Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building Vibrant, Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible Communities!



Hypocrisy of Religious Organizations Regarding Their Treatment of People With Disabilities.

By Mike Thompson, 11 November, 2023

Wheelchair user blocked from being able to enter a Religious building because of inaccessible steps

Caption: A young Black woman, who uses a wheelchair, appears teary-eyed and disappointed as she encounters the insurmountable barrier of the inaccessible steps of a religious building, preventing her from entering. A sign out front reads, "All are Welcome Here." Her expression underscores the hypocrisy and injustice of the situation, highlighting the need to remove barriers that prevent us from building Vibrant, Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible Communities!

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the long-standing hypocrisy of religious organizations regarding their treatment of People with Disabilities. While the pandemic prompted swift accommodations for the general population, those with disabilities, who have advocated for such considerations for years, continue to face denial and exclusion from essential programs, services and materials. 

It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom. -Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 1

Problems Faced by People with Disabilities During COVID-19

The pandemic has exacerbated problems for People with Disabilities, ranging from problems with everyday tasks like buying groceries to the inaccessibility of COVID-19 data, creating a further digital divide. The lack of proper medical care, compounded by health care rationing guidelines, raises concerns about the well-being of People with Disabilities. The digital shift, though accompanied by some accessibility features, highlights persistent problems like internet latency and limited access to online education for disabled students.

Ableism in Religious Spaces

The exclusion of People with Disabilities extends to religious spaces, revealing deep-seated ableism. Despite advancements in technology, awareness, and well-established International Accessibility Standards for decades, religious institutions often dismiss their responsibility to remove barriers to accessibility—such as providing ramps, sensory lighting, closed captioning, Audio Descriptions, Accessible Communications and Materials, and equal access to Programs, Services, and Events—as inconvenient or costly. This exclusionary attitude has resulted in injustice, discrimination, exclusion, and oppression toward People with Disabilities, leading to lower attendance and participation in religious events and emphasizing the urgent need for change.

Strategies for Inclusivity

To address the problem of ableism in both societal and religious contexts, proactive measures are required. Key strategies include:

These actions aim to:

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Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building a Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Community!

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