Welcoming people with disabilities

How welcome would people with disabilities feel at your church?

Nine out of ten churchgoers affirmed that people with disabilities would feel as welcome as other people at their church.

Some variation in views occurred between attenders by denomination and education in particular, but overwhelmingly attenders were likely to hold the view that people with disabilities would feel welcome. Churchgoers who had a disability themselves, did not significantly differ in their response to this question, when compared with all church attenders.

Most attenders believe people with disabilities would feel welcome at their church

Research findings from the 2016 NCLS reveal that a majority of Australian church attenders (57%) strongly agreed that people with a disability would feel as welcome at their local church as other people, and 35% agreed.  In total, 92% of churchgoers, or around nine in ten, affirmed the statement. Some 7% were neutral or unsure, and 1% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

 

Churchgoers with disabilities did not significantly differ in their response to this question

When looking at the opinions of churchgoers who had a disability themselves, similar levels of confidence were expressed as all churchgoers. Some 93% of churchgoers with disabilities, strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that people with a disability would feel as welcome at their local church as other people.

Some 49% of church attenders with disabilities strongly agreed that people with a disability would feel as welcome at their local church as other people (compared with 57% of all attenders). Another 44% of those with disabilities agreed with the statement (compared with 35% of all attenders). Similar numbers of churchgoers with disabilities were neutral or unsure, or rejected the statement, as amongst all churchgoers.

Views about welcome vary amongst attenders

Churchgoers' views about people with disabilities feeling welcome differed by attenders' age, education, church attendance background, frequency of devotions, importance of God, denomination and locality. Yet overwhelmingly, attenders were likely to hold the view that people with disabilities would feel welcome.

Pentecostals were the most likely denominational group to strongly agree that people with disabilities would feel as welcome at their local church as other people (74% of Pentecostals versus 56% of Catholics, 50% of Mainstream Protestants and 52% of Other Protestants) .

Attenders with a university degree were more likely than other attenders to be neutral or unsure (12% of attenders with a degree, compared with 4% of other attenders).

In offering welcome and hospitality to people with disabilities, provisions and inclusions have been made by many churches. Staff training and statements of commitment are also seen amongst Australian churches. More information on these provisions and commitments are available in the articles below, and in the research paper 'Disability, inclusion, provision and care in churches'.

See more from this news edition

Church activities for people with disabilities

How active are local churches in caring for people with disabilities?

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Disability provisions in churches

Many churches provide for disabilities, from ramps to an inclusive culture

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Mental health support from church

Mental health support rated as good yet many churches unaware

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Churchgoers experience of disability

Nearly six in ten churchgoers have an experience of or connection with disability

Read more
Authors:
Kathy Jacka, Miriam Pepper, Ruth Powell
Data Sources:

Gan, C. Pepper, M. & Powell, R. (2018). Disability Inclusion, Provision and Care among Local Churches in Australia. NCLS Research Occasional Paper 29. Sydney: NCLS Research.

Pepper, M., Powell, R., & Hancock, N. (2017). Commissioned Report No. 2017.04: Disability Inclusion – Church Attender Views and Experiences. Sydney: NCLS Research.

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