Ministry and Disabilities - Lesson 3
A Historical Perspective on Disability
This lesson describes the historical perspectives of society toward people with disabilities and identifies the social roles that have worked against the disability community. It also gives credit to several advocates who have worked to bring about positive change for the disability community.
A Historical Perspective on Disability
SE004-03: A Historical Perspective on Disability
I. Introduction to Disability and Society
A. Definition of Disability
B. Social Models of Disability
II. Ancient World's View on Disability
A. Ancient Egypt
B. Ancient Greece
C. Ancient Rome
III. Disability in the Middle Ages
A. Christian Influence
B. Social Conditions and Attitudes
IV. Disability in the Modern Era
A. Shift in Perception and Treatment
B. Medical Model and Social Model
V. Contemporary Understanding and Inclusion
A. Legal Frameworks and Policies
B. The Role of Advocacy and Community
- In this lesson, you learn the importance of inclusive ministry for individuals with disabilities, explore strategies for inclusivity, and address challenges in fostering an accessible church community.
- This lesson teaches you about the biblical basis for ministering to people with disabilities and provides practical steps for creating an inclusive ministry that embraces unity and diversity.
- By exploring the historical perspective on disability, you learn how attitudes have evolved and gain insight into the importance of inclusion and advocacy in today's society.
- Through this lesson, you gain insights into addressing the challenges churches face in ministering to individuals with disabilities, while understanding the importance of inclusivity, implementing strategies, and fostering a supportive community.
- You will learn the importance of inclusivity in evangelism and networking with disability ministries and organizations, as well as strategies for effective communication, community building, and accessing resources for supporting individuals with disabilities.
Does your church know how to minister to people with disabilities? Do you see them as a burden, or are they valued members of Christ's kingdom?
Do they have anything to say to those whose disabilities are not so immediately apparent? When was the last time you heard a blind pastor preach? Does he "see" things differently? This seminar contains some of the key discussions in the longer course, Beyond Suffering, at JoniandFriends.org
Dr. Jeff McNair
Ministry and Disabilities
A Historical Perspective on Disability
In lesson three, we're going to look at a historical perspective on disability and to try to do a historical perspective on disability in an hour or or even more is almost impossible. There is a famous writer, Ryan and Thomas, who talk about the fact that the history of people with disabilities is more about things that people have either done against them or on their behalf than it is their own history. Although in recent times that has changed. But the focus of this lesson is to look at the experience of people with disabilities over the years. We're going to look a little bit about how history has viewed people with disabilities who've gotten a little bit of that already in session. One lesson. Lesson one. But we're going to look at that. We're going to look at some of the ideologies that have been out there that have either benefited individuals with disabilities or have been the cause of horrific kinds of historical events related to individuals who experience an impairment. We're going to look at some of the revolutionary kind of ideas that have happened potentially in the last 40, 50 years that have made a huge change in the way that people with disabilities are perceived in the in the kind of treatment that they receive. This really is kind of the golden age of the best for people with disability, although hopefully it will continue. We're going to talk about some of the leaders who have brought about positive changes for people disabilities. There are some names that should be on the tip of your tongue When you think about people historically who have done a great deal to to support the development of all kinds of programs and ideas that have been in support of individuals with disabilities.
And then we're going to look a little bit at some of the legislation. We're going to focus mostly on America. Look at some of the legislation which has helped to facilitate community access and hopefully through some of the physical integration, potentially the development of social integration of individuals with disabilities into the larger community. Apathy, shouts, I'm not responsible. This has been history's cry regarding people with disabilities. The history has not been good, generally speaking, and you'll see that as we dance with some of this stuff. And once again, this is going to be a mad dash and I apologize. There's lots of good books out there that you might read that touch on historical aspects of disability, and some of them are being written more recently. So I'd invite you to search that and fill in the gaps if there's a particular area of disability that you're interested in. I spent a little time. Let me see where I got here. I want to spend a little time talking about disability prior to the birth of institutions in America in the Middle Ages. People with disabilities were sometimes supported, sometimes not. There's a fascinating set of videos that talks about the development of services, human services, for instance, for individuals disability. I really recommend it's like 10 hours and it's Wolfsberger who Wolfsberger is, like I say, is one of my professional heroes. If you look up history of Human Services and under Wolfsberger spell right? This is a presentation. When Wolfsberger was alive, you did a lot of presentations about a variety of issues. The one on sanctity of life you would love. He's. He's an ultra pacifist, so I'm not as far along as he is, but it's fabulous in terms of understanding where we're going relative to individual disability.
