I guess Jesus must not love autistic kids.

I saw a story this morning on Good Morning, America and it really made me sad.  here is the full story.  Basically, a Catholic church has issued a restraining order against an autistic young man and is making it against the law for him to attend.  The church is citing a potential danger to others by his attendance since apparently he is rather large and unruly.  The family has been attending the church for years and takes great care to keep him under control.  They also claim that he is of no threat to other people.

It sounds like a really tough situation.  He is loud and disruptive during the service, though the family sits in the back or the cry room.  People are nervous around him because he’s unpredictable.  But what is the Church if it’s not a place for the sick and rejected?  Apparently the church has taken several steps to try to find a different solution, but even if those don’t work, should they really be taking legal measures against someone who has a medical disability and is being consistently taken care of by his family during services?  Is this what Jesus modeled and taught His followers? 

The boy’s mother was interviewed on tv this morning, and she was saying how her son needs the church and to be taught about God and it is really hard on the family to be rejected from the one place that should welcome them with open arms.  It makes me think of all of the sick and demon possessed people that Jesus embraced, no matter their behavior or rejection from society. 

Obviously I can’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but it makes me really uncomfortable to hear that a church is turning to the law to keep someone who can’t help his behavior out of the best place for him to be.  I just can’t see how that is in any way following in the footsteps of Christ and being ministers of reconciliation in a broken world. 

What do you think?



13 responses to “I guess Jesus must not love autistic kids.

  1. I’m horrified! If my parents were told they can’t attend their church bc of Dales condition it would break my heart and then I’d sue. That’s RIDIC!!


  2. As a friend of someone who recently began attending Living Hope with 2 autistic children, this new is both timely and saddening. May this never be true of our community.


  3. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. That is awful, awful, awful, awful, awful!!!!!! If people in the church only knew what it is like to live with people with special needs. You can’t always control their actions–like it or not. My family is lucky, Dale is a joy to all those around him. He’s got his moments, but he is not really a behavioral problem. I can’t imagine what must be going through the minds of the family members…much less the poor boy!


  4. gracious. that is absolutely horrible. i can’t imagine Keith being barred from church due to his special needs either (my wonderful brother-inlaw) – even though Keith is also a joy and doesn’t have outbursts, etc. parents of children with special needs should be embraced- as well as their children! bethany’s most favorite friend in sunday school is a little boy who is autistic (mild in my opinion- but has had issues in the past) and he is her “best friend”- it has taught beth compassion and love for those not exactly like her- i wouldn’t trade the lessons she has learned, regardless of the tantrums that she has wittnessed growing up with this wonderful, special child.


  5. I want to share the point of view of the parishioners. I am one. I have been a member of this church my whole life… the Race’s have been members for over ten years. We have embraced the family and helped them and ministered to them for over ten years. We LOVE this family. I particularly have a fondness for the two youngest girls. My heart breaks when I think that they will not be coming to our Masses because of this hurtful situation.
    It also breaks my heart to have to say that as Adam has grown so large and is entering puberty, him behaviors truly have become violent and uncontrollable. His parents and teenage brother are the primary caregivers. And, when Adam is climbing over pews or bolting out of the door or getting into other people’s cars (in short, whenever it is appropriate or needed), other parishioners (the big strong men) do step in and help the family in controlling Adam (as much as that is even a possibility).
    I hate to contradict the article or posts here, but the family has not taken advantage of our crying room for many years. They have a pew reserved for them in the back of the church. Our church building has a capacity for about 175 people, and as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister, I have the advantage of seeing the whole church. They are not inconspicuous – they sit in their pew. In fact, the crying room was one of the options that the church offered – along with mediation with an autism specialist to find other things that could help. The family refused all of the church’s offers.
    We are a VERY small church. We truly did offer all that we could before it came to this. Our priest is miserable that it came to this. Our congregation stands behind this decision. We have been working with this family and with autism for ten years. We are not afraid of autism. We are not uneducated. We have other autistic parishioners. This is a tragic and isolated incident that has taken over a year of discussion and offers of help.
    Please pray for our parish and for the family. Pray that hearts will be softened – the truth will be acknowledged – that understanding and love will prevail.


