Teaser: You know that person that just seems to get every break? People that just ALWAYS seem to get bumped into first class? The people whose parents pay for … everything? Still?! They ALWAYS get the benefit of the doubt. They are NEVER associated with negative members of their group. The world seems to literally bend over backwards for even their smallest of need. They set agenda. They dictate the terms of interaction. They seem to get every vacation request granted, and get every break known to man, and still have the gall to say they are the ones persecuted – that it is THEY who are in fact Oppressed!
Today’s Topic on the Inclusive Activism Podcast is the fourth and final installment of Christian Hegemony. We will examine what and how current favoring practices exist – and we will look at how we can choose to resist these ubiquitous unearned benefits!
Taking some time to check in – I am really pleased because I spent the past weekend in on a Retreat getting to teach and learn from students in Emerging Leaders 2 about Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation. I am always so filled with a sense of inner peace, and always find new ways to live in more of a calm and nonviolent way.
As far as the growth of the podcast we are still seeing some slow growth. There are some very exciting 30 download days. But there are also still some 0 download days. Currently my top ten are all older podcasts. And as I write this the most recent podcast posted – the Numbing Trap is stuck at about 40 listens and we don’t post again until this Sunday. So it’s a bit of a plateau right now. So please be with me and breathe with me through these moments folks. Its hard to not see constant and consistent growth. I need y’all in these moments folks. Your emails, your voicemails, just stories of how this might be helping or making a difference – these little things matter! I appreciate all your help and your positive thoughts shares and prayers my fellow activists!
Checking in on my activism:
I have called to advocate for in State Tuition for DACA
Taught 4 days on Nonviolence to make the world more open and accepting
A meeting to coordinate for Anytown for curriculium
Also attended a Culture Quest by Dr. Whitaker from Diamond Strategies
I got to take my dear friend Dr. Adama Sallu to her first dinner at a Native Resturant
Checking in on Self Care
Lifting 4X a week at Min
Cardio is only at 2 times a week I need to improve
Mindfulness has been good at 3X a week past two weeks
Want to add in walking prayer
And I am a Leadership book club with my Peer Mentors
Please also remember to both give us a rate and review. Share the podcast to others if you feel there is real value there, Also remember to Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher your podserver of choice! Also give us a call and answer questions or feel free to cheer me on! I need IT! 860-576-9393
Now onto the days podcast topic! Christian Hegemony how does it manifest today in ways which firmly keep Christian Privilege in place to the point it is considered a given.
United states Foreign Policy: Many different groups are advocating for the Christian influence to be a major factor of the worlds stage. Groups like The Family and Council for National Policy, a powerful international Christain missionary/aid organization and World Vision networks are organizations of Christian power and privilege personified.
You see this with such proclamations as either you are with us or you are against us. Not a lot of wiggle room there, and there is no room for discussion or negotiation. This also allows for “pre-emptive strikes” against those seen or framed as aggressors against popular Christian narratives. When moves to further Christian Dominance get framed as humanitarian aid or relations of rescue. The United States finds itself spreading dominant Christian ideology and repressing those seen as non-Christian. An example of this is in Haiti, when disaster strikes Haiti, US aid was substantial and needed. BUT the US has long supported US policies which have deliberately impoverished Haiti and gave supported to US propped dictators.
Manifest Destiny and War: For long periods of time many of the US involvement on a world stage were in part positioning Christians for the Second Coming. Or otherwise known as the seemingly righteous death of everyone not Christian. US support for the state of Israel might be in direct correlation to the Bible’s stating that Jewish people need to be in the Holy Land for the Rapture to take place. And though polls constantly show that Americans are very reluctant to go to work – either for isolationist or concerns over fiscal and human costs. We find over and over many Christain groups in support of such moves because this could be the war to end all wars: AKA the second coming. This also leads to framing of others as the Anti-Christ in foreign wars. It goes back to Abe Lincon being framed by Southerners as the Beast. US Genreal Boykin stated in his battle with a warlord that. “I knew my God was bigger than his God. I knew that my God was a real God and his was a idol. And that George Bush was in the White House because God put him there.” These are VERY troublesome things to say in an Interfaith world when involved in Geo-political combat.
International Influence: Since the mid-20th century many Christian fundamentalist groups have works on two main trusts to influence foreign and domestic policy. One is to create close relationships with those who have direct power or influence over policy decisions worldwide. Or to focus efforts on effecting popular opinion, activists, or votes to build political persuasion. Forces like the group the Family, want to create a worldwide government under God. And see themselves as a guerrilla force on the spiritual battle field. They also are know to financially support dictators with similar world views. One such initiative is the Silk Road Strategy offered up by Family (seriously how culty is that name?!?) Sam Brownback. He wrote and championed a bill designed to block the growth of Islam in Central Asian nations to strategically control resources of oil and gas in Central Asia. They have also had ties to Uganda in support of legislation in support of the death penalty for Homosexuals – which Family like that who need enemies?
