Friday, May 24, 2013

Christian Privilege in Mississippi - by "Brownie"

This is what I hope will be the first in a series of other Mississippians describing the pressure and discrimination they've witnessed in this state. A couple of people outside the state have accused me of "bullshitting" or making up my story for attention so I thought it might be useful to hear this from the mouths of other Mississippians. Pseudonyms have been used upon request. - Tweenky D

I work for the feds in MS. I've worked for the State at MSU. Lived ten years in MS, in a college town. Some of my experiences, below, at these places that are actually more tolerant than most of MS.

* A director at my fed lab led prayers, at completely non-religious events, while acting as director. Refused to acknowledge objections from peers that this was not right. No idea if subordinates dared complain. I have been told that in the past, group work meetings were opened with prayers.

* Each year, I receive an official email, from the fed lab that employs me, about the National Day of Prayer. Nothing about the Day of Reason.

[redacted by author due to the unresolved nature of the incident]

* The cafeteria at my fed lab used to play Fox on TV, exclusively, for the first year I was there. Recently, they've also started showing CNN, and there's a channel changer now. So, some progress.

* At MSU, a professor printed his private receipts for donations to an anti-gay group, on a public lab printer, where any student could see it.

* At MSU, another professor attached conversion pamphlets and Bible quotes to the end of professional publications, without coauthors knowledge nor consent. This went on for years. When I brought this up, all this person would admit to concern about was speaking for coauthors without their consent.

* Same professor at MSU, initiated a discussion about Christianity with a Muslim student, whose committee this professor was on. Coercion, abuse of power, even if not explicitly stated.
* Same person at MSU received anti-Muslim propaganda in their mailbox at work, where any student could see it. This person was on my committee too. I brought it up with another committee member. Wasn't going to risk antagonizing this person alone, when they had such power over me.

* Same person at MSU, sent invites to non-Christian students specifically to come see The Passion of the Christ. Totally inappropriate.

* At MSU, professors advertised their Creationism talks.

* Took a yoga exercise class at MSU's Sanderson center, for students and faculty. The instructor played Christian praise music. When I discussed this with him, and explained not all participants are Christian, and we're just here for exercise, not conversion, he just laughed. Didn't get it at all. Not one bit.

* The city council, in my college town, only a few years ago, used to open council meetings with a prayer. A new mayor put a stop to it. For now. We'll see how long that lasts. He's no longer in office.

* My orthodontist's office, in a my college town, plays exclusively Christian praise music. [edit: mistakenly wrote dentist, the dentist has Christian children's books in the lobby]

* A doctor's office, in my college town, had Fox playing in their waiting room. The doctor there told me he doesn't give women who *might* get pregnant most meds because the "baby" might have "allergies". Embryos, early fetuses, are susceptible to genetic damage from certain meds, but we know which ones are what class, B, C, D, X. And they don't have allergies at that age. I'm fortunate I can afford to see a different doctor.

* Another doctor I went to see was going to vote for initiative 26, fertilized eggs are people. This despite opposition from ob/gyn colleagues.

* I wrote to my college town hospital, to ask if they have rape evidence collection kits in stock, and personnel trained to use them. They did not bother to write back. (I was not attacked, wanted to know if women who were would have proper legal recourse.)

While I personally have not experienced death threats, bricks through windows, firing, or the like, I live and work in the most tolerant parts of MS, and still see plenty of preferential treatment for religion, and breaking of the law. Also, I'm well aware I'm white, middle class, and can afford to fight back, and have resources to fall back on if I lose. Not everyone has that.