I originally found this piece here, at It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, and I’m cross-posting it here with some edits and explanations.
1: You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays.
Don’t lecture me about how “nuh-uh!!!!” Look, buddy, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, Michigan is an historically progressive region of a blue state. I have lived in this state among some of the highest immigrant populations in the Midwest, and not all that far from THE highest Muslim population in the United States, and the highest Jewish and Hindu populations in Michigan, and the further West you go in the state of Michigan, the more conservative and Christian it gets, but that’s still nothing compared to some of the allegedly centre-left parts of the South I’ve been exposed to. There is practically NOTHING except the 7-Elevens, and a handful of Chinese restaurants and Cineplexes and maybe a few call-centres for the cable company or LiquidWeb, and obviously the ER are open on Christmas Day in Michigan —this is just as true of Ann Arbor and Ypsilnti as it is of Grand Rapids, as it is of Detroit, as it is of Lansing. Are there some places open, in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand? Sure, I imagine so, but here’s the kicker, those places are so few and far-between, when taking in the entirety of the Anglosphere, that it amounts to little statistical relevance. Now, Easter, sure, I’ll give that it’s easier to find places that are open on Easter —which I always thought was odd, considering that Christianity is little more than a death cult, so you’d think the day of their god-man’s death would be more important to honour— but who has ever had an employer raise an eyebrow over requesting Easter off? In my experiences, people with children tend to be offered that time off, whether they’re known to be Christian or not. The point is that it’s expected that people will want those days off work, and (especially if they’re privileged in other areas, as well) they’re rather often given that time off.
And don’t lecture me about how “everybody has Christmas off! Even non-Christians!!!” Cos that’s not the point. I’m sure many Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Hindus, polytheists, and so on, who work at Barnes & Noble or Kroger or other places would gladly work Christmas Day if that day was available for them to work in exchange for having their own religious holidays off, but it isn’t available to an overwhelming majority of them, because Christian holidays are privileged. And getting a paid day off for Christmas while being forced to use unpaid time in the event that a Hindu might actually get offered Diwali (for example) off is kinda bullshit.
2: Music and television programs pertaining to your religion’s holidays are readily accessible.
Now, I admit that I have something of a guilty pleasure for Christmas music —I also have a guilty pleasure for the films of Burt I. Gordon, but then, that’s what a guilty pleasure is: Something you know is devoid of any real substance, meaning, or skill, or is just plain bad (to be fair, Gordon’s visual effects were pretty good for his day, and many are still used, even in high-budget blockbusters, simply cos they’re cheap and they work, but overall, his films as a whole are pretty stinky), but you know this and you like it, anyway. What can I say? I’ve kind of gone beyond being an aficionado of cheese, and am something of an addict, needing a minimum maintenance dose, and even Velveeta will do, in a pinch, and Christmas music is to pop music what that “nacho sauce” dispensed at convenience store spigots is to cheese: Believe it or not, that stuff is often made with real cheese in there, but you really can’t believe it, to look at it.
That said, find me a radio station that will play a Kharitesia song, and I’ll give you $100. Find me a television station playing a film about the story of Hop-tu-naa, and I’ll give you $150. The fact of the matter is that there is no shortage of Christian media out there. There are entire radio stations (at least two in the Lansing area, alone) dedicated to Christian music, and only in the most-progressive areas will a college station get away with, say, a Hindu music hour without at least a sad attempt at public protest. Pagan and polytheist media is pretty much only bought, sold, and traded on the Internet and tiny little bookshops that have to sell overpriced chunks of quartz to keep the rent paid. While the Internet is certainly more-mainstream than it was when I first logged on around ’95, it still isn’t the “gold standard” for media the way older media outlets are still treated. So yeah, you can easily find pagan music CDs and downloads on BN.com or Rhapsody, and if you live in a sufficiently large or progressive area, you likely can find at least one pagan bookstore in addition to Kosher and Halaal grocers, and maybe even a Hindu temple or two, but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts, for every one of those places, in the same town you’ll find at least two Christian bookstores. There is likely at least one sad AM radio station in your area playing exclusively Christian music. You can go to Target in December and find clearly religious Christmas cards mixed in with the “secularised” cards featuring reindeer and snowmen, and the Channukah stuff is, at best, regulated to a tiny endcap, if you’re lucky. You’ll have a one-in-ten chance of finding Eid greeting cards on an endcap (that stat is based on personal experience) –and good luck finding anything non-Judeo-Christian at Wal-Mart. Don’t hold your breath on finding Hindu or polytheisr religious media or greeting cards at any mainstream store in North America, and Christian media is by far yhe easiest religious media available.
