First let me define privilege.
Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf. (Source)
This is usually (and rightly so) used when talking about Male Privilege or White Privilege. These types of privilege are everywhere, but most evident in the media. My white male readers, stop and think about how many movie/books/video games are told either through the perspective of white male like yourself, or made with you in mind as the target audience? For many things in life, white male is the default.
I would like to argue that there is another type of privilege, at least in the United States; Christian Privilege.
America is an extremely religious country. 78.5% of the country alone is Christian. (source) (The country’s constitution is secular, it’s people are not) Christian is the default. This is most evident at Christmas, the old pagan holiday adopted by early Christians and lately turned into a shopping orgy by corporations. Christmas Christmas Christmas! It’s EVERYWHERE! Everyone says “Merry Christmas!” as if everyone celebrated it. Nobody goes around on other holy days of the year saying “Merry _____”, just Christmas, because everyone assumes everyone else is Christian.
It’s common to just ask people if they go to church, assuming they’re Christian. Church is the norm. Our government starts meetings of congress with an opening prayer. The White House puts up a Christmas tree every year. People want to put religious monuments on public property. (What’s the problem? Everybody’s Christian right?) Anti-government tea-party conservatives want to force Christian music on children in California. The Christian god is on our money, in our pledge! Bibles are put in every hotel room and doctor’s office! Walk into a grocery store or Walmart, all the “Choice books” displayed are Christian books!
Atheists can’t get elected to office in this country. (One was, but he came out afterwards) 7 states have specific legislation banning Atheists from holding office. Political candidates where their religion like it’s a ticket to an exclusive event, or a flag. They always have to go on and on about their religious credentials. (If they don’t they won’t get elected) The US military is very Christian. Fundamentalists have been proselytizing for ages in the military. Just recently they were forced to remove bible inscriptions from sniper scopes being used to shoot Muslims in Iraq. Christian ministers are always the president’s “spiritual adviser”, they also give opening prayers at elections.
There are at least 335,000 churches in America. America is 3.79 Million square miles. That’s about 1 church every 11 square miles. (And this doesn’t count newly opening churches)
All these facts make Christians feel they are normal, and anyone who is not a Christian is not normal. I remember when I was a Christian I didn’t even learn that there was such a thing as “not Christian” until 5th grade. Even then I was only dimly aware of Jews and Muslims, but that was it. There was the Christian god and nothing else. Everybody knew that. I remember reading about Atheists in the news in highschool and thinking “Those people don’t believe in god? What the? How can you NOT believe in god!?!? Everybody knows there’s a god. They’re just crazy and luckily small in number…” For the longest time, I cringed when people said “I’m not Christian.” That was like the worst thing you could say. It shocked me when my college professor came out and said it. “That’s awful, you should keep it to yourself” I thought in my head.
Now that I’m one of those “crazy and few in number” people, I feel distinctly not normal. When you’re not a believer in an extremely religious country, you start to feel like it isn’t your country, like you’re a second class citizen. I put signs in my car window to try and remind Christians that they’re not the only ones here, but Christian Privilege is just so massive I don’t know how to fight it. Women have feminism to fight male privilege. Blacks have the NAACP to fight white privilege, what about Atheists? Trying to get us to work together is like herding cats. We have nothing in common except a lack of a belief in magical beings.