Christian privilege

Christian privilege is any of several advantages bestowed upon Christians in some[specify] societies. This arises out of the presumption that Christian belief is a social norm, that leads to the marginalization of the nonreligious and members of other religions through institutional religious discrimination or religious persecution. Christian privilege can also lead to the neglect of outsiders' cultural heritage and religious practices.[1]

Overview

Christian privilege is a type of dominant group privilege where the unconscious or conscious attitudes and beliefs of Christians advantage Christians over non-Christians.[2] Examples include opinions that non-Christian beliefs are inferior or dangerous, or that those that adhere to non-Christian beliefs are amoral, immoral, sinful, or misguided. Such prejudices pervade established social institutions, are reinforced by the broader American society, and have evolved as part of its history.[3]

Lewis Z. Schlosser[4] observes that the exposure of Christian privilege breaks a "sacred taboo", and that "both subtle and obvious pressures exist to ensure that these privileges continue to be in the sole domain of Christians. This process is quite similar to the way in which whites and males continue to (consciously and unconsciously) ensure the privilege of their racial and gender groups".[4]:p.47

There is a hierarchy of Christian privilege in the United States. White mainstream Protestant denominations have greater degrees of privilege than minority Christian denominations. Such groups include African American churches, Christian Hispanics and Latinos, Amish people, Mennonite, Quakers, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, adherents of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christian scientists, Mormons, and in some instances, Catholics.[1]

When the dominant Christian groups impose their cultural norms, values, and perspectives on people with different beliefs, those people are seen in social justice terms as oppressed.[2] These values are imposed "on institutions by individuals and on individuals by institutions".[2]:p.19 These social and cultural values define ideas of good and evil, health and sickness, normality and deviance, and how one should live one's life. The dominant group's social values serve to justify and rationalize social oppression, while the dominant group members may not be aware of the ways in which they are privileged because of their own social identity;[3] "unpacking" McIntosh's allegorical knapsack of privilege (of any kind) is to become aware of and to develop critical consciousness of its existence and how it impacts the daily lives of both those with and those without this privilege.[3]