“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell


Friday, February 08, 2019

Euthanasia of children with disabilities

From Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger (1976)
"When legalization of euthanasia comes, it will come in the name of six favorite deceptions and disguises. They will say (as I can clearly document) that putting a person to death is good medicine and good science. The second disguise will be mercy, love, humanism and honesty. Thirdly, religion: remember that Satan pretends to be God. This is his favorite disguise at all times. So we will be, and have been, told that it is good Christianity to put people to death. The fourth one is the denial of the value of life, the claim that certain lives are not worthy, perhaps invoking cost-benefit issues. Fifthly, of  course, and maybe the most obvious one, is the denial of humanness of a person and that, therefore, murder will not be murder. Sixthly, euthanasia will be good law. It is essential that we should recognize those six signs, because they have much persuasive power." ( The Prophetic Voice and Presence of Mentally Retarded People in the World today, 1976, p 30).

In all the discussion revolving around the NY, Virginia and Vermont laws, there seems to be the underlying idea that infanticide/euthanasia is particularly ok if a child is born with a disability. Somehow, #5 above is always in play because if someone is disabled their lives are not worth living. It is crazy that the same people who would support the taking of the lives of children with disabilities, claim to support children and adults with disabilities. I wonder how long that will last if we move down the slope of infanticide. If it is ok to murder newborns, why not ok later in life. We have seen in Europe the permission to euthanize children up to age 4 (autism is often not diagnosed till age 30 months or later). Is that the next step that will be advocated in the name of "women's health?"

We all have heard of Roe vs. Wade, but have you heard of Doe vs. Bolton? This is the law that basically permits late term abortions for just about any reason. Don't believe me? Search the law.

"In a Los Angeles Times analysis, David Savage explained: ""[Supreme Court Justice Harry] Blackmun had said that abortion'must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.' So long as doctors were willing to perform abortions - and clinics soon opened to do so - the court's ruling said they could not be restricted from doing so at least through the first six months of pregnancy." During the final trimester, "It soon became clear that if a patient's 'emotional well-being' was reason enough to justify an abortion, than any abortion could be justified." (https://secure.mccl.org/doe-v-bolton.html more information is available on this website).

Could the "health" of the mother be considered as a reason for infanticide if it is use as a justification for late term abortions? Seems like a logical next step. Mothers will often experience emotional stress at the birth of a child with a disability. Get ready for the horror of the next  likely step.

Please wake up Democrats and Republicans too if it applies to you as well! Do not support this evil.

McNair

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Disability ministry perceptions

So often, when we consider the development of ministry to persons in some way affected by disability, we focus on our perceptions of the situation. We have customary ways of doing things that have become comfortable and ingrained. Then someone comes to us who either cannot or will not participate in those customary practices. During the times when we don't reject them, we tend to think about our perceptions of the situation. What do I need to do? How am I feeling? How can I help these people? It strikes me that although these are good questions to ask ourselves, they only reveal half of the equation.

I wonder what people with autism perceive when they come to church? What do they perceive when they enter a social situation? It would be interesting to begin by trying to understand their perspective.

Imagine someone with a disability, say autism or intellectual disability, riding in a car on the way to church. What are they thinking? As they get out of the car and walk toward the door of the church or the ministry, what are they anticipating will happen or are hoping will happen? As they go into the worship service, do they understand what that is about? When people around them are singing and raising their hands, what do they perceive that activity to be? If we were to explain to them what worship is, would they feel they have worshiped? Do we know the answers to these questions. When the class/ministry/church experience for the day is over, would the person say, "Yes, I received today what I was hoping to receive from my experience at church."

In part, the answer to this question goes to the culture of the church or ministry. If people have different perceptions of the world due to disabilities that impact their intellect, are the activities that impact those without those types of disabilities touching them in the same way?

Take for example something as "intuitive" as friendship. I have a man who is a friend of mine who is autistic. He seems to be constantly always on the lookout for a friend. He will attempt to reach out in friendship to others, people with intellectual disabilities, and although they might respond in a friendly manner, they seem to not be providing what he is after. His perception or understanding of friendship seems in some ways to be different from theirs. And like many people without disabilities, they either don't understand what he is after or are not interested in engaging in the type of completely appropriate relationship that he is seeking.

I think it would do us well in ministry to attempt to understand how those we are seeking to serve perceive us, what we are trying to do, and whether to them, we are being successful. What we learn would not only impact what we do in ministry, but potentially also impact recommendations we would make on how these same individuals might be socialized in their upbringing.

