What to Avoid when Looking for a Place of Worship

Content: Religious Talk, talk of cruelty and miracle cures, suicide, ableism

Now, I know that many of us autistic people are atheist. This is not for them, unless there is a place where atheists gather. I don’t know if there is.  For those of religious affiliation, sadly, the places of worship are filled with pitfalls of “autism awareness” and hatred. Miracle cures, ABA, prayer, the belief of autism meaning brokenness…this is by no means an exhaustive list of things to avoid concerning autism and worship.

If you sense a skew towards Christianity, please consider the fact that I am writing from personal experience. As we approach Easter, I am reminded that we need a ways to go in the church.

  1. Avoid places peddling “miracle cures.” – The church known as Genesis II still peddles that MMS stuff – basically drinking bleach for the unknowing. (Isn’t drinking bleach a form of suicide?) Do I really need to state that facing death is a risk of drinking bleach or shoving it up a child’s rear end?
  2. Avoid places who believe autism is a moral failing. – There is an ancient belief that any known health problems is a punishment from the Almighty. This is often a fallacy promoted by what is known as the Prosperity Gospel. “If you believed, your child would not be autistic.” Well, that is definitely not a tenet of Christianity, which is my belief system. Jesus did state in the Bible that “In this world, you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I am focusing on the first statement for now, because I believe it to be true. No amount of belief is going to change the fact that you will have trouble.
  3. Avoid the anti-vaccine place of worship. – This goes without saying. If you can prevent the spread of anything with a shot, go right ahead. It is God’s way.
  4. Avoid the Hypocrite. – In the church, we call them Pharisees. Simply put, they look good in the pew, but there is little evidence of following their faith outside their place of worship. Pharisees were even called “whitewashed tombs,” meaning they look good on the outside, but inside they are full of death. Unfortunately, you may not be able to avoid them in any church.
  5. Avoid the Graceless. – There is a parable in Christianity in which a man was forgiven a large debt, though did not forgive another man a debt against him. In short, the larger forgiveness was canceled. Do I even need to explain the pain of holding a grudge?
  6. Avoid those who will not accept you. – This is what I dislike about the Church of Scientology. In the case of John Travolta is literally took a judge asking him under oath for him to admit his son Jett was autistic. And by then, Jett had died. What kind of church is so cruel that it rejects autism’s existence? You may need to educate on Autism Acceptance to the place of worship, but if they accept the teaching of Autism Acceptance, stay. Do I even need to explain the pain of rejecting people with real problems? The church is a hospital for sinners, not an elite club for saints.

In short, a church that only accepts the perfect and those without problems is empty. If they will not accept you, shake the dust off your feet and go find another one.

Advertisements

How to Choose a Church if Autistic

CONTENT WARNING: Religion, Stigma, “Vaccine Blame” talk 

Many autistic people long for connection with things bigger than themselves. Worship tends to help those who believe in entities such as God.  

I’m going to present Christian examples, simply because that is what I know. Feel free to add your own tips and religious experiences.  

As always, correct me if I’m wrong.  

  1. Openness to Acceptance: Now, this is a hard one to start with, but there must be an acceptance of different kinds of people in the church. In Christianity’s core, Jesus’ mission (and Christians’ by choice of religion) is to “seek and save the lost.” By default, that means you ought to go looking to bring as many people, and as many different people, as you (and God with you) can. That includes the autistic.
  2. Education: Sometimes, a church and its parishioners can be turned toward acceptance by education. I know it’s hard, but educating people about the range and spectrum of autism may be necessary in the course of worship. 
  3. Vaccine Acceptance, Not Blame: Vaccines do not cause autism. End of story. And if they do not accept vaccines for any reason, then walk away. You will be exposing you and yours to debilitating, often deadly and preventable illnesses. 
  4. No Stigma/Shame: A common belief, especially in more legalistic places of worship, is that autism and mental illness are symptoms of moral failing, and that they must be corrected. In Christianity, this is a common theme among religious leaders, that God must be punishing a person with illness and disability. They are often wrong, since there are usually genetic components to these conditions.
  5. Acceptance/Encouragement of Healthy Practices: I once got encouragement from a fellow parishioner to take my required medicines to keep me healthy at church. This is actually good and proper. Medicines are often part of God’s plan to help with illnesses, disabilities and conditions, physical and mental. But, I digress. The point is, stay at a church that encourages good health practices in love.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to add more.

About Systematic Rape and Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

WARNING: Content includes talk of rape, coverup and sexual abuse. Proceed with caution.

What can I say? That it literally took getting secular police involved to expose the scandal? That coverup and lies were the norm? That the Church has traumatized people with its policies against my loving God? It is literally the scandal of our time. Now, there is at least one person calling on the current Pope to resign. This is beginning to raise questions in the minds of people. 

