Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | May 19, 2008

Compassionate Christianity?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that officials from the Church of St. Joseph in Bertha, Minn., got a restraining order to prevent Carol Race from taking her 13-year-old autistic son, Adam, to mass. The Rev. Daniel Walz says the boy “urinates” during services, but the mother says he has an incontinence problem that’s similar to what a toddler or older person might have.

When a sheriff’s deputy met Race in her driveway yesterday morning as she prepared to take Adam to the Church of St. Joseph, promising to arrest her if she took him to that church, Race instead took Adam to services at a Catholic church in another town.

Not only that, “She is scheduled to appear in court today over a citation she received last week for violating the restraining order by taking Adam to [the Church of St. Joseph] on Mother’s Day.”

Walz says in the affidavit he signed when he sought the restraining order that he “sought to try and mediate the matter with the family to ask them to voluntarily not bring Adam to church, but it has been to no avail.” How is it mediation if the only acceptable outcome is the one that the priest wants – Carol Race’s son not coming to his church?

And once again, whatever happened to compassionate Christianity?



  1. This story amazes me — there are no words. Like I said in my blog piece, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” I guess the church forgot that particular bible verse. Big picture though, what next? Who will get away with discriminating against disabled people next? How long before it affects more of us, especially those who sat by and did nothing when it was ‘just someone else.’ Great entry!

  2. I’m truely saddened by this story. I have a mentally disabled sister and my parents were eventually shunned out of church for brining her because on occasion she would talk loudly. I have witness people being annoyed at other handicapped individuals at the church I currently go to. Where is the compassion?

  3. What is wrong with people are we not supposed to help those that need help especially the disabled. I cannot believe that a church would go as far as this instead of finding an alternative to allow Adam’s family to attend services. I am saddened by this.

  4. Kudos to the church! The “child” in question is 225 lbs and six feet tall. We are talking about a 13 year old who is taller than and weighs more than most fully grown men. He has no control over his actions. Other reports have stated that he runs about erratically, spits and urinates in the church. Should the church wait until he does harm someone? So when is the right time to take more drastic actions–after he has harmed someone? Other news reports also state that the problem has been a long running one and that the church has offered numerous solutions.

    The mother has contended that it is a sin for her not to attend, yet the church has offered her–what is it–dispensation (?) because her son is unable to attend. The mom seems to just want to make a point.

    I get that her son is disabled, but he is also dangerous. If he were 4’6″ and 100 lbs, few people would notice or care.

  5. So compassion and inclusion are only for small people? Preposterous.

  6. It is sad. But unfortunate that the child-man is being subjected to this kind of publicity. And for what? For some, justification to bully the church, and for others, to draw sympathy towards their plight. This out of control child is dangerous. He needs to learn to be in control, and if cannot, then he needs some medical help to afford him the training necessary. I worked at a fime institution for the mentally retarded. They can be exceedlingly dangerous, only because a two year old tantrum at 6’6 and 300# is a moving force.I think the Church has taken the role of protector for its other parishioners. There is the compassion. We are all welcome and loved in the sight of God, but he would also want us to be safe in His worship. He can be taught, but with all the bledding hearts, the schools that did the most effective hands-on training are gone.

  7. Bob and Julia, I forgive you for your ignorance. You must know something about the ailment before you should cast away the sick. Whats next, people with turrets, als, alzheimers and parkinsons. I have not read one thing verifying or confirming this child put anyone in danger. Hersay so far. Please remind me not to bring anyone sick near the two of you. Eight Bells was properly desposed of according to you.

  8. I have an autistic son and this story has hurt me to deeply.The Rev Daniel Walz is the lowest form of slime on the face of the earth.This just shows the lack of knowledge that most people have when it comes to autism.Autistic children do not act out in a violent manner.This is a sad day not only for the Race family but for all families that have to deal with autism.

  9. I am a Catholic. I live in Delano, Minnesota and grew up with Carol Race. I am wondering how St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bertha Minnesota can put a restraining order on a family who wants to take their child to church – yes he is autistic, but he is 13 years old.

    I was always taught that Jesus wanted everyone to come into is house. He would never turn anyone away. Why is this Priest, Fr. Daniel Walz, doing this to this family. Why is this parish doing this?

    Jesus would open his arms to Anyone and Everyone. He would NEVER turn anyone away for any reason.

    Could you please explain this to me?
    Also, the mother, Carol Race, is now facing charges because she brought her son to church on Mother’s Day.

    This is so wrong.

  10. The funny thing is, if Jesus had been at that church, he would have just driven the demon out of the boy and he would be fine right now.

    Mat17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
    Mat17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
    Mat17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

    The church in question should have resorted to prayer and fasting rather than a restraining order.

  11. Autism is not caused by demons. Please, leave the middle ages and use the brain God gave you. From the Autism Society of America: “There is no known single cause for autism, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism versus neuro-typical children. Researchers are investigating a number of theories, including the link between heredity, genetics and medical problems.”

  12. Wow, Sandy, it’s been a long time. Thank you for standing up for me. As you know I was always really quiet in school. Guess I’ve had to change after seeing too much injustice.

  13. SAM – I could not have said your first sentence any better.

    Jesus would have driven out the devil spirit and then the family would have taken him home, spending time helping him with the healing process.

  14. Autism is not caused by demons. Please, stop spreading such medieval-era drivel.


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