An uproar ignited when an IUPUI professor unveiled a thought-provoking exhibit titled “Understanding Christian Privilege” in a bustling campus hallway, leaving it to spark controversy throughout the entire 2022-2023 academic year.
Charmayne “Charli” Champion-Shaw, an esteemed lecturer in the Native American & Indigenous Studies department, faced a whirlwind of criticism for daring to hang the anti-Christian display in October and defiantly allowing it to linger until the year’s educational journey came to a close.
The exhibit, an intellectual exposé aimed at enlightening students, faculty, and passersby, sought to peel back the layers of perceived advantages that the Christian community allegedly enjoys within our modern society.
Shared snapshots of the exhibit, disseminated by Campus Reform, showcased the exhibit’s bold six-page manifesto, meticulously unraveling the elusive concept of Christian privilege. It ingeniously defined this intricate notion as the prevailing belief that adherents of Christianity effortlessly bask in societal benefits, their educational endeavors, professional domains, and even public spaces, while their fellow faith practitioners are unjustly marginalized, overlooked, or, at times, shrouded in suspicion.
According to the materials presented, the exhibit boldly exposed how the dominance of Christianity within Western cultures has unwittingly relegated alternative faiths to the shadows, often erasing their narratives or casting them aside with an air of indifference.
At its core, this exhibit provocatively delved into the undeniable truth that Christian privilege, as opined by the source, affords its beneficiaries an exclusive set of advantages, unattainable by other groups tethered to divergent belief systems.
Embracing the exhibit’s interactive nature, one of its pages prominently featured an illuminating “Christian Privilege Checklist,” inviting inquisitive minds to embark on a profound introspection of their own faith-based experiences. It prompted individuals to introspectively ponder whether they had been unwitting recipients of preferential treatment due to their religious affiliation. The checklist ingeniously itemized scenarios such as the liberty to voice concerns about their own religion without fear of reprisal, or the effortless accessibility to authentic portrayals of their faith in the ever-influential realm of media.
Nonetheless, the exhibit courageously transcended the confines of Christian privilege, casting its investigative lens upon other esteemed categories within the American landscape. It unabashedly examined the intricate tapestry of White, heterosexual, male, middle-aged, and English-speaking privilege, successfully revealing the multifaceted layers of societal advantages bestowed upon those who find themselves positioned within these revered ranks.
Boldly venturing into uncharted territory, the exhibit further propelled its attendees into realms of uncomfortable truth. By ingeniously interweaving the concept of Christian privilege with the harrowing tendrils of white supremacy and settler colonialism, it passionately underscored the profound interconnectedness of these seemingly disparate ideologies. The exhibit unequivocally labeled Manifest Destiny, that infamous doctrine fueling the voracious entitlement of colonizers to dominate North America, as the epitome of unchecked privilege. It dared to hold up a mirror to the heinous acts of genocide and forced conversion committed in its wake, serving as a haunting reminder that true privilege often wields a merciless hand.
As previously reported by the intrepid journalists at Campus Reform, Professor Champion-Shaw unabashedly championed her role as the visionary behind this evocative exhibit. While she initially pledged to engage in dialogue with the media upon the culmination of her academic endeavors, her silence has left those yearning for a meaningful discourse yearning for answers.