3: It is easy to find stores that carry items that enable you to practice your faith and celebrate religious holidays.
Doing a search for stores that sell polytheist, pagan, or “new age” items in the Lansing area gives me one place: Triple Goddess. Their selection for Hellenic stuff is…. Well, except for herbs and incenses (which is kind of all-purpose for polytheist and most “pagan” religions) their items for Hellenists is pretty much non-existent. I also get a better price on herbs at the food co-op, but I pretty much have better luck on-line, meaning that I have to plan stuff weeks in advance. On the other hand, finding Christian bookstores is far easier (at least five in Lansing that I pass by on a regular basis, alone), and at the big booksellers, the “religion” sections are big, and pretty much completely Abrahamic; non-Abrahamic religions aren’t even “religion” by the bookstore categories, they’re “Metaphysical/Occult” or “New Age”.
4: You aren’t pressured to celebrate holidays from another faith that may conflict with your religious values.
I have been straight-up told that I *should* celebrate Christmas. “But I’m not Christian” –oh, it’s not just for Christians! “‘Christmas’ is a contraction of ‘Christ’s mass’, so yes, it is implicitly Christian, and I find the secular aspects of Christmas to be far more offensive to my values than the religious aspects” –you just don’t get it, it’s about peace, and family! “There are other holidays I’d rather celebrate that don’t sully the values of ‘peace and family’ with messages of greed and waste.”
I have been having that conversation, in some form or another, for about fifteen years. DO NOT DARE tel me that non-Christians aren’t ever pressured to celebrate holidays they may very well (believe it or not) have no interest in.
5: Holidays celebrating your faith are so widely supported you can often forget they are limited to your faith (e.g. wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” without considering their faith).
Contrary to popular belief, the trend of wishing some-one “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” is not new, and only in recent years has it been something made policy of at retailers and among government employees. That said, Fox News lied to you: Absolutely no-one has ever been fired over wishing a customer “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays”; it may get an occasional customer complaint, but it’s never once been something anyone has been fired over. I don’t think anybody has ever even gotten more than a write-up over it, if only cos it’s so common that most people, including non-Christians, don’t even notice that the cashier uttered “Merry Christmas” rather than the more-inclusive “Happy Holidays”.
6: You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats.
What’s that? You’re a Christian and sometimes people make fun of you? You’re a Christian and you think that the enforcement of “separation of church and state” is some kind of personal attack on your beliefs? Suck it up, kiddo, cos with precious fee-fees so fragile, I imagine you would have had a meltdown by the age of sixteen if you were me.
When I started looking into paganism and polytheist religions in junior high, I was beaten up DAILY. Not only class-mates, but occasionally older siblings and one kid’s father made death-threats regularly. There were a lot of reasons my father gave me an ultimatum to either go to mass with him, or to meeting house with my step-mother, but no more of this “pagan” nonsense. In some areas, Muslims have had it worse than even I have.
So yeah, boo-fucking-hoo; a few Christians (usually of the right-wing or otherwise anti-science variety) get a few minor insults and that hurts their fee-fees. Cry me a fucking river.
7: A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t likely lead to your car being vandalized.
Somebody in the comments of the original post I’ve taken this from said something about Christian bumper seeing stickers that have been “scratched off”. For vandalism, that’s pretty petty, to be honest. I doubt that any civil court would even allow such a suit to be treated as “vandalism”, cis bumper stickers get damaged and come off all the time, under all sorts of circumstances. Furthermore, what was the history of these cars? Maybe they were purchased used, from a neighbour, and this was all of the bumper sticker that the new owner could remove in a hurry? Hell, maybe it wasn’t even intentional, maybe a student driver just scraped your car at the Meijer car park, and Christian Juggalo has a fucking persecution complex. I’ve also seen some pretty hardcore vandalism —like, somebody smashing windows out, and then writing “Jesus saves” in the dust on the door of cars that just had a “CoExist” sticker with all the religious symbols. “Darwin fish” emblems are notoriously vandalised, to the point that the company sells then offers replacement feet and even full replacement policies. If you’ve only lost a sticker, you’re lucky.
8: You can practice your religious customs without being questioned, mocked, or inhibited.
As an institutionalised privilege, this is completely true. If you attempt to inhibit a Christian prayer group in the park in any way, especially if they have a shelter permit, you’re going to get a citation; perusing the archives on The Wild Hunt suggest that this is not always true for polytheists or the “pagan” community, even if it’s just a Pagan Pride Day with no public ritual, interrupters have to cross some pretty major lines before their disruptions are taken seriously by authorities.
9: If you are being tried in court, you can generally assume (and usually be correct) that the jury of “your peers” will share your faith and not hold that against you in weighing decisions.
