Pastoral Attitudes toward Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

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Pastoral Attitudes toward Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

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Title: Pastoral Attitudes toward Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Author: Howard, Bobby
Advisor: Richardson, Brian C.
Abstract: It has been indicated through research and by personal testimony that

although some barriers for inclusion for those with special needs have been broken down

since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, one of the most

significant barriers still remains - negative and often subtle attitudes. Positive attitudes

toward individuals with special needs have been shown to facilitate inclusion while

negative attitudes hinder inclusion. Since the ADA law exempted churches from the

mandates for inclusion, many have found participating in churches a significant

challenge. The purpose of this study was to explore the attitude measurement score of

senior pastors as it relates to awareness of special needs populations, types of special

education ministries in the churches, previous life experiences with persons with

developmental disabilities, and the pastor's training through formal and informal courses

of instruction related to developmental disabilities. The research explored potential

factors which shape pastoral attitudes and result in either barriers or facilitators to

intentional special needs ministries.

Data was collected through an online survey format and the results were used

in a statistical analysis to facilitate the answering of the research questions. The sample

population for the research included the 1296 senior pastors of Southern Baptist churches

in South Carolina who have published church and/or personal email addresses in the

South Carolina Baptist Annual Report 2008.

Through statistical analysis of the survey results, precedent literature

review concepts concerning the value oflife experiences with individuals with

developmental disabilities can have a positive impact on positive attitudes. The pastors

overall had positive attitudes toward individuals with developmental disabilities, but most

significantly in the realm of the behavioral domain. Strong statistically significant

correlations could not be drawn between having a positive attitude toward individuals

with special needs and special needs ministry among the pastor's surveys. There were

definite trends which support the important roles of experience and education being made

available to pastors in order to potentially bring positive changes concerning inclusion in

local churches.

Keywords: attitude measurement, special needs ministry, pastoral attitudes, individuals

with developmental disabilities, church special education ministry

Date: 2010-05

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