Friday, August 20, 2010

Unpacking the Christian Knapsack

If you haven't read Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, you should. It is an amazing essay on white privilege.

I have decided to slightly edit this essay to reflect Christian privilege in the US in the wake of ZOMG!!1!! CROSSES TOTALLY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTIANITY! outrage over the decision that 12 foot tall white crosses on the sides of the highways in Utah "would convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity.” Duh.

The sheer level of HOWDAREYOU! in reaction to this incredibly obvious observation renewed, yet again, my disgust at Christian privilege, and my amazement that the average Christian in this country cannot see it.

How Christian privilege benefits Christians (in ways they don't even think of):

I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my religion most of the time. Very easily done for the Christian, as 75% of Americans are Christians. There is no place in the US where atheists can pull this one off.

I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to
mistrust my kind or me. Evil atheists, mooslins, hindus and the like.

I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me. I would not even think of telling my neighbors I am an atheist. We have a neutral/pleasant relationship right now, I don't want to lose it.

I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my religion widely
represented. that must be neat. I get House, who is perpetually being pwned by any idiot who walks through the door. House and . . . yeah, I got nothing.

When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my
religion made it what it is. And if they weren't actually Christian, everyone pretends they were. Lookin' at you, Jefferson.

I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their
religion. No matter how public the school, American children will be taught about Christians at every turn, because those people made America great! Atheists get Neitchse. And Stalin.

I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and
workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their religion. Can you imagine being a Muslim in this country, today, and sending your children off to school? I would be terrified.

I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute
these choices to the bad morals of my religion. As an atheist, I get to be the ambassador of all atheists everywhere I go- if I out myself. Every low cut blouse would be a testament to the sluttishness of atheists. Every "fuck" and "shit" would be evidence of our dirty mouths. "I met an atheist who . . . therefore all atheists . . ." comes up a lot in Christian blogs and message boards. Keep it in mind!

I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my religion. I can also do poorly without being an example of said religion. Why do atheists do [anything]? is also a common question from Christians, as if I were some entirely different species, and when they come across an example of an atheist doing something noteworthy/praiseworthy it blows their little minds.

I am never asked to speak for all the people of my religious group, nor am I asked to apologize for other members of my religious group. See: The Slacktivist Apologizes for Baptist Extremism.

I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of religions who constitute the world's
majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion. There are 1 BILLION muslims in the world and the average American Christian can't spell Q'ran correctly. (Especially odd considering that there at least 4 different acceptable spellings of that word.)

I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without
being seen as a cultural outsider. Exactly. I am furthering the Atheist Agenda(tm), Christians are patriots!

I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my religion.

I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's
magazines featuring my religion. And, I don't have to buy them online so as not to out myself to everyone in the store.

I can worry about religious discrimination without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether
a person of my religion would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do. I can never be President of this country. In fact, politics are out altogether. I can vote, but forget actually engaging the system that rules me in any other, substantive way.

I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my
religion. I can lie and lie and lie about who I really am. It's fun.

I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race. If you're Christian, you can find entire colleges, book stores, music stores, etc. devoted to you.

I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my religion. Any time somebody sneezes, I am immediately reminded exactly whose culture rules my brain.

I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social. I don't belong and I am finding it harder and harder to ignore that fact. I can hide, I can't imagine what this feels like for people who can't.

Yes, the poor persecuted Christian. Weep for all the privilege you have. It must be hard.

12 comments:

  1. If you're Christian, you can find entire ... music stores,

    I am working on a post about this subject alone. The way I see it, it is part of the Christians are persecuted in "secular" music, so we have to have our own music and stores and awards. When most music artists are Christians.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think I've ever been in a music store/music section that did not have an area devoted to Christian music of several varieties ("rock", gospel, etc.), and that's to say nothing of Bush, who were singing about Jesus the whole time.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is exactly my point. They make shite music, it doesn't sell, so they are being persecuted and repackage it as "Christian" then it sells to the rubes. While all along, most bands in "secular" music are all Christians too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States
    Warren J. Blumenfeld, Khyati Y. Joshi, & Ellen E. Fairchild, editors

    Today, the United States stands as the most religiously diverse country in the world. This diversity poses great challenges as well as opportunities. Christian denominations and their cultural manifestations, however, often function to marginalize, exclude, and deny members and institutions of other religions and non-believers the privileges and access that accompany a Christian affiliation.

    Christianity is the privileged religious perspective in the United States since Christian groups, people, and organizations often have the power to define normalcy. Christian privilege comprises a large array of benefits that are often invisible, unearned, and unacknowledged by Christians. At times overt while at other times more subtle as Christian religious practice and beliefs have entered the public square, the clearly religious meanings, symbolism, positionality, and antecedents of these practices and beliefs betray claims to mere secularism.

    The effect of the so-called "secularization" of Christian religious practices and beliefs not only fortifies, but strengthens Christian privilege by perpetuating Christian influence in such a way as to avoid detection as religion or circumvent violating the constitutional requirements for the separation of religion and government. Christian dominance, therefore, is maintained often by its relative invisibility. With this invisibility, privilege is neither analyzed nor scrutinized, neither interrogated nor confronted.

    Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States addresses Christian privilege as well as religious oppression since the two are in symbiotic relationship: oppression toward non-Christians gives rise to Christian privilege in the United States, and Christian privilege maintains oppression toward non-Christian individuals and faith communities.

