Christian Privilege

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on November 8, 2011

There is a lot of chatter about privilege these days. Where people used to talk about racism, today the buzzword is privilege. Chamblee54 has tried to contribute to the dialog (polylog) with recent posts about black privilege and white privilege.
One day recently, PG was exercising his vehicular privilege. The thought occured to him about another form of privilege. This privilege is stronger than race based privilege. In fact, many of the people, who whine about white privilege, benefit from this privilege. The president of privilege in America is Christian Privilege. (CP)
If you ask Mr. Google about CP, you get 3.6 million results. The first few give us plenty of text for this feature. A report about CP from Agnosticism / Atheism has the traditional list of examples. The last few paragraphs tell more about the story.

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 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.

A blog called Shakesville weighs in with On “Real” Christians and Christian Privilege . It tells the story of being asked not to identify Ann Coulter as a Christian. PG totally understands being embarassed by Ms. Coulter. There was a radio show once, with Ann Coulter promoting a book and PG listening. Some famous person was mentioned, and Ms. Coulter started to make jokes about what would happen to this famous person when he died. The line was that when he gets to heaven, he is going to wish he had been a Christian. This assumption that your ideas about life after death are correct, and universally practiced, is one especially vile example of CP.
The feature at Shakesville (which is easier to pronounce than Shakespearessister) is about how many people deflect complaints about bad behavior by saying “He is not really a Christian”. This is unsatisfactory on a number of levels. Many of the “good” Christians support “bad” Christians in their evil work. This excuse is one reason why PG prefers to say Jesus Worshiper to describe the members of this tribe. Shakes addresses this issue:
“Frankly, it’s hurtful to me when Christians address what happened to me by saying, “Those aren’t real Christians,” expecting me to salve their discomfort about the baggage of privilege by not disagreeing. People who would never in a million years think to try to console a victim of a hate crime with “All [white/straight/cis/abled] people aren’t like that!” nonetheless responded that way to me when I was targeted and threatened by droves of self-identified Christians.”
Shakes is a good writer. She says things much better than this slack blogger. Maybe we should just let her explain a few things.

Christianity has a 2,000-year history that has seen countless iterations of the religion based on countless interpretation of the text and shaped to fit countless times and spaces and needs in disparate cultures all around the world. Christians have done great things, and not-so-great things—and anyone who makes the personal choice to carry the Christian mantle associates themselves with a history that includes all the good stuff and all the shitty stuff, too. One can’t say, “I only associate with the good Christianity—not the inquisitions and the genocides and the warmongering and the colonialism and the institutional misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, anti-Semitism…”
That’s all part of Christianity’s legacy, too—and it just isn’t intellectually honest to say, “Well, those weren’t real Christians.” Yes, they were. And so are the Christians who do shitty stuff today. They might not be the same kind of Christian as you are, but they are nonetheless Christians.
Christianity, at least (and especially) in America, is a privilege—and, like any privilege, it can be uncomfortable to face the ugly reality of what other members of a privileged class can do to non-privileged folks, even if you don’t do it yourself. I’m white, I’m straight, I’m cisgender: I understand the impulse to distance oneself. But as a white person, I am obliged to acknowledge that the history of white supremacy in America is one of slavery, of lynchings, of segregation, of sundown towns, of internment camps, of genocide, and of all manner of institutionalized racism. I don’t get to say (nor do I want to) that the KKK aren’t “real” white people. They sure as hell are. (The spell check suggestion for cisgender is transgender.)
That Christianity is a chosen privilege does not mean its members can claim a lower standard of rigorous self-examination. And it doesn’t mean that less privileged Christians, i.e. progressive Christians, can claim a lower standard, either, just because the more privileged Christians marginalize them. Poor whites don’t get to disclaim their white privilege just because they are further marginalized by their lack of wealth.
In fact, chosen privileges demand, if anything, a higher standard of self-examination, because one has a choice whether to participate in the privilege. But so often, the fact that Christianity is a choice is instead used to deny the effects of that privilege altogether—”I’m not one of those Christians; I’m one of the good ones!”

9 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

    • chamblee54 said, on November 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you for stopping by.
      I am currently listening to a discussion … … involving an Israeli journalist. One of the thoughts was that separation of church and state is a good deal for the church. The thinking goes that one reason America is such a religious country is that religion is not shoved down our throats by the government. Religions have to compete in the free marketplace of ideas. As it turns out, Jesus worshipers are very, very good at marketing.

  1. If I Were A Poor Black Kid « Chamblee54 said, on December 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    […] that people don’t like. Maybe you can talk about the War on Christmas. This is an example of Christian Privilege gone awry. It is a safe bet that many poor black kids are Jesus worshipers. Maybe one form of […]

  2. Racism Is Obsolete « Chamblee54 said, on April 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    […] 11- The race card = black privilege. 12- The most obnoxious form of privilege in America is christian privilege. 13- We will have ABR/AWR in America as long as people find it to their advantage to promote it. […]

  3. Christian Privilege « Chamblee54 said, on November 8, 2012 at 8:14 am

    […] to the dialog (polylog) with recent posts about black privilege and white privilege. This is a repost. One day recently, PG was exercising his vehicular privilege. The thought occured to him about […]

  4. Privilege Preservation Act | Chamblee54 said, on February 26, 2014 at 6:32 am

    […] Jesus worship is the most popular religion in America. The believers enjoy a remarkable degree of privilege. Like many owners of privilege, they do not even know that it exists. Many, if not most, POC are […]

  5. BO And JS Promote Privilege | Chamblee54 said, on October 22, 2014 at 11:53 am

    […] solstice holiday should be about Jesus. Anyone who disagrees is a poopyhead. Does BO benefit from Christian Privilege? An unintentionally ironic moment came when JS was reciting his white privilege talking points. […]

  6. Christian Privilege | Chamblee54 said, on November 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    […] to the dialog (polylog) with recent posts about black privilege and white privilege. This is a repost. One day recently, PG was exercising his vehicular privilege. The thought occured to him about […]

  7. Privilege | Chamblee54 said, on October 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

    […] to the dialog (polylog) with recent posts about black privilege and white privilege. This is a repost. One day recently, PG was exercising his vehicular privilege. The thought occured to him about […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: