Private and Public Policy Reviews for the Disabled

LDS Church Releases Disability Resources Guide

By Stephen Rex Goode, BSW

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has put up a new disability resources guide for its members. The guide is available at Disability Resources.

It has six sections:

  1. General Info
  2. Leader and Teacher Resources
  3. Family Resources
  4. Scriptures and Quotes
  5. Materials
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

It addresses the following disability conditions:

  • Autism
  • Chronic Illness
  • Hearing Loss & Deafness
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Learning Disability
  • Memory Loss
  • Mental Illness
  • Physical Disability
  • Speech & Language Disorders
  • Vision Loss & Blindness¬†

It also incudes the following 1989 statement by the Church’s highest committee, the First Presidency:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is working to provide easier access to its buildings and facilities for people with disabilities. We also are seeking more creative ways of providing religious training for those with physical, mental and emotional impairments. But there is an even greater need to reduce the barriers imposed by a lack of understanding and acceptance of those who have disabilities.

“We urge leaders, teachers, neighbors, friends and families to:

  • Help increase awareness and understanding of disabilities.
  • Accept those with disabilities as children of God and help them to feel respected, loved and understood.
  • Provide opportunities for members with disabilities to learn about the Savior and pattern their lives after Him.
  • Assist in the successful Church participation of people with disabilities and the appreciation of their unique gifts.
  • Provide meaningful opportunities for members with disabilities to serve, teach and lead others.

“It is our opportunity and our responsibility to follow the example of Jesus in loving our neighbors, and that includes those with disabilities” (Church News, Apr. 29, 1989, 7).

The guide seems well-thought and well-organized. It encourages church members, leaders, and teachers to accommodate and treat with respect persons with disabilities.

The guide is full of useful if summarized information about disabilities and ministering to those with them. The LDS Church is different than many denominations in that work in the church is done by lay people. They don’t have a paid ministry. Functions and work are shared by all members of the congregation. This means that those with disabilities are likely to be given some responsibility within the congregation.

The guide says, “Remember that all can contribute to building the kingdom of God. All members of the Church need a friend, a calling, and nourishing by the word of God.” When they say, “calling”, they mean a responsibility of some kind in the church organization.

My only issue with the guide is that it refers to “Intellectual Disability” rather than “Developmental Disability.” It’s not that big of a problem. In the United States, we refer to Developmental Disabilities. “Intellectual disabilities” is Australian terminology.

 

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