Alabama Newspaper Inadvertently Shows What Christian Privilege Looks Like June 16, 2020

Alabama Newspaper Inadvertently Shows What Christian Privilege Looks Like

Some religious privilege makes me want to punch a wall. (For instance, the fact that in some states, Jehovah’s Witnesses are exempted from the mandatory reporting of child abuse because their doctrine commands confidentially is insane — a free pass for churchy pedophiles.) Other instances of privilege are subtler, and even if they’re not terribly consequential, they can still rankle.

Take this small news item that appeared in an Alabama newspaper yesterday under the headline

Man accused of stealing food from church vehicle

Weird, because the alleged perp turns out to be suspected of taking items from three cars.

On June 6 it was determined [Marvin] Rhodes unlawfully entered two vehicles on North Saint Andrews Street near the police department,” said Dothan Police Lt. Scott Owens. “Out of one vehicle he allegedly stole a fishing lure. The second vehicle he allegedly stole a book bag, shoes, buck knife, a 9 mm pistol magazine and a wireless in-ear system.” According to Owens, on June 9 Rhodes allegedly unlawfully entered a vehicle belonging to Harbor Church and stole food.

Somehow, only the church transportation was deemed fit for a headline mention. I guess we’re supposed to think that it’s especially bad to steal from a house of worship. It isn’t. If I were the owner of the fishing lure, or the owner of the book bag, the gun clip, and the earbuds, I’d have just as much right to be upset about my stuff having been taken from me as the church does.

It’s unclear whether the thief even knew that the vehicle belonged to a church — but if he did, why would it matter? Why doesn’t the headline say, simply and more accurately, “Man accused of stealing items from three vehicles“?

It’s just one of the thousands of small ways in which Christian privilege plays out all over the country.


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