  6. BeenThere- Thank you for posting your experience and a different perspective. Truly, it seems like a very difficult situation on everyone’s part. You are right that our prayers should turn to your church and the family, and like you said, understanding and love will be lifted-up. Our hearts are with you.


  7. What a heartbreaking situation. As the auntie of a child with special needs I know how hard it was for my sister. She frequently stayed home from church with him because she didn’t want his vocalizations to disturb the others and that always made me so sad. Jameson’s auntie wants to say “shame on them!” but the churchgoer in me would be extremely angry if a teenage boy (special needs or no) pulled MY daughter (or my son for that matter) onto his lap and that boy’s family continued to expose him to children and adults who could be harmed by him. I find that irresponsible, as sad as it is.


  8. Sarah Christoph

    Hi there Emily!
    We’ve never met. I found your blogs through another blog- this happens daily. 😉 I love reading people’s perspectives… and I must say this topic hits home for me. I am a single mom of two autistic children, ages 4 and 2 years old. The older they get, the larger and stronger they get… and even their sweetest affection is extra expressive/agressive since they do not talk, they are “hands on.” so I tend to fear both sides of the situation. How they may act and how people may react- in any situation- since it is usually very unpredictable. Anyway, I feel for this family and I will pray for them. Thanks so much for your post!


  9. To compare the Catholic church’s action with how Jesus feels about those with autism just doe snot make sense at all. Jesus most certainly does love those with autism and everyone else. He loved his enemies and while on the cross dying for you, the autistic and everyone else. He looked down at those who just crucified him as the gambled for his clothes and then begged his father to forgive them, because they did not understand what they were doing. Jesus DOES love autisic children.


  10. Brett, I wholeheartedly agree with you that Jesus does love autistic children. I wrote the title of my post sarcastically in order to convey the point that Jesus DOES love autistic children and I can’t imagine Him putting a ban on a disabled child from gathering with His church… that is why I am so surprised by the decision of this particular church in this situation.


  11. its pretty sad hearing this( i have autism or asperger’s), we sometimes can be very unpredictable, , if anythign i use to relate to this kid,my parents use 2 hate me for my immature,and tamtrumatic behaviors,i was a bit problematic at church also,sometimes i refused to go into church (even if they tried 2 force me in)because of the negative repsonses,but now that im older,wiser, and alot more aware , i am more controllable, i ovbiously guessing this kid Adam must have a more severe autism than me, but i understand wha he is going thru, god bless him and his family..


  12. I feel terrible for the family and the boy with autism but I also think the parishioners have the right to worship and feel safe too. People who don’t have autism may have other problems and heartaches you can’t see. It’s very stressful to be around someone who’s violent and bigger than yourself. My autistic stepson is big and strong and when he hit puberty he threatened violence–indeed, he did a few violent things. Once he pushed his younger brother’s head under the water in a swimming pool and didn’t let him come up for air. (I was watching and got him to let go by really losing my temper–I didn’t have time to be politically correct as I saw that the stepson with autism could have drowned his brother.) So, I set strict limits and gave consequences to any violent behavior. I think that’s the ethical, compassionate thing to do. I don’t think it’s ethical or compassionate to put teens with autism in situations where they might hurt others. Other people have rights too. I’m really tired of this political correctness that pretends otherwise.


  13. Another shining example of the tolerance and compassion from the Church of Christ of those most vulnerable and in need ……. or am I being a @@$$#%#
    I guess the bible just suggests the notion of tolerance and forgiveness and Christ himself just pretended to heal the sick and care for the week to even care for the lepers’ whom no one would touch and wash the feet of those he cared for. Was it not Christ himself who chastised the wealthy and the successful for keeping all the good seats in the church for them and leaving the undesirable for the poor or was he kidding .??????
    IF the answer is yes then Christ realty did die for nothing and humanity has not learned a thing
    If the answers no wake up and start acting like a follower of Christ man is judges by his action not words
    You will be judge by the fruit of your actions not by paying lip service to your creator ……………


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