A display at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has ignited controversy and raised questions about the boundaries of academic expression and the portrayal of religious beliefs on campus. Here’s the full story.
The Bulletin Display
During the 2022-2023 school years, Charmayne “Charli” Champion-Shaw, a lecturer in the Department of Native American & Indigenous Studies at IUPUI, designed a bulletin board exhibit named “Exploring Christian Privilege.” This display was showcased in the hallway.
Christians’ Inherent Societal Advantages
Through a series of six detailed pages, the display outlined the idea that Christians receive inherent societal advantages due to the perception of Christianity as the status quo, while other religions are marginalized.
Christianity Is the Status Quo
A part of the page said, “Christians receive inherent advantages in society (in school, in the workplace, and public places) due to the perception that Christianity is status quo, while other religions are not.”
Christian Privilege Checklist
At the core of the display was a “Christian Privilege Checklist,” inviting readers to reflect on how their status as Christians may grant them certain advantages in various aspects of life.
It’s Easy for Christians
Some elements included, “It is easy for you to find your faith accurately depicted in television, movies, books, and other media,” and “Your faith is accepted/supported at your workplace.”
Attack on Religion
“You can complain about your religion being under attack without it being perceived as an attack on another religion,” the professor added to the checklist.
White and English Speakers Are Privileged
The display also extended its examination of privilege beyond Christianity, listing other groups in the U.S. that are considered privileged, including White people, heterosexuals, males, Middle-aged people, and English speakers.
However, the display did not shy away from provocative statements, linking Christian privilege to concepts of white supremacy and settler colonialism.
Christian Privilege Connected to White Supremacy?
One part said, “Christian privilege is directly connected to white supremacy and settler colonialism.”
Religion Drove Racism?
The material also described Manifest Destiny as “the whole idea that drove white people’s racist and genocidal entitlement to take over North America.”
Apex of Privilege
“If murdering people and forcing them to commit to your religion while you take over their lands and try your hardest to stamp out their culture isn’t the apex of privilege, I don’t know what else is,” the professor further added.
The Professor Didn’t Give Any Comments
Professor Champion-Shaw, the creator and organizer of the display, confirmed her involvement but has yet to engage in further dialogue with media outlets since May.
“I Guess the Truth Doesn’t Matter Anymore”
Several Twitter users shared their thoughts on the incident. One Twitter user wrote, “I guess the truth doesn’t matter anymore.”
Another user added, “The Cross Burners are blatant in their Orwellian propaganda.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / lmark. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.