Including Religious Voices on Disability: Which Ones? in 2008 EP Is Featuring This 3-Part Series on Spiritual and Religious Supports, Recognizing That Faith, Religion, and Spirituality Can Be as Important a Consideration and as Integral a Facet in the Lives of Exceptional Families as Healthcare, Education, and the Myriad of Other Topics That Touch and Involve EP Readers. This Article Presents Installment Two

By Gaventa, Bill | The Exceptional Parent, May 2008 | Go to article overview

Including Religious Voices on Disability: Which Ones? in 2008 EP Is Featuring This 3-Part Series on Spiritual and Religious Supports, Recognizing That Faith, Religion, and Spirituality Can Be as Important a Consideration and as Integral a Facet in the Lives of Exceptional Families as Healthcare, Education, and the Myriad of Other Topics That Touch and Involve EP Readers. This Article Presents Installment Two


Gaventa, Bill, The Exceptional Parent


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Let's imagine, for a moment, that you are a pediatrician and you have made a commitment to holistic treatment of your patients--families and their children with one form of disability or another. Does that include religious beliefs and practices? But your background is Jewish, and, in our increasingly diverse society in the United States, your excellent reputation as a developmental pediatrician means that other families are coming to you, families who are Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist. What do you do when a family reveals something about the way their faith or religious tradition impacts their child or themselves in a way that seems harmful to you?

Or, you are a special educator or adult service provider, and you believe strongly in the value of community inclusion. So you make a commitment to include religious traditions and congregations as part of the pool of "generic community resources" or "natural supports" that are so important to the quality of life and services for people with disabilities and their families. But which traditions do you include? What is "normal" or "good" practice within different faiths? What may seem very "strange" to you may be very normal to someone else.

To compound it further, each one of those professionals and families lives in a time when disability and religion make the news in ways that tend to take individual experiences and generalize them to a whole faith tradition. For example, to read that insurgent forces in Iraq have used people with disabilities to be unwitting carriers of bombs into public places and then believe that is what all Muslims think about disability is just as wrong as assuming that the wonderful movie about Lior Liebling's acceptance and celebration of his gifts in prayer (www.prayingwithlior.com) means that all teenagers with disabilities receive the same kind of affirmation and inclusion within Jewish traditions. Would you assume that all Christians with disabilities are treated in the way exemplified by Jean Vanier and the L'Arche communities? That's just as bad as when others say that all people with one kind of disability or another think, feel, or act the same way.

Religious beliefs and traditions shape cultural and personal understandings of life issues, and, in turn, are shaped by new understanding in other arenas of life, such as medicine, science, and politics. Religious and faith traditions have sometimes enshrined prevailing attitudes about disability and differences but have also challenged them. People with disabilities and their families can tell you stories about how their religion and tradition has been helpful and supportive, but others can tell you stories of exclusion and shame at the hands of clergy and people of faith. The temptation, then, might be to say that we are better off by keeping hands off religion and its beliefs and practices about disability, but to do so also ignores a powerful and potential source for support in personal development, coping, and community supports.

Thus, the first step to wisdom in this wide intersection of religion and disability is to recognize that there is no one Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. approach to disability. How many of us in the West even know, for example, that there are five major schools or traditions within Islam and numerous denominations or traditions with Buddhism? And within each of these, just as within major Christian and Jewish denominations, there is not a single voice about disability. Rather, there are many different understandings that have arisen as people utilize their particular faith traditions to deal with the profound spiritual and theological issues raised by disability. For example: What does disability mean? What is the purpose? Why do people suffer? Are they suffering? What does God have to do with my disability or that of my son or daughter? How are they, or will they be, treated within my faith community?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Including Religious Voices on Disability: Which Ones? in 2008 EP Is Featuring This 3-Part Series on Spiritual and Religious Supports, Recognizing That Faith, Religion, and Spirituality Can Be as Important a Consideration and as Integral a Facet in the Lives of Exceptional Families as Healthcare, Education, and the Myriad of Other Topics That Touch and Involve EP Readers. This Article Presents Installment Two
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.