When Amy Arden joined Eagle Mountain International Church in 1997, her 11-month-old daughter had received all the recommended vaccinations, Arden says.
Her child didn't get another shot until Arden left the church in 2003.
"There was a belief permeating throughout the church that there is only faith and fear," Arden said. "If you were afraid of the illness enough to get vaccinated, it showed a lack of faith that God would protect and heal you."
Members of Eagle Mountain International Church also believed that childhood vaccinations could lead to autism, Arden said.
"I didn't know a single mother who was vaccinating her children."
Eagle Mountain's teachings on health, including disparaging remarks about vaccinations, have been called into question since an outbreak of measles in Texas -- an outbreak that state officials tie to the church.
As a Word of Faith church, Eagle Mountain is part of the booming prosperity gospel movement, which holds that God wants to reward believers with riches, health and happiness, if they will just recite certain Scriptures, pray and trust in divine providence.
The church is also part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, a vast and profitable multimedia ministry led by its namesake, a longtime prosperity preacher and television evangelist. Based in Newark, Texas, a rural community 25 miles north of Fort Worth, Eagle Mountain is co-pastored by Copeland's daughter, Terri Copeland Pearsons, and son-in-law, George Pearsons.
In the prosperity gospel world, Copeland, 76, and his wife, Gloria, are considered royalty, said Kate Bowler, author of "Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel."
"He is a major grandfather of the movement, starting to age out but still incredibly influential," Bowler said. "They've been on the air forever and stayed largely scandal-free. That’s partly why they are so trusted by lots of people."
According to Kenneth Copeland Ministries, the Copelands' daily program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network reaches millions of viewers, their magazine more than 500,000 readers.
Twenty-one people in Tarrant County and nearby Denton County have contracted measles, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The victims include nine children and range from 4 to 44 years old, according to Tarrant County.
Tarrant County epidemiologist Russell Jones said the confirmed cases can be traced back to a person who attended Eagle Mountain International Church after visiting Asia, which has higher rates of measles infections than the United States.
Health officials are not releasing the name of that person or the particular country.
Jones said he doesn't know exactly how many of the infected people are members of Eagle Mountain. At least 11 of the 21 did not have any measles vaccinations, he said. (Doctors usually recommend two shots.)
"Our concern would be that if you have a pocket of people who associate and think alike, if they don't believe in immunization there's going to be some other vulnerable people," Jones said.
Eagle Mountain Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons has said that while some people may believe she is against immunizations, that is not true.
"I believe it is wrong to be against vaccinations," she said in a statement.
Since the measles outbreak, Eagle Mountain has held two free immunization clinics, where about 220 church members received vaccinations, according to Jones, who said the county assisted with the clinics.
Jones also said that he is working to ascertain how many of the church's 1,500 members have not yet been immunized.
Eagle Mountain and Kenneth Copeland Ministries disinfected their shared 25-acre campus, including the nursery and day care center, Pearsons said at an Aug. 14 church service titled "Taking Our Stand of Faith Over Measles." The church also runs schools for children through the sixth grade.
Jones praised the church's efforts thus far -- but other health experts have been critical.
In an Aug. 15 statement, Copeland Pearsons drew a link between vaccinations and autism, saying, "The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time."
In 2010, during a broadcast about health, Kenneth Copeland -- whose followers consider him a prophet -- voiced alarm about the number of shots given to his grandchild.
"All of this stuff they wanted to put into his body," Copeland said. "Some of it is criminal!"