White Christian Privilege - The Illusion of Religious Equality in America

Christianity’s overwhelming social power shapes America today, even when religious discrimination is mistaken for racism or obscured in debates over immigration or national identity. The United States’ most powerful and enduring myth is that it was created as a haven of religious freedom for all, and that the First Amendment makes people of all faiths, and of no faith, genuinely equal before the law.

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It is time for the world’s most religiously-diverse nation to understand that, in fact, Christian privilege has always been embedded in U.S. policy, politics, and society’s rules and assumptions about who belongs and who doesn’t. Drawing upon her decades of research and teaching, and on the literature in legal studies, history, sociology, religion, ethnic studies, and education, Khyati Y. Joshi maps the origins of Christian privilege and the entwinement of Christianity and Whiteness in American national identity. She traces these phenomena from their European orientalist roots, to the American colonial era and Westward expansion, through 19th-century immigration and citizenship policies, to present-day social movements. Using the voices of Christians and religious minorities, Joshi explores the effects of Christian privilege and White racial norms on how all sorts of Americans live religion in the present day. In doing so, she poses and begins to answer the most urgent question Americans may face today: How to become a "more perfect union" – a religiously pluralistic democracy that leaves White Christian supremacy behind.


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Dr. Khyati Joshi will challenge your audience to think critically about the intersections of religion and race in America.

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David R. Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies, Emory University, retired

"Joshi views subliminal privilege in the common metaphors and underlying assumptions of our society. This privilege is sometimes Christian, sometimes white, and sometimes both. White Christian Privilege sets forth the history and the evidence for this privilege, and then proposes how to change that privilege."


David R. Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies, Emory University, retired

"Joshi views subliminal privilege in the common metaphors and underlying assumptions of our society. This privilege is sometimes Christian, sometimes white, and sometimes both. White Christian Privilege sets forth the history and the evidence for this privilege, and then proposes how to change that privilege."


Zayn Kassam, John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies, Pomona College

”Insightful and provocative. Taking a social justice approach, this timely book explores how Christianity has been leveraged to maintain and reproduce structures of domination and subordination, a discussion that is much needed and most welcome as debates about borders, migrants, and citizenship inflect public policy and civic engagement.”


Zayn Kassam, John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies, Pomona College

”Insightful and provocative. Taking a social justice approach, this timely book explores how Christianity has been leveraged to maintain and reproduce structures of domination and subordination, a discussion that is much needed and most welcome as debates about borders, migrants, and citizenship inflect public policy and civic engagement.”


Paul Spickard, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Illuminates the myriad ways that social structures, individual actions, and cultural assumptions have brought White Christians outsized power and freedom from responsibility. Thoughtful people of all races and faiths need to read and heed her words."


Paul Spickard, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Illuminates the myriad ways that social structures, individual actions, and cultural assumptions have brought White Christians outsized power and freedom from responsibility. Thoughtful people of all races and faiths need to read and heed her words."


Philip Goff, Director, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

"Smart and timely, energetic and approachable, this book is destined to be one of those touchstone texts that finds its way to a varied audience eager both to learn and to make meaningful change in American culture."


Philip Goff, Director, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

"Smart and timely, energetic and approachable, this book is destined to be one of those touchstone texts that finds its way to a varied audience eager both to learn and to make meaningful change in American culture."


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Joshi, K.Y. (2018). Race and Religion in Public Life. In J. Corrigan (Ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Religion in America. London : Oxford University Press. 

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Joshi, K.Y. (2018). Race, Religion, and South Asian Immigration.  In P. Harvey & K. G. Lum (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American History. London : Oxford University Press. 

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Joshi, K.Y. (2016). Brick by Brick: The Struggles for Religious Freedom Reflections, Spring 12-13.

Web PDF
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Joshi, K.Y. (2016). Racialization of religion and Global Migration. In J. B. Saunders, S. Snyder, & E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (Eds.), Intersections of Religion and Migration, (pp. 123-149).



Khyati Y. Joshi

Khyati Y. Joshi is a public intellectual whose social science research and community connections inform policy-makers, educators, and everyday people about race, religion, and immigration in 21st century America. She has lectured around the world and published ground-breaking scholarly and popular work in her field, while also serving as an advisor to policy-makers and a leader in the South Asian American community.

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