Seeking the intrinsic quality of life

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A phenomenological approach to disability was utilised examining the ethical consideration attached to “quality of life” present within the UK Churches emplaced disability narratives captured from local and national leaders alongside specialists interests in disability. These acknowledged the significance of the human body's materiality. Ethical depictions of people living with impairments heralded from a utilitarian perspective, dominantly ableist. The disabled community was considered detached from humanity, their lives assumed to be “difficult” and “worthless” inhibiting their full spiritual potential and in some instances advocated for some lives to be terminated. These essentialist assumptions cast disabled people as the “other” and related socio-symbolic dialogues were diminished. Many felt the disabled communities were outside Churches' core concerns. An alternative minority perspective the “pluralist (relational)” argument challenged institutional ableism. The plurality of humanity was acknowledged, diverse ways of engagement explored, positive values attached to people living with impairments testimonies and lifestyles. Encouragement was given to building interdependent communities, developing friendships and embedding a sense of belonging. Analytically these “ethical” perspectives shaped the churches moral codes; observed to create tensions where discrimination is present, practiced, experienced, justified and/or challenged. Leaving the question “Do we see disabled people as God sees them?”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-227
JournalJournal of Disability & Religion
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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