What This Church's Facebook Post Got Wrong About Autism
Before I begin my explanation of Bethel Church’s recent Facebook post and why it’s harmful to autistic people, let me make a disclaimer.
I am a follower of Christ, have been my whole life, and I have a very strong foundation of faith. I have loved Bethel Music’s albums for years, and this is not meant as an attack on their staff or their statements of healing. This is simply an explanation, from an Christian autistic person’s perspective, on why their post was harmful to us as a community, and hopefully a relief to other autistic people who have been concerned by Bethel’s statement. Here’s what they wrote:
“Recently, a 33 year-old man was healed of severe autism while he slept as friend stood in proxy for him at a healing meeting on the other side of the country. The previously autistic man woke up the next day and spoke his first ever words, ‘Mom, I love you.’
Recently we have a seen an increase in Jesus healing autism and similar brain/developmental disorders along with an increase of healings that happen when someone stands in proxy for another. If you are believing for healing for yourself or a loved one of a brain or developmental disorder, we pray you would receive this testimony as a promise. We pray healing right now for you and your loved ones in Jesus name. He is able and He is willing!”
My stomach dropped and I felt on the verge of vomiting when I first laid eyes on this. To see a church that I respected and admired make such a statement made me feel dizzy. But you’re probably wondering, “how is this harmful?” or “I don’t see anything wrong with it.” Let’s look at this from my perspective and piece it apart, so you can understand.
First off, they claimed that this man was “healed from severe autism.”
Do they know how autism works?
It’s not a disease or a vaccine injury like so many fearmongering people like to claim. Autism is linked to our genetics, which means it’s more than likely passed down in our family lineage. Autism is a neurological condition that is ingrained into a person from the moment they are created. It is intertwined into everything we are as people. How we eat. How we interact with others. How we shape our morals. It’s like putting a lens on the microscope of our lives and seeing everything through a different perspective. It’s not evil or demon-filled. It’s simply a different brain type.
Saying someone can be healed from a different brain type is not true. You can’t be “healed” from having green eyes or writing with your left hand. It’s just who you are. And autistic is who we are.
Secondly, they claimed that he “spoke his first ever words” after someone else was prayed over.
Do they know what being nonverbal means? It means a person either is not capable of using speech because of emotional/sensory overload or chooses not to for similar reasons.
There is nothing wrong with being nonverbal. Sometimes it’s necessary so an autistic person can deal with whatever is going on around them. Some people can speak at times and are nonverbal at other times. I know being nonverbal can be frustrating to those around the autistic person, but it’s not our fault, and you have to accept that. This world wasn’t made for autistic people. We have to cope somehow.
If you have a child who is autistic, I know it can be difficult to understand what they need. And sometimes you may wonder if they’ll ever live a “normal” life, and hope and pray that God can relieve this “burden” from them.
But autism isn’t a burden.
I believe God made us autistic, and that should be celebrated, not erased. I believe He planted each neuron in our mind with a purpose, and instead of asking Him to take that away, people should learn about autism and understand us. Just because we’re autistic doesn’t mean we weren’t supposed to be.
Our differences make us important. Stop trying to pray away our purpose.