Posts Tagged ‘People are people’


Much of my soul work throughout my life has been exorcising an abhorrent SIN from the amazing work of the gospel found in the Monastic Orders (Franciscan, Basillian, Jesuit) and Social Gospels that have formed me. That unnamed SIN (that is denigration of the Creator’s image, and Holy Breath of life in each of us) is EUGENICS. I wrote a response letter to the national magazine of the United Church of Canada. First hand I have witnessed, and taken the brunt of the active ableism and passive eugenics thought still existing in the institution. This has what was published (and they could not even spell my name right) and following is what was submitted…you can judge if the essence was captured or something missed:

Published September 2018:

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Submitted June 2018 via e-mail:
I must say that Rev. Cantwell is right, the UCC (and Christianities in general) have a lot more listening to do. well it is admirable to touch on the much needed work of reconciliation through TRC and affirming ministries there is still a piece of our history we allow to passively exist.
EUGENICS.
More colloquially known in its form today as “Ableism”. It is the belief that Persons with Disabilities (speical needs, differently abled, let the person let you know how they identify) are “less than human”. It is the dark shadow side of the Social Gospel movement that spurred such good societal change such as suffrage, human rights, labour rights, etc. It is the idea because we view them as less than it is okay to hide our neighbour away in institutions, remain silent on their #metoo, do not allow health sexuality to be discussed, in our very recent history in Canada still forcibly sterilized, and encourage aborting. It is also why there is an undercurrent within congregations where they feel it is okay to passively inform families you do not belong here, we do not want you here, we cannot handle your care.
We want to hold onto the justice roots of our historic social gospel, yet we fail to realize to do that means truth about our eugenics history, exorcising our continued ableism (see the call for ending plastic straws not knowing you are calling for ending some with disabilities- ability to drink), and reconciling to move forward as ONE children of God in the blessed rainbow (to paraphrase Desmond Tutu).
it means bringing a new lens to the old, old story. It is not reading a healing miracle as showing a “less than” ableist frame. It is seeing the miracle for the only way belonging could happen: removing of the barriers of society’s imposed cast system. It is what we need to do now. We need to look to the friends in Mark that found a way- even it meant tearing out the roof, so their friend could belong. We must look to what authentic and true belonging looks like. What needs to happen physically is simply one step. Token inclusion does not solve it. it is engaging in conversation, learning, and authentic apologizing.
It is truly understanding Brother Jesus’ statement about the person with disability being there for the glory of God, that is the one pointing the finger going “what is wrong with him?” being pointed out as the one with the issue, for they hate the image of God. The image the holy breath was breathed into on Day 6 and called Holy…in all forms.
So yes it is time to do deeper listening, but also to act to burn down the house of exclusion and fear. To fully admit the atrocity of our past, and to  become the ally for our neighbour we are called to be. It is time to truly understand that we are all different, and all holy. Is your congregation ready to shatter the barriers/traditions that continue the idea any child of God is less than?
Shalom & Namaste,

Dr. Ty Ragan
(Ended discernment for ministry almost 8 yrs ago over ableism in church)