Last week, the topic of Christian privilege was trending on social media platforms. The attempt to conflate the Christian affiliation with racially white and regionally western expression overwhelmed the narrative. The narrow observation of the material benefits gained by holding to Christian values was interpreted as social wealth being taken from the less fortunate that do not affiliate with Christianity. Criticisms were void of the hardships Christians face globally on a fiercely violent scale. There are benefits to following the moral precepts of Judeo-Christianity, but they are not taken from anyone. The benefits are contingent on adhering to Judeo-Christian precepts. That includes not violating the intrinsic worth of your neighbor.
Consistently, studies and surveys for the past two years reveal that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world: Pew Research, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, United Kingdom’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Office, and the Church in Need Religious Freedom Report all corroborate.
This past May, UK Foreign Affairs Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated, “In some regions, the level and nature of the persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the United Nations.” This week, a report in National Review stated that China is now teaching anti-Christian propaganda to children under the age of eighteen. This too compounds the ban that does not allow anyone under the age of eighteen to enter a church.
Granted, in the United States, the current state of Christian religion is not that grave. Christian expression is culturally harassed, and it is constitutionally targeted at best. That still should not be taken lightly. The question of whether Christians who happen to offer goods and services ought to be forced to produce products that violate their expression will be addressed in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Furthermore, can the federal government serve and fund the religious community the same way it can serve those without a religious affiliation? The Supreme Court ruled in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer this week that religious communities can file for and receive funding from local governments without exclusion. Similarly, in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, Little Sisters of the Poor, the government cannot interfere with how places of worship conduct ethical internal business.
The reality of persecution is not a bitter exaggeration of that of the Christian community; it’s a prescribed expectation. Christians do not expect to be ignored when it occurs. Most Christians don’t expect the government to exact policy in order to expand Christianity. Most Christians do expect the government to act on their behalf when individuals or communities violate their freedom to express themselves.
Of course, there are social benefits to treating your neighbors well, keeping your family together, aiming to better yourself, giving to others, and keeping healthy. Those things are not synonymous with an ethnicity or regional “civilization.” The only thing that is exclusionary is not doing those things that fundamentally benefit the individual.
The privilege that practicing Christians experience are the benefits they gain knowing they are underserving of something they cannot produce in their own capacity. Moreover, they are undeserving of the rancor they receive from a society that does not sympathize with their hardships.
Does the Christian community at-large deserve the resistance it is receiving in United States culture, and globally by other regimes? No. Do individuals who affiliate with Christians, yet violate Christian values to cause others illegal harm need to be addressed as a Christian-themed menus? No. Individuals violate their neighbors’ freedoms without having any religious association.
Ideas are not the sole problem ailing the culture; it is individuals choosing to act on bad ideas when they have knowledge that they shouldn’t.
By: Rosemary Dewar