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Religion and Asperger’s Syndrome

Religion and Asperger’s Syndrome

According to Jonathan Kemmerer-Scovner, individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome traditionally have been seen as having a difficult relationship with religion. In an interview with Ned Spodos, a more nuanced relationship between religion and Asperger’s, for one man, is explored in some depth:

Religion and Asperger’s Syndrome do not play well together, so I’ve been led to understand. There are different theories for why this should be the case. A study published in Scientific American suggests that people with Asperger’s syndrome are unable to see any higher purpose behind their life, as this is generally a result of social thinking. Meanwhile, Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre, believes that the issue has more to do with the Aspergian brain being unable to properly anthropomorphize, to attribute a personality to things not human.

image.pngRegardless, it does seem that people with Asperger’s Syndrome are far more likely to be atheist and agnostic than are neurotypicals. What is it like, then, to be both born with Asperger’s and raised in a religiously fundamentalist household?

Ned Spodos is a 39-year old metalhead living in the American Bible Belt. He’s a large man with long hair and can make for an imposing figure in his heavy metal T-shirts, though I found that he had a gentle way about him on the online religious forums in which we met. He was skeptical but not antagonizing, full of questions.

“I just lack a belief in God,” he told me. “I’m an agnostic atheist. I believe in the possibility of a God. But any dogma that has ever been written in ‘his/her’ name I am pretty sure is all man-made invention.”

But that was not always the case…

For the full interview, please visit Killing the Buddha here.

[editor’s note: Asperger’s Syndrome will not appear in the DSM-5, the latest revision of the manual, and instead its symptoms will come under the newly added “autism spectrum disorder”, which is already used widely. ]
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Geoffrey McLarney

A colleague of mine and fellow Aspie was featured on a CBC programme with Temple Grandin on “Autism and the Divine”: http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2012/08/24/through-a-different-lens-autism-and-the-divine-1/

tgflux

Pure speculation: religion tends to be a highly-social activity. If relating socially (face-to-face) is difficult, that’s one less draw of a religious assembly? (Hence, less reenforcement of religious belief&identity)

JC Fisher [Not autistic/Aspergers—I don’t think—but introverted enough that Church-on-Sunday is hard enough for me as it is.]

Br.Anselm

I am an individual who is a Novice Religious, and I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I can only speak for myself when I say, without my faith in God, living with the affects of Asperger’s would be a lot more difficult than it is. Religion and the Spirituality of The Rule of St. Benedict is my aid to addressing many of my difficulties. It does not deter me from it. At the same time, I would say that like many disabilities, the Christian Church could use some Spiritual and Pastoral help in learning to be more inclusive and helpful to people with Aspergers and other behavior and/or emotionally challenged issues.

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