A hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, West Africa, where the Ebola virus samples are tested, in June 2014.

A hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, where the Ebola virus samples are tested, in June 2014. Photo courtesy of Leasmhar, via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) As Western nations evacuate their citizens from West Africa’s growing Ebola outbreak, some Christian leaders have begun to speak of the virus as a curse from God.

On Friday (August 8), the World Health Organization declared the Ebola crisis ravaging the region an international health emergency. On the same day, Nigeria became the latest country in West Africa to declare the virus crisis a national emergency, the day after Spain evacuated a priest and a nun from Liberia to Madrid.

On Saturday (Aug. 9), a Congolese nun died from Ebola in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, the AP reported.

The outbreak started in December in Guinea, but was not discovered until March. It has since killed more than 1,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“People are having different misconceptions that this is (a curse) from God,” said Bishop Sumoward Harris, now retired from the Lutheran Church in Liberia. “This is depending on how they are interpreting the Bible. But I don’t think God is angry and is issuing a punishment.”

In Liberia, more than 100 Christian leaders meeting in early August declared that God was angry and Ebola a plague. They called for prayers to seek God’s forgiveness for sins including corruption and immoral acts such as homosexuality.

Liberia’s Wilmot Kotati Bobbroh, head of the Living Water Pentecostal Church, later described the outbreak as a national curse brought by God to force repentance. Bobbroh said chlorine and soap were not working, but God’s mercy was saving people.

Liberian Lutheran Bishop Sumoward Harris in Tripoli. Harris said the Ebola virus spread quickly because little was known about it and the government had not mounted a robust response. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Liberian Lutheran Bishop Sumoward Harris in Tripoli, Libya, several years ago. Harris said the Ebola virus spread quickly because little was known about it and the government had not mounted a robust response. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In Sierra Leone, a similar view is gaining credence, according to Ebun James–Dekam, general secretary of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone.

“It has some similarities to what happened when the HIV/AIDS epidemic first occurred,” said James-Dekam.

Initially those infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone had relied on treatment from traditional healers, but this was shown to be ineffective, she said.

“Virtually all churches are relying on medical professional for treatment,” she added.

Harris said the virus spread quickly because little was known about it and the government had not mounted a robust response.

“The people had started taking relatives to prayer houses, while others administered herbal treatment,” Harris said. “By the time we realized this was an epidemic, it had grown out of proportion. We are now overwhelmed,” said Harris, while citing an urgent need for medical personnel and services.

YS/AMB END NZWILI

24 Comments

  1. Ignorance is immoral.
    And Religion IS our IGNORANCE:

    “The people had started taking relatives to prayer houses, while others administered herbal treatment,” Harris said. “By the time we realized this was an epidemic, it had grown out of proportion…..

    >>>>>> “We are now overwhelmed.”

    Anyone who teaches that prayer is useful
    should be fined for false advertising.

    BELIEFS MATTER because they affect people’s lives.

  2. God is historically known to send plagues and other punishments.

    Science cannot prove that the Ebola is not a curse from God. As even today’s elite universities admit, science is not provable but is just one “way of knowing.” Religion is an equally valid way of knowing, one that allows us to know that God sent Ebola as a curse. Actually, religion is a more equal way of knowing than science because science is a product of Western imperialism. I learned that at community collage.

    • Science needn’t prove anything. It’s up to the one making the claim to prove it. To say Ebola is a curse from God is a statement of fact that must be proven. Can you do it? Science will determine, based on the FACTS, what causes the virus. What facts do you have that it came from God? Whose God? If you want to get some real muscle behind your claims, you need to get Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (oops, he’s sitting at the right hand of the Lord, right now, isn’t he?). Why not instead say that left-handed people are the cause, or all people with blue eyes?

      • I agree that beliefs should be backed up by facts. Ignorance and superstition are very powerful enemies of truth. Do most religions teach facts? Of course not. Do scientists back up every assertion with facts? Fraud in science is not unheard of and scientific minds are just as susceptible as the rest to prejudice and self delusion.

