When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first introduced last year, Christians were divided over the merits of the bill, which was designed to broaden federal civil-rights law to include persons with disabilities. Some Christians strongly advocated the measure as a matter of justice, while others opposed it for being too intrusive on churches and other religious groups (CT, June 16, 1989, p. 54; and Sept. 22, 1989, p. 44). While neither side views the final version as perfect, both appear to be satisfied with the ADA that was hammered out by Congress before the recess and signed into law by President Bush late last summer.

The new law prohibits discrimination against people with physical and mental disabilities in private-sector employment, public accommodations (such as theaters, hotels, restaurants, and stores), public services provided by states and local governments, private and public transportation, and telecommunication services.

Joni Eareckson Tada, Christian author and long-time advocate for the disabled, is pleased with the ADA. “It is really a measure for the future,” she told CHRISTIANITY TODAY. “We needed to do it now, because with the rapid advancements in technology, many more people with disabilities are living. We needed this legislation to structure an adequate response for these people in the future,” said Tada, who attended the White House signing ceremony.

Constitutional attorney William Ball, who testified in congressional hearings against the bill because of church/state concerns, said the final version was amended into something that “churches and religious organizations can live with.” Ball was particularly troubled by the original 1989 version because ...

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