Scholarship on religious inequality in Europe has focused mainly on the position of religious minorities, primarily Jews and Muslims. Investigations into Islamophobia, antisemitism, and other forms of discrimination and oppression, however, are merely one side of the coin. This article draws attention to Christian privilege as a different, but related phenomenon. It understands ‘privilege’ to be part of the study of hegemony, as the asymmetrical counterpart of structural oppression. The article situates Christian privilege within secular Christian hegemony in Western Europe and explores its relation to racial and religious exclusion. It identifies three different types of Christian privilege and outlines a framework for normatively evaluating them.
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I presented earlier versions of this article at the European Academy of Religion in March 2019, at an online workshop on Religion and Citizenship I co-organized with Simon Thompson and Francesca Raimondo in September 2020, at the Decolonizing Interfaith Studies Research Group at VU Amsterdam in March 2021, and at the Race Religion Constellation research group at Radboud University Nijmegen, where I discussed both earlier and later versions of this article. I am grateful to the participants in these discussions. I also want to thank Schirin Amir-Moazami, Brian Brock, Tamas Gyorfi, Nadia Kiwan, Tjeu Oomen, Bob Pease, Glen Scislowski, Anya Topolski, Fredericke Weiner, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments. Any errors are of course my own.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326.
- religious inequality
- Western Europe