Dr Kent Brantly, an American doctor and missionary who contracted the Ebola virus while working in West Africa, was released from an isolation unit this week after being cured of the disease.
Evacuated out of West Africa, and flown to America to become one of the first ever Ebola patients in the country, Dr Brantly had been kept in isolation for three weeks. He and another American patient, Nancy Writebol, were the first two people to receive an experimental drug for Ebola.
At a news conference following his release, Brantly announced, “Today is a miraculous day.”
“I’m thrilled to be alive,” he continued. “To be well and to be reunited with my family.”
One might think that – being a man of science – Brantly meant that his recovery was a medical miracle. But as his press conference continued, it became clear he was talking about a miracle of God.
When talking about fellow patient Nancy Writebol, he said: “When she walked out of the room, all she could say was ‘To God be the glory’. As a medical missionary, I never imagined myself in this position.”
He then went on to say in no uncertain terms, “God saved my life. Please do not stop praying for the people of West Africa.”
Watch the clip here:
His statement has since been slammed by commentators and critics from around the world, who are insisting that scientific advancements saved Brantly, not spiritualism or religion. Critics are also raising this question:
If Brantly was saved by God, does that mean God decided not to save the 1,200 people in West Africa who have died from the virus?
Sam de Brito wrote in a recent column:
Far be it from me to deny people their right to thank Yahweh, Allah, Thor, Wotan, Enki, Gaia, Quetzalcoatl, Anubis or Kanye West for whatever joy wiggles its way into their life – but we do need to keep the silliness in perspective.
If Brantly is so certain it was the hand of god that saved him, does it not strike you as a little distrustful he didn’t stay in West Africa and sweat blood in a tent in the jungle?
If God’s on the job, why get air-lifted to one of America’s best acute care hospitals, be treated with the experimental drug ZMAPP and soak up all that first class care from medical professionals who are experts in their field?
Michele Hanon wrote for The Guardian:
Lucky Dr Kent Brantly, the American doctor who has recovered from Ebola, having been given a dose of the experimental antibody serum Zmapp, whizzed home to the US, and given another dose. He is now thanking God for saving his life. Through the medical team and drugs, he admits, but ultimately, it seems, God was in charge. And he chose Brantly, not the other 1,200 mainly west African people who have died horribly, which seems a bit picky.
Steve McSwain also discussed Brantly’s comments in The Huffington Post, also was more reticent:
I hesitate in bringing this up because, frankly, I am moved by the generosity and selflessness of someone like Dr. Brantley who gives his time, and almost his life, to help the sick and infirm in Africa. Genuinely inspiring. I’m not sure I could do that.
It is the theology, however, that increasingly troubles me. His theology, which was once my theology, too, and still is the thinking…the believing…the theology of scores of Christians. When I hear him thanking God for sparing his life, as well as thanking the public for their many prayers, I cannot help but wonder, What about the 1200 Africans who died of Ebola? Why were you spared but they were not?
Kent Brantly is most likely a truly compassionate human being. He travelled to West Africa to tend to the sick, and then became sick himself. When he spoke at the press conference, he no doubt merely wanted to give thanks to a major force in his life – his faith – the same way someone might thank their family for supporting them during a difficult time.
But that’s not what he said. What he said was, “God saved my life.”
News outlets can report that Kent Brantly thinks he was saved by God; but as far as the facts are concerned, he was saved by science.
As de Brito points out in his column, Brantly’s words are not only inaccurate; they are quite possibly damaging. Sam de Brito explains that superstitious beliefs have also hindered the containment and treatment of Ebola in West Africa.
Many communities battling Ebola are deeply suspicious of outsiders, others are resentful experimental drugs went first to Westerners like Brantly who were flown home for special treatment while Africans perished for lack of even basic medical supplies.
Only last week, 17 Ebola patients vanished after a crowd of mostly young men stormed a Liberian quarantine center, shouting “there’s no Ebola”, proceeding to free the sick and loot the clinic.
If God did save Brantly, there’s only one thing we wish.
That God wants to save the people of West Africa, too.
What do you think of Dr Kent Brantly’s comments?