The CID's position on disability rights and advocacy is useful in understanding the work of Zacharaiah's Way/P.U.R.E Project, the group Sarah Palin spoke to, on June 29. These ministries mark a significant paradigm shift as regards disability, especially among some of conservative Christianity's worst offenders: those who believe in supernatural healing, with (outwardly-evident) disabilities as a sign of a bad faith.
As documented by the Alaska HSS/ACT exhibit, this threadbare old trope dates back eons. It was recently re-inscribed by ultra-conservative Bob Marshall, who claimed disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions.
Palin persists in labeling her imagined opponents in media — i.e. everyone outside of NewsCorp — "lamestream". Why doesn't anyone point out to Sarah that "lame" is often the first word of awareness around dismantling one's own abelist language habits? Nobody corrects her, at least not in a public way; she never apologizes.
Don't tell me it's for fear of being considered politically correct. Zachariah's Way/The P.U.R.E. Project takes their own challenge to language as seriously as possible:
We're certainly not so shallow to believe or presume that a change of terminology is going to change everything or that it fixes all the problems. But, we believe that most people (yes, even Christians!) automatically dismiss any subject related to disabilities or special needs, simply because they don't think it has any meaning or pertinence to them! We at Zachariah's Way believe that we must get past this mindset (in actuality, heart set) of solely identifying people by what is wrong with them (we even go so far as to constantly identify people by their diagnosis, e.g. there's that little AUTISTIC boy).
We believe it is past the time that we constantly and consistently refer to these sweet, blessed people and their families by labels that are certainly not edifying and at the same time, in many cases, actually serve to misinform and many times actually scare people away from ministry opportunities! Again, we're not so naive to think by using different words that everything will change. We do believe the change is necessary and P.U.R.E. is a much better, positive, and edifying term embodying spiritual truth than what we so commonly use today.
Therefore, as part of this effort, we are introducing a new, positive and accurate description and word for a person with disabilities, P.U.R.E.
That's enough of that. From there it starts to get even more facepalm, but the point is well-taken that language matters, as language so often reveals the etymology of our biases towards some and against so many others.