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Christian privilege' and 'Christian fragility' called out in college library guide on Islamophobia

A college library guide calls out "Christian privilege" and "Christian fragility" in the battle against Islamophobia, noting that people in North America and in much of the western world "who follow Christianity have the institutional power." (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A college library guide calls out "Christian privilege" and "Christian fragility" in the battle against Islamophobia, noting that people in North America and in much of the Western world "who follow Christianity have the institutional power."

The guide from the library at Boston's Simmons College uses the term "Islamomisia" rather than Islamophobia and defines it as "prejudice plus power" and "a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against Muslim people due to their religion, or perceived religious, national, or ethnic identity associated with Islam."

The page — which differentiates between bigotry against Islam (Islamomisia) and "rational, respectful interrogation and/or criticism of Islam based on factual evidence" — appears to focus attention on Christianity as a prime opponent of Muslim beliefs.

'Christian privilege'

The Islamomisia section "Information Resources for Allies" calls out "Christian privilege," defining the term as "unearned benefits that Christians in the U.S. receive that members of other faiths (or non-religious people) do not."

The section lists the following examples:

  • "You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays."
  • "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)."
  • "You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats."
  • "When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith."
  • "Politicians can make decisions citing your faith without being labeled as heretics or extremists."

'Christian fragility'

The section also points out "Christian fragility," defining it as "a state in which even a minimum amount of religious stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as tears, argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate Christian or dominant religious equilibrium."

More from the section:

Christianity's religious dominance in the U.S. allows most American Christians to live in social environments that insulate them from challenging encounters with beliefs or people who differ from themselves. Within this dominant social environment, Christians come to expect social comfort and a sense of belonging and superiority. When this comfort is disrupted, Christians are often at a loss because they have not had to build skills for constructive engagement with difference. They may become defensive, positioning themselves as victims of anti-Islamomisic work and co-opting the rhetoric of violence to describe their experiences of being challenged on religious privilege.

What did a Simmons College library official have to say about the guide?

Jason Wood, deputy director of the Simmons College library, told Campus Reform the guide was created as a collaborative effort among all the librarians at the school but declined to comment further on the guide.

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