Master Status

In one of my diversity indoctrination classes, we were taught about master statuses–the aspects of our personhood which are lenses through which the world sees us and we see the world.  Race, gender, disability status, sexual orientation–all these are master statuses.  We completed an informal survey to determine which master statuses were most prominent for us.  I determined religion as my top choice.  My faith informs the way I see the world and how I act.  And a lot of people comment that even if I don’t necessarily talk about my faith, I sort of “wear it on my sleeve,” as it were.  

So religion was bound to come up in one of my mandatory personal reflections.  All semester long, I had, rightly, learned about the social plight of women, people of color, the poor, the homeless, the disabled, non-heterosexuals, people who don’t fit into the gender binary, and immigrants.  Religion apparently didn’t make the cut.  The professor rationalized “Religion is really important, and I wish we had time for it…if there is more time in the semester, we’ll cover it.”  Talk about marginalization. But there is not a lot of sympathy for the white male in the room.  

So I chose to write about religion.  Specifically, how Catholics are also marginalized, and how I felt marginalized as a Catholic.  My TA’s comments were telling.  At first, the comments evidenced marked incredulity.  Her response to my personal reflection was something along the lines of:

How could it be, when Catholicism is one of the most populous churches, when it has “so much power, money, etc,” when the church itself marginalizes so many groups, that the church is marginalized?!

By the end, I had made a convincing enough argument.  I recall she wrote something by the end such as:

Yeah, I guess I can see that.

I wasn’t surprised to not receive her support.  In fact, I had only written my reflection as a sort of eye-opener.  There’s more to people than race, gender, and sexual orientation–to the ignorance of diversity indoctrination.  I have my own theories about why this might be so.  But this episode came to mind when I read the astute Mollie Hemingway’s post about Western media’s lack of attention to the plight of Christians.  Just a few stats quoted from the article:

Some 85 Christians were slaughtered and 120 injured, the bloodiest attack on Christians in Pakistan in history. The hospital ran out of beds for the injured and there weren’t enough caskets for the dead….

Around noon, armed gunmen stormed the mall and exploded grenades. Thousands of terrified people dropped to the floor, fled out of exits and hid in stores. The gunmen began lining people up and shooting some of the five dozen people they would slaughter and 240 people, ages 2 to 78, that they would wound…

 [In Egypt,] The violence of just three days in mid-August was staggering. Thirty-eight churches were destroyed, 23 vandalized; 58 homes were burned and looted and 85 shops, 16 pharmacies and 3 hotels were demolished. It was so bad that the Coptic Pope was in hiding, many Sunday services were canceled, and Christians stayed indoors, fearing for their lives. Six Christians were killed in the violence. Seven were kidnapped.

This is one of the main flaws in multicultural theory and practice.  Putting the focus on a few master statuses which in the past century have been the focus of liberation (race, gender, and now sexual orientation) deconstructs a global understanding of personhood to the point that it is inconceivable that people suffer from other social stigma.  Focusing on race, gender, and sexual orientation to the detriment of religion allows Westerners to sleep well at night, as long as we promote domestic and international policies ensuring abortion on demand and the normalization of homosexual lifestyles.  

While one may debate the relative merits of feminist and LGBT political priorities, ignoring the plight of Christians worldwide is naive and hypocritical.  Not all statuses are constructed equal.  

Imagine a lede such as

Some 85 women were slaughtered and 120 injured…


Some 85 gays were slaughtered and 120 injured.


Some 85 Christians were slaughtered and 120 injured…

…just doesn’t have the same pizzazz to our society.  And shame on us.

  1. The Church doesn’t marginalize minority groups like homosexuals simply because she disagrees with the sinful, homosexual lifestyle. In fact, the Church is open and welcoming to ALL people. How ignorant of your TA. But anti-Catholic types will believe what they choose to to fit their own agenda. Keep fighting the good fight!

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