Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘st. joseph’s

Has St. Joseph’s catholic church in Bertha, Minn. read that part of the bible? “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them..” Anyone at St. Joseph’s familiar with this bible verse? Or the Catholic credo that you are supposed to come to mass? Oh, I get it — more mandates by humans, “Go to church, just not MY church.”

It’s a sad day in the autism community, or any community, when you can be kicked out of church for a disability. I thought that was illegal? Maybe I don’t know my ADA regulations well enough, or maybe the church doesn’t, but so far, they appear to be getting away with it.

A church is place people go to help grow their faith. Sure, we can read our bibles at home but we can’t minister to ourselves the way a priest/pastor can. This family, just like everyone else and maybe moreso, deserves the comfort and ministry of a church, yet they are being denied it because their son’s severe autism behaviors are just too much for the church to handle. One blog I read said that the boy, a 13 year old boy but still a child, has urinary incontinence. It also said that he ran out of church so quickly one day that he knocked an elderly person over. (Wow, maybe no children should be allowed in church then — I see neurotypical children barreling into people left and right every Sunday.) I also read somewhere that the boy flails his arms and legs, and this was deemed dangerous, and that he spits, though the family supposedly said that part isn’t true. In the end, I don’t know the real story — I don’t know what he does, and what he doesn’t do, but I can clearly see what the church didn’t do, and that’s help this family. Maybe they really did offer a different place in church for him to hear the sermon, maybe not, and maybe the place they offered was unsatisfactory. Who knows. But in the end, a church got a restraining order to keep a severely disabled 13 year old boy out. Does that not give everyone pause? If not, it should!

Discriminating is illegal. Sure, keeping other parishioners safe is definitely a job of the church but there has to be a middle ground here. I have so many thoughts on this, I can’t cover them all without rambling but I want to know why major autism groups aren’t behind this family. Where is the ACLU or a famous attorney when it comes to a disabled white boy? Where is the press, and why aren’t they up in arms? Why aren’t all of us?

I know, truly, that there is another side to this story. But I also know that even in the most accepting of churches, in the kindliest of congregations, even a ‘high functioning’ autistic child can not always be treated as he should. And these are children we’re talking about, children of families who are using their faith to get through a tribulation. Needy families. Disabled people. Shutting doors to them can’t be how churches are supposed to act. I don’t know what else to say, but I hope that this church and those who complained about the boy are ashamed of themselves.

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