Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States

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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.

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Educational Researchers and their students

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