Impact Feature Issue on Faith Communities and Persons with Developmental Disabilities

From the Editors

Note: This issue of Impact was archived in August of 2012 as some information it contains is out of date.

“A basic component of human rights is freedom of religious expression. Individuals with disabilities have the right to choose their own expressions of spirituality, to practice those beliefs and expressions, and to participate in the religious community of their choice or other spiritual activities.” This is the opening of the policy statement on Spirituality and Religious Freedom recently approved by the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR). It goes on to note that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families still experience mixed responses to their presence, gifts, and needs from congregations, and limited support for religious participation on the part of disability service providers.

In this issue ofImpact, we seek to address that mixed response by continuing the dialog about inclusion that has already begun between persons with disabilities, faith communities, and the disability services system. The articles provide theological frameworks for inclusion, practical tips for welcoming individuals with disabilities into congregations, ideas for service providers seeking to support religious expression, and success stories from around the country. We hope that it will contribute to the dismantling of the remaining barriers between persons with developmental disabilities and their chosen communities of faith.