Considering that most people in the Anglosphere are Christian, yes, this is absolutely true. There is no guarantee that non-Christians will not have their religion held against them by a jury. If you search the archives on The Wild Hunt and WitchVox, you’ll see that non-Abrahamic religionists quite often have that held against them.
10: When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith.
Now, this is a situation that’s kind of improving, but only in the sense of “you have to out yourself as a non-Christian to get out of it”. See above. If this is happening in a jury trial, your choice is to either swear on a book that means nothing to you (lie) or out yourself, and potentially have a jurist or all of them weigh it against you. Good luck with that.
11: Positive references to your faith are seen dozens of times a day by everyone, regardless of their faith.
Yes, this is true.
From “God Save the Queen” to the ALTERED US Pledge of Allegiance to the talking heads of Faux News to billboards pitching that new megachurch as so awesome and welcoming. All have the same implicit (and sometimes explicit) message: Christianity is awesome, and if you don’t agree, there is something wrong with you.
12: Politicians responsible for your governance are probably members of your faith.
The exceptions to this in the US and UK combined, I can count on one hand. “Well, of course that’s true, the overwhelming majority of people in those countries are Christian! That’s not a privilege! lawlbuttslawl” Actually, yeah, it is. It’s a privilege because these are the people responsible for why the Ten Commandments are displayed at courthouses in the US. It’s a privilege cos those are the people who caved to the Catholics in the Knights of Columbus and added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance. It’s a privilege cos those are the people who have ultimate say in courts.
13: Politicians can make decisions citing your faith without being labeled as heretics or extremists.
While there have certainly been a handful of extremists in recent years, there have also been many more who are not. Democrats and Centrists regularly cite Christian scripture and other writings and it seldom reflects poorly upon them, at most you might see Faux News claiming said people are somehow only making attempts to appear Christian.
14: It is easy for you to find your faith accurately depicted in television, movies, books, and other media.
This is true for Christianity. While individual sects may not be equally represented, there is no shortage of fair, generally accurate depictions of Christianity’s beliefs and individual, modern Christian depicted in the news and entertainment media. Now, historical Christians are seldom represented accurately, instead to be represented favourably –which is a very obvious christian privilege (see this post and the section on historical revisionism).
15: You can reasonably assume that anyone you encounter will have a decent understanding of your beliefs.
Again, this is generally true. Yes, certain sects may be portrayed inaccurately and perhaps unfavourably, and extremists of any religion are generally portrayed unfavourably, but the thing about Christianity is that all the sects are typically regarded to be of the same religion because they share more in common with each-other than, say, Buddhists have in common with Muslims, for example. Sure, there’s a bit of common ground in most religions, but not enough to make people forget that they’re not the same thing with some variance by sect.
In general, Christians believe in the sacredness of the books of the Old Testament and they believe in the “New Testament” mythology of the Christ figure including that said figure was both Divine and Human in nature. Christians also generally believe in The ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, and in virtues such as humility and self-sacrifice –true, in the US in the 2010s, there aren’t many people who claim to be Christian and who would be described as pious or devout to the ideals and virtues outlined in The Holy Bible, but these are the universal, or nearly-universal beliefs of just about all Christian sects, as observed by myself and many people who’ve read it all far more recently.
16: You will not be penalized (socially or otherwise) for not knowing other people’s religious customs.
Again, no-one is ever fined for this, and people have been *VERY RARELY* penalised, socially, for lacking a modicum of familiarity with another’s non-Christian religion.
17: Your faith is accepted/supported at your workplace.
Does your employer have reduced hours, or are they perhaps closed completely on Sundays? Is Christmas an automatic day-off? Is Easter given off to most (if not all) those who request it (assuming your employer has any hours at all on Sundays)? Can you wear a fancy crucifix necklace or an overtly Christian t-shirt without being accused of “making a scene” for those accoutrements, alone?
Guess what that means?
18: You can go into any career you want without it being associated with or explained by your faith.
Again, generally true. Jews are stereotypically associated with banking. Yoga instructors with Hinduism and pop-Dharmic New Age movements (though to be fair, there’s a clear reason for that, even though Western yoga is comparatively “secularised”). Anyone working at a food co-op or feminist bookstore is generally assumed to be some sort of neopagan.
19: You can travel to any part of the country and know your religion will be accepted, safe, and you will have access to religious spaces to practice your faith.
Again, generally very true. There are still parts of the US South where you don’t want to be Jewish, and in more of the South you absolutely don’t want to be Muslim. While there are pockets of acceptance of Dharmic, polytheist, and pagan religions throughout the South, Midwest, and Rockies, you really don’t want to venture too far from those areas if any of those religious groupings apply to you.
