Monday, May 16, 2016

Confronting Christian Privilege

Don’t act so surprised. Christian Privilege is a very real thing. It has many things in common with “White Privilege.” Most obviously the beneficiaries of each are so accustomed to freely exercising their privilege that they are quite oblivious to the fact that they have it.
Before one can confront a thing one must be able to identify it. So let’s look at some examples.
Roy Moore was Chief Justice of the Alabama State Supreme Court. Then he decided to place a monument to the “Ten Commandments” in the rotunda of the court house. This was quite obviously contrary to the “Establishment Clause” of the Constitution of the United States. So he was challenged regarding the imposition of personal religious belief on visitors to the court house. The case was Glassroth v. Moore and resulted in the eventual removal of the monument. Now you may not think this sounds much like privilege, in fact Christians believe it was religious persecution. But consider for a moment how protracted the legal battle would have been if the monument had been dedicated to Atheism, or (gasp!) Sharia Law. The battle would have been over before it started.
Judge Roy Moore had his monument to the “Ten Commandments” installed on the first day of August in 2001. The monument was still there on the twenty-third day of August in 2003 when the other eight justices on the Alabama State Supreme Court decided they had best comply with Federal Court order that the monument was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Judge Moore was eventually removed from office over this ethics violation  – which some would categorize as persecution of Christians. But Moore recovered from this and was voted back in as Chief Justice despite his history of ethics violations. Consider if Judge Moore had brought Sharia Law into the courthouse. His career would have been over. End of story. I submit that the difference between the two possible outcomes is entirely attributable to Christian Privilege.
Like Roy Moore, Kim Davis believes it is her God-given right to assert her religious beliefs over other people’s religious beliefs. You may recall Kim Davis as the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian citizens. Her actions should have resulted in termination. Last I checked Kim Davis had spent a few nights in the slammer. But Kim Davis still has her job and even got tickets to attend Barack Obama’s Annual State of the Union Address earlier this year. As with Roy Moore I submit that the difference between the two possible outcomes is entirely attributable to Christian Privilege.
Roy Moore is actually a repeat offender. He engaged in shenanigans similar to placing the Ten Commandments in the court house rotunda when he was a circuit court judge prior to getting the job as Chief Justice of the Alabama State Supreme Court. If there were no Christian Privilege then Moore would have never been elevated to such a position of power in the first place. And Moore has not given up on basing official government actions on his personal religious beliefs. He was suspended from his position as Chief Justice on May sixteenth of this year for issuing orders contrary to those of the United States Supreme Court.  If history is any indicator then Moore will be back – his career again saved by Christian Privilege.
What can you do about Christian Privilege? You can start by calling attention to it whenever you see it. If the existence of Christian Privilege is denied then do what I did here and draw comparisons in outcomes if Islam was substituted for the Christianity. If there is a difference in outcome then Christian Privilege is to blame.