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Mon Aug 4, 2014, 02:08 AM

Religious Privilege

We all know what it is, and we've all encountered it, both here at DU, and in the real world, but there seems to be a big argument about it here, and in the real world.

What is your personal definition of the privilege? What are some examples of of it you have encountered here and irl?

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply Religious Privilege (Original post)
Lordquinton Aug 2014 OP
Lordquinton Aug 2014 #1
intaglio Aug 2014 #2
mr blur Aug 2014 #4
Name removed Aug 2014 #3
theHandpuppet Aug 2014 #5
onager Aug 2014 #6
Arugula Latte Aug 2014 #19
onager Aug 2014 #22
trotsky Aug 2014 #7
LostOne4Ever Aug 2014 #12
Goblinmonger Aug 2014 #8
Heddi Aug 2014 #9
theHandpuppet Aug 2014 #11
trotsky Aug 2014 #21
Curmudgeoness Aug 2014 #10
Lordquinton Aug 2014 #14
Act_of_Reparation Aug 2014 #15
theHandpuppet Aug 2014 #16
skepticscott Aug 2014 #17
AlbertCat Aug 2014 #13
Capt. Obvious Aug 2014 #18
JNelson6563 Aug 2014 #20

Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 02:12 AM

1. Some thought of my own

To me it's not just the religious imposing on the non-religious, but a majority religion imposing their will on the minority (as the majority sees everyone just like them, and if you insist that you're not like them, you're a heathen regardless of whether you're an atheist, or animist)
There have been several threads here today about it's influences, like being called a good christian, or getting a discount for prayer, and every day a new story pops up of some religious group doing something completely bald faced stupid, thinking they are doing something perfectly fine. In the US we're lucky to have the first amendment, which is the best preventative laws the founders added in to protect us from tyranny, but now we have a supreme court that is stacked with Catholics and they are very much abusing their privilege to turn this nation towards theocracy (I don't think they will ever get that far, but they are pushing little laws along that will take a long time to undo, and they are setting precedents that will haunt us for a century easily).

Another facet of RP is erasure, like with every other form of privilege there is an amount of scrubbing the oppressed from the books so it seems like the ones in charge did everything all along. This can be the majority claiming works as their own, like Islam did with Zoroastrian scholars. With atheists scholars in history this is usually accomplished post mortem with the deathbed confession line. Or they wait and just claim they were religious the entire time, instead of just playing along so they wouldn't get killed for going against the teachings of god. The modern equivalency would be "They don't identify as an atheist, therefore they believe in something!" this is generally because they want to avoid controversy and be able to do their work and not end up like Dawkins where anything he says (regardless of how crass, or ill worded it may be) gets taken immediately out of context, and earns daily death threats from the peaceful religious types.

It's hard to put to words for me, as it's such a monumental thing that spans history. I'm sure some points are wrong, (and due to the nature of the beast, even if you are spot on every point, the privileged will come along and dispute every last word even though they have to pretend you didn't answer the question two posts ago. This is called gas lighting, it's a form of abuse meant to make you feel as though you're the crazy one.)

Ok, wall o' text done.

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Response to Lordquinton (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 05:19 AM

2. It is not as bad in the UK as in the US but ...

We still have ministers being treated as the only educated persons representing a community - and receiving deference because of that. This may have been true 90 years ago but now?

There are still 26 seats in the House of Lords held by Anglican Bishops and Archbishops whilst recently the Chief Rabbi has also had a place, (and don't talk to me about how that den of privilege needs to be reformed).

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Response to intaglio (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 06:03 AM

4. I was going to say the same,

 

but would add that the fact that we have a state religion actually seems to me to have reduced the power of that religion. Not one person has ever been alarmed or even surprised when they found out I'm an atheist. We've all grown up with it, had to suffer assembly at school(s), trotted out the required droning with rolled eyes and a bit of a sneer. I've always had the feeling of, "Well, it's always there but no-one actually believes it - do they?"

Of course, many do but on the whole they don't make a fuss about it.

