No, this title is not a joke. Nor is it clickbait. After reading a post from Relevant Magazine on the subject, I learned that “Christian privilege” is a real term thrown around on social media. You can read the article here, and I encourage you to do so, if only for context of what I’m about to say.
As a white, conservative, Christian woman, this term and even the article trouble me. Before writing this blog post, I reached out to some other Christians to get their less cynical perspectives on the term. Some agreed with the post's author and some didn't. A few things stick out from those conversations:
1. Christians often face doubts, criticism, and verbal attacks on their intelligence and character because of the abstractness of faith.
Trump-supporting, Conservative Christians that don't believe in science and would rather have guns than safety ... it's a stereotype that runs rampant, and it seems like every day is a battle to defy the opinions of others. Since graduating from college, I’ve had to prove myself as a person who cares for other people, as an intellectual, and as a believer in equality because of the faith I have in Jesus and the way the world understands Christianity. In no way has my faith given me any privilege, especially in the workplace. In fact, in my very first job out of college, I faced prejudice on my first day in the office for the small cross hanging from a push pin on my wall. Before anyone knew me personally, they had pre-concieved notions of who I am and what I believe -- a practice I think we as a society are trying to abolish though practice. In my conversations about Christian privilege, none of the people I spoke with felt like their faith brought them any advantage or understanding.
2. Speaking on behalf of Christians who make mistakes is the greatest argument against "Christian privilege."
The author claims that a sign of privilege is “the ability to avoid having to speak on behalf of your faith or all Christians when one of your own goes bad.” To this point, I often find myself defending other Christians in the face of scrutiny, by association, especially in regard to the church and people wronged by the church. Almost weekly now, I find myself seeking out sound doctrine so that I can better articulate myself for those questioning the actions of Christians in the media, on Twitter, or even daily interactions. Unfortunately, many people have been burned by the church, especially people who don't fit the traditional Christian mold that doesn't exist anymore.
Just like Muslims should not be defined by the radicals represented in the media, neither should Christians be defined by rich pastors with private jets who refuse to open the doors of the church during natural disaster. If you saw a small, blonde-haired child steal a piece of candy from a store, you wouldn't assume all tiny people with blonde hair are thieves -- humans make mistakes, even (and especially) religious ones, and that doesn't represent people as a whole.
3. We have to stop bringing people down in order to lift others up.
The problem with this article is that it’s generalized and inaccurate — a huge step backwards in evangelizing. We don’t give women in the workplace more rights by revoking men’s; we push ourselves to gender equality by promoting more women based on their qualifications (because goodness, there are so many amazing women that deserve it). It’s not necessary to label all Christians (or even just white, male ones) as privileged in order to acknowledge the struggle of other religions. Let’s instead make the conversation about those other religions. The quantity of believers doesn’t substantiate the labeling of privilege, and even if it did, are those numbers based on people identifying as Christian by tradition, or those actively seeking Jesus? Should it matter?
And yet, maybe it does exist?
An important thing to note here, and something I took away from the article, is the problem of religious equality. America's historically Christian holidays do not extend to other faiths, bringing into question Ramadan and Hanukkah, for example. I agree that as a nation, we need to do better at acknowledging the important of religious freedom, and in turn, religious expression, of all types. Is being a Christian a privilege? In that way, absolutely.
But should it?
Religion as a whole has powerful, deeply rooted convictions that shouldn’t be connected to any type of derogatory label. On the other hand, it also shouldn’t be used as a convenient excuse to judge and condescend other people for their actions, views, or experiences, which is perhaps what the author intended. In order to promote equality, we must first view each other as equals — religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, and background; excluding Christians from this conversation defeats that purpose entirely.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!