Disability and Spirituality – Recovering Wholeness

This feature story focuses on the issue of religious freedom for adults with developmental disabilities.  It discusses the research, education, and advocacy done by Rev. William C. Gaventa, author of Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness.  As the book description explains: “Disability and spirituality have traditionally been understood as two distinct spheres: disability is physical and thus belongs to health care professionals, while spirituality is religious and belongs to the church, synagogue, or mosque and their theologians, clergy, rabbis, and imams. This division leads to stunted theoretical understanding, limited collaboration, and segregated practices, all of which contribute to a lack of capacity to see people with disabilities as whole human beings and full members of a diverse human family. Contesting the assumptions that separate disability and spirituality, William Gaventa argues for the integration of these two worlds.”  Freedom of religion has two separate but related dimensions.  The right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom from religion.  This story focuses on the exercise of religion and spirituality by people with disabilities.  The next feature story – to be published on this website in February 2022 — will discuss the right of people with disabilities to freedom of choice with respect to religion and spirituality, including the right not to hold religious or spiritual views and beliefs and the right not to have religious beliefs or practices forced on them by others.  To read the current feature story on freedom of religion, click here.