I'm thinking of the maybe-once-a-year when a bunch of loonies gather in the centre of Chichester and sing Kumbaya dirges and ask passers-by if they "know Jesus". Most people look embarrassed and walk round them or act as if they aren't there. I find that a polite "Fuck off!" does the trick.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)


Response to Name removed (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 09:33 AM

5. In most places in the U.S., there's no way an atheist could get elected to office

I would really have liked to have run for a local office in my younger years but being gay and an atheist, I might as well have wished to sprout wings and fly.

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Response to Name removed (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 09:57 AM

6. Grew up Red State, moved to West Coast...

Many years ago. I grew up in the Deep South, Appalachian Division.

Yes, you're right. It's almost like two different COUNTRIES.

In Los Angeles, where I've lived for many years, not one neighbor has ever asked what church I belong to, invited me to church, etc. etc.

Even in 1994 with the Northridge earthquake (epicenter about 2 miles away), I can't remember anyone invoking god or insisting we stop and pray for deliverance. We were all too focused on making sure our neighbors were accounted for and unhurt.

Naturally L.A. has the Mormon/JW doorknockers. And $cientologists will pester you in Hollywood, where they own a big chunk of the real estate.

But in day-to-day life, if I want to hear some religious BS, I usually have to turn on the TV.

Then I go back where I came from for a visit - and it's wall-to-wall Jesus 24/7. Perfect strangers think nothing of asking what church you attend, and they ALWAYS assume you go to some church. Then there's the "Have a blessed day" and variations you get from almost every store clerk.

The local newspapers often feature letters to the editor whining about how this is a "Christian nation" and anyone who doesn't like that should just move.

Still, I'm thinking about moving back there. My Mom's not getting any younger and she's the only Mom I have. Cost of living is also much less than L.A. etc. But I gotta say, the Jesusmania really gives me second thoughts, along with the GOP-mania. I'm not looking forward to the pressure to conform to the local religiosity, or the fights when I don't. I have some relatives who are VERY strident Evangelicals and have to tangle with them already just about every time I visit.

Ah well. Maybe I can move back there and become the Village Atheist...

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Response to onager (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 10:11 AM

19. I'm curious --

 

If someone asks you "what church do you attend" and you answer something like "I don't go to church," how do they react?

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #19)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 12:09 PM

22. I usually finesse it...

By saying "I don't live around here anymore." And quickly changing the subject.

My mother has a good friend who grew up in the area, and he has just never gone to church. And he tells people that. He's well known for always helping people do home repairs, yard work etc. and never charging for it. Those who are able pay him anyway. He says that's his way of "going to church" - he just helps people.

Sometimes I get called on to "say grace." Since I'm visiting, the believers consider that an honor. When that happens I pass the honor to someone else. That's gotten me a few funny looks but no arguments yet.


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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 09:57 AM

7. About the only place it doesn't exist is in certain European countries.

You see it all the time on DU - the biggest example is when atheists are scolded for being too "rude" or whatnot. We're supposed to not make waves, not criticize religion directly - and above all - NEVER object when certain "lesser" violations of church-state separation occur.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 09:33 PM

12. And we are supposed to not be in your face about it on DU either

Believers, on a daily basis make declarations of faith and get nothing but encouragement and told how "brave" they are. But make a post here on DU about your disbelief on DU and you get criticized for being in your face.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5304126
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5315074

And it not just us. There is privilege against Satanists on DU too:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5109758

And of course there are all the people who defend explicit examples of religious privilege such as the WTC or San Diego Cross:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014671562
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024627996

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 02:23 PM

8. I think it is really interesting

 

when believers tell us that there isn't religious privilege in this country. Or that it isn't that big of a deal. On a progressive site, if a white person told a black person that white privilege wasn't that big of a deal, or said that about straight privilege, or anything else, they'd get an ear full on here. But we are just whiners.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 07:01 PM

9. Religious privilege is being unaware of religious privilege.

Not having to worry about it, not being aware of it, and not being affected by it negatively.

