Christian Privilege and Flying

I recently got into a disagreement with someone who insisted that Christians are treated badly in the US and that non-Christians pretty much always have it better. So, I did some looking and found that there is a Christian Privilege List out there, much like the white privilege or male privilege or think privilege lists. Overall, it’s a pretty good list. The one flaw I saw (and that others pointed out) is that a lot of the items are only accurate if you’re on whichever side of the Catholic/Protestant divide is favored in your local area or social group, because a lot of the privileges don’t fully apply to Catholics who are surrounded by Protestants, at least from the experiences of Catholics I know, and from my experience around Evangelical Christians who tend to say dumb stuff about Catholicism. (Presumably, vice versa too, but I don’t have the experience of being a Protestant somewhere with a Catholic majority, so I couldn’t say from personal experience.)

The privilege at the very bottom of the list, “I can openly display my religious symbol(s) on my person or property without fear of disapproval, violence, and/or vandalism,” struck me today, because I’m flying for work. And like I always do when I walk into situations where I expect (reasonably or unreasonably) to be treated crappily, I use clothing as armor. I dress nice, I put on make-up, I wear jewelry. And it occurred to me that wearing one of the pretty cross necklaces that I own would probably be useful in creating the impression I want to create, and might make it less likely for me to get pulled for the dreaded extra pat-down or get bumped off a flight. It seemed crass, and borderline blasphemous, to callously use a sacred symbol that way, though, so I didn’t. But it occurred to me how unpleasant it must be to know that your religious symbols mark you as an other, as someone to watch and be suspicious of. And I imagine that there are people getting ready for their own flights, wondering if they should try to “pass” so they don’t miss their flight. And I think about the Saudi kid at the Boston Marathon, just another victim doing what the other victims were doing, and getting tackled solely because of his “suspicious” appearance.

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