        Religious people scream and shout their beliefs. Some atheists seem to enjoy ridiculing those with faith. What about a more reasoned approach that grants other the dignity of their beliefs.

        For believers and non believers alike who are curious about the Bible or are looking for help to cope with life one of my favorite resources is www.jw.org

        • James, the reason “Fraud in science is not unheard of” is that in science, is they have peer review. If an assertion is made, it is tested by many others to see if it is repeatable. If not, that information is disseminated so that all may know the assertion is false. In religion, assertions are impossible to test, and are repeated by others. To say that “scientific minds are just as susceptible as the rest to prejudice and self delusion.” only reveals how little you understand how scientists think.

    • Powerful vested interests in religion’s cash-cow and control, have managed to reduce scientific knowledge, in the mind of the easily manipulated, to ‘a matter of opinion’. On a level playing field, religion would be very much a minority interest and the tragic harm it continues to cause, greatly reduced. Religion plays a large role in most human tragedies e.g. Gaza, Iraq, etc.
      Self-respecting human beings shouldn’t allow themselves to be so shamefully used and abused by beneficiaries of superstitious nonsense.

  3. Here is a video of the noted theologist Dr. James David Manning PhD explaining why the Ebola is a curse sent to Africa because Obama is exporting sodomy around the world:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G89181Z1qHU

    A very interesting and edifying lecture from Dr. Manning, grounded in references to scripture.

  4. All those wicked pastors who prey on the gullible people of Africa and claimed to perform miracle why cannot they go to the amputee house in Sierra Leone and perform their miracle and let these people grow new limbs. Its hard enough to contract ebola but to be told by someone who lives on the tithe paid by the poor and gullible is not only wicked but evil. Ebola is just another disease like leprosy. In the days of Jesus people believed that leprosy is a curse from God. One of the favourite mantra when healing people by Jesus was to say “Your sins are forgiven”. But thanks be to the real God who gave us brains and some people called scientist are using their brains. Now how many people believed that leprosy is a curse from god unless of course you happened to be a paedophile priest.

  5. Wow….this Abrahamic god must be a real prick to curse everyone and everything for something that he made people do, then continue to curse and torture the cosmos just because he can.

    Either that or these ‘pastors’ are just looking for an excuse to seek attention.

  6. What is his criteria for sending plagues and other punishments? And if he does/did send plagues why don’t we learn what he wants? And why children and ‘true’ followers of his wishes? WW1 caused 15,000,000 deaths worldwide but the flu that followed killed 18,000,000. After such a devastating war where lessons were learned why kill another 18,000,000? Civilians just walking down a peaceful street in Ohio dead in 24 hours?
    In a very simple example, it’s like the wife slamming doors, the husband asking, “What’s wrong?” and the wife responding, “Well if you don’t know, there’s no reason discussing it!”
    As for what you may see as his reason, we see what we want to see-like clouds in the sky-one sees a bunny and another one sees a flower.

  7. Let’s be wise, pray and ask for wisdom from the Lord. Amend your ways and make peace with God. He’s a faithful and loving God. His ways are past finding out! Receive Him and be saved. God bless.

  8. It is hard to argue against the fact that Africans have endured unbelievable hardships. Fact is, we are all cursed without forgiveness for our own rebellion against our Creator. Jesus Christ broke that curse on the cross, but it is our choice to accept or reject that gift. Our iniquity is responsible for all the disease, wars, death and all other atrocities this world has to offer. Ye among you that are without sin cast the first stone. Who’s responsible for Ebola in Africa? Everyone who has sinned. Therefore I’m responsible and so are you. That’s why missionaries give their lives for people they don’t even know. Regardless of whether you believe God exists or not, it doesn’t change the fact that you are going to have to answer to Him.

  1. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.