Inclusive Religious Practices

A significant part of both genuine welcome and sustained participation is practices, embodied habits that worshippers can perform over and over again within the community. The resources below outline numerous practices that include people with disabilities in diverse faith-traditions.

Buddhist Resources:

“Creating Inclusive Classrooms in Thailand,” a resource created by the International Council for the Day of Vedak. This insightful PDF examines the struggles of seven school principals in Thailand who chose to invest in educational tools centred on the inclusion of people with disabilities, such as Down Syndrome.

Diversity in Shambhala,” a resource created by Shambhala International. This webpage summarizes the paradigm of Shambhala, a not-for-profit organization based on Buddhist teachings with an interfaith component, in terms of diversity. We heartily recommend the whole website for your perusal.

Christian Resources:

David W. Anderson, “The Task of Christian Education in Creating an Inclusive Worldview,” a resource provided by the Christian Educators’ Journal. This fascinating article defines inclusion as “a state of being that gives rise to a sense of belonging and acceptance,” describes disability as a “human problem,” and offers various traits of an “interdependent classroom.”

Religion and Spirituality Resources,” a resource created by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Centre, is a list of links to various online resources (primarily guides and tip-sheets) connecting disability, (Christian) spirituality, and religious education.  

Guiding Principles & Strategies for Inclusion in the Liturgy of Catholics with Disabilities,” these guiding principles are provided for Pastors, Liturgists, Parish Advocates, Liturgy Planners, Designers, Architects, and all those who have a concern for the design of the worship space and the planning of liturgical celebrations. They are provided for the purpose of assuring that all members of the worshiping community are able to participate fully in the worship life of their parishes and also to ensure that all who are appropriately qualified can fully participate in the various liturgical ministries.

Islamic Resources:

Rabia S. Khedr, “Creating an Inclusive Ummah,” a resource provided by the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities. This report describes the physical and social barriers that Muslims with disabilities face in attending mosques in Toronto, and generally participating in their communities’ social and spiritual life.

Hurisa Guvercin, “People with Disabilities from an Islamic Perspective,” a resource provided by the Fountain Magazine. This article discusses special education and inclusion from an Islamic perspective, offers some scriptural and historical evidence of inclusion in Islamic cultures, and joins Islamic teachings on inclusive education to federal American legislation on disability.

Jewish Resources:

Penina Goldstein & Melinda Jones Ault, “Including Individuals with Disabilities in a Faith Community: A Framework and Example,” in Journal of Disability and Religion 19.1 (2015): 1-14. This resource is a study of the needs and gifts of a young Jewish man on the autism spectrum; it chronicles the way that his family, his school, and his faith-community have learned to include him.

Hineinu: Jewish Guide for Creating Inclusive Communities.” Like the PDF by Yachad above, this resource, created by Hineinu (Hebrew for “here we are”), a Jewish non-profit dedicated to inclusion, offers tips on accessibility and inclusion for rabbis and educators, discusses Jewish scriptural references to inclusion, defines the Jewish Disability Awareness Month, and provides other resources.  

Other Resources:

Helen Sanderson, “Person Centred Planning: Key Features and Approaches,” this resource outlines the important features of Person-Centred Planning, a tool in the helping professions that can enable people with disabilities to set and achieve their own goals, and to flourish in a personal sense.

Mary Earl, “Re-Framing Education about Beliefs and Practices in Schools” (Cambridge: Cambridge, 2015), a resource created by Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education and the Woolf Institute, a non=profit that studies the relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. This informative book discusses the cultural transmission of beliefs and practices in religious faith, the concept of identity formation, and the ways that these concepts intertwine in the university classroom.

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