The way autistic people experience worship services is typically different from the majority, non-autistic church population. These autistic ways of experiencing worship, however, are mostly disregarded in practical and in liturgical theology. This leads not only to exclusion of autistic people from the worshiping congregation, but both the church and liturgical scholarship miss out on the opportunity to enrich its worship practices and theology through the diversity offered by autistic participants. This article presents the results of a qualitative study involving thirteen in-depth interviews with autistic people, summed up in three main themes: the experience of worship, community, and encountering God. The ensuing theological reflection on these themes argues that the indispensability of autistic worshipers to the body of Christ, and the theological evaluation of the “normalcy,” are key principles for reframing liturgical theology through the lens of autism.
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We express our deep gratitude to the research participants, who generously shared their views with us. The research for this article was funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. The views are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of the funder.
- liturgical theology
- worship practices