EXCLUSIVE: Instructor displays 'Understanding Christian Privilege' bulletin board
The bulletin board linked Christianity to white supremacy and systemic racism.
The university made no public efforts to remove the poster and claimed it did not know who made the display.
A lecturer of Native American and Indigenous Studies at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Charmayne “Charli” Champion-Shaw, created a campus hallway display entitled, “Understanding Christian Privilege,” which was showcased from at least October through the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
“Christian privilege is the idea that Christians receive inherent advantages in society (in school, in the workplace, and in public places) due to the perception that Christianity is status quo, while other religions are not. As a result, other religions or attitudes about religion are marginalized, overlooked or ignored altogether, or even perceived as troubling, problematic, or suspicious,” the display stated.
The poster also affirmed, “That is the heart of Christian privilege: benefits that apply to one group of people (Christians) that other groups don’t receive.”
On May 4, Campus Reform contacted IUPUI’s Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Tami Eitle, who claimed to be unaware of the architect behind the controversial bulletin board.
“We are currently doing an inventory of bulletin boards in Cavanaugh [Hall] in preparation for removing the boards this summer to paint the hallways,” she said. “Given your request, we are asking around to find out who is responsible for this display.”
Campus Reform was soon contacted by Professor Champion-Shaw, who identified herself as “the creator and organizer” of the anti-Christian display. Although she stated she was “happy to chat after graduation,” Champion-Shaw has not replied to any of Campus Reform’s follow-up inquiries.
The professor’s poster made other assertions such as “Christians do not face systemic discrimination in the U.S.,” “Religious diversity is not the same as Christianity being under attack,” “Christian privilege is directly connected to white supremacy and settler colonialism,” “Christianity is too often seen as synonymous with moral goodness,” and “To wield Christian privilege is often to weaponize religion against non-Christians.”
The display listed other privileged groups in the U.S.: “White people,” Able-bodied people,” “Heterosexuals,” “Males,” “Middle or owning class people,” “Middle-aged people,” and “English-speaking people.”
The poster also provided students with a “Christian Privilege Checklist” to examine if they exhibit this phenomenon themselves. Examples included “Music and television programs pertaining to your religion’s holidays are readily accessible,” “You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats,” and “A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t likely lead to your car being vandalized.”
Champion-Shaw even featured a personal anecdote about how a Christian group that was “allowed to operate” at lunchtime when she was in the 9th grade was an example of “the weaponizing of Christianity.”
The professor suggested that the concept of Manifest Destiny “drove white people’s racist and genocidal entitlement to take over North America for their own.”
“If murdering people and forcing them to commit to your religion while you take over their lands and try your hardest to stamp out their culture isn’t the apex of privilege, I don’t know what else is,” she wrote.
Champion-Shaw is the Director of the Office of American Indian Programs at IUPUI, and “has a passion for teaching students about diversity and social justice.”
IUPI touts Champion-Shaw as “an ideal proponent of faculty and staff concern,” considering her “experience in advocacy and social justice, Champion-Shaw is an ideal proponent of faculty and staff concerns.”
She teaches Introduction to Native American & Indigenous Studies, Native American Women, and Native American Culture & Communication.
In compliance with federal law, Indiana University’s non-discrimination policy states that the school prohibits discrimination against any race or religion.
It is unknown whether the bulletin board will reappear during the fall semester.
Neither the IUPUI Office of Government Relations, nor the IUPUI Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.