Before you all go on a rampage explaining how Jesus saves, Allah is all knowing, or God knows all, I have to tell you all my story, for the new ones that are just getting to know my blog.
I was christened Elizabeth Ann Taurasi at Ennunciation Catholic Church as my Baptismal records confirmed, and to my horror, my godparents weren’t there. My grandparents had to proxy for two godparents who couldn’t make it, obviously. Was it my uncle perhaps? Later on my Confirmation day, I received presents, bouquets of roses, things that are important when a young Catholic is given the sacrament of Holy Commencement or Confirmation. It’s supposedly a sealing of the Holy Ghost for the person receiving such, and they pick a Confirmation name, and in my case, it was Rose. Rose was close to God, the one I chose, and I understood she was pretty badass. She did not marry, didn’t want to be looked at or objectified by Peruvian Spaniard men, and didn’t take crap from any person who said, you shouldn’t be doing work outdoors, cook and clean for a big family, that sort of thing.
What disenchants me from the Roman system of the Catholic Church, and also may include the Orthodox Christian church, is the line of men who lead it, the sex abuse scandals, and the more pertinent nonsensical ableism of my family who decided to, rather than send me to a public school where I could learn to play the violin and maybe obtain a meaningful career in music in a symphony, decided to spend half their life and savings worth sending all three of us to a private diocesan run school in Titusville, under the auspices of religious education. While stuff like this never makes any sense, I know why it doesn’t and wish I had been able to stand up mind to mind but I was only a child. My parents did not put me first, did not put any daughter first in their lives. Some of the religious books I read constantly told us to “put God first.” First of all, who’s God? What is God? I can’t see God, smell God, taste God, hear God speak, and certainly because my parents misinterpreted God’s word, I don’t interpret God’s word in any way shape form whatever, and worse, the dating game was out of the question when I left private school because of God, what my friend Tyler would call “an imaginary friend.”
Well, I honestly believe that this monotheistic God could very well be a lot of people’s “imaginary friend” because of a few things:
- This is the most important. Women are seen as second class in all three monotheistic sacred texts. There is homophobic and transphobic literature present in the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus. Women are considered, for example in Leviticus, to be unclean, especially after pregnancy. Where did the beauty of giving birth go? Instead, men decided that women were dirty, and men should not have sex with women when in a so called “unclean” state. In the Jewish traditions, especially ultraorthodox traditions where males and females are separate, including Hassidic, women’s places are dictated clearly in the books of Exodus and Leviticus, homophobic commandments being brought against men who sleep together, but according to one of my reform Jewish cantor friends, not so much against women. However, women are still considered second class. Boys are given consecration according to Leviticus, but girls are not. This is a clear separation of men and women, and no matter how you put it, none of the pronouncements in Genesis, Leviticus, and Exodus are friendly to women, lesbians, and or especially children with disabilities. Disabled women are more likely to be abused by family members in the modern nonbiblical world, but the excuses parents make for doing what they often do to disabled girls comes from Judeo-Christian roots. This is terribly off the course if we want to improve our world, and it certainly lost many a religion my business. Who is God in terms of women? My family could punish me for worship of the Goddess, but who cares? At least there’s a little piece of the goddess in every woman, but monotheistic religions such as the alt right Christianity and the Judeo-Christian ideology have suppressed such divinity in every woman.
- In developing Christian countries like Mexico, Ethiopia, and Kenya, where police don’t necessarily protect the people they are supposed to, blind women and men are not allowed to choose who they will marry. Yes, able people can’t either, but in the developing nations, including Somalia, and sometimes in Israel, or any other place where there is monotheistic religions, there tends to be the notion that “you should marry a sighted person”, if I say I’m going to marry a blind person. I tried this trick with a Somali born blind man I dated prior to meeting Trenton, and unfortunately, I lost him to a Somali handmaiden of the highest order, perhaps because the family didn’t understand both our wants. Deq, on the other hand, put family duty and honor above my desires and wants. We dated for a year and a half, but I had to break up with him, everywhere even on social media. Deq could not move the relationship forward because of what Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls the code of Honor and Shame, but it takes a more ableist turn in Islam and Christianity more so than in Reform Judaism.
