Perceptions of Faith Leaders on the Inclusion and Participation of Individuals with Disabilities in Their Communities

Melinda Jones Ault, Victoria Slocum, Belva C. Collins, Maria Marsella Leahy, Valerie P. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Social inclusion of individuals with disabilities across all areas of life has been a goal for decades. This includes the inclusion and participation in faith communities for those individuals who desire to do so. Previous research has shown that the involvement and support of the faith leader of a community of worship can positively impact the acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. Researchers have called for more data to understand the roles and perspectives of faith leaders as they relate to including individuals with disabilities in their community of faith. This study used survey methodology to canvas faith leaders in two states in the United States. The findings showed a positive correlation between the availability of some supports provided by the faith community and the size of the congregation. Additionally there were statistically significant correlations between the disability training a faith leader had received and the presence of counseling services offered and the availability of accessible materials for individuals with disabilities. Although a large majority of the leaders reported that they had a welcoming attitude toward including individuals with disabilities, discrepancies in perceptions arose when compared to similar questions asked of parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-159
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Disability and Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Inclusive congregations
  • inclusive ministry
  • social inclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Religious studies


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