Religion and the Deaf Community

*sighs* This is going to be interesting.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. Today, as you probably already know from the title, I want to talk a little bit about the religious community and the deaf community. Their…slightly strained relationship over time. I’m not going back to discuss about monks and their sign language and– This is not a history lesson. No. Before I go into it, I want to say that while making this video, I had no script for this, I didn’t write down my thoughts or anything. I’m just throwing out what I think. This might be a mess, but we’ll go with it. (I will be lightly editing a bit so it reads a bit easier.)

Deaf people may already kind of know where I’m going with this.

Part of the reason why I’m making this video now is because recently, there’s been an uptick in harassment of the deaf community from the religious community. That’s not okay. (Editor’s note: To clarify, I’m speaking specifically to the US, I don’t know what it’s like in other places.) When I say religious community, that’s really broad. So let’s just be more explicit. Typically, the harassment is from two major religions. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness. In the situation I talk about, Mormons aren’t not as bad as Jehovah’s Witness. So. Those two are the groups I’m talking about right now.

Generally, hearing people are aware of door-to-door Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness. Going up to people, asking them to come to their church, are they interested, whatever. But generally, hearing people are used to telling them I’m not interested, please don’t come again. Generally, they respect that. As you would expect, yes. You would expect that once you say no, I’m not interested, please don’t come again, they don’t. That’s general courtesy.

Now… In the deaf community, that doesn’t happen. Unfortunately.

Every person who is somewhat involved with the deaf community either has experienced it themselves or knows someone who has personally experienced it. Mormons or Jehovah’s Witness will come to your house. Understand this, specifically to your house. Not by door-to-door, no. Specifically to your house. How do we know this? That person who knocks on the door knows sign. Or at least can sign some. First. Okay, that’s nice you’re… At first look, it’s nice they’re thinking of oh, they’re deaf so have someone come who signs. But the thing is, if you have never had a person, any person come knocking on your door asking if you want to come to their church… How do they know you’re deaf? So, from a lot of people comparing stories, talking about this, it would seem that… Mormons eh, Jehovah’s Witness–yes, Jehovah’s Witness. They have some kind of database with a list of deaf people and where they live. And they will send people specifically to those houses for trying to get them to come.

I generally don’t curse on this blog, but… That’s fucking creepy. I’m lucky to have never experienced this.

The point is, how is it okay for you to have that kind of information, when we didn’t give you that information? Who is giving you that information? Where are you getting that? The deaf community sees that as a strong invasion of our privacy. Often, these people will come, we tell them no, we’re not interested, leave. They come again, and again, and again. Even after telling them, please don’t come back. Don’t bother me. They’re still obstinate. That’s not okay. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, whatever, they tend to look at it as “we’re doing what we can to ‘save’ these people, they don’t have God, so we need to do something to save them.” I personally grew up Christian. I don’t really practice religion, I… It’s not for me. But I have nothing against religion, no. I think it absolutely has its place for people. Some people need it, and benefit from it, great! That’s fine. But when you approach religion as something to… Go up and minister to people, invading their privacy, and trying to “save” them, when they’ve clearly told you no, I’m not interested. And you ignore that. That’s not okay.

I want to add another disclaimer. I’m not saying all Mormons, all Jehovah’s Witness are like this. Absolutely not. No! I know there are some good people in those religions. But I’m talking about them as an entity.

They might be looking at it as we’re trying to do a good deed. But when they target people like that… They have their names, their addresses written down. Ignoring their requests to leave them alone… That is, really, exploiting the deaf community. There are deaf people who may not have the knowledge to tell them no. Tell them to go away. And that’s… When religions are persistent like that, they’re kind of forcing your religion on them. And I don’t think that’s what they want to do. Going once, okay. But after they tell you no, I’m not interested, stop. If I was actually interested, I will go to your place of worship, I will seek you out and say, yes I’m interested. I want to maybe join. But if you keep coming up to me, after I’ve told you no…

WHAT makes you think I will ever be interested?

That is a surefire way to push people away.

I don’t know if this video was coherent, but I just wanted to say that, give you that information. Because I know I have a lot of people who follow me that aren’t part of the deaf community. I wanted to have that out there for those people who may have never thought about this information, didn’t know about this happening. And…just. So you know. Hopefully, maybe you can try to do something to help prevent this happening. That’s all for today, I guess. I hope you learned something from this. Leave comments down below, what you think about this, or whatever.

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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