Why is being part of a dominant religion seen as a privilege?
Religion is an organised collection of beliefs, doctrines, cultural systems, practices that connects humanity to an order of existence. The assumption is that people who belong to a dominant religion are seen as moral, favoured, important and their right to their beliefs are more generally accepted, when compared to those from other religious or non-religious backgrounds.

Why is religion seen as a privilege?  

Those who belong to a dominant religion benefit from widespread adherence and acceptance of their beliefs. Majority religions are widely recognised and understood and rarely overtly challenged. Dominant religions are the status quo in most workplace and wider society.

Religious privilege brings the ability to worship freely, without fear of violence or threats. For dominant religions any religious attire or artifacts worn draw less negative attention or judgement. Also, mainstream media references are likely to be more even-handed and tolerant.

Religious privilege pertains to the mainstream organised religions that many people identify with in a society. Beyond minority religions, there are also those who consider themselves to be spiritual or non-religious who fall outside of the dominant religion scope.

What is your Privilege

  • I do not feel judged because of my religious, atheist, agnostic or humanistic beliefs/views
  • Where I live, religious holidays are linked to my religion (Christmas, Eid, Hanukkah)
  • My religion or no religious belief is rarely negatively stereotyped
  • I feel comfortable wearing items linked to my religion/faith/beliefs (cross, hijab, kippah etc.)
  • I identify with the dominant religion where I live
  • My faith is rarely linked to religious fundamentalism

Stats Don’t Lie

  • About 85% of the world’s people identify with a religion. (Pew Research Centre, 2015)
  • Although Christianity is the dominant religion in the west, Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion and is projected to be the largest one by 2075. (BBC World, 2017)
      • Christianity – 2.38 billion
      • Islam – 1.91 billion
      • Unaffiliated/No religion – 1.19 billion
      • Hinduism – 1.16 billion
      • Buddhism – 507 million
  • In the US, a country where Christianity is predominant, non-religious people, for example atheists or humanists, have been found to hide their non-adherence to avoid social stigma and backlash. (US Secular Survey, 2020)

What to do next?

Learn about and appreciate the different kinds of religious beliefs and practices across the world. Give space to religious diversity and participating in cultural exchanges. Be respectful of different religious holidays, dress codes, practices and dietary observations. Stand up to religion-based discrimination. If you’re interested in starting a journey to learn more, then join The Privilege Project.

Watch the recorded session on Religion privilege from our September event.