Disabled people have the right to be religious

So, I hear this a lot:

“People think we’re all religious fundamentalists, but actually the disability rights movement is secular and not based on religion.”

And there’s an important sense in which that’s true. Secular voices exist and are important. A large percentage, perhaps the majority, of the disability rights community is secular. (And hardly any of us are fundamentalists or affiliated with the pro-life movement.)

But, at the same time, some of us actually are religious. And being religious isn’t a bad thing - and religion can be a powerful force for justice.

Those of us who are religious should not renounce this power. Religious outrage is powerful. Naming sin and calling for repentance is powerful. Those of us who believe that it is an affront to God to murder people with disabilities can say so, without being embarrassed.

Religion is not the only source of power or moral authority or spiritual strength. (Outright rejection of religion can be powerful in related ways.) But religion is important to many of us, and we have as much right to it as anyone else.

We have been excluded from and devalued in the same religious communities that ought to be championing our humanity. And it’s ok to be outraged by that, too. 

It’s ok to be secular. But, if you’re religious, that’s ok too. People with disabilities have the same right to freedom of conscience as anyone else. We also have the right to speak the language of our culture and our beliefs.