He claims that or he claimed when he was alive that every year in America, 200,000 people are killed and they're not talking about abortion or anything like that. But because of drugs and other kinds of treatments and institutions in America. But if you search for this, there's a 10 hours of history of Human services. It was a presentation that he did with Susan Thomas, who's his right hand gal, and it's, I think, the University of Minnesota and the state of Minnesota has it. But it's totally worth looking at. If you want to get a good historical perspective, look at the one that talks about ancient times in ancient Christianity. It's actually really interesting. But where do I even begin? People over at. Historically, people with disabilities have been thought of as either devils or angels. You could probably put it one way or another. They're either devils or angels, so either they're angels of God, you know, and they're, you know, the manifestation of God to people. And they're sinless and they can't do anything wrong. Kind of like the Dale Evans Rogers book that was written back in the fifties, Angel underwear. So they're either angels and being thought of as an angel is better than being thought of as a devil. But being thought of as an angel is also pejorative. You know, I'm not an angel. I'm a human being, which means I do things good. I do things bad, right? I'm just a human being. So even calling people an angel is not necessarily a positive thing. And it's fascinating. I've done three pieces of research. The next one's coming out in the Journal of the Jonathan Friends put on what's called Christian social constructions of disability, where I ask people like pastors and people who are going to church and then individuals intellectual disabilities themselves if they are angels because they have a disability.
And it's fascinating. I mean, something like 30% of pastors said they were 30% of pastors said people with disability were angels and like 60% of the adults with disabilities. It was just it was always so cute. Are you an angel? Yes, I am. When I would interview the adults. But Angel, they're not angels. They're just people. But they're also not devils. There's a lot of ideas through history about the notion of the changeling where, you know, the Devils came and took away the the the non-disabled child and replaced it with the changeling, which kind of goes along with a lot of way. People even think today where they had the kind of experience or mourned the death of the child that they expected and had this other child who was born to them with a disability in its place. There are I mean, there's some weirdness that come from people like Martin Luther, supposedly, who was quoted as saying that, you know, the devil sits where the soul should be in a child with a disability, or that disability was a result of intercourse with the devil or some kind of strange dislike that it's unsure whether that can truly be attributed to Luther or not. Some of it might be apocryphal. But towards the end of his life, Luther did say a lot of weird stuff. And so it may have been true that he said that back in the 1600s, there first started to be an understanding that there might be a medical aspect of disability when people recognize that the absence of iodine in the diet could cause something called creating ism, which is approximates kind of the characteristics of a person with Down's syndrome. And so there was a medical component to that a little bit.
And so there are things that are happening here and there. But the real start of understanding people with disabilities historically, and you notice they haven't said a lot about the church. When you look at this, it's interesting that the church did a lot of good early on out of the idea of the Matthew, what is it, Matthew 25 passage if you do it the least of these. So the whole lot of that was motivated by the idea of the hidden Christ that I was serving the hidden Christ. And so, I mean, Wolfsberger talks about how at times churches would even pay people who are disabled or to come and live at the church so that they could be having the opportunity to minister to the hidden Christ. I don't know. You know, once again, I don't know exactly where that's at. But an interesting notion and actually the wolfsberger I'm getting off on this Wolfsberger talks about how at least for one reason, you know, how the the old the old cathedrals were in the shape of a cross partly was that was because there was a nurses station in the middle and they could see all the people who were living in the in the in the cathedral who were disabled or in need of services as part of the reason for the shape of the cross, for the old, for the old churches. But the the things really started to happen in the in the late 18th, early 1700s, when this fella Edward Seguin, had a child was brought to him, a young man actually, who was referred to as the wild boy of Avignon. He was a fearful child found in the in the forests and in rural France. And lots of people did different kinds of work with him trying to to bring him around.
