Religious Privilege Primer – 4 – Religious Privilege

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In Reaction to the Passing of Proposition 8:
A Conversation of Privilege around Religion and Faith
Zack Ford – November 8, 2008

Preface: Roots of ZFB
Part 1 – Introduction: Reflections on Prop 8
Part 2 – What is Privilege?
Part 3 – Christian Privilege
Part 4 – Religious Privilege

The second system of privilege I wish to discuss is the one centered on “faith.”  By faith, I refer to beliefs or systems of belief that include a presence or being of preternatural or supernatural power, something unproven by science and not existing in the natural world as we know it.   In very broad terms, this is known as theism, and I will interchange “faith” and “theism” as such.  Very few examples of polytheism persist in our modern world, with one predominant exception being Hinduism, which is actually the third largest religion in the world, after Christianity and Islam.  In the context of our society in the US, though, theism almost always means monotheism.  Monotheism is a belief that there is one god or deity who has or continues to exercise power and control over our very existence.  And, in our culture, monotheism almost always refers to a belief in the Abrahamic God, the one worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

So, in terms of privilege, monotheistic faith is privileged over polytheistic faith and atheism.  Most examples of this privilege, particularly how it is dominated and centered, overlap with the examples of religious privilege provided earlier.  There are several unique examples that demonstrate how we theistically identify, such as “God-given rights,” “In God, We Trust, “One Nation, Under God,” “God Bless You!” and “God Bless America.”  In this recent election, we also saw “Godless,” being used as an attack on various candidates.  This, I think, demands we consider the definition of “atheism.”

Part 5 – Atheism and Privilege of Beliefs
Part 6 – Critical Thinking and Indoctrination
Part 7 – Undeserved Respect
Part 8 – Concluding Reflections

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