Monday, May 19, 2008

Autistic boy barred from church

This is a tough story to read. I feel horrible for this family. What a terrible dilemma. Their 13-year-old son, Adam Race, is 225 pounds and some are scared he will have a violent outburst and hurt someone.

According to the Star Tribune in Minnesota:

The priest of the small-town parish (a Catholic church in Bertha, Minn) fears injuries from the teen's behavior, but autism advocates are rallying behind his parents. The boy's mother says: "I can't discipline him out of his autism, and I think that's what our priest is expecting."

Adam is also severely autistic, and his meltdowns during mass at the Catholic church in Bertha, Minn., have prompted a public battle between the parish priest and Adam's parents.

The Rev. Daniel Walz, disturbed by what he said is Adam's dangerous behavior, filed court papers to bar him from the Church of St. Joseph with a temporary restraining order against his parents. The Races are ignoring the order, which they see as discriminatory, and getting support from advocates for the disabled.

I don't know anything about this specific case. I just think it's sad. Whether we're talking about autism or some other developmental disorder that would disrupt church, what are parents supposed to do? Not go to church? Not let their kids go to church? How much of a disruption is too much?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Anonymous said...

Didn't god accept everyone? This child can not even turn to the church to help him thru this difficult time. Does this child not have the right to be included.I thought the days of exculsion where over, but I guess that is not the case. It is sad that this child is not allowed his freedom of relgion.

redtown said...

This isn't a kid just making a few noises. According to the AP story, “Adam struck a child during mass, nearly knocks elderly parishioners over…, spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights when he is being restrained. He also… assaulted a girl by pulling her onto his lap.” When he started two cars in the parking lot, “people could have been injured or killed.”

The church has tried to accommodate, but the behavior has only become more dangerous. It’s not the boy’s fault, but his own parents cannot always control him.

I doubt that even Jesus would condone the enabling of such dangerous and disruptive behavior -- posing great risks to others and self -- in the name of “acceptance”. This is sloppy agape.

Someone can be seriously injured. The pastor has definite moral and legal responsibilities to protect everyone from harm. If some child or elderly person were injured, there would be a major lawsuit. “I was practicing inclusion” would not be a defense for reckless endangerment.

This isn't general discrimination against all handicapped or autistic people. This is a case of a particular individual with dangerously out-of-control behavior. There is such a thing as rational discrimination; Adam will never be allowed to drive either.

In a perfect world, everyone would be welcomed everywhere. But if I had a highly communicable disease, say TB, I’d have no right to mingle in large crowds where I posed a serious threat. And I think Jesus would agree, notwithstanding that he loved everyone.

My right to inclusion ends where your rights to safety begin. Is it unreasonable to ask Adam’s parents to accommodate everyone else’s rights to public safety?

George said...

Adam is 6'2" and over 200 pounds. I'm fully aware that he is not aware of what he's doing, but there are probably few people in the church who can handle him physically. His parents sure can't.

The church barring Adam is a safety issue. His parents went to mass at another church, right? What's wrong with that one? Religious freedom does not let someone hurt people and be disruptive.

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