would it be then before this thing hops a jet and comes to one or more of our own homes?

Granted, it may do that anyhow, but it almost certainly would if no one was willing to go over there and even try to contain it and help those people out. In the end, this is a global society thanks to travel, and they are still our neighbors. By helping them, we are still helping ourselves even if in a roundabout manner.

And I have a very hard time seeing dead bodies in the streets and thinking that any medical professional who thought he or she had something to contribute is able to easily ignore what they're seeing. I imagine the call to help must be pretty powerful.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
We could solve your "hopping a jet" problem by not letting them hop that jet, in the first place. As to the dying? that's what happens to primitive people, all the time. Eventually only the strongest survive.
THAT's how the problem gets fixed.
Then, a few hundred years from now, when they are culturally developed enough, we can discuss the jets again.
Look about you, and we have immense troubles because we let too many very primitive people get weapons they themselves cannot make and coordinating attacks on innocent people using cell phones they have no idea of even the basic scientific principles involved in its workings.
In Palestine, the only thing they save their babies for is to become suicide bombers, human shields or terrorists. Maybe we should just have let them die, when there were far fewer of them.
It has taken Western culture three thousand years to get where we are. Yet, we allow stoneage people to drag us backwards, like idiots.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
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