McNair



Monday, January 21, 2019

Dr. Martin Luther King and "changing the edifice"

I have been thinking and writing a lot lately about the ways in which the Christian community's culture needs to change in order to better love our neighbors, in particular those with disabilities. In that process, I ran across this amazing quote from Dr. Martin Luther King. He said,

"On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." (“A time to break the silence,” 1967)

I think this is particularly relevant in the context of developing an inclusive church culture. People can be fooled into thinking that the answer to ministry to persons with disabilities is some form of segregated ministry whether it is at the church or in a different place. This is the "haphazard and superficial" approach to disability ministry. We have meetings on days when few people are at church. We have segregated programs for every age group. These make us feel like we are doing something but in reality we are not doing what is needed.

As Dr. King instructed us, we need to change the edifice that causes us to settle for flinging a coin to a beggar. But changing environments, such that the changes that are required are implemented, is exceedingly difficult. This is the hard work of disability ministry. We reflect on how we do things, our traditions, etc. and then seek to change any edifices that cause us to be straight jacketed into "solutions" which may actually exacerbate difficulties for those we are claiming to assist.

Flinging the coin to the beggar won't keep him from living in poverty. Segregated ministries will not cause the church to become what it needs to be if it wants to truly love its neighbor.

McNair

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Good Samaritan Church

A religious leader was asked, What was the most important thing for a church to do?" 

He responded, "What do you think it is?" 

The questioner responded, "You should love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul and mind and you should love your neighbor as yourself." 

"That's correct! A church should reflect the commands of God."

The questioner responded "What does a church look like that loves its neighbor?"

The religious leader responded with a story.
A man with a disability went to a local church. He went to the worship service of the church. While he was there he was totally ignored. No one so much as spoke to him. It was as if he wasn't even there. He left as he came, a person devalued, without worth.

The man then went to another different church the following week. He went in and was greeted. When he asked whether the church assisted people with disabilities, like himself, they were gracious. However, they said that ministry to people with disabilities was not a priority because they are doing so many other ministries. They did ministries to the poor, and evangelism overseas. So they couldn't take the time to include those with disabilities as a focus of ministry. But they noted that there was another church just down the street that had made ministry to people with disabilities a focus so they felt like they didn't need to address this group of people. They told him to just go there.
The following week the man went to the church down the street the other church alluded to. As he entered, he walked past the handicapped parking spaces and up the ramp into the building. When he used the men's room he noted that there was a wheelchair accessible stall. There was an elevator that went to the second floor and there was a section in the worship center where people who used wheelchairs could sit. During the sermon, the pastor passionately stated, "We are not really impacted by disability, but we will love all people who come to us!"

The religious leader then ask the questioner, "Which of the churches was one that loved its neighbor?"

The man replied, "The one that had the accessible building."

The religious leader replied. "That is not correct. None of the churches were loving their neighbor. The first church ignored people with disabilities in the community. The second church skillfully sidestepped their responsibility toward persons with disabilities. The third church made modifications to their building in response to government regulations. We must not confuse compliance with mandated, government regulations with loving your neighbor. Additionally, it is fine to say that a church will welcome only those who come, but in reality they may not be welcoming to persons with disabilities because so many do not have the ability to come. Either they have intellectual disabilities that prohibit them from getting a driver's license or they have physical disabilities that would make it difficult or impossible to drive a car. So to say we welcome all who come is not sufficient.

“So the man in the story with the disability just kept looking...”

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Disability ministry and traditions

I often mention Mark 7 when I speak to groups about disability ministry. The passage highlights how traditions can get in the way of obeying the commands of God. The two most important commands being to love God and to love your neighbor. When we are confronted with having to love our neighbor or keep our traditions, too often we and our religious leaders are like the religious leaders Jesus confronted in that we hold to traditions and eschew the commands of God. It is interesting how Jesus points out three ways we avoid the commands of God, for our purposes, the command to love your neighbor.
In Mark 7:8 he says,
"For you ignore God's law and substitute you own tradition."
Our first dodge is to act like we don't know what we are supposed to do. To ignore implies that you know something is there but you pretend like it isn't. So we know we are to love all our neighbors, including those with impairments, but we ignore it.
In Mark 7:9,
"Then he said, 'You skillfully sidestep God's law in order to hold on to your own tradition." 
When we can't ignore our responsibilities anymore as they begin to intrude upon us perhaps both intellectually and physically, we come up with ways to sidestep our responsibilities to love our neighbor. So clever ways of minimizing the demands placed upon us like segregated ministries, or those that meet on different days when no one is around are ways we can sidestep loving our neighbor.
Finally in Mark 7:13 Jesus says,
"And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others." 
So finally, when we can't ignore or sidestep, we just cancel the word of God.
In a recent trip to the Philippines, I was working with a man who works with pastors. He told me of an occasion where he was talking to a pastor about including people with disabilities in the church. The pastor's response was, "I know we should be doing this but we aren't going to." That is the place where some leaders have ended up. When they can no longer ignore or sidestep, they just decide to cancel the word.
As I have come to understand this section a bit more, it has helped me to move leaders almost in a progression from canceling to sidestepping to ignoring, to doing what they should do to love their neighbor.

McNair