20: Your faith can be an aspect of your identity without being a defining aspect (e.g., people won’t think of you as their “Christian” friend)
Yeah, sure, if you’re friends with a sizeable group of non-Christians, they may regard you that way, but surely you know that’s not the norm, right?
21: You can be polite, gentle, or peaceful, and not be considered an “exception” to those practicing your faith.
Again, an exception to this would be if you have a considerably large-ish group of friends who are explicitly non-Christian.
22: Fundraising to support congregations of your faith will not be investigated as potentially threatening or terrorist behavior.
This happened when Muslim groups made fundraising efforts after 11 September 2001. If you search The Wild Hunt archives, you’re also sure to find at least one instance where a pagan group met that treatment.
23: Construction of spaces of worship will not likely be halted due to your faith.
Churches go up all the time, and no-one really does anything. Maybe once every thousand churches, some Atheist fuck-noodle will make a sign in hopes of seeing himself on the news, but that’s not what’s important.
In contrast, Park51, the Muslim community centre that was proclaimed “a mosque at ground zero!! skerry!!” by sensationalist headlines has been stonewalled. The Maetreum of Cybele has won several court cases to maintain their facilities, but the town where they operate seems on a mission to run them out (read about it on their site).
24: You are never asked to speak on behalf of all the members of your faith.
It’s not necessary for Christians to do so, because even those who are not of a Christian religion still maintain enough of a general familiarity with it. Again, specific sects (especially the ones that are regarded as “extreme’ or “wacky”, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Menonites, or Mormons might still get people who expect ‘Joe, their Mormon friend” to ask as a Mormonism spokesman, but only because it’s so far removed from mainstream sects of Christianity.)
You can go anywhere and assume you will be surrounded by members of your faith.
25: Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of teachers who share your faith.
Also generally true of the especially mainstream sects, and the “frienge” sects can still generally assume that there will be a shared or mostly-shared mythology and some of the more basic virtues.
26: Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of friends who share your faith.
Yes, even if you send them to public school.
27: It is easily accessible for you or your children to be educated from kindergarten through post-grad at institutions of your faith.
Also very true.
28: Disclosing your faith to an adoption agency will not likely prevent you from being able to adopt children.
You’re on the Internet, use your search engine. This is especially an issue with many private agencies, as opposed to most state-run facilitators of adopting children.
29: In the event of a divorce, the judge won’t immediately grant custody of your children to your ex because of your faith.
Also search The Wild Hunt archives
30: Your faith is taught or offered as a course at most public institutions.
Yeah, “Pagan Studies” is a budding field, but “Christian studies” is offered at every major university, and most of the non-major ones. There is no shortage of universities to study Christianity at.
31: You can complain about your religion being under attack without it being perceived as an attack on another religion.
Also very true. When Christians (mistakenly) believe that their religion is under attack, they’re just whiners. When people of other religions make the (significantly more valid) claim of their religion being under attack, even when it’s couch in the most civil tones, even that person’s co-religionists will often perceive it as just an excuse to attack Christianity, even when it clearly is not.
32: You can dismiss the idea that identifying with your faith bears certain privileges.
If this wasn’t evidence of Christian privilege, it simply would not be on the list.
33: You can critique Christianity and extremists or even mainstream Christians and be considered “objective” rather than “biased”, and practically no-one will think you “just have an axe to grind” or similar.
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Since this post was literally MONTHS in the making (if was in my Draft queue for about six months, mainly cos I’d get distracted with other posts, occasionally cos i didn’t feel the need to attract undue attention from, well, stuff like #33, why not show some appreciation by donating to my moving expenses? If you’d rather get something out of the deal (or at least if stuff is one of your weaknesses), I have an Etsy shop full of badges and even a book! Book! It comes highly recommended by Edward Butler, and last I heard, he was even anticipating the forthcoming stories! If everyone’s favourite radical Platonist loves my stories, surely you will, too!
I’m also still giving away (free to anyone!) Heathen/Northern goddess prayer cards! If you or someone you know would like to have any of these, drop me a note via the Contact form. ANY CARDS I STILL HAVE LEFT ON MONDAY (which at this rate, might still be all of them) WILL BE LEFT AT CRAZY WISDOM BOOKSTORE AND TEA ROOM IN ANN ARBOR, MI, IN AN ENVELOPE ON THE CORKBOARD IN BACK, MARKED “FREE TO GOOD HEATHENS, TAKE ONLY THE ONE(S) YOU WANT”!! I’m seriously afraid that if I keep them longer than this, I may lose them and be unable to give them away until after I’m settled back in the A2/Ypsi area (and not simply in A2/Ypsi couch-surfing with my cat until we have a stable home).