NGO-and Faith Based funding:
The US supplies a certain amount of grant funding to deal with certain issues related to health and wellness. Lots of this gets tied up in Abstinence only education, and little goes to Non-Christian Groups. It pays for Bible study programs, youth programs, and collect money for special projects. Lots of it gets take up in the form of Missionary work. An example of this gone wrong was in Kutubdia in Chittagogn where after a cyclone aid workers demanded that people were asked to change their faith in order to receive aid, FEDERAL aid from the US! Think of who is there first and what are their policies Red Cross or Salvation Armies who still practice discrimination against the LGBT community. Even when tasked with Education in distant land Christianity is used as the basis of the means in which to structure lessons and values even in direct religious conflict of local values.
US DOMESTIC Policy
Political involvement: Though it is noted that Christian organizations also have the same benefits as say a Muslim would they are technically legally equal. One is seen as good right moral and just and the other is subject to severe surveillance and gets almost no protections. The non-Christain groups are regularly monitored and critiqued, the funding sources are investigated the leaders are painted with broad stereotypes and are seen as too religious or too extreme. If Mike Pence were a Muslim and refused to be alone in the company of women other than his wife – we would see him differently than we might as a Christain. – Still it is weird! But it is clear when it is time for political involvement on our national domestic stage it is much easier to pass policy and have members of “the Family” as supporters than if one were Buddhist. These religious exemptions and benefits are in place to serve and protect Christain power and privilege almost exclusively. Reminds me of separate but equal which was also far from the case.
Religious institutions have long been seen as safe havens from many different public worker demands. They act as shields of protection from lawsuits, from laws protecting pensions, to umemployment benefits, or the legal ability to unionize. For example the Seventh Day Adventist Church has over 44,000 employees but does not allow for unions. The church’s denial comes from the idea that collective bargaining “defies Christ’s admonition that behavior must be directed by individual conscious” and is “inherently disruptive” of the churches healing mission. I heard similar grumblings when AZ voted to raise their minimum wage … religious tangent ramble
Then there is the ministerial exception which has been in effect since 1872 which was furthered in 2012 excluded any activity by a religious organization including ANY religious employment, from legal scrutiny if it involves workser whose work is considered a core expression of religious belief by their employer. If I made a religion this podcast would be exempt from legal redress for acts of discrimination. People have been fired for breast cancer, being gay, growing old, sex outside of marriage and becoming disabled. They are also allowed to only hire those of a similar faith – these institutions are not paying taxes but they are allowed to do this???
Religious Immunity from Prosecution:
Many times civil authorities find it difficult to persecute religious institutions in child abuse cases due to the US Religious Freedom Restoration Act and claims of first amendment protections. This has allowed churches to harbor: known child molesters, refusing to disclose records, minimizing the impact of sexual abuse, and moving abusers to different communities. This was done by the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many times they have also used local influence to hush these same allegations. These laws grew out of a sense that these Christian Institutions were bastions of moral virtue; and were to be assumed innocent. Salt and Light is what they say in the bible not corruption and influence are what is supposed to cure infections wounds. Oversight cures these issues not just trusting in their own moral authority.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton once stated: pg 147
Christian institutions benefit from billions of dollars in special tax treatment for the organization and their employees, including exemptions from tax on personal income and payroll taxes. These protections also help to procure tax exempt construction loans for religious projects. Also with other 501c3’s Christian houses of worship have long been granted exemption from local taxes on property in EVERY state. For example Colorado list 1.1 billion in tax revenue in local property tax. The collective loss of states from this tax break is $600 billion. Also most tax exempt bonds go to Christian organizations, and has become a form of public subsidy for these organizations. The lost of this tax income means that the rest of the community must pay more, to make of the difference. More than $20 billion has been issued in tax exempt bonds since 1985. To support things like a Baptist Retirement home, or a Presbyterian housing project in Missouri.
Also since 1957 the parsonage exemption has shielded clergy from taxes on the entire portion of their paycheck designated to their living arrangements: Mortgage, rent Payments, Utilities, furnishings and upkeep. In 2012 this resulted in a loss of $1.2 billion. This tax break is not allowable to staff at secular non-profits who reach the same groups as religious groups, or poorly paid teachers and day care workers who also serve their communities.
