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The Church: Developing A Strategy of Inclusion for The Disabled

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BishopGeraldScott

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The Church has been and continues to be a champion for the causes of the overlooked, abandoned and the disfranenfranchized within our society. Many of the abolitionist groups and movements who fought against the curse of slavery in America and around the world were lead by men and women of faith. William Wilberforce of England; Richard Allen, The first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, here in Philadelphia, PA; John Brown, a devout bible-quoting martyr of the abolitionist cause; Henry Garnett, a black mininster in the Presbyterian Church; Prudence Crandall, a young Quaker schoolteacher... to name but a precious few. Many of the first orphanages were established by the Catholic Church in the 18th century, with many Protestant Churches adding to these numbers during the 19th and 20th centuries. And, who can forget the impact that the church and it's clergy had in the Civil Rights movement; names like, Rosa Parks, a missionary in her local church, Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttleworth, the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and, then there was the poster child for the modern day civil rights movement... the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Other men also protested the old Jim Crow Laws of segregation and inequality men like,Rabbi Herschel, a Jewish cleric and Father John Cavanaugh, a Catholic priest. The church has a very distinquished record when it comes to the things that it has historically stood for, but, in many other instances, in relationship with those 57 million people that are physically, developmentally and mentally disabled, it has not been as stellar; in fact, in many cases, it has perpetuated the narrow-minded stereotypes that society has accepted about people with disabilities. Sin.. lack of faith and exclusion has its roots in the religious community and it's history. No institution in the U.S. ignores the disabled any more effectively then does the faith community. Things Must Change!!

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