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Disability and World Religions
An Introduction

Edited by Darla Y. Schumm and Michael Stoltzfus

Disability and World Religions
Hardback, 263 pages $49.95
Published: 1st August 2016
ISBN: 9781481305211
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Sociology, All Theology, World Religions

Religion plays a critical role in determining how disability is understood and how persons with disabilities are treated. Examining the world’s religions through the lens of disability studies not only peers deeply into the character of a particular religion, but also teaches something brand new about what it means to respond to people living with physical and mental differences.

Disability and World Religions introduces readers to the rich diversity of the world’s religions—Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Native American traditions. Each chapter introduces a specific religious tradition in a manner that offers innovative approaches to familiar themes in contemporary debates about religion and disability, including personhood, autonomy, community, ability, transcendence, morality, practice, the interpretation of texts, and conditioned claims regarding the normal human body or mind.

By portraying varied and complex perspectives on the intersection of religion and disability, this volume demonstrates that religious teachings and practices across the globe help establish cultural constructions of normalcy. The volume also interrogates the constructive role religion plays in determining expectations for human physical and mental behavior and in establishing standards for measuring conventional health and well-being. Disability and World Religions thus offers a respectful exploration of global faith traditions and cultivates creative ways to respond to the fields of both religious and disability studies.




1. Hinduism and Disability

Amy Donahue

2. Buddhism and Disability

Stephen E. Harris

3. Confucianism and Disability

Benjamin Lukey

4. Daoism and Disability

Andrew Lambert

5. Judaism and Disability

Julia Watts Belser 

6. Catholicism and Disability

Mary Jo Iozzio

7. Protestant Christianity and Disability

Thomas Reynolds

8. Islam and Disability

Vardit Rispler-Chaim

9. Indigenous Traditions in the Western Hemisphere and Disability

Lavonna Lovern



Works Cited



“The real strength of this textbook is that each chapter gives a substantial introduction to the faith in question before offering a nuanced and engaging discussion of a particular interface with disability studies.”

—Tom Wilson, ANVIL: Journal of Theology and Mission

"Disability and World Religions fills a significant gap in the literature on religion and disability by engaging a wide range of the world’s religious traditions rather than privileging or focusing solely on a single one. This volume will be a wonderful resource for religious studies courses, even beyond those engaged in the explicit study of disability and religion, and should be of interest to a wide audience, including those in religious communities or those interested in disability studies."

—Deborah Beth Creamer, Director of Accreditation, Association of Theological Schools

"Schumm and Stoltzfus invite their readers to eavesdrop on a crucial conversation between religion and disability. Each chapter highlights both the encouraging and concerning corners of this dialogue, challenging readers to consider anew what disability really means within the context of our faith traditions."

—Erik Carter, Professor, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

"Each contributor presents a detailed overview, which includes background of source texts underlying the world view of the faith examined, and then applies a disability studies lens in analyzing the religion's prevailing attitudes, both affirmative and negative..."


“For students, scholars, and clergy alike, Disability and World Religions promises to go far in cultivating readers’ interest in how the diverse experiences of disability and religious thought and practice mutually shape each other. Each clearly written chapter makes this engaging book an invaluable classroom resource for anyone teaching or taking a course on disability, gender, theology, or religious studies.”

—Jeremy Schipper, author of Disability and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant

"This scholarly work is an important contribution to several fields, and the collection of essays adds to many larger movements within religious traditions, societies, politics, and disability theory. It draws the reader into discussions that contextualize and apply the thought of religious traditions to anthropology, notions of illness and health, legal protections, and more."

—Mary Beth Yount, Reading Religion

Darla Y. Schumm is Professor of Religious Studies at Hollins University in Virginia.

Michael Stoltzfus is Professor of Religious Studies at Georgia Gwinnett College.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 263 pages
 9in x 6in

  REL000000, REL017000, SOC029000
 Baylor University Press

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