We Need To Recognize That Christian Privilege Does Exist

We Need To Recognize That Christian Privilege Does Exist

We Need To Recognize That Christian Privilege Does Exist

So is there Christian privilege in America? Absolutely. Christians may bemoan the fact they are under attack by Hollywood or because people say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” but think about the advantages. Christians are allowed to display and practice their faith without constant fear of violence in the United States. Meanwhile, Muslims have their hijabs torn off or Sikhs are yelled at or kicked out of class for wearing their turbans. But the Christian cross can be predominately displayed. Christian holidays are routinely given days off school or time off. Christians are less likely to be criticized for their religion by a jury of their peers. Politicians commonly focus on Christian morality when deciding laws. There has always been a Christian president. A Christian politician can talk about their faith and not lose nearly close to as many votes as a Muslim politician.

The backlash against Christian privilege reveals the pervasive nature of it. On social media, critics have argued “it does not exist,” or it is “made up.” That is entirely the point of privilege. You do not see it. The fact that an individual might not realize the benefits they receive because they are Christian does not mean they do not exist. Part of the issue is privilege allows a group to avoid an experience. So if you did not grow up being attacked for expressing your faith you might not realize what a huge deal it is.

Let’s take one of the examples you hear about as an attack on Christians to prove the existence of Christian privilege. During the holiday season, you will see pundits argue about saying “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” The argument is it is a direct attack on Christians.

But think of the underlying implications. Because a company wants to acknowledge there are people of different faiths or no religious background it is deemed offensive. If you went to your favorite shop and they greeted you by saying “Good Luck To The Democratic Party” some of you would be upset because it displays only one way people think. The very fact that it seems terrible even to mention other faiths exist proves Christian privilege. We have become so used to the ubiquity of Christianity in America it is seen as the only option for public expressions of religion.

Part of the reason people are uncomfortable about privilege is it undermines a central tenet of American folklore. Part of our national identity is based on the Horatio Alger “build yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. We believe our fate is entirely intertwined with our performance and hard work. America is “where you can become anything.” So if it is revealed you got some benefits that were not earned, it can be upsetting. But that is not the point. Privilege does not mean you did not work hard. It means some people did not have the advantages you had to capitalize on. Understanding Christian privilege can be vital because understanding it allows Christians to see some of the suffering or hardships others have to go through. With the rise in Islamophobia, hate crimes, or general hostility toward non-believers understanding privilege can be an essential bridge to forming empathy for others. Which is a core concept in Christian ethics, loving thy neighbor.


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