Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado, U.S.A.
Despanan - Religious Privilege
Despanan, as a disclaimer; I don't know what atheism is like for you. AshleyO told me a little bit about his experience, and I couldn't imagine. I read about that kind of discrimination and I try to empathize, but at some point I have to accept that it's beyond my experience. I just can't know what it's like for some people and cannot make assertions based upon my experience.
Really, the only reason I even feel comfortable criticizing you about your approach is because I don't have any power over you whatsoever when I do, and neither does Saya. Aside from that, we have something very real to us that we can try to distinctly compare it to in effort to empathize where you are coming from. Honestly, I don't like to make the comparisons, but I have to to an extent. My world view is painted differently from experience and it's impossible for me to separate that from how I approach and try to understand something because I have nothing else other then my own experience as an atheist, one that I've established I cannot relate to yours.
So when I tell you what I define as privilege or oppression, you need to understand the inadequacy of my definitions; They are mine, and no one else's. I can't arbitrarily apply it to everyone because my basis for it's criteria is not entirely a common experience. If I were to "precisely define the definition of privilege," I'd probably fill up a text book and end up being entirely exclusive of things that are outside of my experience. If I were to briefly summarize my definition, I'd be too forgiving of things that I just do not recognize as privilege or oppression.
The Oppression Olympics are especially annoying because it's difficult to compare and contrast without inevitably coming to a biased conclusion concerning severity. I hate this line of thinking, and I understand that it is equally impossible to really know and feel what you feel as it is for you to empathize with me. You'd have to ask the queer aboriginal Muslim transgender woman in the sky to be unbiased about it, though I suspect she wouldn't.
That being said, I think your approach is problematic. It's inconsiderate, and after thinking about it, I would even go so far to say that it's patronizing. When you say religious privilege, you're not only taking Christian privilege in America and applying it to the rest of the planet, but you're also implying that so many people are somehow advantaged to you. Theist are not privileged specifically or inherently because of their theism. Looking at the kind of religious discrimination that occurs globally, or even domestically, should make that apparent, and I know that I needn't say anything other then mention that Holocaust thing. I remind you of these to illustrate that this kind of persecution and discrimination is not exclusive to atheists at all, but is something that theists share. Even if a state were to attempt a genocide of atheists, it still would not make us special in that regard. When you say that theists are privileged, you completely ignore all of that. It's like saying that ever popular mantra of men's rights "activists" of "Well, women are usually exempt from conscription."
Specifically, privileged to what? Yeah, they can say they have exclusive and concrete knowledge concerning the nature of the universe. So can I. Of course I won't be recognized in many instances of academics, and neither is the Aboriginal Shaman, or the Muslim, the Morman, and so on. That's not a thing exclusive to atheists, and it's kind of lame that was the big one you could come up with. Give me something that's a real advantage; something that a person carries through their entire life and benefits from in every aspect of it. I guess the difference is that my belief is the thing that continues to progress and is taught in public school and university in Western society? I need something tangible. I looked at those instances of the states that do not allow atheist in office that you mentioned. Apparently those archaic laws haven't even been enforced in a long time, so I can't really say that's tangible, either. Even your last remark that "Atheists are the most distrusted" (and I read that as meaning somebody saying "the least compatible with my worldview") ignores that theists are distrusted significantly in America, too. It just looks like the Oppression Olympics when you say that. I'm not asking you to prove your oppression, I'm asking you to give me a hard example of theist privilege; something that I can assume advantages any kind of theist anywhere. By my eyes, we have it pretty fucking nice in America. A lot better then being a Jehovah's Witness or Muslim.So yeah. It's offensive when you say that theists are privileged despite the commonplace of religious persecution of just our own country.
I mean, do you get what I'm trying to say? Am I privileged because I can go to the front of the line at the DMV when I'm in uniform?
I recognize Christian privilege in America and you have to recognize it for what it is; Christian privilege in America. A theist =/= a Christian in America. At all. Ever. Yes, you can find specific instances of a diverse representation of theists ganging up on atheists, I'm sure. What I'm telling you is that you would be hard pressed to show that it is systemic enough to say that theists are privileged regardless of everything else.
The only other thing is why you're being patronizing; Why can you speak for atheists across the planet? It reminds me of colonial feminism in Afghanistan, when the pentagon created a dialogue with western feminist groups to project how badly women were oppressed under the Taliban. Don't get me wrong; they still are in their culture. The thing is that nobody spoke to the actual victims of that oppression. You remember all those women throwing off their veils on the news? The same women that still choose to wear them there? It's just a part of their culture, of which we have no concept or imagination of. This was all happening concurrently to Saudi Arabia's blatant violation of human rights, of which nobody said a thing about. By the way, they typically don't have a problem with their style of law when anybody actually asks them how they feel about it. It just seems really off that you say "because they don't have a voice when their head could be cut off!" in reference to countries which are all kinds of fucked aside from that.
So I want to know what dialogue you have created with atheists in countries without a voice. What are some of the things they have told you about their experience that makes you feel like you can talk about the privilege that theists are afforded in those places?
Woke up with fifty enemies plottin' my death
All fifty seein' visions of me shot in the chest
Couldn't rest, nah nigga I was stressed
Had me creepin' 'round corners, homie sleepin' in my vest.