Disability Justice and Spirituality

Credit: Theresa Matteson. Photograph courtesy of Mark Benjamin/NTID.

Disability activism often starts with a call for accessible spaces—for ramps, interpreters, braille copies, and fragrance-free gatherings. But a deeper engagement with disability justice requires more than a series of accommodations: it requires a transformation of our core values and institutions.

Disability justice demands that human lives be valued not for their ability to create profit but for the divine spark within each of us. Meeting this demand in practice requires nothing less than what Tikkun has been calling for since its founding: a radical turn toward a society based on love and care rather than on profit and domination.

In this special issue, we share the perspectives of activists, theologians, and theorists writing from the front lines of disability justice work. Some expose the threat of violence against people with disabilities, from the everyday violence of harassment and exclusion to the acute violence of coercive medical interventions and electric shock treatments. Others describe beautiful new rituals and deep spiritual insights arising within disability culture. Some wrestle with scriptures that seem to equate disability with sinfulness, while others celebrate the fact that so many biblical prophets are people with disabilities—including Moses, who has a speech impediment, Isaac, who is blind, and Jacob, who develops a limp while wrestling with an angel. Together they articulate a prophetic approach to disability justice that is at once spiritual and political.

Check out the powerful web-only articles on this topic at tikkun.org/disability.

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