Religious privilege is being able to boil down "religious privilege" to "ooh, you're upset about some words on the dollar bill? Pick your battles."

Assuming that when you ask people to bow their heads and pray, that everyone will and no one would have a problemw ith it.

Assuming that when an invocation is given before a football game or town hall meeting or meeting at work, that it's welcome by everyone in attendance

Knowing that the basic tenants of your religious beliefs are codified into law, and that they are well-represented by all members of government, from dog-catcher to president to supreme court, and everyone in between.

Never having to think about whether it's offensive to tell someone you're praying for them. Never having to think about asking someone what Church they go to. Never having to wonder whether it's okay to tell someone about how they can become born-again, or saved.

Never worrying about being allowed days off during your high holidays. Never having to assume that your major holidays won't be given a preference for Federal and State holidays.

Nope. Religious privilege means willfully ignoring or just being ignorant of the above, and boiling it all down to people being mad about "In God We Trust" on our money.

That's what religious privilege is.

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Response to Heddi (Reply #9)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 09:08 PM

11. Excellent list, Heddi

I can add one other thing, if I may....

Allows for religious leaders to ask their flocks to pray that the courts won't recognize your basic rights as human beings, yet you're not supposed to be outraged or offended because being rightly pissed off is considered bigotry against the religious.

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2014/08/04/archbishop-pray-gay-marriage-judges/13590553/

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Response to Heddi (Reply #9)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 11:14 AM

21. Ooh, I missed this post, Heddi.

Great one as usual. The "bow your heads and pray" thing is classic. The privileged attitude is "It doesn't hurt you atheists, just shut up and be respectful of everyone else's beliefs."

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 08:40 PM

10. I don't consider it just "religious privilege"

but more specifically "Christian privilege". It does not include Muslims, or Jews, or any other religion in quite the same way. I remember when there was prayer in school. It was always the "Lord's Prayer".....from the New Testament. At least half of the kids in my class were Jewish. It wasn't right and even then I knew it. And we all know that Muslims are treated as if they are heathens or terrorists.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #10)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 06:51 PM

14. I agree with you on this in America

In, say Israel, or Saudi Arabia the religious privilege has the dominant group on top, thus keeping the moniker of Religious so we don't exclude other's experiences.

To a lesser extent, even the jewish/muslims families are flexing their religious privilege as they can claim their religious views aren't being respected, rather than claiming that the schools are doing something outright wrong.

That the Bible, of Koran has more weight in the public eye than the law of the land is what this is all about.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #10)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 10:14 PM

15. It doesn't include those groups unless Atheists show up to the party

In that case anyone with faith any deity -- however at odds that deity may be with the Christian majority -- is assumed to be a better person than an atheist.

Not all faiths are equally privileged, but all are privileged above a lack of faith.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #15)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 12:50 AM

16. "Not all faiths are equally privileged, but all are privileged above a lack of faith."

That sums it up, doesn't it.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #10)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 05:42 AM

17. I would even go so far as to say

 

that "Protestant" privilege and "Catholic" privilege are two slightly different beasts, occasionally at odds with each other. In a few areas of the country, I think you can also make a good case that "Mormon" privilege is a very real thing. The people inclined to assert such privileges are, by and large, less likely to be tolerant towards believers of other stripes.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 11:49 PM

13. Use it to your advantage!

 

I had a friend in college (the mid '70s) who had a very long beard (he was older) and was from Greece. We were both in the costume dept majoring in design. He made himself full out Greek Orthodox priest vestments and looked completely convincing. He would go visit friends and family in Greece and Turkey, and smuggle back blocks of hashish under his robes, as security let him glide thru because he was a "priest."


It's like putting on a cop uniform or a lab coat.... wear your religion, literally, and you get instant respect from a lot of people!


......I know!

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #13)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 09:14 AM

18. Billy should have tried that

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Thu Aug 7, 2014, 11:10 AM

20. You all make many valid points.

Yet another excellent AA discussion.

Julie

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