[nfbwatlk] Re religion observationsee

Elizabeth Rene via nfbwatlk nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
Thu May 29 15:43:30 UTC 2014

Thank you, Bennett, for your observations. I too have met blind religious leaders here and there, one at a time. Their presence is encouraging.
But disability in the church is a larger issue, evidenced by the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Hosanna Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, scotusblog.com, Jan 11, 2012,  a unanimous decision upholding the "ministerial exception" to the ADA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Denying the appeal of  a Lutheran lay minister schoolteacher fired in violation of the ADA, the court held that it has no jurisdiction in matters of church leadership and discipline. Though the court expressly narrowed the application of its opinion to  circumstances involving "ministers," that in itself has broad implications for us.
Church (and Sunday school) is where our deepest – and maybe  least articulated – values are inculcated from early childhood. These are the "iceberg" values that operate below the surface of our consciousness and govern our decisions as the "givens" of our lives. For instance, all that freight in the Bible about blindness is what gets carried from the nursery forward into adulthood without our even thinking about it. For a sighted believer, there's  no reason to ask questions. The blind child, without the Nfb to counteract it, gets loaded down with the obligation to become Tiny Tim. These children grow up to be the policymakers and passive recipients of society. Without role models whose presence challenges poisonous teachings, clergy and laity take these teachings out into the world and apply them to daily life. 
The attitudes that the Nfb strives to reshape are formed largely in the churches. They are the weeds  embedded within the wheat that nourishes our faiths. I could go on, but why  belabor the point?
Except to say that those who never set foot inside a church are still impacted by these teachings.
That's why the work of the Nfb is so important. It's mission – to change what it means to be blind – is a spiritual one.

Thank you again, and blessings,


Elizabeth M René 
Attorney at Law 
WSBA #10710
rene0373 at gmail.com

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