Christian Privilege Checklist (Laying Down the Imaginary Cross)
I initially created this list last year (2010) around Christmastime. I’ve posted it in a place or two, and I think it bears repeating.
The term “imaginary cross” does not refer to the validity of the belief system itself, but rather to the imaginary burden American Christians bear. Christianity is more or less designed to produce hysterical followers: the Bible warns them that they will be persecuted and despised - and indeed, if they’re not persecuted, they’re doing it wrong. But the world has changed quite a bit since the first century, and in many places Christianity is the most acceptable form of religion. So in the absence of real persecution, many will cry and whine about the slightest of perceived “oppression,” to the point where anything but the strictest erasure of other beliefs is seen as nothing less than full-out war.
In reality, it can be hard to openly not be Christian here in the US. The First Amendment is commonly violated to oppress non-Christians (for example, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs refusing to allow the use of a pentacle on Arlington Cemetery gravestones until 2007) and promote Christianity (for example, a Tennessee school broadcasting Christian prayers during football games and graduation ceremonies up until 2010).
Some people have dedicated their lives to spreading baseless fear and hysteria toward non-Christian religions - there’s an entire Christian subculture that would have you believe that any and every non-Christian religion (and a few Christian sects, too) are secretly run by evil Satanists who are trying to gradually desensitize people so they can eventually be converted to “hard-core” Satanism.
The 2010 film Christmas with a Capital C depicts an atheist villain who complains about a town’s Christmas display and fights to have it taken down - not because it violates the First Amendment (although it most certainly does), but because (or so it appears from the trailer) he’s simply bitter and spiteful - not necessarily an accurate representation of atheists on the whole, but an accurate representation of the way many Christians view the people they perceive as “attacking” their religion.
But enough talk. You’re probably wanting to see the checklist, so let’s get to it.
Laying Down the Imaginary Cross
Privileges most American Christians enjoy
I never had to worry whether my family would accept my choice of faith.
I can wear a symbol of my faith without being judged negatively for it.
I can be fairly sure that my friends, classmates, and co-workers will treat me the same if I make my faith known to them.
I’ve never had anyone try to exorcise or rebuke me upon learning my faith.
I don’t have to worry that people will try to convert me once they learn what my faith is.
If someone is apparently trying to become friends with me, I can be fairly sure that they simply want to be friends and don’t have any ulterior motive to convert me.
If I’m going through a hard time in my life, I can expect to receive genuine help without someone trying to take advantage of my emotional weakness to try to convert me.
I can be fairly sure that most people I meet will not chalk up my personal failings or bad times in my life to not belonging to their faith.
People never try to tell me that my faith isn’t a “real” religion.
I’m not called “heathen” or “devil-worshiper” by people I meet.
People do not dismiss my faith as a “phase” I’m going through.
Other people of faith do not inform me that my faith is superstitious or backward.
I can refer to my faith’s teachings as “truth” without most people thinking I’m presumptuous, deluded, or “lead astray.”
It’s pretty unlikely that people who learn what my faith is will try to explain to me how it’s “really” devil-worship.
If I wear a symbol of my faith in open view, most people will take it as a signal that I am of good moral character.
People I meet probably won’t assume that my morals are inferior to theirs based on my faith.
I don’t have to worry that I or my children will be suspended or expelled from school for simply wearing a symbol of my/their faith.*
If I’m fired from my job, I can be fairly certain that my boss didn’t fire me under false pretenses or a flimsy excuse because xe didn’t approve of my faith.
I can be fairly certain that I or my children will not be teased or harrassed at school because of my/their faith.
I don’t have to worry that parents will forbid their children from seeing mine because of our faith, or if I am a minor, that my friends’ parents will forbid me from seeing them because of my faith.
If I share my religious views with others in a non-proselytizing manner, I probably won’t be accused of “cramming my ideas down their throat” or something equally disdainful.
I rarely have to worry whether my faith will be an issue in a relationship.
I can be reasonably sure that people will not send me death threats because of my faith.
I don’t have to worry that someone will try to remove my children from my custody because of my and/or my family’s faith.
My faith is taught as theology, not mythology.
People will seriously debate whether my faith’s creation story should be taught in schools or not.
If my faith comes up in a religious studies class, I can be sure it will not be glossed over in favor of other faiths.
If I want, I can attend or send my child to an educational institution created by and for people of my faith.
I can walk onto any campus in my country and find a group dedicated to my faith.
