I wonder what would happen if I were to invade a meeting of the Connectional Table…. I could march in with a few of my like-minded friends and begin singing about the fact that people with Down Syndrome, including children, are routinely denied organ transplants. Consider the case of Annie Golden Heart (you can find her on Facebook). This child is dying and cannot receive a heart transplant. As I’ve blogged about before, the lives of people with disabilities–and particularly intellectual disabilities–simply don’t rate as highly as those considered typical.
If I disrupted the business of the Connectional Table with this matter–or with the problem that the standard practice of pre-natal screening results in termination of up to 90% of pregnancies when Down Syndrome is detected–would I get three days of dialogue? Would I get national coverage from the news outlets of the UMC? If I shut down the bar of general conference because of this, would I then get to make demands regarding legislative priorities? Somehow, I’m doubtful.
Bishop Dyck recently vented her spleen in public on the matter of homosexuality and the possibility of the division of the UMC. Where is the righteous indignation from our bishops over the welcoming of families who have children with autism, Down Syndrome, mental illness, or other cognitive/intellectual disabilities? Apart from Bishop Johnson, who is advocating for these people? Despite the many so-called “progressives” who espouse a deep concern for social justice, I just don’t see people lining up to address life-and-death matters that relate to people with disabilities. Progress–real progress–will come when we teach and live out the theological claim that people of all abilities matter equally.