It's interesting when you read the description of this, this young man, it sounds a whole lot like he was a guy with autism. So maybe the family, maybe the guy ran away or maybe the family abandoned him and he lived for a while in the woods. Edward Seguin started trying to do education developmental programs for him and actually was kind of like the father of special education in the Western world. Seguin was developed this method that was called the physiological method. You can read about it. He has a book that you can get a hold of. It's called The Education and Treatment of Idiots. And once again, that was the terminology at the time for people who had a different forms of disability, intellectual disability. In the mid 1800s because he was so influential. Came to America and was involved with the starting of of institutions or an institution for the education. Once again at the time, institution for the education of idiots which was people in a general sense who had intellectual disabilities and other types of disabilities as well. Now the idea of these institutions were was very kind of humanitarian and in high, high kind of minded. If you look on page 54 at the following excerpts on a speech given by singing God, who sat among us rare as the possessors of genius, the idiot, the blind, the deaf mute in order to bind the rich to the needy and the talented to the incapable all men together, or all men to each other by a tie of solidarity. The old bonds are dissolving. Man is already unwilling to contribute to the money. Your policies blah blah blah choses, but instead chose to give annuities to the engine and firm. The chosen friends of our Lord Jesus.
Interesting that he recognized that in 1850 and it took us take us a long time to remember that. See that cornerstone? That's the token of a new alliance between humanity and a class hitherto neglected. That, ladies and gentlemen, is your pride the greatest joy of my my life? Because I have to have labored for the poor idiot. So you get the idea that there was this development of this institution and these institutions were going to be these incredibly amazing places where you'd go in the front door as a person experiencing some form of impairment disability, and they would fix you and you would be all better and you'd come out the other side. I no longer have whatever my issue was and you go home and your parents greet you and you go off to your new life, right? That was kind of the feeling of what this was going to be all about, right? Well, so the institution started and they were growing in number and growing in number. And but soon it was discovered that the people who were going in the institutions weren't getting better. They weren't getting better and weren't being sent home. And so if you have institutions that people are I mean, parents are clamoring to get their kids into these institutions to help them. The kids aren't getting better, are not going home. These institutions that were maybe originally built to house 500 people for a short time are now housing three or 4000 for a longer period of time. Right now, about this same time that this is happening towards the end of the 1800s, you have the development of the IQ test. So I see these institutions are burgeoning with all these people that I never even recognize were were necessarily disabled before because they were integrated on some level into the community.
But now I do IQ tests. Oh, my gosh. I thought you guys were okay, but you got a low score on that test. I didn't know. And now all of a sudden, I recognize all these people got these low IQ scores that I never knew were there, had these hidden disabilities. Now, there's another whole number of people with disabilities that are coming forward. So we have the purging in institutions, the identification with people, with the IQ testing, and then something else happens about the turn of the century, too. We have the development of kind of an urbanization in our country where people are moving from the rural to the urban and the urban lifestyle is much more demanding. And so you could do pretty much okay, potentially, you know, the whole mice and men thing, maybe of Mice and Men was slang in the big old thing. I love that movie where Lennie, you know, a big old guy. It's Lennie, right, George? George Alinea. And. But now you move to the city where the demands of the city and people who potentially were not identified as being disabled in the country are now moving into the city. And so they're being identified. So you look at the figures that are listed back then and the number of people and institutions, and probably in a small period, 12 to 15 years went from 12000 to 400000 people who are being served in institutions. Now, if you're a person, this is what makes me think about this identification of autism to in the back of my mind. But if you're a person and you're just the average guy and you hear that a 12,000 and now it's 400,000, you're thinking, oh my gosh, we're being overrun with these people.
