One of the things that religion poisons is human health. I’ve posted extensively on how Christian sects that spurn modern medicine, like the oxymoronically-named “Christian Science,” have caused the deaths of many. And the rest of us, including “moderate” believers, enable this poisoning by making laws that allow people to withhold medical care from children on religious grounds. Since the children are either uncomprehending, brainwashed, or powerless, I see this as one of the most horrible effects religion has on society. It’s also a blatant demonstration of the incompatibility between religion and science, which is another way of saying the incompatibility between rationality and irrationality.
And the medical irrationality is not just limited to Christians.
Dr. A. Majid Katme is a spokesman for the “Islamic Medical Association (UK)” and its former head, described by Brian Whitaker in The Guardian as a “respected figure in the British Muslim community. ” Katme is also a big danger to society. He opposes vaccination—all vaccination—as un-Islamic.
If you want to read a pernicious and ignorant document, go see Dr. Katme’s post, “Islam, vaccines, and health,” written in 2011 for the “International Medical Council on Vaccination” (IMCV). Orac has posted several times on the IMCV (e.g., here), which, although it has Ph.D.s and M.D.s as members, is basically just a crackpot anti-vaxer group. In the case of Katme’s piece, it’s suborning quackery.
Katme’s document asserts several things:
- That vaccines contain poisons. He mentions “heavy metals, pus from sores of diseased animals, horse serum, calf serum, faecal matter, foetal cells, urine, macerated cancer cells, sweepings from diseased children, formaldehyde (a carcinogen used in embalming fluid), phenol (a carcinogen capable of causing paralysis, convulsions, coma, necrosis and gangrene), lactalbumin hydrolysate (an emulsifier), aluminium phosphate (an aluminium salt that is corrosive to tissues), retro-virus SV-40 (a contaminant virus in some polio vaccines), antibiotics (e.g., neomycin tm) that lead to antibiotic resistance, chick embryo (as a growth medium for the virus), sodium phosphate (a buffering salt), and foreign animal tissues containing genetic material (DNA/RNA) from the growth medium.” Some of these are correct, some not, but what they do contain contain is antigens that protect against disease. The list of chemicals (none of which are in any one vaccine, and really, “pus from sores of diseased animals?”) is there as a scare tactic.
- That vaccines are based on a flawed theory: “the long-discredited theory that stimulation of antibodies in the human body equals protection from disease. This theory has not only failed to be proved, but has been repeatedly disproved. Stimulation of antibodies does not equal immunity and certainly does not equal permanent immunity.” He’s wrong here, unless by “proved” he means “logically proved.” In fact, immunity to disease is conferred by prompting the production of antibodies. Some immunity is permanent, some not (ergo revaccination, usually orally, for polio). But the fact that the theory is wrong is just pure misrepresentation.
- That vaccines haven’t been tested against controls: “Unthinkably, vaccine studies do not include placebo groups. Instead, they use other vaccines in ‘control’ groups, making it impossible to properly note actual rates of adverse events between a test group and real control group.” He’s wrong here, too, as you can see by doing about 30 seconds of Googling about control groups in the history of vaccination. Controls were there from the beginning, including Jenner’s tests on cowpox. And the controls weren’t “other vaccinations”; they were either the injection without the antigen, or no injection at all. And of course the vaccinated group had significantly less disease than the unvaccinated one.
Of course, none of this comes from science. What it comes from is religion, which Katme makes clear:
- “The case of vaccination is first an Islamic one, based on Islamic ethos regarding the perfection of the natural human body’s immune defense system, empowered by great and prophetic guidance to avoid most infections.”
Well, we know what the “pure” Islamic way of not vaccinating leads to: smallpox, polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps, and all manner of avoidable diseases. Oh, and HPV as well, which is totally preventable by vaccination. Here’s Katme’s take on that:
- “Sexual immorality and adultery are stirred by offering our daughters HPV vaccination against cervical cancer.”
Good Lord! He’s one of those who, like some Catholics, prefers young women to die than to have sex. (He also notes, wrongly, that “Notably and incredibly, the HPV vaccine is shown to make some recipients even more susceptible to cervical cancer.”)
If people tell us that Islam is innocuous, a religion of peace, just cite the above. If Muslims took Katme’s advice and stopped vaccinating children, the world would experience dreadful epidemics of smallpox and polio. With the vaccines, we’ve wiped smallpox off the face of the earth. We’d get rid of polio, too, but Islamic clerics in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria urge believers to oppose polio vaccination, claiming it’s a plot to sterilize Muslims. And, of course, it’s in those places that polio keeps popping up.
Oh, I forgot: maybe we can blame the anti-vaxer stance of many Muslims not on religion—even though that’s the motivation they claim—but on those colonialist oppressors with their Western medicine and needles.