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Intersections of Religious Privilege: Difficult Dialogues and Student Affairs Practice: New Directions for Student Services, Number 125

ISBN: 978-0-470-49724-1
88 pages
April 2009, Jossey-Bass
Intersections of Religious Privilege: Difficult Dialogues and Student Affairs Practice: New Directions for Student Services, Number 125 (0470497246) cover image


The goal of this volume is to further the profession's understanding of spirituality and student affairs practice by focusing on intersections of religious privilege that lead to difficult dialogues. It responds to three questions:
  1. What inequities exist between the religious and nonreligious as well as the privileged and marginalized religions?
  2. What are the historical and potential conflicts caused by these inequities?
  3. What can student affairs professionals do to cultivate an environment that supports productive dialogue on issues surrounding religious privilege?

Chapter authors discuss issues related to religious privilege that highlight the historical and potential conflicts between those who practice a religion and those who do not and capture the differences between those who are part of a privileged religion versus those who practice a marginalized religion. They also address the subtle nuances of religious privilege in relation to classic tensions that surround race, culture, and sexual orientation. In addition to describing the conflicts, the authors share practical suggestions on how to manage difficult dialogues surrounding these topics.

This is the 125th volume of the Jossey-Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Student Services, an indispensable resource for vice presidents of student affairs, deans of students, student counselors, and other student services professionals.

Each issue of New Directions for Student Services offers guidelines and programs for aiding students in their total development: emotional, social, physical, and intellectual.

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Table of Contents

Sherry K. Watt, Ellen E. Fairchild, Kathleen M. Goodman

1. Christian Privilege, History, and Trends in U.S. Religion 5
Ellen E. Fairchild
This chapter focuses on Christian privilege, the history of religion in the founding of the United States, and current religious trends.

2. Practical Implications for Student Affairs Professionals’ Work in Facilitating Students' Inner Development 13
Tricia A. Seifert, Noël Holman-Harmon
Using findings from a research study as the base, this chapter discusses ways student affairs practitioners can aid students on the journey to asking and answering life’s big questions.

3. Difficult Dialogues at the Intersections of Race, Culture, and Religion 23
Dafina Lazarus Stewart, Adele Lozano
This chapter explores the relationship between Christian privilege and racial or cultural marginalization.

4. Working with Jewish Undergraduates 33
Warren J. Blumenfeld, Jacqueline R. Klein
This chapter explores issues surrounding Americans who identify with Judaism and Jewish student identity development and presents challenges that Jewish students face on American college campuses.

5. Facilitating Dialogue on Religion and Sexuality Using a Descriptive Approach 39
Richard W. McCarty
This chapter recommends the use of a descriptive approach, which seeks to describe a viewpoint rather than make a prescription concerning what ought to be, when facilitating dialogues about sexuality and religion.

6. Practical Suggestions to Accommodate the Needs of Muslim Students on Campus 47
Saba Rasheed Ali, Elham Bagheri
This chapter provides a brief introduction to Islamic tenets, discusses challenges facing Muslim college students, and offers practical suggestions for supporting Muslim students.

7. Invisible, Marginalized, and Stigmatized: Understanding and Addressing the Needs of Atheist Students 55
Kathleen M. Goodman, John A. Mueller
This chapter introduces the topic of atheist students to the field of student affairs and provides recommendations for creating a safe and affirming environment for this population.

8. Facilitating Difficult Dialogues at the Intersections of Religious Privilege 65
Sherry K. Watt
This chapter discusses the conditions that make dialogue surrounding religious privilege difficult and shares practical ways conversation can be made more productive around this topic.


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