Are there people who don’t know who their fathers are because of the coverup policies? The answer is yes. The media exposed at least one. Are there people who are suffering from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases because of the policies of the church? There hasn’t been anyone exposed yet, but I’m sure there are. Are there celebrities who have been abused by priests and are dealing with the repercussions in rage? I don’t know, but Kevin Smith, the mind behind the movie Dogma, is a good candidate. I’m not saying he was abused, but his material makes you wonder. 

This is also raising questions in my own mind and heart.  

Did my best friend suffer at the hands of somebody in the Catholic Church? Yes, I was best friends with a Catholic girl. We met in public school. I’m not sure if she did suffer, since I never saw her get alone with anyone working in the church, but you’re never quite sure. How many of my friends and colleagues suffered at the hands of these priests and others? How much sex did superiors extort from the priests in the coverups? You know, how much “Suck my dick or I’ll tell” happened? We may never know.  

Now here’s the meat of the conversation: How many people were turned away from God because of these actions? How much hypocrisy does it take to get people to hate God? I hear it isn’t much these days. That is what the Catholic Church ought to be worried about. Their hypocrisy has become a destructive force to their ministry. The scandal they tried to avoid, only blew up in their faces.  

What does the Catholic Church do at this point? The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He (God) is able to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) But they must do more. They must understand that people, including priests and nuns, are human, and as such, have sinful desires, such as sex with children and teenagers. They need a plan to expose and purge out the evil, not cover it up. We are living in the effect of covering it up. The Church has let the leprosy grow, and now the resulting scandal threatens them all.  

I guess, the one thing we need to learn is: Your sins will find you out.  

The Celibate Woman: A Misunderstood Individual

34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.. ” -1 Corinthians 7:34 (KJV)

As a single woman of God, I am called to celibacy. Celibacy is simply the lifestyle of abstaining from sexual relations until I am married. It is an easy and happy lifestyle for me. But it did not start out that way…I had to ask God to remove and control my lusts for it to happen. There was also a time I would lament the fact that I did not have a husband. It turns out, having a husband is not a possibility, nor is it a real convenience for me right now. The trouble with celibacy is simply this: there is a lot of fear in our society of single and celibate women, especially since there are not a lot of them. I’m not going to pump out statistics on it, but you can look them up. I’m just happy being single and celibate, leaving dating and courtship behind for a while in order to fully pursue God.

The journey I am currently on began when my mother gave me a direct message from the Lord: that it was best that I not get married at the time, and I am certain because God gives her words to tell people all the time…and they are in line with God’s Word. This ended a period of time when I would lament not having a man to go home to, or take care of me. I thought I needed a man to complete me, because that is what most people say about women…unless, of course, you bring up your disability. Then you are apparently a being without a sexuality, which is just impossible. I had over time asked God to remove lusts I was having because of my lamenting over my singlehood. I look back now and believe this was the biggest cause of my agony.

There is a lot of fear concerning the celibate and single woman, especially when sexual experience is generally encouraged and prized in our society and media, especially from married women. I have noticed that I am not as encouraged to hold babies, nor generally be around them. Do people actually think I hate children? I love children. I love them so much that I do not want them to suffer in life with the autism I could pass on to them as their mother. That is why I do not have children, and that is the thing people do not understand about celibacy. There is usually a very good reason behind a person’s choice in life. The most enlightening question is usually “Why?” Do not fear the celibate woman, my married sister; she is not here to steal your husband.

My celibacy is also a gift from the Lord, to pursue Him with the passion he is pursuing me with. I want to follow Him with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength. I want to leave the world behind, and be involved with the things of God. That is my situation; if the Lord decides to bring me a man and change it, so be it; I am not going to try and change what the Lord has laid out.

The Growing Prayer Wall

A few weeks ago, we saw the movie War Room. Simply put, it’s not actually about soldiers, unless you count soldiers of the cross. It outlined the different tenets of a hot prayer life for God-and who the real enemy is. My mother and I were inspired to create a sort of prayer wall to list our prayer requests on. My mother and I don’t hide any secrets from each other, so this prayer wall is in the living room – strangely, in the innermost wall of our living vicinity. Every day now, we take the prayers lists off the wall and pray for those requests on the

Now, I’m not talking about this for pats on the back. Nobody really receives deserved praise for doing their everyday tasks. We are not perfect in our prayer lives – only recently did we somehow learn that praise and thanksgiving comes with the prayer territory – not just requests. We are still working on these things. We have learned who to pray for, and who the real enemy is. (HINT: It’s not the people you’re praying for. And if you’re praying against somebody, you’re doing it wrong.) Well, let’s just say our prayer lists are growing week by week. There is so much to pray about, and it takes so much time, even for a short-worded woman like me. It’s a privilege to carry all the cares of this world to the Lord of the Universe, a privilege apparently not shared by many, but it can be. I am certain that He hears all of our requests and is working on it even beforehand.

We are praying, believing the Lord can do all He says He can. It feels good to know you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.