Right. And so people started doing research about individuals with disability. At that time, there were two famous studies. One was called the Duke study and one was called the Calico Study. I actually have a copy of the Calico study. The study was published, I think, in 1912. And what they did was that they found this girl who was living in an institution in New Jersey, Vineland Institution. It was actually one of the better reputed ones in her name was not really, but they gave her the name Deborah Kelechi, and they traced her family all the way back to her great great grandfather. And her great great grandfather had an affair with a barmaid in a bar in South Jersey. And and then he got married to a respectable woman. And they traced the lineage from those two, those two kind of interactions between this man and the woman who was barmaid and the woman who was the respectable person. And they looked on the respectable side and, you know, everybody was doing fine. And there was a couple of people who were heavy over a feud on that side. But on the other side, I'd look at those people and there were all these drug addicts and alcoholics and and what do you call it, prostitutes and all these other types of people who were just these, quote, terrible people. And obviously, the answer was that the person, the woman, the kind of the the barmaid was the cause of all this horrible progeny. Right. And all these social ills that they saw prostitution, drug addiction, alcohol, you know, in prison was all as a result of this one mildly intellectually disabled woman that this guy had the affair with. Now, it sounds stupid. Now it sounds kind of silly now, but at the time, people at that time truly attributed social ills to the progeny of people with disabilities.
And so they thought, Oh my gosh, these people are horrible people. They're causing all our social ills in our society. And once again, it sounds silly, but that was the thought. And even another aspect of that at the time, right, was, you know, it wasn't that it wasn't that these men who were having these affairs with these disabled woman were these kind of squirrely, weaselly men who were looking for a chance to take advantage of a disabled woman? No, it was the disabled women that are bringing our men down. Right. And it's all ridiculous. It was the disabled women who are bringing our men down and attempting them. And then we have all these children who are born, who have these horrific people with drug addiction and all this other kind of stuff that's going on. So people at that time saw the huge burgeoning numbers, 12000 to 40 feet, 400,000 in the institutions, all this other kind of stuff. They saw it as a real growth and they saw it as a huge evil that needed to be stopped somehow. Right. There's a story, one of my favorite stories, just a little off color, so forgive me, but I just it just illustrates the ridiculousness. There's this one story where they talked about this research team went into the institutions and measured the size of the genitals of the males and found out that they were larger than typical. Well, obviously, the reason they're larger and typical is because these people are, you know, a degenerate, you know, whatever. Now, with 2012 eyes, we recognize that a characteristic of the second most common form of mental retardation, which is fragile X syndrome, an aspect of that is in large testes in males. So we see that in 2012, guys.
But in, you know, in 1912 guys, my gosh, these people are so, you know, decrepit, even having large sexual organs. So it was a horrific feeling about what it was at the time. Right. And it led into the development of sterilization laws that that that that started and ultimately in 1927 went before the Supreme Court as to whether a woman could be sterilized against her will in America. And the Supreme Court basically said, yeah, they could, you know, where we were. What's what's the word? The it's better for the world is what the phrase was. It's better for the world that in order to prevent us from being swamped with incompetence that the women's fallopian tubes be cut and it fell under the same they felt it felt it fell under the same kind of ruling as giving people injections, you know, against disease or something like that. Well, the thing that happens and then and then they talked about solutions. And the American Breeders Association said the solution was to keep people from reproducing. So people institutions were then segregated and sometimes they were segregated by the sexes. And then they were also at times sterilized in order to keep them from reproducing. But then people began to figure this out, that the people disabilities weren't having people with disabilities, they weren't being born to them, they weren't having offspring that was causing this. There was the rank and file population who were giving birth to people who had various types of disabilities, and so that you could you could sterilize every disabled person in the world. And it wouldn't make any noticeable difference in the number of children who are being born with disabilities. The people running the institutions were like, Look, people people aren't having babies in the institution.
