As a society we are raising awareness about white privilege, male privilege and the privilege of heteronormative sexuality, and we are challenging these structures. In a structure of power and oppression, it is time to also look at Christian privilege.
Here’s a list of how it works.
- Christians can expect to have holidays on their holy days. They aren’t expected to justify it.
- Their celebrations are accepted at a communal level, from foods available in supermarkets to carols by candlelight. A mass singing in the Domain about Mohammed and Allah would not be televised.
- People talk about prayers without having to explain what it is or how it might work (or not).
- Most members of parliament identify with the Christian faith.
- Christian faith group organisations don’t pay taxes and members’ donations are tax deductible.
- People don’t try to convert Christians (generally speaking).
- Christians can wear a crucifix around their necks without confrontation or explanation.
- Christian organisations are exempt from discrimination laws.
- Christians can send their children to faith schools and, often, faith universities.
- The government outsources services to Christian service providers, who then engage with people of all types, including those of other faiths or none, including those who Christians actively disapprove of. Under government policy people have no recourse but to use the Christian service providers.
- Celebrities of faith can thank their deity on international broadcasts and not be questioned about it.
- There is an assumption in our culture that ‘Christian values’, whatever they are, should be everybody’s values.
- Christianity is considered the norm and the default. A person of unknown faith will be given a Christian burial.
- Language from Christianity is used in conversation every day - Oh my God!, thank God, gospel truth, set in stone, cast the first stone, road to Damascus moment, good Samaritan, a cross to bear, forbidden fruit, references to heaven and hell, etc
- Popular songs make references to God, Jesus and the church as if these things are part of everybody’s experience.
- People say ‘that’s not Christian’ as if there is a wrong and right way to be Christian, and as if being Christian means being a good person, or morally sound, and to follow an Iron Age Middle Eastern Jewish prophet whose life was recorded in an ancient book is a rational way to live your life. Christians do not own goodness and morality, or even own Jesus.
- A Christian church and its leaders are respected, even though for many people who suffered abuse through the church these references would trigger memories of abuse.
In the same way that acknowledging white privilege and male privilege is not persecution, acknowledging Christian privilege is not persecution. It will be confronting for those who have it. But it needs to be seen.