I can expect to be given the day off for my faith’s holidays at nearly any job I take.
I can go into a non-specialty store and find decorations specific to my faith’s holidays.
I can turn on the radio and find music pertaining to my faith, especially around its holidays.
Stores play music pertaining to my faith’s holidays.
I can easily find holiday specials depicting people celebrating my faith’s holidays.
People won’t think I’m some kind of freak or liken me to the Grinch if I don’t celebrate the religious holidays they celebrate.
I can easily find and access support groups and charities arranged by people of my faith.
I can easily find and access spiritual counseling for people of my faith.
I can be pretty sure I won’t create a large controversy or moral panic by creating an outreach program or education center for my faith.
I can easily find and access public events and celebrations pertaining to my faith.
I can easily find a group to worship with and carry out my religion’s rites and ceremonies, and can find multiple groups to choose from.
If I choose, I can move to an area where most of my neighbors at least nominally belong to some form of my faith.
I can assume most people I meet will share my religious views, or have views that are extremely similar.
I can go into any non-specialty store and find fiction, inspirational, and self-help books aimed at people of my faith.
I can easily find books describing in detail the history, beliefs, and practices of my faith.
I can easily find material detailing the contributions people of my faith have made to society.
I can easily find and purchase scholastic materials aimed at people of my faith.
I can easily find and purchase story books, coloring books, and activity books aimed at people of my faith.
If I want to, I can easily find local people offering paraphernalia designed for my faith’s rites and ceremonies.
If I want to, I can easily find and purchase other items - eg, greeting cards, bookmarks, pins, jewelry, coffee mugs, party favors, bumper stickers, toys, blankets, or toys that pertain to my faith.
I can go into almost any non-specialty store and find art pertaining to my faith.
I can find music pertaining to my faith in any mainstream music store.
I can be certain that if someone has been found murdered in a more gruesome manner than usual, people will not suspect that the perpetrator was someone of my faith.
If a neighbor’s pet goes missing, people won’t suggest that someone of my faith may have stolen it and sacrificed it in a blood ritual.
I don’t have to worry about people wondering whether I perform human sacrifices or drink blood, or whether I’m otherwise likely to murder someone in the name of my faith.
If a member of my faith holds a militant or unpopular belief, I don’t have to worry that other people will assume I hold the same views.
If a member of my faith commits a crime, I can count on society not to view everyone in my faith as a criminal or potential criminal.
I don’t have to worry that people will shun me because they’re afraid I might “put a hex” on them.
People will not regularly comment upon how “progressive” or “modern” I am for a member of my faith.
If someone attempts to demonize my faith by spreading mis- or disinformation, I can feel confident that it won’t be taken seriously enough to affect me on a personal level.
My faith often appears in fiction (eg, books or television), and it’s usually portrayed fairly accurately and positively.
If someone on television insults or degrades my faith, I can change the channel and find someone who supports it.
I can expect the media to try to show my faith’s views on almost any political matter.
Most people understand that there are vast differences between the various sects of my faith, and do not lump us all together as a single homogenous group.
My faith is represented in the US Senate.
My faith is unlikely to be a barrier in getting elected to a public office.
If I use my religion’s holy text to be sworn in, it won’t be viewed as a subversive act.
I don’t have to worry that my citizenship will be called into question if I disclose my religion.
The government recognizes any and all forms of marriage that my faith deems acceptable.
I can easily find someone of my faith to legally represent me.
I can assume most authority figures I meet will be a member of my faith.
Most people attribute the progress my country has made in rights and civil liberties to my deity/deities.
If I call out a violation of the First Amendment, I won’t be seen as the villain by the majority.
I can assume I won’t be asked to speak for all members of my faith, or be expected to educate non-members about my faith.
I can put up decorations pertaining to my faith’s holidays up at my home in public view without worrying that I will be judged negatively or that the decorations will be vandalized.
I can be reasonably sure that if I put up a sign or billboard promoting my beliefs or offering a service relating to them, it won’t be stolen, vandalized, or complained about.
I don’t have to worry that the place where I conduct my worship, rites, and ceremonies will be vandalized because of feelings against my faith.
My religious rights are not held in limbo while people debate over whether my religion is a “real” religion or not.
Symbols of my faith are not banned from places of education under the heading of “occult symbols.”
* Before bringing up cases of students being expelled for wearing a rosary, bear in mind the fact that the students were expelled for wearing rosary beads, which were banned for being a gang symbol. Their right to wear a cross was never in dispute.