Well, we're way, way, way we were about this for and at the same time we've got wars going on. So we're going to spend time, you know, sterilizing women. When we got men fighting in the wars and they need the surgeons. So the thing that happened then is that people with disabilities who were in these institutions changed from being perceived as these objects of dread and terror, because they're causing all these problems in society to being sick and useless. And so parents were told, you know, if a child's born to you with this ability, don't even look at it. Just send it off to the institution. It'll be better for you and better for the child. So now you have these institutions to where they're burgeoning in size. Right. Bigger and bigger and bigger. And people are being sent there and forgotten about. Now, I mean, there's a lot of people have a whole lot of confidence and human service system in America, but I am definitely not one of them. And you start taking a whole bunch of people and warehousing them in an institution and having nobody looking at what's going on. And you can imagine the hellacious state that these institutions came to. And we're going to see a bit of video about that in a second. But at the same time that all that was going on, on page 55, we also have the growth of what's called the eugenics movement. And the eugenics movement movement was all about racial purification. I mean, it came this bird of racial purification and eugenics came to power in Nazi Germany to see that with the actual kind of outworking of what it would look like in an actual society would be it was Nazi Germany.
But the whole idea behind this was to try to have a more perfect, more, you know, genetically good race. There's a book that's that's actually out there. It's called Preaching Eugenics, which talks about how eugenics got caught about the American Christian Church, got caught up in eugenics as well. And pastors would have, you know, the eugenics family of the church contest were the ones representing the best characteristics of the particular race in the church and have these contests. So they got all caught up in that and it got really strange. This was also the time where you have Darwin coming to to to recognition. And the notion of social Darwinism was raising its head as well, where that the reason we have these institutions burgeoning with people with disabilities is that there's too much doggone philanthropy going on. If we left these people to their own devices right, then the survival of the fittest would kick in. We wouldn't have to deal with these people. Because they would not be fit enough and they wouldn't survive. But because we're doing philanthropy now, we're overwhelmed with all these people. So it was the notion of Darwinism, survival of the fittest, etc.. It's interesting, a lot of these early thinkers who were behind eugenics and Darwinism, etc., were German Jews, and they came to America ultimately to flee or whatever they were doing. And prior to even to World War Two and even during World War Two to flee some of the things that were happening there. But to the degree to which that ideologically they were the cause behind a lot of it themselves. There's a website I want to point you to, though, real quick, and you should pore over this website. It's by the University of Regent University, sorry, in Virginia, and it's called The Useless Eater's website.
Useless Eaters was it was a term that the Nazis used to describe people with disabilities in terms of saying, Why would we waste food on these people? They're useless. It's all about I mean, during World War Two, some of you might already know this. During World War Two, a lot of the practices that were used in the Holocaust for the extermination of the Jews were perfected with people with disabilities. So it's expected that, I don't know, 70 or 80,000 individuals disabilities were killed during World War Two, where they'd literally wholesale empty institutions and kill all the people. Their stories of World War One veterans with one leg who were living in an institution wearing their decorations from the war that would be taken out and shot, etc., in order to kind of cleanse the race and have purification. That I recommend this website. It gives you a good introduction to eugenics, to social Darwinism. And and the thing that that Mark Mostert, who's behind this does at the end is he makes the parallels kind of like send he was doing he makes the parallels to the present day You can see so much of the stuff going on here in the present day in terms of the directions that we're taking as well. So I highly recommend this. This is you will love this website. It's won awards and everything. It's just amazing. So we have the birth of the institutions in America. Now, these institutions originally were founded by these compassionate people who were trying to do the right thing. But in the change of the idea from being, you know, angels to being sick and useless, because these institutions to become these horrible places. Absolutely horrible places. As I said, it grew in 1900 to 1951, from 12000 to 400000 people.
