Tuesday, September 09, 2008
IASSID Religion and Spirituality Division
One of the reasons for my trip to South Africa, was to assist in the development of a special interest group of IASSID (International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability). Led by Bill Gaventa, about 20 of us met to discuss the possibility of this group. We had people from Tanzania, South Africa, United States, Belgium, United Kingdom, Finland, Australia and the Netherlands (perhaps more!). It was a great first meeting where we had the opportunity to meet and hear about what others around the world were involved in relative to spirituality.
There was also a religion and spirituality presentation track where 6 papers were delivered, 4 from the US, one from Netherlands and one from UK. I presented a paper on Christian social constructions of disability, and one on The indispensable nature of persons with intellectual disabilities to the church. The sessions were well attended and the presentations well received with lively questions and answers afterwards. It was interesting to hear reactions to the levels of church attendance in the US. I reported the Princeton Religion Research figures of about 40% attending church in the last seven days, and research about adults with intellectual disabilities attending at about a 50% rate which comes from several research studies. People were very surprised at the attendance figures, particularly people from Australia and the UK where church attendance is apparently very low.
Unfortunately, there were not a lot of people who represented religious perspectives other than Christianity, so we didn't have the benefit of hearing from those folks. Hopefully that will change in the future.
Should you be interested in becoming a part of this new international group, go to the IASSID website, register as a member, and then email me and I can tell you how to proceed.