Is God’s Love Important Enough for the Deaf to Know, Too?
Let me start off by saying that having been an atheist, I realize that not
all of you will agree with everything I am writing about, but understand
that it comes out of a deep love for equality in the Deaf community.
Yesterday, I had a conversation for the second time with a Director from the
purported Christian organization Family Life.
A few years ago, I pleaded with this organization to understand the value of
providing professional sign language interpreters for their Weekend to
Remember events. When I called yesterday to plead this case again, Carl
Boykin who is the Director of Events responded that Family Life’s position
on this issue has not changed. He tried to convince me that they understood
the Deaf community’s position on this but I quickly informed him that their
organization clearly did not understand or it would otherwise advocate to
ensure that these events had professional interpreters.
I described how the Deaf community has been discriminated against by various
Christian and other religious entities for hundreds of years; I explained
that many Deaf community members loathe the idea of attending church after
being forced to go with their families without an interpreter to clarify the
proceedings. I also explained how I realize that technically non-profit
religious organizations are not all held to the standard of the Americans
with Disabilities Act, but does that mean as Christians we should not rise
As Christians, does it take a governmental edict requiring us to love people
to follow through? Has not God already commanded this of us in our own Holy
Bible? I realize that there may be other ways legally of having
interpreters provided (perhaps from the locations these events are being
provided at), but why should it come to that? I explained to Mr. Boykin
that by not providing professional interpreters, he was saying one of two
things to the Deaf community:
1.The Deaf community is not important enough to hear Family Life’s message or
2.Family Life’s message is not important enough for the Deaf community to hear.
Period. Whether that is the intent behind their actions matters not since
this is how the actions are perceived by the community.
He made certain to tell me that even though they do not provide
interpreters, they do “other things.”
When I asked what these “other things” were, he replied that they let
interpreters volunteer their time sometimes at the conferences. I asked if
his speakers, stage crew, light and sound crew, and other staff members
volunteered their time as well, to which he replied no. Let me first say,
that anyone who really knows me knows that I volunteer my interpreting
services probably more often than I should, so I am not opposed to
It should not be expected, though. Interpreters provide a valuable service
and it is a lot to ask of someone to give up two to three full work days as
a volunteer. Not only this, but there is no quality control standard over
most volunteers. Oftentimes this means an uncertified and/or unqualified
signer is pulled in to interpret without any knowledge of our Code of
These paying Deaf patrons want to know when they attend a conference over a
sensitive matter such as marriage that they can trust their private matters
to not be leaked back to the very small Deaf community. At least with a
professional interpreter, they have a better chance of receiving this
standard of service. Although volunteer interpreters can also be
professional interpreters, oftentimes volunteer equates to unqualified.
Carl also informed me… wait for it, this is the kicker… that Family Life is
gracious enough to waive the registration fees for the interpreters.
Ummm… huh? I told him that would be the equivalent of the college I teach
at waiving tuition fees for me to teach. Do they charge their other staff
members registration fees? Of course they do not because the staff members
are working. They should be paid, not pay to work. At a $129 per person or
$258 per couple (not including hotel stay) registration fee, there is no
reason that this organization could not afford to pay for interpreters.
I reminded Carl that if they really had faith in God as an organization,
they should trust that He will provide for their interpreting funds just as
He has provided for many of their other initiatives.
I asked Mr. Boykin this, “If you were on trial in a court in China, do you
think it would be sufficient if you were provided a volunteer English
interpreter?” The answer is of course not, especially with imprisonment or
worse at stake. How much more imperative is it for someone to have clear
communication when it come to saving a marriage and to the eternal life and
death message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you tell me, according to
the Christian faith, any message of import above that of salvation? I think
Sadly, after all of this, I realized that my time and breath had been wasted
because Mr. Boykin’s response was just to say that it was an “unfortunate
situation.” I let him know that it was unfortunate because Family Life
would no longer have my support, the support of my family, the support of my
extended family, nor that of many of my friends.
How can I support an organization which so blatantly is discriminating
against an entire people group? It pains me to speak ill words of a
Christian organization because, having been an atheist until the age of
nineteen, I know that these types of incidents are exactly what turn people
further away from the Christian faith and misrepresent the whole. Despite
that, I think it is important to bring all things to the light to allow
people to see and make judgments for themselves.
Thanks for listening and perhaps one day this Christian organization and
others like it will learn what it means to love.
Interpreter and Professor of Interpreting
CONTACT PERSON NAME: Leyel Hudson
CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS: [email protected]
CONTACT TELEPHONE #: 832-326-3367 (Voice/Text)