Does Christian privilege exist in the UK? If so why and what impact does it have?

(190 Posts)
SilverBirchWithout Tue 29-Mar-16 19:31:39

This idea came up during a discussion in Site Stuff earlier today, where it was suggested it might be more helpful to start a specific thread.

There is strong evidence that Christian privilege exists. Christian views and values pervade our law making, education system, and bank holidays without a doubt. But what about the way society and our upbringing teaches us to recognise and respect people with a faith, at what point is deference to someone's belief damaging to the rights of someone who doesn't share those views?

I personally identify as generally an atheist with strong personal values, a spiritual nature (but not involving any deities or woo) and a mixture of non-conformist influences from my childhood.

I'm genuinely interested in the whole idea of Christian privilege and welcome anyone's views.

BertrandRussell Tue 29-Mar-16 19:48:54

It is a very short time historically speaking since being Christian, either genuinely or for expediency was the norm in this country. I think that Christians have not caught up with the fact that now only slightly more or slightly less (depending on your survey) of the population identify as Christian. So they are struggling a bit with not getting special treatment any more and being treated equally when you are used to being a privileged group can sometimes feel like discrimination. They are hanging on like grim death to the bits of privilege they still have.

SilverBirchWithout Tue 29-Mar-16 20:59:59

In the past couple of years I have become more aware that some Christians do believe their views and faith confer in them special rights that are more important than mine.

Firstly there was the whole debate on same-sex marriage, when many religious groups argued that "marriage" was a term and institution that was theirs to own, possess and define. They argued that gay marriage undermined their own institution. It's clear from historical evidence that some form of legal bonding ceremony in a close personal/sexual relationship predates any established religion. And my own belief and values felt that my civil marriage (as an institution) was strengthened not weakened by allowing other people within same-sex relationships to join the institution. There was very little debate about how non theists felt about the issue, it focussed solely on faith groups concerns. I felt excluded from the debate.

On the back of jingoistic and frankly sometimes racist intentions, is the whole UK is a culturally Christian country. I'm very uncomfortable with this term in many ways. The power, control and influence of the Church pervades our history, certainly, but I am concerned that accepting that as a solely positive cultural influence is neither appropriate or helpful. We should be moving forward to being a more secular society. Forcing 30 minutes of collective Christian worship into our schools is a retrograde step IMO.

itsmine Tue 29-Mar-16 21:10:42

'There is strong evidence that Christian privilege exists. Christian views and values pervade our law making, education system, and bank holidays'

Not so much strong evidence as atual fact, in that yes there are faith schools, there are bishops in the HoL, there are Christian bank holidays.

IMO faith schools need to have fair admissions, but this should be across the board not just regarding faith. I do think secular education is preferable but Im not going to verbally attack those that take advantage of the current system, it needs addressing and challenging to those that impose the system, not whining about to those who use it.

Bank holiday 'privilege' doesn't bother me, the May and Aug ones are secular (as far as I know), I don't think there's anyone complaing about those.

What other privileges bother you? I do wish they'd review the 3 above and then it mayb perhaps leave believers to go to church <I don't, I hasten to add> in peace without people constantly being aggrieved at 'privilege'.

thatstoast Tue 29-Mar-16 21:28:50

As someone who was isolated from peers and locked in a room because I didn't want to attend school prayers I'm going to have to say yes. Although schools probably can't get away with that anymore.

If I were in charge I would get rid of the monarchy as this would aid the separation of church of state (sorry maj, it's not personal).

Get an elected second chamber.

No religion in schools. No Faith Schools.

Shops to open when they want.

I will sacrifice bank holidays towards this but not hot cross buns.

itsmine Tue 29-Mar-16 21:34:13

'the whole UK is a culturally Christian country. I'm very uncomfortable with this term in many ways. '

But it's just a historical thing isn't it? The queen's the 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England' so I presume, while the monarchy are around so will the Christian status.

I said on the other thread I have a mixed family both believers and none, I've never felt aggrieved by any of the things that church goers do or their 'privileges'.

Yes I understand you would prefer a secular country but it won't be happening anytime soon. Maybe try France?

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:07:57

I live in Northern Ireland. Trust me, the Christian Privilege prevails...

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:11:58

I wake up every morning knowing that if I got pregnant through rape and/or incest, I would have to continue with that pregnancy, go through a live birth and either keep the child or have it adopted because the DUP say so.

How about that for Christian privilege?

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:12:43

"Just a historical thing"

Slide on, love.

stubbornstains Tue 29-Mar-16 22:21:08

While, until recently, I've rarely encountered examples of Christian privilege (as opposed to prejudice against other religions) in my everyday life, I've been a bit shocked to discover that the National Curriculum - at any rate in KS1- obliges schools to teach about Christianity. No other religions are compulsory. DS1 seems to be the bewildered recipient of various Bible related assemblies and church visits, none of which the parents have been informed about in advance. This is not a Cof E school, in case you were wondering hmm.

