REC Seminars & Presentations

Non-Christian Teachers and Christian Privilege in Public Schools

Thursday, March 4, 2021 — 4pm (ET)

Vicki Scullion, Doctoral Candidate — Educational Theory and Practice, University of Georgia

Christian privilege is a normative social construct in the United States that can marginalize individuals who identify as non-Christian. Defined by Blumenfeld (2006) as “a seemingly invisible, unearned, and largely unacknowledged array of benefits accorded to Christians (p. 195),” there is evidence that Christian privilege is present even in the supposedly secular spaces of public schools. The experiences of Christian privilege encountered by non-Christian teachers working in public schools and how they believe these experiences affect them personally and professionally are absent from current research on religion in public education.

 This qualitative interview study presents the experiences of sixteen non-Christian teachers with respect to Christian privilege as they work in public schools in north Georgia.  Teachers who identify as non-Christians of other faith traditions or as non-believers participated; all had encountered Christian privilege in the public school workplace. These experiences influence how comfortable they are at the schools where they work and how they choose to relate to their colleagues, administrators, and students. Understanding how Christian privilege is present in public schools is a necessary first step toward providing an environment in which teachers of non-Christian faiths and teachers who identify as non-believers feel welcome.

Reference: Blumenfeld, W. J. (2006). Christian privilege and the promotion of ‘secular’ and not-so ‘secular’ mainline Christianity in public schooling and in the larger society. Equity & Excellence in Education, 39(3), 195-210.

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