Autism is not demonic and Jesus would have an awareness week

Autism is not demonic and Jesus would have an awareness week May 4, 2024

A woman and young girl sitting on a mat with several learning blocks (bearing letters of the alphabet) between them.
Image by ArtsyBeeKids on Pixabay

The pastor in charge of a Christian school said autism awareness week was “demonic” and cancelled it. Not surprisingly, this led to outrage among parents.

“How can we continue to allow someone so grossly ignorant to preach to our children, to educate our children in any capacity? His hatred for the autistic and disabled community is so enormously obvious, that I cannot stand by and just accept what (Baker) tells me.”

Vanessa Francisco, whose adult son has autism, was responding to Pastor Matt Baker’s decision to cancel Autism Awareness Week at Trinity Christian Academy, the school her daughter attends.

The Palm Beach Post reports that Baker said, in a written statement, that:

” …. the teachings of Christ are more than sufficient for ministering to all our precious children,”   and that:

“there were moral aspects of this initiative that were diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ.”

According to the report, he did not elaborate on what the problematic moral issues were, but he did ask:

“If Jesus Christ led Trinity (the school), would HE have an Autism Awareness Week?

To which he responded:

 “Of course not! Why? Because anything that exalts itself above the name of Christ should be brought down.”

Pastor Baker seems to believe that events like autism awareness week lead students to prioritize identities over their faith in Christ. He also said:

“Anything that teaches our children to have their identity in anything other than Christ is idolatry and demonic.”

Just so he was absolutely clear, he added:

“Let me repeat myself just so I am not quoted out of context: any philosophy, teaching, or program that teaches our precious children that their identity is found in anything other than Christ is idolatry and demonic. Period.”

Andrea Gallick, mother of a six-year-old with autism, says being called demonic was probably the worst thing one could be called. Unfortunately, this type of attitude towards autism is not new.

“God doesn’t make junk”

In September 2023, The Daily Beast reported a story in which the pastor of a Baptist church was credited with the following statements, in relation to autism:

“If it’s not demonic, then we have to say God made them that way.”

“Well, my God doesn’t make junk. God doesn’t make mess ups.”

According to the report, he later doubled down on his previous comments, suggesting that he had been misunderstood and that what he meant by “demon” was simply an “evil presence” (as if an “evil presence” is any better than a demon!)

I agree that God doesn’t make “junk,” but let’s ignore that statement and focus on the words of Jesus.

     …… but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:14 (ESV)

“To such belongs the kingdom of heaven” includes those with autism.


Pastor Matt Baker is also quoted as saying, in reference to autism awareness week:

“…. the teachings and actions of my Jesus are fully able to do all that this program intends to achieve and so much more.”

So, let’s take a look at the actual teachings of Jesus.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)

Jesus is essentially saying that what we do to the needy and marginalized people around us, we are  doing to Him. In order to show kindness and compassion to people with special needs, we need to understand what those needs are, rather than demonize them. Events like autism awareness week are meant to educate people about autism so we can treat them the way Jesus would – with love and compassion.


“We’ll teach them, and it’ll be alright”

Hayden is the nine-year-old daughter of Andrea Gallick, the mother referenced in the first story above. When Hayden heard about the cancellation of the autism awareness week activities, she tried to explain it to her brother:

“You know, Bub, people don’t understand… They don’t understand that your brain works differently. And that’s okay. Because we’ll teach them, and it’ll be alright.”

Young boy kneeling, with arms up in air and puzzle pieces in the background.

Image by ArtsyBeeKids on Pixabay

“We’ll teach them, and it’ll be alright.” Such wisdom. Hayden hit the nail on the head. Education is key. Pastors who demonize conditions like autism need to be educated. And it just might just start with listening to young children like Hayden.



The WHO website has useful information about autism spectrum disorder, including this list of key facts:

  • Autism – also referred to as autism spectrum disorder ̶ constitutes a diverse group of conditions related to development of the brain.
  • About 1 in 100 children has autism.
  • Characteristics may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later.
  • The abilities and needs of autistic people vary and can evolve over time. While some people with autism can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support.
  • Evidence-based psychosocial interventions can improve communication and social skills, with a positive impact on the well-being and quality of life of both autistic people and their caregivers.
  • Care for people with autism needs to be accompanied by actions at community and societal levels for greater accessibility, inclusivity and support.



Additional information is also available on the CDC website.



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