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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 41, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2021

Lorraine Cuddeback-Gedeon
Pages 55-71

Sin, Sins, and Intellectual Disability: An Ethnographic Examination of Moral Agency and Structural Sin

Conversations around intellectual disability and sin often rest on either the structural level, or culpability for specific actions. Yet, the effects of sin in the world cannot be reduced to culpability, especially in light of the far-reaching impact of structural sin. Using ethnographic fieldwork among adults with intellectual disabilities, I illustrate how people with IDD participate in structural and interpersonal sin alike, particularly how they resist sin through the exertion of complex agencies. Through the thick description of fieldwork, we gain better tools for recognizing the full, complex humanity of people with IDD—not dismissing them as either sinners or saints—while also recognizing all persons’ call to resist structural sin.

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