I don’t get religion – where now the religious model of disability


Many thanks to www.wideaware.co.uk for their information on the religious model of disability. I typed it into www.everyclick.com and i learned about other models such as the expert model and the rehabilitation model both of which have clear links to the medical model. And also the economic model. As someone who knows the tragedy model, medical model and social model fairly well i found it really interesting reading about these different models.

What we must all remember, and i include my disabled brothers and sisters in this, is that a model is only a theory designed to test and improve our understanding of disability. Whatever model we promote or castigate it’s not gospel. Ta da. Spot the pun and see if you can mark it. Ta da there goes another one. Its not real. Its an abstraction. Something that we have put in out minds. Once there however it has consequences. It becomes a part of a belief system. I believe in the social model of disability. It works for me.

The religious model sometimes referred to as the moral model on the other hand will never work for me and that’s got nothing to do with my own personal position as an atheist with pagan leanings. Its too simple.

And now the questions by which i test the models.

1) Who owns it, who’s involved?

I guess anyone with religious leanings. Preachers, evangelists, churchies of whatever denomination.

2) What do they say about disability?

Its a blessing. it’s a curse.

3) Who has got the problem?

if you are cursed. You have the problem. Would you have a problem if you are blessed? By my interpretation yes. And i’ll show you how soon.

4) Who has the power?

I guess that would be the holder of the scriptures. The people who deliver the word.

5) How does this inform an approach to disabled people? If the equation is simply binary and its about good and bad…….. the good become exalted. I have seem religious folk touch disabled people. They touch them for luck. God touched us so we are conduits to god who can be reached through touch. Can’t say anyone ever touched the hem of my garments though. I suppose that’s the curse of having invisible impairments. No one knows how lucky i am. But imagine how this feels. I was walking in a very busy Kings Cross area, one day, with a little person who must have been touched 5 times. As a big person i was not touched once. Now for the little person or any person what does touch mean? What messages does a touch give? He never once looked around for a friend or a lover. He simply walked on, ignoring it. He said it was better than responding with the anger that he felt he wanted to touch the touchees with. Now in some ways that i wasn’t being touched is not a serious issue other than i’m being left out of the touching. i’m being excluded, i’m not getting a fair cop. So, there’s an hierarchy of disability, where some disabled people are more angelic than others, who are more deserving. And so it is that we get the deserving disabled and the undeserving. But there’s a problem for the deserving under this model because not only are they going to get touched they are also going to find their reward in heaven. So, best not do anything with the problem, best leave it to god. Its an excellent method for ostracising disabled people. Except if we are freaky deaky enough we might get carers and we might get compassion. Some religious people (i was going to say nutters there, sorry) might take the view that they are motivated to care and show compassion because of their beliefs and i guess we need to take this on board somehow. Does any reader want to help me with that quandary?

But what if it is a curse, what if disability is a bad thing, what if we are marked by evil? How should society treat satan’s child? What happened to satan? He was cast out. What are we going to do with his children? Cast them out or touch them again only this time as an exorcism. One thing is for sure under this model. Some one somewhere is going to get touched. One day i’ll tell you about  the day i was touched.

6) Is this model useful?

Well what do you think? If you were a disabled person would you be looking to understand your life and promote your hopes and aspirations through allegiance to this model?

One last thing. people who tell you about this model say that it has no place in a civilised society, an advanced society, a first world state (hope you get the irony i am using in these terms of difference?). Well don’t believe it.  the view is here and out there and coming at you every day. I think the blairites held to a view of deserving and undeserving disabled people. i think the whole welfare reform package is based on this. They are not simply using an economic model. i think their brains have been addled by getting god. I don’t get god. i think the tragedy model is based on christian principles and that the charities that are for disabled people are riddled with notions of good and bad. I know my devils and i call them by name no matter what cloak they are wearing.

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