- Because the American court system is ableistic and didn’t support a blind father who lost his daughter to a woman who was sighted who lives in Iowa, I wonder if Judeo-Christianity has found its way into the court system. There are many people who believe marriage is a contract and for some, a way to avoid paying a home care attendant for a disabled female. So what’s marriage anyway? The consenting parties must be able to at least consent to sexual relations, which I gladly do with my partner, and the two parties must love each other without conditions, strings, whatever you call the things that go with some people’s brains. Marriage is not a way to put an intellectually disabled female in the hands of a good hearted guy. The guy and the woman must have conversations, about the children, about who and what does the housework, when to have sexual relations, etc. The story of Michael, a Haitian guy from Titusville, is a favorite example of mine in this case. Michael married Amy, a developmentally disabled and hearing impaired female ten years younger or maybe even two years younger, hard to tell. Amy’s check went to rent and other things, but she had a childlike godlike image of her husband, whose duty it was to take care of her. Well? I advised Michael after his youngest child was born that what was marriage if a couple couldn’t have a communication with one another? And what about the kids? Michael’s deep Haitian accent might tell you that she could never handle the responsibilities of motherhood, and he is correct. Unlike many single dads out there, Michael is taking care of his children, and it has been years since I contacted Michael, but his story is a good reason why when marriage is proposed for a developmentally disabled person, equality of power between the two should be considered. But the Biblical consensus of “wives submit to your husbands” applies here. Amy was not supposed to be married to Michael, but should have had proper case management, the ability to not consent to sex if she so wished, and the ability to understand what and with whom a relationship was appropriate. I am betting Amy did not feel safe in a relationship with a man of Michael’s intellectual stature, which was a full head and shoulders higher than Amy’s eleven-year-old functioning levels were. But the biblical submission of wives in the Bible, that recorded by Paul the Apostle, allowed Amy’s family to take advantage of both her and Michael.
- Monotheistic religions lack the fundamental inclusion about 80% of the time you are visiting an organization. I have visited churches, synagogue, mosques, and other places of monotheistic worship during Sabbaths, Shabbats, etc., Passover seder anyone? And there is something missing from about 80% of these places. At Grace Community in Westminster, Colorado, I did not see the real inclusive God of real Christians present. The church elders decided to misuse Christian scripture, the book of Proverbs, and vote me and another ex boyfriend out of the church. They removed me from the church directory, and the church never spoke with me via email, phone call, etc. If I’d been in this church, they would expect asexuality from their disabled female members, my two blind friends included. It is a highly elitist church with no plans to support mine and Trenton’s upcoming wedding. While this church condoned the predatory practice of guardianship, misusing the book of Exodus’s famous quote, “honor thy father and thy mother”, they also treated me as a second class citizen and did not afford me a place on their worship team or a devotional group that was able to be open to Access A Ride. They refused to offer transport so I could be free to attend everything from weddings, celebrations, group meetings, and anything except Sunday prayer meetings. I could have gone but in the end, I retaliated against the church, first off by selling a member’s keyboard on Facebook marketplace. Secondly, I deleted all the numbers of the people responsible for the voting process, including the church’s secretary. One other member was a CPA, and attempted to help me manage my money. But who cares as if I married Trenton in the church, there would have been strings attached, pastoral counseling required in subservience and submission to the will of men, etc. I can no longer go along with this kind of rhetoric. The church could have alienated a transgender friend of mine and Trenton’s, so the good thing is I never spoke to anyone again. On the other hand, St. Bernadette’s Catholic is a rarity among churches, and their pastor and priest, Father Tom, as my friend likes to call him, helped my friend prepare for his wedding. His bride had support from her family, and this is what gets me. Most churches simply won’t marry you to your intended unless it’s a legally binding document reported to social security. Then, like my friend and his wife, you could lose your ability to provide for children and yourself. SSI is not enough for a family and children, and Habitat for Humanity, a Christian home organization requires that you make $1900 and not the couples rate in your state, for example, $1125 in Colorado.
