Hello Friends and Visitors:

This is a research pathfinder on Religion & Disability that I created with the help of my instructor and friend Suzanne Estelle-Holmer back in 2012 at Yale Divinity School. As the tittle seems to suggest, this is a resource that seeks to help individuals investigate the nexus of these two fields of knowledge. Please be mindful that many things have happened in both areas since 2012. That being said, I hope it is useful to you. If it is, please don’t forget to give me credit for the work presented here. Blessings to you!



Disability research has been gaining momentum in recent years.  The advent of the disability rights movement in the 1970’s encouraged many contemporary researchers to explore a myriad of aspects affecting the life of “disabled” individuals in our society. Nonetheless, religious research addressing disability issues from a theological perspective still is an emerging field. Likewise, the inclusion of individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities still is major area of concern for many Christian denominations today. The aim of this pathfinder is to provide theological and practical resources for the study and the implementation of programs benefiting “disabled” individuals within Christian communities. The structure of this pathfinder is fluid in nature given the complexity and specificity of the proposed research junction.  The resources guide itself is a vivid example of the multidisciplinary mentality needed to address religious needs of parishioners with disabilities. I hope this work helps scholars, clergy, and lay leaders foment better understanding and opportunities for people with disabilities in our faith communities. Selah


▪    Library of Congress Subject Headings
▪    Indexes and Abstracts
▪    Reference Tools and Bibliographies
▪    Selected Journals -Electronic and Print
▪    Selected Internet Sites and Electronic Texts
▪    Primary Sources
▪    Organizations and Institutions
▪    Electronic Discussion Groups

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Useful subject headings for the intersection of religion and disability include:

▪    Chronic diseases Religious aspects.
▪    Church work with people with disabilities.
▪    Church work with people with disabilities–Catholic Church.
▪    Disabilities–Religious aspects–Christianity.
▪    Human body–Religious aspects–Christianity.
▪    Mental retardation–Religious aspects–Christianity.
▪    People with disabilities in the Bible.
▪    People with disabilities–Religious aspects–Christianity.
▪    People with disabilities–Religious life.
▪    People with mental disabilities–Religious life.
Indexes and Abstracts


ATLA Religion Database provides electronic access to and infinite number of religious articles dealing with the topic of disability.  Most of the articles present theological stances on disabilities.  There are also articles offering practical resources for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in communities of faith. Given its specificity, I highly recommend this database for the study of intersection of religion and disability.


When conducting a search of religion and disability, JSTOR yields an infinite number of articles on many issues related to both themes. Most of the information is full-text, and comes from a variety of disciplines, including religion, sociology, and ethics. Although not all of the information is focused on the intersection of these two major themes, it is not a bad idea to peruse for potential sources for research.

Religion & Philosophy

The Religion & Philosophy Collection is a site for scholars interested in researching the intersection between religion and disability from a philosophical perspective.

Catholic Periodical & Literature Index Online

As the name suggests, this is a denominational resource that allows researcher to investigate the nuances of our topic from a Catholic perspective. This resource is particularly useful to study liturgical and theological aspect about disability within the Catholic world.


Reference Tools and Bibliographies

Encyclopedia of American Disability History

This encyclopedia effectively removes disability from the realm of “medical pathology” and allows readers to understand it in social and cultural terms. The encyclopedia embraces four core themes: the importance of disability in American history, the need to explain disability historically, the diversity and similarity of experiences among the disabled, and the “necessity of comparing those histories of disability with one another.” Twelve anchor entries of roughly 3,000 words cover broad themes such as Activism and advocacy, Community, Daily life, Disability art and artistic expression, Education, Employment and labor, Language and terminology, and Science and technology.

Online Link:

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics

This volume is based on twelve major categories, such as Biomedical Ethics and Environmental Ethics. Religious traditions that embody normative beliefs, as well as classical theories of ethics, are explored in a non-judgmental manner. Each of the 281 articles begins with a definition of the subject and includes a table of contents, glossary of key terms, and bibliography. This encyclopedia contains a chapter dedicated to Disability Rights.

Location: Yale Divinity Library, Trowbridge Reference Room (Non-Circulating)
Call Number: BJ63 E44 1998
Link to Orbis:

Encyclopedia of Disability

This Encyclopedia represents the first attempt to bring an authoritative reference resource to the many faces of disability. It provides an entry into the world of disability where minds are expanded, prejudices shattered, and spirits raised. The Encyclopedia answers the question. An international editorial board of seventy-four editors from the Americas, Europe, Australia, India, Japan, and China, all experts in their own sub-fields of disability, developed these volumes.