SilverBirchWithout Tue 29-Mar-16 22:24:32

Ironically French, although indeed a secular country, is profoundly racist so I would not feel comfortable moving their either. smile

I think on the basis of my musings on two posts suggesting I may wish to leave the country is frankly a bit of a dull suggestion.

And I'm not so sure, I suspect that in my life (I'm 58) the UK will become a secular country. In my lifetime so far, many socio-political attitudes and laws have already changed radically.

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:26:27

In NI, Christian based RE is a compulsory GCSE subject.

Do you want me to continue?

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:31:26

<waves arms> HELLO?! Is anyone fucking listening to us here?!

Clearly not.

twelly Tue 29-Mar-16 22:38:38

Whilst the uk is a Christian country then it is nit surprising that events/holidays are tied to the established church. However, Christianity also is subjected to a huge amount of criticism and negativity which as we live in a democratic and free world is fair, what I find objectionable is that whilst people are allowed to be critical/joke/make objections etc to Christianity this freedom is not applied to other religions. The double standards is a concern

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Tue 29-Mar-16 22:40:20

The schools system came about because for a long time the church was the main education provider and it was an an agreement between church and state when those schools were nationalised. The country benefited significantly from it as well (i.e. not having to build schools, train teachers etc). I can understand why people have misgivings about it but it seems to be presented as some undeserved privilege for Christians without taking into account the historical context. The requirement for daily worship I find odd.

Bank Holidays. Christmas and Easter are so embedded as secular celebrations and I can't imagine there would be much call to get rid of the bank holidays associated with them. And I'm not sure quite how much 'privilege' Christians get from them.

HoL is an anachronism anyway and should be got rid of.

As a non-conformist Christian (baptist) with no schools, representation in goverment etc, I certainly don't feel any particular privilege.

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:40:56

It's like I'm living in a fucking Twilight Zone.

Seriously.

Is no one seeing me?

Am I Patrick Swayze in Ghost?!

SilverBirchWithout Tue 29-Mar-16 22:42:39

stubbornstains do parents have the right to remove children from RE or assemblies still? Obviously you'd have needed to know before they happened shock.

When my DS was young I thought long and hard about removing him from assemblies, but decided against it in the end as it would have marked him out as different. Fortunately it has done him no lasting harm.

It's interesting that the State persists in foisting Christian education on young children. A major area of agreement between most Christians and non-theists is the way teachings from the bible are portrayed to the young do little to develop an understanding of what the Christain faith is about. Unfortunately I feel it does teach us an unhealthy deference to the Church and its rituals.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 29-Mar-16 22:43:51

Daily acts of worship in schools which are broadly Christian - how can that not be Christian privilege?

People say 'oh it's just a bank holiday or two' but people of other faiths presumably have to take annual leave for their significant holidays - again, Christian privilege.

The assumption of 'Christian values' really gets my goat, as in if I - an atheist - do something good then it's because of my country's Christian values rubbing off on me.

And church and state are inextricably linked.

Mind you, when Wills was shopping for a bride my mother did say 'he'd marry a Moslem before he'd marry a Catholic' so I guess there's privilege within privilege.

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Tue 29-Mar-16 22:44:59

Yes briiiiiick, it is messed up in NI. But please remember that not all Christians agree with the DUP. I certainly wouldn't feel 'privileged' by itm

SilverBirchWithout Tue 29-Mar-16 22:45:04

Sorry Fed-up I was on writing a post.

<waves back>. Do tell us.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 29-Mar-16 22:45:09

Hiya Brick <waves>

And of course the abortion law in NI is a bloody outrage.

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:45:18

Jesus fucking Christ.

Even auto-correct is against me.

Are people from England, Scotland and Wales just conditioned to ignore people from Northern Ireland? Are we literally second class citizens?

BertrandRussell Tue 29-Mar-16 22:45:41

RE is a compulsory gcse subject in the UK too. But the Irish abortion laws are a national disgrace. And a real example of the pernicious influence religion can have on policy.

SilverBirchWithout Tue 29-Mar-16 22:51:37

However, Christianity also is subjected to a huge amount of criticism and negativity which as we live in a democratic and free world is fair, what I find objectionable is that whilst people are allowed to be critical/joke/make objections etc to Christianity this freedom is not applied to other religions. The double standards is a concern

Do you really think that is true? If so, could that not be because of people's feelings about Christian privilege?

I don't think it's Hindus, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists taking away Briiiick's right to control her own body and life chances in NI

FedUpWithBriiiiiick Tue 29-Mar-16 22:53:42

Thank you for hearing me folks. What's the answer? Vote with your feet!

Vote a non-sectarian party like Alliance or Green. Show those fuckers (on both sides) that we don't care about he said she said bullshit tribal politics.

Vote for health, education, communities on non sectarian divides.

I don't really care about fucking hot cross buns or prayers at junior assembly or bank fucking holidays. I care about women's bodies and gay people's rights and things that really mean something. Sorry if that's a bit harsh...

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