Look across all religions and you will see a common theme: value life itself. Yet as the religious communities are splintered and numbers are dwindling, one fifth of it’s possible population do not come through the doors. A recent news articles shows yet another example of someone who tried for acceptance and was shunned. An 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy was unable to receive his First Communion because of concerns that he did not have the mental capacity to understand.
Was this not brought up during the entire time this boy was studying with his grand-mother? Did the priest even ask the boy if he understood? Is life not valued in this establishment? Erik Carter says their are barriers to participation in communities of faith:
1)architectural barriers that do not allow individuals with physical disabilities to navigate the space;
2) attitudinal barriers based in a community’s fears and misunderstandings about disabilities;
3) communication barriers that disallow participation (e.g., issues of sight, sound, and language);
4)programmatic barriers that do not allow individuals with disabilities the opportunity to share their gifts and talents with the community; and
5) liturgical barriers, such as sacraments or rituals, that may not be adapted to meet individual needs. [Taken from: Carter, Erik. (2007). Including people with disabilities in faith communities: A guide for service providers, families, and congregations. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.]
Number two rings loudly to me. Most of the others would fall into place if only there was understanding. But I’m confused. Just doing a quick look into the different texts of religions they state to value life. In the Bible Moses initially refuses to want to lead the people out of Egypt because of a speech impediment. God’s response is to provide for him. Moses will tell Aaron and Aaron will speak for him.
Another example in religious text talks about the Prophet Mohammed being rebuked by Allah because he ignored a blind man who had interrupted him.
A rabbi recently said, “We are incomplete as long as people with disabilities can’t come. The congregation needs these people. It’s not a house of God if not everyone can come and worship.”
Growing in my own faith of Christianity, I know that we are all made in His image. I also know that we are all broken, some more than others but not for that reason, so that we will be humble and get to know Him. Some believe that The Disabled (I cringed in writing that) are meant to be healed or are living with the sickness because of something they have done. I have yet to find any biblical teaching to substantiate this.
These societal thoughts have driven many people with disabilities away from the one group they need. Suicide by people with disabilities comes as a direct correlation to their perceived worth. We as a religious body need to reach out and reach out quickly to show the value of a life. Many preach against abortion yet these same people cast out the weak. What you do to the least of My brothers you do to Me.
Every person is different. Every limitation is different. Look past what can’t be done. Nothing is gained from dwelling on the past. Whether you’re born with a disability or have a disability later in life, it is what you do with what is to come that matters. What impact do each of us make each day? What impact are you having today?
The value of life is everywhere. Even an atheist values life. Bring on the understanding for the differences and welcome them. If you do not know how, check out my website for starters. Then stop and listen to them whom you seek to shut out. Do they want to know, do they seek out the Truth? If so, listen and share His word or the words from any religion on the value of life.