Man Up 2016 – promising to help men
The event ‘Man Up 2016’ at Life Church, Ingle Farm, promised to help men learn how to be a Christian man in today’s world. After parking my van, I jumped into my wheelchair and couldn’t find a suitable entrance. A church member opened a set of blinds, and I rolled up a ramp.
‘Does anyone in a wheelchair worship here?’ I asked, already knowing the answer.
Locating an accessible toilet shouldn’t be so difficult
As my leg bag was filling up, I searched for an accessible bathroom. Usually, toilets are easy to find as they have signs, but I couldn’t see a blue person in a wheelchair.
‘Can you direct me to the accessible toilet?’, I asked a random person.
They looked confused, and I asked another person ‘A toilet that provides access for people in wheelchairs’.
As multiple people had similar facial expressions, I had to ‘dumb it down’ as they didn’t understand my request. ‘Is there somewhere I can do a wee?’ I was already eying off the pot plants, which looked dry and needed my nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium.
‘We converted the disabled toilet into an additional women’s toilet’, mentioned another church member.
Coincidently, all the other church members and conference attendees were walking around. I waited for all the women to leave their restrooms, and I squeezed into a cubicle. This process was repeated four more times during the day.
It was evident that church leadership didn’t welcome people with wheelchairs in their flock. Or did they get healed? If so, then why do they need accessible car parking?
Conference at Life Church Ingle Farm failed to accommodate men with disabilities
Although indeed, I always sit down to urinate, this fact doesn’t make it acceptable for me to use the women’s toilets. For me, the conference was a failure, as it wasn’t possible to ‘Man Up’ when I was concerned that women would enter the toilet and see me urinate.
One of the church leaders advised there was a plan to re-introduce a disabled toilet.
Life Church at Ingle Farm in 2020
Four years later, I asked Life Church at Ingle Farm, whether they’ve done as mentioned. It seems they still don’t want people in wheelchairs to worship with them. I suggested they should change their website, as it says ‘Everyone is welcome at LIFE’.
Violation of the DDA
In 1992, the Australian government created the Disability Discrimination Act, which gives protection against discrimination based on disability. It covers areas such as employment, buying goods and services, education, and access to public premises. Churches are included, as they welcome the public to their worship and other services.
As Life Church promised to re-introduce the accessible bathrooms, I didn’t report them to the Australian Human Rights Commission. This body takes complaints, investigates and brings the two parties together in a conversation. It sounds good, but unless the violating organisation agrees to change their ways, the commission has no powers to enforce the DDA.
Life church could continue to discriminate, and my only legal option was to take them to the Federal Court. It would cost me thousands of dollars. I continue to write about my experience in the church and hope and pray they realise that Jesus is for all.
Corinthians 5:15 NIV ‘And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’
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