I was once a Christian, but I'm not anymore. But when people asked, when I was healing after my stroke, if they could pray for me, I never said no. Who am I to say that it doesn't help? I don't like the spin on this school of thought that summarily dismisses medical intervention as a way through God might healing a person, but I've never personally come across someone who believes this (as far as I know).
And as for Pat Robertson...I just plain don't like him, The homophobic, victim-blaming, ignorance that he spews reminds me of Ken Swanson and makes me want to have nothing to do with a God that he claims to be serving.
Knowing the kind of things that Pat Robertson is famous for saying, I wasn't too surprised at his recent reply on The 700 Club to a mother that her child was deaf because she was praying wrong. It annoyed me, as Pat Robertson's pronouncements generally do, for a couple of reasons. But the whole thing made me sad.
"I Have Prayed for His Healing"
This is something that we keep coming back to again and again, isn't it? This idea that disability is something that needs to be cured or healed. Mia Mingus, recently honoured by at the White House as a Champion of Change, writes about it in "Wanting More and Finding Disability Justice":
"Disability was always framed as a sad or bad thing, as something unfortunate that happened to me, a tragedy, a flaw. My experience with the medical world was one about “fixing” me and making me more “normal” and less disabled. This of course, echoed my experience of the world at large. I never saw disabled women in the media being desired or living whole complex lives, let alone disabled women of color. The messages always boiled down to: disability is wrong and undesirable." Read More
Granted, I think that the idea that disability doesn't have to be looked at as something to be cured is a relatively recent idea, and not one to which people generally get a lot of exposure. Parents of disabled children certainly aren't getting it from the medical establishment. They're not getting it from the media. Hopefully they're getting it from support services to which they're referred, but it's becoming very difficult for families to get support services.
So I don't want to shame this mother. She gets enough of that from Pat Robertson in his next sentence.
Pat Robertson Chose the Wrong Direction
I don't expect Pat Robertson to give a discourse on how disability is too often treated as a negative and how we need to start questioning that.
I didn't expect him to say, (paraphrased) "Well, I've prayed like this before and it worked for me...I don't know what you're doing wrong..."
Seriously? This is his idea of helping?
What I *wish* he would have said, perhaps after "Well, I've prayed this way to heal deaf people and it's worked for me", and instead of "I don't know what you're doing wrong," is something like: "As you pray, are you considering what his doctors say about his deafness? Are you and your family learning sign language? What are you doing to make sure, if it's not God's will that your boy get his hearing back, that he has as a great life as any hearing child?"
That would have made the whole thing a lot more palatable for me, and kept Pat Robertson out of my blog. For the moment, at least.
Pat Robinson and Responsibility
I don't like people who don't use their power responsibly. Pat Robertson knows that people are going to listen to him and take what he says (pun intended) as Gospel. That he shamed a mother who was desperate enough about her situation to write into a television show by telling her that her that her deaf son isn't becoming hearing (the way so many influences tell her he should be) because she is praying wrong (adding nothing else in the way of advice but "try something else", to add insult to injury) makes me feel ill.
And those of us that know that disability shouldn't be considered wrong, or undesirable, or something that needs to be "fixed", "healed", or "cured" need to keep talking. This is a message that needs to be spread.