- Churches won’t help blind women in times of crisis, and won’t include their children in any but patronizing roles ksuch as helping their parents. My children can honor me without slavish obedience. Obedience to parents is every parent’s dream, but the monotheistic religions not only place obedience in too high an esteem, but place women in the second class citizenship I mentioned above. This could spell doom for disabled children both male and female. For example, a long term ex, Blake, was told by his mother to break up with me due to a perceived “psychological problem.” The mother claimed I would kill her son, which is a lie. It is a blatant way to discriminate against a blind female, who has an 80% chance of having psychological issues due to parents who practice monotheistic religion and worse, abuse. This woman should know, she is and has taken full advantage of her son’s devout Christianity to force a misguided interpretation of “honor thy father and mother.” Mother? If she was a true mother to her son, this woman would let him go. SHouldn’t there have been a commandment that said, “Parents, let your children go as soon as they reach adulthood?” I hope she doesn’t read this, for there is no such commandment. The command to honor parents does not mean mere slavish obedience, according to an Irish Catholic friend of mine, John, who now lives in Arizona. John is a retired lawyer, is a rarity among those liberal enough to see the flaws in the interpretation of “honor thy father and mother.” John says that you can acknowledge that they are your parents, so I recall from a phone conversation we had one day, though now it’s a vague memory. But one thing I did take away from this talk was that “honor” does not mean “stay pure” or “obey.” Due to the experiences I had with being on both sides of the aisle, I’ve come to the conclusion that this dictate is dangerous for disabled men and women, at least 80% of whom are living at home in the state of Arizona alone.
- Clergy should be trained in sexual sensitivity, whether Catholic priests or Jewish rabbis or Muslim clerics/imams. But they don’t get enough of it. There are good examples of Muslims, Christians, and Jewish people everywhere, but let me tell you that Pope Francis is trying to clean house with the sex abusers. They must be tried as sex criminals and registered as sex offenders. All such clergy who end up on sex offender registries should never practice as a priest, rabbi, or cleric ever again if found guilty of sex abuse. Let me show you three examples of clergy people who show the best sides of the church, the synagogue, and the mosque. And these people are hard to find.
Father John S. Murray was a priest from Ireland, who shared in both my First Communion and Confirmation, and shared in the first Communions and Confirmations of my brothers, though he played bishop for mine because of the new Millennium and such. Murray served for about 28 years or so as a parish priest in my town, I forget exactly the number, but he was great with children. He baptized babies, married couples, did all the things a priest was supposed to, but most of all, he had a wisdom unlike any young priest today. Sure, you could say, “What? An Irish white hair with no sense of charisma?” No, far from the truth. Murray preached, approved of my cantor roles, and eventually retired to Our Lady of Lord’s Parish in where my grandparents used to live, a gift parish in Edgewater, Florida. Who knew he could serve as long as he has?
Cantor Tanya Greenblatt is a Jewish cantor in the reform Jewish sects. She is married to Scott Greenblatt and they have three rambunctious little boys, twins Joshua and Michael, and little Theodore, and she has taught many things for many years. I met Greenblatt when she was a maiden and had not married yet, but she was still teaching children at Temple Israel, a tolerant liberal JEwish establishment in Tallahassee, which I might add made the fifty worst places to live recently in the newspaper USA Today. But that’s not all. Mrs. Greenblatt has proven that ableism need not stop her from living and loving with a blind man, and their three sons matter. The Greenblatts will teach their sons to be open and accepting of transgendered people, as Mrs. Greenblatt’s brother transitioned from female to male. Jewish literature does have examples of LGBTQI people and beings in it, and it was Greenblatt who taught a naive group of college students, and most of all, a girl who was blind, but was just waking up to the realization that what she was taught about LGBTQ+ individuals was wrong.