And once again, people saw this as a real increase In the same way as I talk to you about with autism. The remedy is to do is sterilization and to stop people from reproducing as an aside. There's only 27,000 people who were sterilized across America. I mean, if it's you, that's that's one that's a big deal. But there's not a whole lot of people. And the most we're done in California and the most we're done at Patents State Hospital, which is right down the road from where where I live there in Southern California down there. But it was recognized that I really wouldn't make any difference ultimately. So why are we going through all the trouble to do this? But I'm old enough in my career to remember people who were sterilized in institutions and didn't know. And so maybe at a later point they'd get married or something like that, because you didn't have to be intellectually disabled to be in an institution and they couldn't have kids and come to find out that they had been sterilized in the institution and they didn't even know. Reform started to come. But let me say, we're out here. This is the this is where reform started. It was both with this video and with a series of pictures that was taken by a guy named Burton Black about late 1960s. Burton Blatt went with this other guy and the guy had a camera on his belt and they walked around this institution and took these black and white pictures. And you can still see the pictures online. There's a there's a website that's called the These Disability History Museum. If you search for that and you can see all the pictures, they published the pictures in to two places.
They published the pictures, first of all, in a book that was called Christmas in Purgatory. And you can see the book, you can see the pictures that were taken there. And there are horrific pictures. When you see them, you get a taste of them with this video a little bit. But then they were also published in Life magazine. Now, some of you are too young to remember Life magazine. But I can tell you back in the day, there was probably two or three magazines nationally and Life magazine was the premier. So if you've got pictures in Life magazine, it was a big deal and the nation was shocked. We could not believe that this was actually happening in America. And then you have this little guy, this little cub reporter out of New York City, this guy named Geraldo Rivera and her all Rivera, this was his first big break was when he broke this story about what was going on at Willowbrook. There's a there's a DVD that's called the Unforgotten, which has the complete video that Heraldo Rivera did. It's about a half an hour, 40 minutes, something like that. But this is just a brief snippet that I'm going to show you off of the off of YouTube. But I mean, once again, America was shocked that this was going on in America in 1972, for goodness sakes. There's a book, if you want to read, about the experiences on the inside. There's a book that's called The State Boy's Rebellion. And the thing that happened was oftentimes the institutions, the institutions, just plates became a place to dump people. So and this one was, well, Brooke's in New York. And so the thing that they would do would be take the quote, you know, street rats, you know, like the Aladdin kind of kid.
Take the street rats who parents were drug addicts or something like that, and they'd ship them off into the institution. And so you had streetwise kids without intellectual disabilities or other types of abilities within these institutions. Well, there was this one guy who wrote a book about his experience in there, and his book grew out of the fact that, you know, he's living in this institution. As you can see, there's nothing to do with the people just sitting around all day. And someone told him that he could be a part of the science club. And so he thought, shoot, I'll be a part of the science club. But what's a science club? Well, you get occasional outings and you get a different diet. Oh, well, I'll take a better diet. Well, to make a long story short, the Science Club was an experimentation of Quaker Oats amity and the federal government to test the effects of mild doses of radiation on human beings. Right. And so these kids were given mild doses of radiation in their oatmeal, and that was the science club. But this guy also talks about and I won't go into it here because it's just horrible. But the way that they would manage people's behavior and the institutions as well. So these were horrific places. And once again, I wonder I mean, there are there you can read back in the sixties from people like Robert Persky and those that there were chaplains in some of these institutions. But once again, I wonder, where was the church at all this? Right. Where is the church? I don't think we gave a damn. I don't think we care at all. It's horrific to think that this was going on and we didn't even care.
