The larger question is how we facilitate faith development in individuals with severe intellectual disabilities and are the current content based strategies for faith development of those with and without disabilities actually doing what we think they are doing. The integration of people with and without disabilities is an important step in the faith development to all.
Anyway, I was invited to provide a response to this posting for the Christian Post, and they did a good job editing my response. You can see it here Christian Post link .
The critical question in faith development, Bible "learning" is not whether, but how. Additionally as I have stated elsewhere, the changes that need to come to the church that would facilitate faith development for all, will largely result from a change in the entire church environment, not just in figuring out some way to teach the Bible to people with intellectual disabilities. The discussion begins with the statement, "Yes, we want people with severe intellectual disabilities integrated into the church in as many ways as possible."
Once we make that statement our real goal, we will find that we will change our structures such that Bible instruction of persons with disabilities is no longer something else we do, it becomes a significant aspect of who we are. We, the church body have changed from being a church to the Body of Christ with all that that entails.
At the moment, I am not sure we really want to become the Body of Christ because we will have to change the way we do things such that we respect people we have devalued.
This morning, I was part of a meeting that began with a devotion from James 2 about favoritism largely on the basis of wealth/poverty issues. The same applies with impairment/disability issues. For me to ask the question, "Should we teach the Bible to those with severe cognitive disabilities?" on some level implies that I am justifying what I am not doing. On some level it is a way of saying "I don't want to change." It is a way of saying, "I don't want to be inconvenienced." However, if it is an honest question that I want an answer to, then perhaps I should be asking, "How can I teach the Bible with those with severe cognitive disabilities?" It is easier to try every instructional approach and even perhaps fail then it is to prove that people cannot be taught the Bible. We are way too early in this awakening of the church to the presence of persons with disabilities in the community for us to excuse ourselves from facilitating faith development in those who we have ignored.