Home > Christianity, Privilege > Something about Christian Privilege.

Something about Christian Privilege.

So I was thinking about this whole privilege thing, and it occurred to me that Christianity is never really looked at in this way, but–well, in the west at least, and particularly in the US, Christian privilege is alive and well and pernicious in the mainstream culture. It’s a part of the kyriarchal systems of oppression and one that rarely gets unpacked. So I did a bit of googling, and I found this checklist. Sadly, the original site seems to be down, but I got hold of it via the Wayback Machine. So, the following is the work of Dr. Lewis Z. Schlosser, a psychology professor at Seton Hall, who designed and conducted workshops on Christian privilege. It should go without saying that this is very much western/US-centric, as Christians obviously do not share these privileges elsewhere in the world. But just because Christians are persecuted in China, does not mean they are not privileged in the US (a bingo card argument if I’ve ever heard one). I don’t necessarily agree with every point on here, even as a Pagan, but the vast majority of it I can definitely understand and I think it’s good food for thought and discussion.

  1. It is likely that state and federal holidays coincide with my religious practices, thereby having little to no impact on my job and/or education.
  1. I can talk openly about my religious practices without concern for how it will be received by others.
  1. I can be sure to hear music on the radio and watch specials on television that celebrate the holidays of my religion.
  1. When told about the history of civilization, I am can be sure that I am shown people of my religion made it what it is.
  1. I can worry about religious privilege without being perceived as “self-interested” or “self-seeking.”
  1. I can have a “Jesus is Lord” bumper sticker or Icthus (Christian Fish) on my car and not worry about someone vandalizing my car because of it.
  1. I can share my holiday greetings without being fully conscious of how it may impact those who do not celebrate the same holidays.  Also, I can be sure that people are knowledgeable about the holidays of my religion and will greet me with the appropriate holiday greeting (e.g., Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, etc.).
  1. I can probably assume that there is a universality of religious experience.
  1. I can deny Christian Privilege by asserting that all religions are essentially the same.
  1. I probably do not need to learn the religious or spiritual customs of others, and I am likely not penalized for not knowing them.
  1. I am probably unencumbered by having to explain why I am or am not doing things related to my religious norms on a daily basis.
  1. I am likely not judged by the improper actions of others in my religious group.
  1. If I wish, I can usually or exclusively be among those from my religious group most of the time (in work, school, or at home).
  1. I can assume that my safety, or the safety of my family, will not be put in jeopardy by disclosing my religion to others at work or at school.
  1. It is likely that mass media represents my religion widely AND positively.
  1. It is likely that I can find items to buy that represent my religious norms and holidays with relative ease (e.g., food, decorations, greeting cards, etc.).
  1. I can speak or write about my religion, and even critique other religions, and have these perspectives listened to and published with relative ease and without much fear of reprisal.
  1. I could write an article on Christian Privilege without putting my own religion on trial.
  1. I can travel without others assuming that I put them at risk because of my religion; nor will my religion put me at risk from others when I travel.
  1. I can be financially successful without the assumption from others that this success is connected to my religion.
  2. I can protect myself (and my children) from people who may not like me (or them) based on my religion.
  3. Law enforcement officials will likely assume I am a non-threatening person if my religion is disclosed to them.  In fact, disclosure may actually help law enforcement officials perceive me as being “in the right” or “unbiased.”
  4.  I can safely assume that any authority figure will generally be someone of my religion.
  1. I can talk about my religion, even proselytize, and be characterized as “sharing the word,” instead of imposing my ideas on others.
  1. I can be gentle and affirming to people without being characterized as an exception to my religion.
  1. I am never asked to speak on behalf of all Christians.
  1. My citizenship and immigration status will likely not be questioned, and my background will likely not be investigated, because of my religion.
  1. My place of worship is probably not targeted for violence because of sentiment against my religion.
  1. I can be sure that my religion will not work against me when seeking medical or legal help.
  1. My religion will not cause teachers to pigeonhole me into certain professions based of the assumed “prowess” of my religious group.
  1. I will not have my children taken from me from governmental authorities who are aware of my religious affiliation.
  1. Disclosure of my religion to an adoption agency will likely not prevent me from being able to adopt children.
  1. If I wish to give my children a parochial religious education, I probably have a variety of options nearby.
  1. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence and importance of my religion.
  1. I can be sure that when someone in the media is referring to G-d, they are referring to my (Christian) G-d.
  1. I can easily find academic courses and institutions that give attention only to people of my religion.
  1. My religious holidays are so completely “normal” that, in many ways, they may appear to no longer have any religious significance at all.
  1. The elected and unelected officials of my government probably are members of my religious group.
  1. When swearing an oath, I am probably making this oath by placing my hand on the scripture of my religion.
  1. I can openly display my religious symbol(s) on my person or property without fear of disapproval, violence, and/or vandalism.
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