We didn't do anything. I don't know that it's much better today, although the people are more community based now instead of institutionally based. But a horrible, horrible time. Well, when all this stuff when all this stuff came to light, of course, there was just one lawsuit after another that came from families. And the lawsuits actually led to what became a lot of the legislation in our country, particularly starting with special education law. So things like the least restrictive environment, which is the environment is closest to the typical is possible where a person still gets their educational needs met. Grew out of litigation in these state institutions. A whole lot of other kinds of ideas. But the thing that happened that we it's a social service error is that the solution was that these institutions were so horrific. The thing we need to do is exit the institutions. And so that's what they did. So that I mean, on the one hand, it's kind of like, yeah, let's stick it to them. Where Penshurst, which was in Philadelphia, which was one of these horrible institutions. When the lawsuit came, the federal government said this, that Pinehurst is a monumental example of unconstitutionality. Right. And so, therefore and this was April. The institution needs to be exited by September. Okay. Now think about taking 3 to 5000 people with intellectual disabilities and exiting them from an institution in May, June, July, August, in four months. What's the outcome going to be like for those people? It's going to be terrible. One of my favorite authors is Rappaport is named Julian Rappaport, and there's this article he wrote. It's called In Praise of Paradox. And he says in Human Services, if you come to a single solution to a problem that only illustrates you don't understand the problem, because if you come to a single solution, just going to create a whole myriad of other problems.
And one of the problems that pervades to today, as I indicated, was that so is that so many of the regulations that govern residential facilities in the community were, I think, were developed during this time period to protect people from the community. So now that here we are 30 years later, a different time period and we're trying to help facilitate people to be integrated into the community, the people's opportunity to be integrated are being restricted by the laws that were ultimately originally developed to protect them from the community. Some important legislation that we should. Well. Well, if you look at page 57, some important names. Kennedy, John F Kennedy. I mean, we have a president with a sister who is intellectually disabled and he started President's Committee on Mental Retardation. Burton Blatt. Amazing. Lots of good stuff that he's written. In addition to Christmas from Purgatory, he wrote Return to Purgatory and some other great stuff, which was foundational. Wolfsberger, my professional, personal, professional hero. Amazing man. I actually got to know him a little bit. And the book that he wrote, Normalization is one of the classic books that's in Human Services. You see a lot of the stuff that we talked about in that book and basically in 1972 to tell you how far we've come, The basic premise of normalization was that people with disabilities should be treated as normally as possible, and that was radical at the time, was crazy radical at the time. Garner did what he was also involved with the normalization movement. Legislation that has been critical, particularly in the development of services for people with disabilities. If you look at page 58, one of the most important is the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 in particular, some of you might have heard of 504 plans in the public schools.
Section 504 says no. Otherwise qualified handicapped individuals shall be denied access to any program receiving federal funding solely on the basis of their handicap because you could show up in a wheelchair to a public school and we'd say, The heck with you, we're not serving you. Right. Fascinating. That is probably that that in itself is probably as far reaching. I can't go into it, but as probably the most important foundational piece of human rights legislation for disability in the history of our country, no one knows how it got into the law. It's fascinating. No one can figure it out how it got in there. And yet it's far reaching. After that, probably the next most important law was in 1975, 94, 142, which if you think about it, it's only been since 1975. The law was passed in 1979 that came into effect. It's only been in 1979 that people with disabilities had the right to a public school education in America. Magic. Think about that. Think about that. Right. 30 years. It's only been 30 years, basically, that a person with a disability had a right to an education in America. Amazing. We still have a long way to go in terms of making it good. Then the big law, the next big law that came and it's been authorized. I don't care if my you keep telling me this. I really don't care. You want me to buy your stuff? I buy it. Probably the most important. I mean, there's been the if you think about the original law for education was the Education of All Handicapped Children Act. Right. The legislation now is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. You can hear the differences there in the language. And there's whole lot of things have been built into there.