Because of these breaks the average family must pay an extra $1000 a year. An overwhelming amount of wealth has been accumulated by these groups $232 billion! And we subsidize these groups over other mom and pop say day cares who do not get these exemptions.
Christian values are at the heart of many structures in our health care system. Reproductive rights, heteromarriage only, abortion, birth control, are under control of primarily Christian people. Contraception was long delayed due to the notion sex was dirty unless for procreation. Abortion is STILL placed as a burden to non-Christians today and has been under attack – some people being one issue voters since 1972. Since 1977 to 2011 there have been 175,000 incidents of violence or disruption at abortion clinics when many people in dire situations sought aid. As a Christian I am disgusted by this statistic.
Abstinence only sex education has been the norm since the Regan Era and W Bush administrations and still are the dominate form of sex ed received. We place this on people who do not identify with our religion as though following this legal rule will SAVE them???
13% of all hospitals are religious and 18% of all hospital beds. 70% of these are Roman Catholic. The rest were mostly Christian and a handful were Jewish. Problems arise when Christian values are placed on these visitors. Why is it others have the right to say when a right minded person can choose to die from a terminal illness??
These institutions were accused of dragging their feet on AID and HIV when it was framed as a form of gay retribution. And it was also found that Catholic Hospitals only allow for Emergency Contraception for 23% of rape victims. This disproportantlly effects more poor rural folks where there are fewer hosptials to choose from.
We see religious fights against birth control by Christain value organization even when we the people voted they must provide birth control as part of their healthcare package. No one wants people who don’t want babies to have babies – it is mean to babies!!
Abstinence Vs Harm Reduction
It seems that dominant Christainty is more about saving souls than saving lives – and dammit that makes no sense if the one road into heave is supposed to be JC. Sin is about moral choices like lust, gluttony, and sloth than need. Lazy poor are not fed. People with babies should control their lust, and figure out their child. (although this is never the case when it is THEIR family) The war on drugs is another example 25% of 2 million are locked up because they need care for their health issue of addiction – not because punishment will figure it out. 80% of the increase in drug arrests are for marijuana – now I have never seen someone on pot steal, rob, fight or what ever it is a depressant, that is more about legislating morality than crime prevention. Its seems Christian Values are more about individual responsibility, guilt, repentance, and punishment. Treatment only occurs after punishment – we are seeing the same trend play out now with abortion. These values fly in the face of harm prevention methods like needle exchange programs or drug treatment FIRST instead of after punishment.
Harm reduction approaches understand human behavior as complex, and work to first establish the quality of individual and community life and well-being. It calls for non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources be given to people. I don’t know about you but if I were to hear about a God lead by this type of person I would be more abpt to listen.
War against Women:
So roughly 77% of the US populace supports abortion. But it always seems under attack and at times the sole concern of supreme court justices are if they support Roe vs Wade or not. Over 1,100 bills were introduces in state legs in 2011. And the current senate version of the AHCA or TrumpCare eliminates one year of funding for Planned Parenthood – for no other reason but to make it harder to Plan one’s Parenthood! No federal dollars can be spent on abortions! WTF?
The role of women as it has been framed by Christianity has been for women to be in the home, caring for children, subservient to men. Not to be in positions of Authority and to be seen as needing control from their sexual/emotional states.
Prop 8 in California
Canon Law allowed at one time the husband the right to beat their wives – just not too badly. When men are charged with abuse the men claim women needed it – a notion forwarded by years of dominant Christian ideology. Still today despite the institution of legal penalties a substantial number of men still feel the need to control or correct women. And all too often male judges let men off easy with domestic violence charges.
Remember the phrase “wait until your father gets home” this too is part of a pattern of Domestic Violence which was seen as sanctioned in the privacy of the home.
This notion of sparing the rod and spoiling the child creeps into other aspects of life very deeply as well. Physical discipline is used to correct children at a rate of roughly 80%. This message is not so much about being able to discern right from wrong as much as the inherent message is to comply. There is even a disorder in the DSM the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (you might remember from such hits as being LGBT as a mental issue!) called Oppositional Defiance Disorder for symptoms such as being angry or refusing to comply or cooperate with authority. This inclusion of this particular diagnosis points to the moral values and how they can be secualarized while also giving the authority of scientific rationale.
Some really quick hits here: Nationwide textbooks reflect Christian History and values, up to and including the addition of the notion of intelligent design – which cannot be verified by the scientific method.