Location: Sterling Memorial Library, Stacks, LC Classification
Call Number: HV1568 .E528 2006 (LC)+ Oversize
Link to Orbis:

Encyclopedia of Disability and Rehabilitation

This encyclopedia consists of approximately 150 alphabetically arranged articles, each with a bibliography, along with a list of resources for further information. The subjects covered include standard conditions (like blindness or aging) as well as newly perceived disabilities (attention deficit disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome), with descriptions of rehabilitation processes and medically approved (not alternative) therapies. Evidently designed to be politically correct, the articles are often concerned with issues such as civil rights, attitudes, ethics, minorities, homelessness, and violence.

Location: Yale Medical Library
Call Number: HV1568 E53 1995+ Oversize
Link to Orbis:

Persons with Special Learning Needs Resources

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Persons with Special Learning Needs Resources. New York: Office of Special Learning Needs, Education for Christian Life and Mission, Division of Education and Ministry, National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A, 1987.

Location: Yale Divinity Library, Stacks
Call Number: Oversize BV4460 .P47 1987
Link to Orbis:

The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology

This volume surveys the state of the discipline on topics of greatest importance to evangelical theology. Each chapter has been written by a theologian or scholar who is widely recognized for his or her published work and is considered a leading thinker on that particular topic. The handbook has a dedicated section to vulnerable communities which present the evangelical stance of disability.

Location: Yale Divinity Library, Stacks
Call Number: BR1640 .O83X 2010
Link to Orbis:

The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics 

This volume is an authoritative guide to current thought about ethical issues in all areas of human activity–personal, medical, sexual, social, political, judicial, and international, from the natural world to the world of business. Twenty-eight topics are covered in specially written surveys by leading figures in their fields. Part III of the volume contains a chapter dedicated to ethical issues involving individuals with disabilities.

Location: Yale Divinity Library, Trowbridge Reference Room (Non-Circulating)
Call Number: BJ1031 .O94X 2003
Orbis Link:

Selected Journals

Journal of Religion, Disability & Health

This is a core resource for the study of the intersection of religion and disability. It includes information mostly from the Judeo-Christian perspective. This journal contains relevant articles and resource from scholars and leaders at the forefront of religious and disability issues. Anyone interested in this particular topic must pay attention to this resource.

Location: Yale Divinity Library, Stacks
Call Number: ZP J82325
Link to Orbis:

Mental Health, Religion & Culture

Although narrower in scope, this journal is extremely influential in the study religion and disability. As the tittle suggest, the topics presented here are focused only on mental health and cognitive issues.  Nonetheless, it provides information about religious perspectives about disabilities in general.

Location: Yale Internet resource
Link to Orbis:

American Association on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

This is an excellent resource focused on disability research. The journal is not religious in nature. Nonetheless, it publishes articles considering a myriad of issues in the disability community including religious aspect of life.

Location: Yale Medical Library-Periodicals
Call Number: Shelved by title
Link to Orbis:

Modern Theology

Modern Theology is a religious journal that addresses issues specific to the discipline of theology and wider issues from a theological perspective. It presents high-level debates on contemporary theological questions including the role of religion in the life of individuals with disability. The editorial policy is ecumenical, and the journal also publishes critical book reviews.

Location: Yale Divinity Library, Stacks
Call Number: ZP M7682
Link to Orbis:

Disability & Society

This is another influential journal in the study of disability.  It covers a diverse range of topics such as inclusion, education, and policy affecting the life of individuals with either physical or intellectual disabilities.

Location: Yale Internet Resource
Link to Orbis:

Internet Sites and Electronic Texts

The Christian Institute on Disability
  • Key department within Joni and Friends ministry dedicated to advocacy and training in disability ministries for churches.
Rest Ministry and Hope Keepers
  • Site devoted to serve people who live with chronic illness or pain, & their families, by providing spiritual, emotional, relational, & practical support through a variety of programs & resources.
The Center for the Study of Religion and Disability
  • Website dedicated to provide resource for those looking for information relating to the natural support given by local churches to individuals with disabilities.
Bethesda Lutheran Communities
  • Devotions for individuals and families, games, bulletin inserts, litany and sermon outlines. Bethesda also publishes Breakthrough, a quarterly magazine about ministries with people with developmental disabilities, focused primarily on Lutheran congregations.
Christian Church Foundation for the Handicapped
  • Seeks to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities by Enabling others through training, resources, and encouragement to effectively minister with persons with disabilities.
Life Without Limbs
  • Website of Nick Vujicik, Christian motivational speaker on issues related to disabilities and church inclusion.
Open Library
  • A wide range of resources can be found when searching for religion and disability together.


Primary Sources

Denominational Statements on Disability

American Baptist Churches, USA

Assemblies of God

Catholic Church

Episcopal Church

Presbyterian Church USA

United Church of Christ

United Methodist Church

World Council of Churches

Influential Monographs by Authors with Disabilities

Eiesland, Nancy L. The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability. Abingdon Press, 1994.

