Saturday, August 14, 2010

ADA vs. ‘Do unto others’

from:  The Real Meaning of the ADA [Breakpoint]

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act—and it’s worth celebrating.

Twenty years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. For at least one person who attended the signing, that Act was something much greater than just one more law coming out of D.C. It was a demonstration of what Christian worldview can look like in practice.

Joni Eareckson Tada, a Christian author, artist, and activist, was in the audience that day. As you probably know, a diving accident back in 1967 tragically left Joni a quadriplegic. Since then she’s been a tireless advocate for disabled people around the world. . . .

Kent comments:

Joni (worthy as much of what she does is) not withstanding, the ADA most definitely does NOT demonstrate “what Christian worldview can look like in practice.”  And it is more than disappointing that such an outrageous claim would show up on “Breakpoint.”

First and most generally, it is not compatible with a Christian worldview to use the power of government – which is ultimately the threat of death – to engineer social issues such as how people view and treat those with disabilities.  By what twisting of the Christian faith can anyone think that we should threaten to kill those who don’t treat disabled persons in the manner you prefer?

You might think the phrase “threaten to kill” just preceding is an overstatement.  But what happens if you are unable to build, for example, a certain kind of access ramp to your business?  The sanctions of the ADA kick in.  If you resist those sanctions, there will come a point at which you will be killed, if necessary.  The ultimate threat of government is always death.

But if you are not convinced about that, you will surely admit that if you can’t build that ramp, your business will be shut down by the government.  That amounts to theft.  And it is just as certainly NOT compatible with the Christian faith to steal from those who don’t treat the disabled in the way you prefer.

This does not mean there is no way we should prefer to treat the disabled, or anyone else, for that matter.  But in matters beyond murder, theft, and a few related categories, this is not something the Christian worldviews requires, or even permits, us to make a prerogative of the state.

Several years ago I was involved in a home school support group.  It was a large, but informal, group of parents who helped one another learn more about and practice home schooling.  One afternoon, just before our monthly meeting, I received a call via a teletype operator for the deaf from a deaf lady who wanted to attend our meeting.

We welcomed anyone, so I was glad to hear from her.  She asked a few questions about the time and place and what we did.  Then she asked me if we had someone who could interpret into sign language for her.  I told her to give me a few minutes to make some calls to find out about that.

I called several people I knew in the group, but to no avail.  The meeting was only a couple of hours away, so I called the deaf lady back to tell her our situation and asked if she knew anyone who could interpret who could come with her.  She said she did not, but then informed me that our group would need to provide someone.  I said we had no one for that evening.  She told me the ADA required that we hire someone!  (There wasn’t even time to hire someone, had we wanted to do so.)

It turns out that this lady was wrong.  Because our group was private and informal, we did not fall under the provisions of the ADA.  But consider what the effect of the ADA is on the businesses and other organizations to which it does apply.

It is, in essence, another example of coercive collectivism enshrined into law.  Some people want the disabled to have certain services provided them.  Instead of these people getting together and providing such services, they instead employ the power of the state to foist the cost of that provision off onto others.  It is a blatant violation of the letter and spirit of “do unto others” – certainly NOT something compatible with the Christian worldview.

And the people at “Breakpoint” should know better. 

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