    This anthology also provides historical and contemporary cases exposing Christian privilege and religious oppression on the societal, institutional, and personal/interpersonal levels. A number of chapters include sections suggesting change strategies, and in particular, ways to achieve the national goal of religious pluralism in the United States.

    ISBN-10: 9087906765, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

    ReplyDelete
  5. this was excellent and well done.

    let me give an example; i, personally, know of at LEAST 20 "Christian bookshops" in Columbus. i know of TWO "Other" bookshops, that cover everything from animism to zorastrianism. TWO.

    there used to be [maybe still is; i quit going] a "Witches Ball" on Samhain/Halloween - it was for those of a pagan bent to celebrate one of their 2 high holy days.
    at MINIMUM, 2/3rds of the attendees were just there to "watch those freaky witches and 'warlocks'"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't forget, though, Pers- you can turn on your computer and get us. And we love you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://vimeo.com/13704095


    but with recent revelations about James Randi, I think he likes DICKS!


    ____________________

    THE SECOND COMING!

    THE END OF ATHEISM

    FOLLOW THE WHITE RABBIT...
    ...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smwrw4sNCxE
    ____________________________________________

    THE B**BQUAKE - 911

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeblvLoVJCA&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpZZ2PPBzP8&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvSljPf9on4&feature=related

    you are going to pay the price for this….

    THE RUBBER DUCKY OF PSEUDOSCIENCE III - JAMES RANDI



    http://daddytypes.com/archive/hofman_rubber_duckie.jpg

    there is a lot of sh*t to flush!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg2AezJo8aQ

    THE HEAD OF THE INFIDEL!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojR-XRt4rrA

    Is America burning yet?

    Maybe we need some more...

    we use the DIVINE against the ESTABLISHMENT... you?

    we do better DEMOLITIONS than you, savage...

    RENOUNCE YOUR ATHEISM AND JOIN THE SOCIALIST FAITH!

    let them know if the MDC continues more people will die...

    the WORLD TRADE CENTER PROPHECY - THE DANCE OF DEATH

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Hez25fFrg

    FLUSH ATHEISM!

    Actually it is a ROYAL FLUSH!!!

    Let me show you how ATHEISTS were partially responsible for 911

    These ATHEISTS NEED TO BE ON THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST!

    You don’t even have SCIENCE on your side…

    You’re a perfect example of when PHILOSOPHY becomes an ENEMY OF LIFE...

    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2010/06/playing-mystery-card.html

    not quite samantha with her *supernatural spit*, eh?

    this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES...

    blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE

    you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

    GOD 1 - atheists 0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQcNiD0Z3MU

    Atheists,

    you are ENEMIES OF GOD AND ARE GOING TO BE ANNIHILATED...

    Repent and turn to God or be destroyed...

    YOU HAVE NO CHOICE...

    my interpretation of the STATUE FIRE... it symbolizes the SPIRITUAL DEATH of atheism...

    http://www.salon.com/news/2010/06/15/us_lightning_strikes_jesus_statue

    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/6/16/1276680110544/The-King-of-Kings-statue--005.jpg

    http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2010-06/54332292.jpg

    http://friendlyatheist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/butterjesus-1.jpg

    PRINCESS DI IS WEARING A NEW DRESS!

    http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speechesandarticles/a_speech_by_hrh_the_prince_of_wales_titled_islam_and_the_env_252516346.html
    ______________________________
    http://skepticblog.org/2010/04/06/would-i-ever-pray-for-a-miracle/

    Shermer, I WANT TO SEE YOU BEG FOR A MIRACLE...
    ___________________
    we do like your music Lady Gaga, but...

    The B**BQUAKE - 911

    Let me show you the FATE OF TRAITORS...

    http://www.loiterink.com/photos/products/182_3424_500x500.jpg

    they are incapable of telling the difference between SCIENTIFIC *FACT* AND
    RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL *TRUTH*... FATAL ERROR!

    they also preach a *VALUE FREE SCIENCE* called *POSITIVISM* that ignores the
    inequalities of wealth and power in capitalist civilization...

    for a sample taste of PZ Myers' GARBAGE...

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/sunday_sacrilege_imagine_no_he.php

    HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

    http://hawaiiwebgroup.com/maui-design/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/website-hijacking.jpg

    HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

    how can these HEADLESS IDIOTS BET AGAINST GOD!!!
    ________________________________________
    what happens when you LOSE Pascal's Wager...

    http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/pascals-wager.htm
    ____________
    you FIGHT PAPER MONSTERS...


    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!
    ****************************************************
    http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

    ReplyDelete
  8. "I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me."

    I am pretty sure that neither Torquemada's nor Bloody Mary's neighbors said this...

    And LOL at zilch

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am so confused as to why this (the original, race-oriented version, especially) is not taught at least once a semester in every school, everywhere, every year as a class goes through K-12. And I'm not even kidding.

    ReplyDelete
  10. PentecostalResidueAugust 27, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Personal Failure, is there any way you can move? I've been an atheist since 1999 (after having been raised super-fundamentalist, homeschooled in the Bible Belt, the whole bit) and even though I know I'm part of a small minority, I haven't felt like one since moving out of Oklahoma. I now live in Berkeley, California, working on the campus of the University of California (Berkeley) and I almost never meet anyone socially who's religious. Before that, I was a seasonal worker in Yellowstone National Park, and again -- almost never met anyone who wasn't atheist, or at least just didn't give a shit. I know our country is crazy religious in a way that's entirely different from any other developed country, but there really are secular pockets. Promise!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

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Forever in Hell by Personal Failure is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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