Early childhood education, transition from school to adult life, etc., other kinds of things. But the probably the biggest law is the ADA of 1990. This guy here is one of my favorite people, Harold Wilkie. You want to read some amazing stuff. Harold Wilkie was a Episcopalian, maybe Episcopalian pastor, a man with no arms, and his writing is unbelievable. My students, I have my students read his writing and they're like, I can't believe this guy was writing this in the sixties. I mean, it's radical today in terms of his description of disability ministry and other kinds of things. He's fabulous. Buddy Wilkie, Wilkie, Harold Wilkie. But the Americans with Disabilities Act foundational law, probably the basis of the UN Convention on Disability was probably patterned from that and a whole lot of other laws around the world were patterned after the ADA. I mean, to think about those of you who are puppies in here, to think about the power of the ADA, I mean, before the ADA there weren't curb cuts. You know, the buildings weren't accessible, didn't have to have a wheelchair ramp, didn't have to have an elevator, you know, amazing things, didn't have to have busses that were accessible. You know, if you were a person who's a wheelchair, you know, tough to be you. It's just the way it is. But as a result of the ADA, so many things changed in America. America is unrecognizable. Now, that's not to say that we're where we where we want to be or where we should be, but we are way ahead of where we were prior to the ADA and everything that it brought into practice relative to hiring practices and other kinds of things. Last thing I want to mention real quickly is where is that quote? This is the slide.
Oh, it's there. Johnny, Johnny was a person who was involved in the passing of this. She was on the President's Committee on on Disabilities back then, etc.. And so she was a player. And she talks about how this story I love the story. She talks about how after the passage of the ADA, of course, there are all these parties and everybody celebrating is just amazing. And she was at this one room, apparently, where there was this party and everybody was celebrating and having a good time. And there's this one guy sitting off in the corner. I guess it was this Paul Hearne just kind of looking all depressed, just sitting there. And and supposedly the people were like, We won, man. We won. Come on, what's the matter with you? We won. And this was his comment. This law will not change the heart of the bus driver. It will not change the heart of the restaurant owner or the employer. And so everybody raised their glasses and said, here's to changed hearts. And that's the issue, baby. That's where we're at today. I mean, just to bring this to a close and James is up. That's where we are today. Okay. I can make you sit next to her, but I can't make you have a relationship with her. Right. I can make you excuse me. I can make you employ her on some level, but I can't make you have a relationship with her. Right. I can make you, you know, have access to the same places as he has access to. But I can't make you choose him as a friend. And that's where we're at. So the government, the best the government can do is facilitate some level of physical integration.
But the promised land of social integration. Or where do people find social integration? Where could that be? It must be a must be a solution to that somewhere. You know, and it's in its effect where the government doesn't recognize it, it doesn't realize it yet that the answer to me, the sole, most important answer to social integration of people with disabilities from a totally secular perspective is the Christian church. And it's not until the Christian church is open to people disabilities that they will truly experience community integration to the degree that they have the potential to experience community integration. So I leave you with that last thing that I told you in the beginning that I could tell you and that you could just walk home with the most important thing. If you, you know, you go through this week, you hear all these amazing people. If you left here, sought out a person in your community who had a disability and befriended him or defended her, that's the best thing you could do. You learned what you needed to do from this training because that's the that's the promised land. Community integration, social integration, people choosing individuals who are devalued and disenfranchized as friends. What questions or comments do you have, sir? To your knowledge, are they heavy metal? Yeah. Very. Absolutely. Absolutely. And they're usually. Well, they can be the worst. Absolutely. But the thing that has happened now is that and I'm not everybody would agree with me that now we have a bunch of little tiny segregated, community based residential facilities. So you have situations where people are just socially isolated on some level and sometimes abused. Or sometimes limited opportunities. But there are group homes in the community now and people don't know what's going on in those places.
I'm telling you, it boggles your mind. There are people who are living in your community next door to you and they're totally socially isolated. And people don't know that their their church isn't doing anything. So once again, I can make you live next to her. But I can't make you choose her as your friend. Like. Oh. That's what the church should be doing, for goodness sakes. Not legislating it, but at least doing.