TC Equality
  | An Investigative Report

 

Extremist Christians, Privileges, and “Special Rights”

What is it about some people that they have such a pressing psychological need to feel superior to someone — anyone — in society? There are men who need women to be inferior, Christians who need non-Christians to be inferior, religious believers who need nonbelievers and atheists to be inferior, citizens who need foreigners to be inferior, and heterosexuals who need gays to be inferior. Why can’t those who are different be equal in their differences?

If we were dealing with actual rights, like the right to speech, then claims about discrimination and persecution would be justified. As it is, though, the truth is that Christians are losing privileges — they are losing the ways in which they have been treated better than everyone else. Because of this, they are not actually being discriminated against; instead, traditional discrimination against others is ending. It’s not unlike how the elimination of “white privilege” was perceived by whites during the Civil Rights era.

Religious privilege — and especially Christian privilege — is one of the few traditional privileges that continues to be openly defended in modern society. Other forms of privilege, like white privilege and male privilege, may continue to exist but it’s regarded as impolite to actually argue in defense of them anymore. Perhaps one day religious privilege will go the way that white and male privilege are going, but it won’t happen without much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of some conservative Christians.

We should expect to see assertions of Christian privilege continuing to play an important role in social and political debates in the coming decades. Look for it behind the scenes in other issues — you can already find it, for example, in the so-called Christmas wars and arguments over gay marriage. In these debates people talk about the importance of religious values, but many are simply seeking to have the state endorse their vision of Christianity over all other possible positions.

Christian Supremacy is doing as much harm to Christianity as it is to government and culture, yet the allure of power coupled with the hatred of modernity is too much for some Christians to resist. They are convinced that only they and their religion can save the world; even worse, they are not afraid to wield power in harmful and destructive ways to get what they want.

Christian Privileges for Holidays & Holy Days:
  • Many stores take the Christian sabbath into account
  • Most Christians don’t have to work on their holiest days
  • Christians can assume they will see TV specials and hear music related to their holidays
  • Christians can erect Christian holiday displays without fearing vandalism
  • Christians expect to be greeted with references to their holidays (Merry Christmas)
  • Christians can ignore and be ignorant of other religions’ holidays
  • School events will probably address Christian holidays
Christian Privileges in American Culture:
  • When traveling, Christians can assume they'll find churches of their denomination
  • It’s easy for Christians to find a religious site to marry
  • Christians easily find Christian movies, radio programs, and TV shows
  • When someone talks about or thanks God, Christians can assume it’s their god
  • Christians will find Bibles in their hotel rooms
  • Christians have many Christian charities to donate to or get assistance from
  • Christians needn’t worry about finding foods to meet religious dietary requirements
Christian Privileges against Discrimination and Bigotry:
  • Christians can assume that they won’t be discriminated against because of their religion
  • Christians can assume that their opinion won’t be ignored because of their religion
  • Christians need not worry about moving to a place where Christians aren’t welcome
  • Christians rarely encounter groups that exclude Christians
  • Christians don’t worry about revealing their religion to parents, friends
  • Christians can discriminate in ways not otherwise allowed & avoid members of other religions
Christian Privileges in Schools:
  • Christian children will see other Christians in lessons about history
  • Christian children will participate in events relating to Christian holy days
  • Christian children will find or easily start school clubs dedicated to Christianity
  • Christian athletes are encouraged by Christian coaches
  • Christian children might avoid being exposed to foreign religions
  • Public school space is often shared with Christian churches
  • Christians can easily find private schools that cater to their religion
Christian Privilege, Fear, and Security:
  • Christians can wear Christian clothing or jewelry without fear
  • Christians can promote their religion on cars or houses without fear of vandalism
  • Christians don’t have to educate their kids about persecution for their own protection
  • Christians can ignore the language and customs of other religions without censure
  • Christians need not worry if their religion will hinder their professional ambitions
  • Christians don’t have to worry about hate groups dedicated to wiping out Christianity
Christian Privileges in the Community:
  • Many communities have names with Christian origins
  • Christians can assume that most neighbors & coworkers are Christian
  • Christians have directories of Christian-owned businesses
  • Christian businesses can hire all Christians without trying
  • Christians can criticize Christianity & Christian Privilege with more authority than non-Christians and without their motives being questioned
  • Christians can assume that almost anywhere they go and anything they do, they’ll feel normal
Christian Privileges with Christianity:
  • Christians aren’t expected to speak for all Christians or everyone in a denomination
  • Whatever Christians do, they need not worry that it will reflect poorly on Christianity
  • Christians easily shop for items related to Christianity, even in specialty Christian stores
  • Successful Christians aren’t told that they are greedy because of their religion
  • The word “Christian” is treated as a label representing the best human attributes
Christian Privileges in the Law:
  • Where relevant, laws take the Christian sabbath (Sunday) into account
  • Laws & regulations come with built-in exemptions for Christians & Christian beliefs.
  • Christians can assume that most politicians are Christians who represent Christian interests
  • Christians can criticize the government or society without being labeled cultural outsiders
  • Christians can assume that politicians won’t attack their religion
  • Christians assume that government prayers will be Christian in nature (they usually are)
Culture Wars Over Male Privilege, White Privilege, and Christian Privilege:

A nonconscious ideology is analogous to the water fish swim in: fish don’t think of the water as wet because this environment is all they know — it structures their experience of life itself. Water simply is. Members of privileged groups don’t have to think about their environment because, for them, that environment simply is. They don’t have to be concerned about others’ opinions because it’s safe to assume that most think like them.

Those who don’t benefit from such an environment do have to think about it all the time because they are so susceptible to being harmed by it. For members of less privileged groups, what others think matters a great deal because their opinions and actions control access to the larger benefits of society.

Fish don’t have to think about the water; mammals must remain conscious of it at all times lest they drown.

In most of the examples here, we can replace Christian/religion with male/gender or white/race or heterosexual/homosexual and come up with the same results: examples of how our social, political, and cultural environment reinforce the dominance of one group over others. Male privilege and white privilege are closely related to Christian privilege because they have all been undermined by modernity and have all become part of America’s Culture Wars.

Christians realize that many of the above privileges are in decline. They interpret this as persecution because privilege is all they have ever known. The same is true when men complain about the decline of male privilege and whites complain about the decline of white privilege. The defense of privilege is a defense of dominance and discrimination, but for those who benefit it’s a defense of their traditional way of life. They need to become conscious of their privileges and realize that in a free society, such privileges are inappropriate.

References: AmpersandPeggy McIntosh, L. Z. Schlosser (Christian Privilege: Breaking a Sacred Taboo), and "Christian Privilege & Religious Privilege: Christian Claims to Privilege" by Austin Cline

 




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In Support of the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance
City of Traverse City

FacebookOctober 04, 2010—At the regular City Commission meeting Mary Van Valin grew emotional as she stood at a podium to address the Traverse City Commission. "I have a dream that this community will stand on the side of love, not fear," Valin said Monday night.

Van Valin got her wish when the City Commissioners unanimously approved the Equal Opportunity Ordinance.

Equal Opportunity for the residents of Traverse City will be decided at the ballot box on November 8, 2011. Please vote.

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Opposing the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance
Paul Nepote, et all

October 05, 2010—Paul Nepote filed notice of a Referendum Petition that he circulated for signatures, which reads: We, the undersigned registered voters of the City of Traverse City, under and by virtue of the authority granted by Chapter XV of the Traverse City Charter, do hereby protest against the following ordinance taking effect and petition your submission of said ordinance to the registered voters of the City of Traverse City, County of Grand Traverse, State of Michigan.

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Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance

No person shall adopt, enforce or employ any policy or requirement which has the effect of creating unequal opportunities according to actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, or gender identity, for a person to obtain housing, employment or public accommodation.

Equal Opportunity for the residents of Traverse City will be decided at the ballot box on November 8, 2011. Please vote.

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