Monday, July 16, 2018

Social Principles revisions about disability -- Jackson Day

"Nothing about us, without us"--here is your opportunity to be heard!

As many of our readers will know, the Social Principles of the UMC include statements about disability equality and inclusion. Over the last year, the General Board of Church and Society has been examining the principles, seeking to keep them up-to-date. Thus, we have a request for input.

Disability is mentioned in the Preface, where it is included as one of the groups which  "we deplore acts of hate or violence against." 

There are more detailed statements in the main body. The first, on page 11, is focused on inclusion:

C. Full Inclusion of Differently-Abled PersonsScripture says, God looked out over creation and God declared that it was “very good.” We
affirm that all persons are created in the image of God with the uniqueness of their
distinctive mental, physical, developmental, or psychological abilities. These differences
should not impede full inclusion in the family of God. Too often the contributions of
differently-abled persons are dismissed or undervalued, both in Church and society; yet,
persons with diverse abilities are uniquely gifted members of the Body of Christ (I
Corinthians 12:4-26). We commit ourselves to listening to, learning from, partnering with
and advocating for differently-abled persons, in order that the full blessing God intends for
the world through them, might be received.

As part of the church's stance on healthcare, disability is included on page 16:

Healthcare, as a basic human right, includes care for persons with neurological conditions,
and physical disabilities. Persons living with these challenges must be afforded the same
access to healthcare as all other persons in our communities.
We believe it is unjust to construct and perpetuate barriers to physical or mental
wholeness and full participation in community. We therefore believe, it is the responsibility
of governments and society to ensure accessible and affordable healthcare is available to
And finally, inclusion in the social community and an affirmation of full humanity, on page 18:

E. Persons with DisabilitiesWe recognize and affirm the full humanity and personhood of all individuals with mental,
physical, developmental, neurological, and psychological conditions or disabilities as full
members of the family of God. We urge the Church and society to recognize and receive the
gifts of person with disabilities as full participants in the life of the church and
We call for the protection of the rights of all persons with disabilities including healthcare,
employment, education, housing, and transportation and freedom from discrimination. 

From many perspectives the statements are very positive and commendable.  But we join with others in wishing that these statements were not framed with an underlying “us and they” format, in which the basic premise is that “we who are able” should take it upon ourselves to do the following wonderful things for “those others who are not able.” 

We are calling at this point for suggestions to re-word these paragraphs so that the issue goes away. 

The proposed revision is available as a PDF file here, and at the bottom of the page is a survey for general feedback. Suggestions are being accepted until the end of August, at which point the team will take them and do more re-writing.  The proposed revision will be brought before General Conference in 2020.

So please read, please take the survey, and please offer your suggested improvements!

1 comment:

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