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Trump Evangelical Adviser Sparks Outrage With Flu Remarks

Texas minister Gloria Copeland, who advised President Donald Trump’s campaign sparked an uproar Tuesday by suggesting that Christian faith makes people immune from the flu.

The evangelical minister, who sat on the Trump campaign’s evangelical executive advisory board, denied the country is in the midst of a severe flu outbreak in a Facebook video that went viral because, “Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu.”

“We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu,'” Copeland added. “We’ve already had our shot: He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on. And by his stripes we are healed,” she said.

Public health experts immediately blasted the remarks while some other members of the Trump evangelical board try to distance themselves from the comments.

“We don’t agree with that statement,” said Johnnie Moore, the unofficial spokesman for the panel during the campaign who frequently meets with White House officials on policy and engagement with the evangelical community. “I don’t know a single person in the White House who would agree with that.”

“It would be harmful to suggest that there is a non-scientific approach to preventing influenza particularly during a year where we’re seeing serious illness and even an increase in flu related deaths,” said John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health and a former Centers for Disease Control associate director for policy.

“People are best protected against the flu by getting a flu shot,” he added.

Copeland and her husband co-founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas. Both were members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. Other members included former Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

This year’s flu season is among the worst in recent history. The CDC last Friday said flu-related hospitalizations were the highest since the agency began tracking that statistic in 2010. Agency officials said the death toll among children has risen to 53 so far.

The White House declined to comment and referred flu-related questions to the CDC, which did not respond to requests for comment.

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