It has sometimes been assumed that religiously based explanations for and attitudes to having a disabled child have led to the low uptake of health and social services by ethnic minority families in the UK. A series of semi-structured interviews were held between 1999 and 2001 with 19 Pakistani and Bangladeshi families with a disabled child as part of an evaluation of an advocacy service. The families' understandings of the causes of their child's impairment, whether they felt shame and experienced stigma, and whether these factors influenced service uptake and their expectations of their child's future are reported. While religious beliefs did inform the ways in which some families conceptualised their experience, the families' attitudes were complex and varied. There was little evidence that religious beliefs and associated attitudes rather than institutional racism had resulted in the low levels of service provision which the families experienced prior to the advocacy service. There was also no evidence that the families' attitudes had been informed by the disability movement. The implications for service providers and the movement are considered.