Opposition to the Americans with Disabilities Act within American Christianity: A Wrong that Must End

People who read the title of this post may be led to think that I am anti-church, anti-Christianity. And I get that. It’s a title that may come across as directly attacking Christianity.

To the contrary, however, I believe that sometimes the best love is to offer honest, constructive criticism, especially when it comes to matters of justice.[1] In the case of ableism within American Christianity, I offer some constructive criticism: opposition to implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act from many in the American Church is wrong, and that opposition must end.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law twenty-nine years ago as of this Friday. It was arguably the most sweeping civil rights legislation since various African American civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s.

And yet, a key institution, a key group was excluded from the ADA: religious institutions.

Religious institutions as a whole are exempt from the ADA, but I should note that it seemed to be Christians who really took the lead in advocating against the inclusion of religious institutions in the legislation (hence, my focus on Christians in this post). The arguments from the (predominantly Christian) opponents at the time involved the money argument (that it would cost too much) and the “problem” involved with government “intruding” on religious institutions.[2]

Money is an understandable concern, as it costs money to make any building ADA-accessible. However, using money as an excuse to not support the ADA at all (and de facto to exclude a whole group of people from churches), as opposed to coming to an agreement that would implement the ADA at churches and other religious institutions in a way that makes the churches accessible without bankrupting the congregations, does give credence to Timothy’s argument that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10)—in this case, the evil being the exclusion of people from church spaces and the desire to hold on to money rather than spend it in order to make worship and fellowship spaces accessible to all being at the root of this evil.

I find it difficult to rationalize the “intrusion” argument—the argument that government forcing churches to comply with ADA would be too intrusive. It is wrongful that church institutions have in this case been more concerned about “intrusion” than the fact that the lack of it has literally kept people of various disabilities from going to church, and in many cases keeping people of various disabilities from becoming or staying Christian. I know people who have found themselves spiritually homeless, if not abandoning their faith, because we as a Church have often worried more about intrusion than about the fact that inaccessible churches keep people away from church.

Controversial as it may be for me to say this, religious institutions should not be exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, regardless of what the law is, individual church congregations should try to use the money and resources they do have to make their churches more accessible to people with a variety of disabilities. It is the right thing to do.


[1] Note that I am a Christian, so it is important for me (and other Christians who care about this issue) to give constructive criticism.

[2] https://sojo.net/articles/resisting-ableism-american-church

The Gender Pay Gap and Sports

As I’m working on this post, I’m still reminiscing on the terrific performance that the United States Women’s Soccer Team put together at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. In spite of the challenges that teams like France, England, and the Netherlands posed, not to mention critics of their celebrations and some of their opinions, the U.S. Women still pulled it off!

There came a certain point, however, when the reminiscing turned to a different topic: the gender pay gap in sports. At times, it felt like the U.S. Women were fighting for more than winning the tournament—they were fighting for respect, and to be paid equally as compared to the men.

And, while I support the fight for the U.S. Women to be paid equally to the U.S. Men,[1] this conversation about massive gender pay gaps need to expand beyond soccer and to all sports.[2] Here’s the thing: while the focus has been on the glaring gender pay gap between the U.S. Men and the U.S. Women in soccer, this pay gap extends to nearly every other sport, with the possible exception of tennis.[3]

In terms of where the blame lies for this gap, I think that there is plenty of blame to go around:

  1. Some blame should go to a lack of advertisement and coverage of most women’s sports, as compared to men’s. There was, I thought, a good amount of advertisement for the Women’s World Cup and for women’s tennis. But outside of those two sports, where is the visibility of women’s sports in terms of TV advertising and coverage? I know—often, it wasn’t and isn’t visible. The visibility is just not comparable to the men right now. That, of course, affects revenue, because visibility leads to sponsorship opportunities, which leads to revenue.
  2. Some blame should go to us, the consumers, for just not caring as much about women’s athletics as we do about men’s athletics. Prize money and other money earned by athletes (through contracts, endorsements, etc.) is extremely dependent on the amount of revenue a sport generates. And the amount of revenue a sport generates depends on factors like ticket sales, merchandise sales, concession sales at games, and television ratings (which in turn helps determine the amount of money sports generate from advertisements, the amount of money sports generate from television deals, etc.). We as consumers simply haven’t invested in women’s sports at the level we often have with the men. It is no wonder, then, that the women usually get paid less than the men.
  3. In the absence of #1 and #2 (and oftentimes, even with the presence of points #1 and #2), blame goes to governing bodies for maintaining systemic gender inequality. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team falls into this blame group. They get the coverage, and they get the revenue, yet they don’t get paid equally. This has actually happened in other women’s sports before—tennis, which seems to have taken great strides towards pay equality at least in its major tournaments, had a situation for decades where they got the exposure and the revenue, but not the equal pay.

