Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, Happy Chinese Food Day to those who don’t! I’ve got a piece up at Everyday Feminism about how this time of year makes Christian privilege easier to spot and understand.
As a kid growing up in a secular Russian-Jewish family in a particularly Christian part of Ohio, I dreaded Christmas.
It was the day all my friends and classmates got dozens of presents from all their family and relatives while I sat at home with no one to hang out with and nowhere to go.
Although my family celebrated our own holidays – Hanukkah, Purim, New Year’s Eve, and others – it was hard not to feel left out of the most wonderful time of the year.
As I got older, I got over my Christmas envy and started to take a lot more pride in my own celebrations, traditions, and rituals. But the experience of growing up as a religious and cultural outsider in my community stuck with me, and now I use it as a lens through which I can understand and analyze Christian privilege.
Like other forms of privilege, Christian privilege is the idea that Christians are afforded unearned benefits in our society that other religious groups and atheists do not receive.
These unearned benefits can be subtle, such as seeing their beliefs portrayed positively in the media, and not-so-subtle, such as being safe from the bullying and violence many non-Christians experience as a result of their beliefs (or lack thereof).
Non-Christians experience marginalization differently depending on their particular identity. Atheists are subject to certain stigmas and prejudices because they do not believe in a deity at all, while Muslims face Islamophobia, which intersects with racism.
Though my own experiences as a Jewish atheist have shaped my understanding of Christian privilege, they are not at all universal.
While examples of Christian privilege abound throughout the year, they can be especially easy to notice during the holiday season.
Here are five ways Christians and Christianity are privileged at this time of year that I’d like to highlight in order to help us understand how we can be more inclusive of people of other or no religions.
1. Christians Are Much More Likely to Have Their Holidays Off Work
Before I get into this, it’s important to note that getting paid time off work at all is a form of class privilege. Many people work jobs that don’t allow or guarantee paid time off for holidays.
Those are the people working long hours to make sure that you get your Black Friday deals and last-minute Christmas turkey from the supermarket, and we shouldn’t leave them out of this discussion.
But those workplaces that do close on holidays tend only to close on the Christian ones.
Christians with class privilege get to spend their holidays with loved ones; the rest of us often don’t, class privilege or not.
2. Christians With Hearing Privilege Encounter Music Celebrating Their Holiday Everywhere They Go This Month
Don’t get me wrong: I love Christmas music. I’m not entirely sure why – maybe it just brings positive memories of winter break and school band concerts and playing in the snow.
For many other non-Christians, though, the prevalence of Christmas music at this time of year is a constant, grating reminder of the fact that our traditions and celebrations remain largely invisible.
You’ll hear plenty of songs about baby Jesus and Santa Claus, but you won’t hear much about ancient wars in Jerusalem or about the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
And, sure, maybe there aren’t nearly as many songs out there about non-Christian holidays (though I’m sure there are more than we realize).
That’s why the ubiquitous Christmas music isn’t necessarily a problem in and of itself, but rather a very visible symptom of the deeper issue: the fact that one particular religion pervades American society so completely.
Read the rest here.