While Islam gets a bad rap for mistreatment of women, I must point out that more Somali clerics in the Denver, Minneapolis, and other metropolitan areas are telling young boys they should never go off to fight Jihad. It is a relic, this holy war business, and I know that most of my Muslim American friends would agree with me on this. One such cleric is the leader of the Dar alTahweed Muslim organization in Denver, Colorado, who was formerly the imam of Masjid Abu Bakr. Meet Karim Abu Zaid, who did an interview of such good proportions on a radio station. Abu Zaid does not believe in violent jihad, and while he does study the Sunna and Qur’an, he doesn’t encourage young minds to grapple with terrorism. While headlines blasted several Muslim women for going overseas to help Isis and other groups, or should I call them simply the Islamic State, Abu Zaid probably preached against them. I don’t see him as a guy who doesn’t talk interfaith dialogue with Jews and Christians, but he has an American wife. He is indeed very knowledgeable about his studies, and in the interest of security, he would probably set the jihadi Johns and Janes in Denver straight, and Muslims, to their credit are turning the right direction. Isis was driven out of Iraq, and Syria barely has Isis there, but in several places. What does the driving out of the Islamic State mean? Clerics might tell you that it means the Jihadi violence as chartered right there in their holy Book is truly a rhetoric thing, a relic of the seventh century. While Abu Zaid did preach that women should lower their eyes, he must understand that Islam is about to get a good shakeup.
While I applaud the work of all three people mentioned, I want to applaud those who see the value of inclusion in any religious organization. Of course, I’m not advocating blind or disabled females get involved in churches or cults that despise them, I’m stating that the people mentioned here know the value of inclusion. Murray included me in his lectures to the Confirmation candidates in 2000, and Greenblatt included Scott and myself in her life in two very different ways. Scott married her, but I learned a lot from her presence. Abu Zaid’s preaching was interesting, but I must also add, his heart is in the right place, though people don’t see it that way sometimes. Muslims will eventually reform and become more tolerant as the world’s progress turns rapidly, and all people should be included in the organizations’ meetings and events as a result. Here’s how you can include disabled people, and make your organization or branch thereof safer.
- Include support for those disabled folks without famnily in your organization. If a disabled couple does not get support, allow them to get married with the help of a minister, cleric, or rabbi.
- Bless all babies. Disabled babies should be given special attention, but blessed as equals to everybody else. Protestant churches should include disabled children in Baptisms and dedications, and allow Baptism to take place without requirements such as marriage if the person is living with their significant other. Marriage costs so much more than a $30 piece of paper that says, you are married. It could have detrimental effects on some couples who truly can’t work, and want to live good lives with each other, have families, etc.
- Bless the products of disabled parents. They should be named and blessed equally with nondisabled parents’ kids. Teach inclusion in all scriptural passages, and demonstrate love for your neighbors by including the parents and children experiencing disability by allowing yourself to be open to transporting the disabled parents’ children and the parents themselves to your locations. Why? Because paratransit does not allow families to board. All children should be given opportunities to meet the opposite sex, and be allowed comprehensive birth control even if a cleric, priest, or other clergy objects. Some disabled women have medical reasons not to get pregnant, and may want adoption. Allow the domestic foster systems in your state to do its thing, but as a clergyman or woman you should guide these disabled parents in their quest to become parents. Not with ableist comments, but with tips and suggestions and yes, support.
- When a disabled person dies, this means that their funerals should be attended by all members of the parish, masjid, synagogue, or church body if applicable. Let the flowers fall on their graves, and depending on how they died, the celebrant should speak kindly to them, no condemnation. For LGBTQ+ disabled people, should this be the case, no condemning the person or persons to Hell is permissible. You can never condemn anyone to Hell, and depending on the beliefs of each sect, the person who died should be given a better send off than anyone else, even a serial killer. Should Ted Bundy be given a place in Heaven? Certainly not. Because of his wrong choices about women, the choice to act on deviant sexual attitudes, he should indeed get the death penalty or life in prison, and no funeral at that. However, a disabled female to male transition should never be condemned as going to Hell for who they are. While Conservatives may disagree, they should put themselves in the shoes of a blind baby boy in Mexico whose parents wanted him to die, all because of blindness. This could have meant to him that he could go to Hell for being blind, if the parent figures had no brains.
Think on why I say what I do, and think closely on what you can do to make life easier for people with disabilities. See my prior post on the tax exempt moneys that churches get easily, and how they should be used. Just because your building architecture is inclusive does not necessarily mean your organization is 100% inclusive, however. So think about it. Let women lead your organization, preside on the governing board, and make decisions about their own lives. This differentiates between true religious teachings and cultish behavior.