No doubt, women have come a far way with sports in the last 25 years. Just in that time, there has been the establishment of a women’s basketball league, multiple iterations of a women’s soccer league, increased attention on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, and an increased exposure of women’s sports in general. However, we have a long way to go until we achieve true gender equality in pay, and true gender equality in sports in general. May we not stop the push for gender equality in sports. May we take follow the lead of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, who are four-time World Cup champions and advocates for gender equality.


[1] Honestly, I would even be supportive of the women being paid more than the men. The women have earned more revenue than the men, plus the women won the World Cup while the men didn’t even make their World Cup (losing to the likes of Trinidad and Tobago in the process).

[2] It should expand beyond sports, quite frankly. But for the purposes of this post, I am sticking to sports.

[3] Though if I’m wrong, please correct me.

I was at the parade celebrating the U.S. Women winning the World Cup. I therefore saw Megan Rapinoe and others celebrating, amid chants of “equal pay.”

On the Controversial Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group

As is sometimes the case when I take a break from posts on the week of the 4th of July, some big news broke.

This time, one big piece of news that broke was on the topic of illegal immigration. Namely, the news site ProPublica broke a story about a secret U.S. Border Patrol Facebook group, titled “I’m 10-15”,[1] which joked about migrant deaths and made blatantly sexist and racist comments about members of Congress visiting a troubled Border Patrol facility.[2]

The revelations brought forth by ProPublica, important as they were, would’ve been disturbing enough if this consisted of a few dozen members or a few hundred. However, this group, which includes both current and retired U.S. Border Patrol officials, is a group of about 9,500 people. To put this in perspective, there were about 19,400 Border Patrol agents as of 2017,[3] so the number of people in the group is roughly half the number of total Border Patrol agents.

What this means is that this is not just a few bad apples causing trouble. The entire culture with the United States Border Patrol is rotten, from top to bottom.

So when I hear politicians or people in general say that we should respond to this by “firing those involved with this,” it just comes across as a shallow response. It comes across as a shallow response because it then sounds like everything will get better when we just “get rid of the bad apples.” Such a response, while well-intended, seems to be blind to the injustice that this is about more than bad people—it’s about an entire governmental agency that is broken at many levels. Yes, there is the brokenness of the hate exhibited by the current and former agency employees on the Facebook group. But there is also the brokenness of the inhumane practices that exist in the Border Patrol facilities, the brokenness of the leadership that allows these practices, and the brokenness of the hiring practices that led to such prejudiced people being on the United States Border Patrol in the first place, to name a few. The problems at the Border Patrol will need a fix much deeper than simply firing some people.

There instead needs to be a complete change in the culture of the Border Patrol, from top to bottom. Such an overhaul is needed because otherwise, all one would do by firing people is hiring new agents who would in turn find themselves entrenched in a broken agency. Yes, the people on the Border Patrol need to show more sensitivity and less prejudice, but the Border Patrol itself, regardless of the people within it, also needs significant changes.


[1] Apparently, “10-15” is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.”

[2] You can find the story through this link, but read at your own risk. I found what was talked about here to be extremely disturbing and upsetting: https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes#

[3] https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2019/feb/01/adam-smith/has-number-border-patrol-agents-quadrupled-2005/

On the Acceptance of LGBTQ+ People in Families

In my Christian denomination, which is Catholicism, there is significant emphasis on protecting all human life, from conception to a natural death. However, some of us only talk about abortion, while in the process ignoring a variety of other pro-life issues.

With LGBT Pride Month having drawn to a close, I want to put a spotlight on a pro-life issue that rarely gets discussed among many pro-lifers: the treatment of LGBTQ+ people. How is this a pro-life issue? I’ll tell you.

The statistics on LGBTQ+ people and suicide are absolutely staggering. According to The Trevor Project, LGB youth are three times as likely to contemplate suicide, and five times as likely to actually attempt suicide, as heterosexual youth. 40% of transgender adults also attempt suicide.