The distribution of Bibles in classrooms
See you at the flag pole prayer gatherings
The widespread adoption of Character education curriculia
And the amount of churches who rent schools for their Sunday gatherings all normalize Christain Hegemony
So now we will look how we can resist Christian Hegemony
Christian Resistance to Christian Dominance
There have always been Christian dissidents – people who have rejected dominant interpretations of the meaning of Christianity or the role of the Church especially in greater society. Others just re-think the church and church life like First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem NY or Sojourn Grace Collective in San Diego both of which you can stream via podcast as well
First Corinthian Baptist Church
Sojourn Grace Collective
Many spoke out against the injustices of the day at the time be it during the Crusades with Peter Abelard. Abelard spoke against the notion of original sin. Heloise another 12th century dissenter rejected the worship of violence the demonization of sexuality, and the valorization of suffering and penance. She offered love grounded in honesty, mutual care, obligation, and responsible uses of power. Alonso de Salazar y Frias was an inquisitor whose reports led the suppress of witch burnings in the Spanish empire a century before the rest of Europe ended them. Rodger Williams was the first to coin the phrase Wall of Separation from church and state. Women also lead this movement like Anne Hutchison who had been described as “An American Jezebel, who had gone a-whoring from God”, helped to challenge many Christian patriarchal notions. Many Female-only religious communities taught girls to read, and created safe havens for women. They also started campaigns to start the Abolition movement or were against Indian removal. Women are at the heart of so many good thing but we don’t know cause well patriarchal notions.
This history of the rise of the challenge to overturn slavery was better documented but is still more of an untold story. Thought it was true that many churches were in support of slavery due to pro-slavery passages in the bible – there were many active in the Abolitionist movements or part of the underground railroad.
These and many other brave voices mentioned in this section demonstrate the role Christians can play as allies in the struggle to uproot Christian Hegemony. The path is not easy and many were persecuted but I also feel this is the type of persecution real Christians might be supposed to be experiencing.
Resistance outside Christianity
Some groups had to fight against Christians for mere survival. The Roma, the Jews and Native Americans had to set up ways to maintain autonomy and had to learn how to keep non-hierarchal cooperative coops to keep ways of life intact. The term Decolonization has almost had to also mean DeChristianization of Hegemonic practices.
The Taki Onqoy moment, was an indigenous collaboration with the United Andean Nations against the Spanish in the 1560s was an example of native resistance. Enslaved Africans in the US also engaged in persistent resistance. Which had made manifest in many ways – suicide, running ways, burning, revolts, poisoning, infanticide, deception, refusal of food, learning to read and other acts of solidarity.
In fact many social justice movements were created to fight or eliminate board based Christain Dominance *not Christians, or Christian sects or Christianity – efforts to force imperialism through Hegemony. The moments are to keep the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of the few at the cost of the many.
Just talking about Christian Hegemony!
Most people have no framework of language in which to discuss the form of anti-imperialism. There are no college classes, no major lawsuits, or popular media which discuss this form of social control. So when this issue of Christian Hegemony’s powerful and destructive role is raise people get very defensive or will avoid the issue entirely.
Here are some Common denials on pg 183 of Paul Kivels Book on Christain Hegemony
It isn’t a Christian-dominated socity it is a secular one
These examples are trivial
Many expressions are generic or spiritually neutral
Some traditions are pre Greek or Jewish or pagan in their roots
Christianity has inspired social justice, activism, and liberation
It is only the far right that do these things
This is too broad a brush to paint with
There are many good Christians
Christian intuitions have nothing to do with what Jesus taught
Christian Dominance sounds too harsh
Most people are Christain so they should Dominate
Christains are victimized
It’s the jews that really control everything
Im not Christian so its not my problem
Living this as a lifestyle:
Apologies for slavery or to Natives pg 193
Think about how center your energy or calm yourself Self Care
What activities help to connect you to a greater and wider reality how can you expand that circle of experience?
The three walk away from today are:
- Christian Hegemony is here and when you see how many current practices favor Christians it is staggering and overwhelming – it is difficult to see and take in
- We can Resist this – if we are Christians we can live fuller lives outside just the Christian experience, We can work to undo Christian Dominance. If you are not you might also help to save a Christian like myself from living a life which is in direct opposition from things which seem to be at the base of our personal understanding. Also you can live a fuller life outside Christian Hegemony
- We are better off without these poisonous influences and unfair practices in our lives.
Talk about about how hard this has been personally
Talk about needing help walking your own walk with this
SO if this made you think something, if you have a question or even more shocking a critique let me know. You can call me at 860-576-9393
This space is a place to talk back ask me questions, hit me with scenarios of how to react to situations real time. Depending on how good your stuff is I will give it my “first take response” or if it’s good it might be a future podcast!
Also as always if you’re interested in booking me to bring the power of inclusive activism to your organization you can always do so at email@example.com or you can learn more about this organization at www.inclusiveactivism.com