Landmark Legislation on Disability in the US

Organizations and Institutions

Toda Habilidad, Inc.
  • non-profit religious/educational organization that promotes inclusion and full participation of individuals of all intellectual and physical abilities in their Latino/Hispanic faith communities.
 Anabaptist Disability Network
  • The mission of Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet) is to provide encouragement and resources to congregations, families, and persons with disabilities as they identify and embrace their God-given gifts and abilities in ministry to each other and to the larger church.
Association of Brethren Caregivers
  • The Disabilities Ministry is committed to opening doors and building bridges in the Church of the Brethren and beyond so that all may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow in the presence of God as a valued member of our Christian community.
Causeway Prospects
  • Prospects is a dynamic Christian organization working together with people with learning disabilities so they live life to the full.
Christian Council on Persons with Disabilities
  • CCPD has the mission to lead in connecting the disability family through a collective voice of influence, innovative family support programs, and instructive learning initiatives.
Committee on Disability of National Council of Churches of Christ USA
  • Recognizing that persons with disabilities bring unique gifts to the life and ministry of the church, The National Council of Churches’ Committee on Disabilities seeks wholeness in Christ’s church by promoting the full inclusion, participation and contribution of all persons.
CUSA: An Apostolate For People with Chronic Illness or with Disabilities
  • CUSA is a way for people with chronic illness or disability to care for others like themselves through an online or postal service Christian support group.
 Disability Concerns of the Christian Reformed Church
  • Disability Concerns helps churches become healthier communities that intentionally seek to end the isolation and disconnectedness of persons with disabilities and their families.
Disabilities Ministry of the Lutheran Church of America
  • Disability and Deaf ministries recognize the beauty of each unique person and strives to provide information, resources and networking to help all of God’s children to be included and celebrated in the Church.
 Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network
  • The mission of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) is to support the work of individuals, churches and church organizations concerned with issues affecting disabled people globally.
Episcopal Disability Network
  • An organization of the Episcopal Church working for the inclusion of people with disabilities into the life of the church and of society.
Friendship Ministry
  • As an international, inter-denominational ministry with more than 25 years of service, helping equip churches from more than 65 denominations to include people with intellectual disabilities.
Jesus Care Ministries
  • Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) assists congregations in reaching out to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and communities. Nationwide, JCM programs encourage Bible studies, worship and fellowship opportunities.
Joni and Friends International Disability Center
  • Our ministry is dedicated to extending the love and message of Jesus Christ to people who are affected by disability around the world.
L’Arche USA
  • L’Arche USA exists to strengthen our local communities, welcome more people into our life and work, engage in advocacy on behalf of those often on the margins of society, and to raise awareness of the gifts of persons with intellectual disabilities.
Lutheran Special Education Ministries
  • LSEM reaches out to children across the United States with special learning needs. LSEM enables children by providing them with resources, programs and services, and celebrating their strengths and achievements.
 National Catholic Partnership on Disability
  • Rooted in Gospel values that affirm the dignity of every person, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) works collaboratively to ensure meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the Church and society.
Presbyterians for Disability Concerns
  • Presbyterians for Disability Concerns welcomes those who affirm, support and advocate for the gifts, rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities in the total life of the church.
 United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries
  • To encourage local churches to be open, inclusive, affirming and accessible in all aspects of their lives, including buildings, worship, education, fellowship and service, and thereby enabled to proclaim God’s word with and to all persons, including people with disabilities.
United Methodist Church Disability Concerns
  • Here, you will find material on developmental disabilities, mental illness, appropriate language, social and environmental accessibility and resources on disability for individuals and faith communities.

Electronic Discussion Lists

Joni and Friends Blog
  • This is Joni Eareckson Tada’s blog.  Here you could find inspiring stories and relevant news about Joni and Friends Ministries.
Disabled Christianity’s Blog by Jeff McNair  or
  • Dr. Jeff McNair is a professor a California Baptist University with a personal interest is in disability ministry, in particular to adults with intellectual disabilities. His blog include success stories and resources for individuals with disabilities and their respective faith communities.
Disability, Race, and Christianity Blog
  • As the title suggests, this blog has pertinent information about disability, race, and Christianity in the UK. It includes a wide range of topics related to either physical or cognitive disabilities.
Interfaith Disability Network Blog
  • This blog is part of the Interfaith Disability Network based in Atlanta, Georgia. The IDN blog seeks to connect the faith community to the disability community, faith leaders with critical resources to promote change, and people with disabilities to faith community membership.
Thin Places’ Blog
  • This blog is owned by Amy Julia Becker, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.  Ms. Becker is also the mother of a child with Down syndrome. Thin Places cover a wide variety of topics about disability perception in our society.  Ms. Becker is also a prolific writer who is concern with prenatal screening and its impact of the Down syndrome community.