It is no coincidence that suicide attempts and rates are so high among LGBTQ+ people, because this population experiences high levels of rejection. This rejection makes a major difference in suicide rates—”LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.”[1] The same goes for transgender individuals: rejection from family is one reason why somewhere between 32% and 50% of transgender individuals in various countries attempt suicide.[2]

On the other hand, people within the LGBTQ+ community who experience little or no rejection from their families often have much better outcomes. According to the National Institute of Health, “Social support from family is found to be a general protective factor which is associated with reduced risk for lifetime suicide attempts among transgender persons.”[3] Many other organizations, including The Trevor Project (which I cited earlier), note that low or no family rejection significantly reduces suicide risk for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.[4]

I could cite even more statistics and quotes, but my point is that the treatment of LGBTQ+ people could save (or take away) many lives.

While being accepting and even affirming of someone who’s not “straight male” or “straight female” may go against some people’s personal or religious beliefs, such affirmation is extremely important.

I understand that there is a conflict-of-values here with LGBTQ+ issues for many individuals: supporting “right to life, from conception to natural death,” on one hand, and the moral difficulty of someone identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or some other identity, on the other hand. This conflict may make some of us feel uncomfortable. However, I challenge us to break through this discomfort and uphold the dignity of all individuals, including people who identify as LGBTQ+.

Having just one accepting adult in the life of an LGBTQ+ youth can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt by as much as 40 percent.[5] If you know an LGBTQ+ child, I beg that you be that accepting adult in the child’s life. This acceptance may literally be life-saving. 


[1] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.0001yyaiwhn8gds8r6z2r9ksp1fyj
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5178031/
[3] Ibid.
[4] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.0001yyaiwhn8gds8r6z2r9ksp1fyj

[5] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2019/06/27/research-brief-accepting-adults-reduce-suicide-attempts-among-lgbtq-youth/

Gay Stereotypes

As I said last month, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

Even though I said that I would do a part in this series about once a month, I decided that I would make an exception for the month of June, which is LGBT Pride Month. But not only that—I felt that on June 28, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the start of the riots at a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, it was extremely important to write about and confront stereotypes with gay people that has been brought to my attention by friends, writers, celebrities, and others, so that we don’t see those stereotypes (or other stereotypes associated with being gay) morph into another Stonewall tragedy.

With all that clear, a gay person is a man who is only attracted to other men. They are never attracted to women—a man attracted to both men and women is not gay but bisexual.

Now that we’ve talked about what it means to be gay, here are a few stereotypes associated with being gay:

  1. Gay people are and/or look feminine. Some gay people may look feminine, but I also know of gay people who look quite masculine. And, I must add that given this stereotype, a gay man who looks masculine is no less valid than a gay man who looks more feminine.
  2. Some people just “look” or “act” or “seem” gay. See what I said for the previous stereotype. Yes, there are some people who fit into the stereotype of what it means to look, act, or seem gay, but I also know openly gay people who look or act or seem straight. There is sometimes the thought that gay men “sound” a certain way, or walk a certain way, or dress a certain way. However, the way that gay people look, act, and sound is probably as diverse as the way people in general look, act, or sound.
  3. Gay people just haven’t found the “right woman.” And since gay people are only attracted to other men, gay people will never find the right woman, as far as marriage is concerned. That being said, maybe some people who identify as gay will be one day able to find the right man (if they haven’t found him already).
  4. In a parenting duo with two men, one of them has to be the “mom.” If one were to follow the dictionary definition of a mom and a dad, this is impossible—as a dad is a male parent, a parenting duo with two men is a parenting duo with two dads. If one of the men in a same-sex parenting duo wants to do more of the dad things while the other one wants to do more mom things, that is completely up to them. Ultimately, though, such a parenting duo has two dads.
  5. Gay people like all men. This derives from the thought that gay people are somehow sexually promiscuous. However, the gay people I know (as well as many other gay people have standards, just as anyone else has standards. So just as heterosexual people are not attracted to all people of the opposite sex, gay people are not attracted to all men.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with being gay. If there are other stereotypes about gay people that should be discussed and/or if anyone wants to expand upon the gay stereotypes mentioned here, please feel free to post a comment below!

Note: If you want to catch up on previous posts in my LGBTQ+ Stereotypes Series, feel free to read my posts on lesbian stereotypes and stereotypes associated with people with same-sex relationships, as well as my post introducing the series.

Second note: I will not publish a new post next week, as that is the week of July 4th.