Blind to “Conservative Christian” Privilege as Justice

6 08 2010

Meg gets my appreciative cock of the snook for this.

A round-up post with more links and a couple of videos appears on the same blog, here.




6 responses

6 08 2010
Warren J. Blumenfeld

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.

7 08 2010

Warren, thank you for that! It’s thrilling that you even found this little backwater Thinking Parent idea-fishing hole.

My 20-year-old is a senior at FSU double majoring in religious history (and English-creative writing.) She’s already bought all her books — almost two dozen for her course load starting in a couple of weeks, including four religion courses: Christian tradition; religious ethics; gender and religion; and history of American Protestant thought. I think they ALL relate to the issue at hand . . .

7 08 2010

The Mosque Near Ground Zero reflects the same assumed privilege, doesn’t it? We must be more sensitive when the feelings at issue belong to mainstream Christiancentric Americans, than to other Americans . . .

But good for Fareed Zakaria!

Zakaria described the ADL’s decision to oppose the mosque as “bizarre” and asks:

“Does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?”

8 08 2010

Back to marriage and family specifically, here’s more on blind privilege:

Anthropologist Gayle Rubin has written brilliantly on how society divides us all into privileged in-groups and excluded and marginalized out-groups. Historically in the United States, heterosexual couples were the in-group — but particularly certain kinds of traditional heterosexual couples, where the man earned all the money, they had lots of kids, the family was well-to-do, the kids went on to be financially successful. . .

. . . perhaps the next step isn’t to, once again, expand the otherwise narrow definition of marriage, but to altogether abolish the false distinction between married families and other equally valid but unrecognized partnerships.

No, that doesn’t mean I want to marry three women at the same time or a goat. It means that I think I should be able to decide what constitutes my family . . . The job of the state is to protect my family and our rights — not decide that two parents plus kids makes a family and everything else is an exception to the rule at best . . .

So, for instance, when the government of Canada was charged with expanding the country’s conventional definition of marriage to include recognition of gay and lesbian couples, a commission was appointed to study the best path to equality. The commission came back with a startling but sensible option: Get rid of marriage. Not at the religious/ceremonial level — you can still have your off-white dress and dance party — but at the governmental level. I would think anti-government conservatives would certainly agree that the government has no business telling me how or with whom to form a family.

For the rest of us who otherwise value the role of government in our lives, benefits and rights can as easily be based on family functions, not forms. If I am my best friend’s primary caregiver, then I should be able to sign up to be one of, say, three people who have hospital visitation rights. If I want my closest aunt to be my Social Security beneficiary, why should the government stop me from signing her up?

9 08 2010
Luke Holzmann

Interesting stuff, JJ! Thanks for linking.

I’ve read variations on the “get rid of marriage at the government level” argument before and it sounds like a reasonable solution. And while we’re doing that, we should fix the tax system too because that simplify things for the change. [smile]


9 08 2010

Nice to see you again, Luke, glad you’re still thinking about all this stuff. Health care too, not just taxes — unmarried girls/women have been legally (immorally imo) excluded from all sorts of coverage they might need and want, from getting pregnant and having a baby, to not getting pregnant and not having a baby.

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