Quite a few people have suggested to me that the first church I called, the one that said I could bring Isaac but we would have to sit in a special reserved seat, was not trying to discriminate or make me uncomfortable but was trying to be helpful. Well, I don't know what their intentions were. You would assume a church would want to be helpful and welcoming, but then, many churches refuse to allow people with service dogs to attend at all, so those churches do not intend to be helpful or welcoming. So that is not the intention of all churches.
But maybe it was the intention of this church. I don't know. I didn't ask them.
The bottom line is, no matter what their intentions, discrimination is not helpful. Discrimination is not welcoming.
And yes, segregating a person because they have a disability, insisting they must sit in a special reserved seat when everyone else gets to choose any seat they like, is discrimination. Offering to reserve a seat or asking if I would need a special seat, that would be offering to be helpful. But insisting I sit in a special seat when I do not need or want a special seat? That is discrimination.
The U.S. Department of Justice even says it is discrimination. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal for a business to do that. But of course, churches are exempt from the ADA, so they are allowed to discriminate. The fact that it is legal doesn't make it helpful, though.
The thing that surprised me is that many of the people suggesting the church just wanted to be helpful and that I was being unreasonable have disabilities. I've written before about how bigotry can be internalized and this is yet another example. I am unreasonable for objecting to discrimination. The people discriminating against me are not unreasonable. I should appreciate them just allowing me to attend their church and not expect to receive equal treatment.
Well, no. I don't appreciate discrimination and I don't find it helpful. Not at all.