Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the birthright



Birthright is defined as a right, possession, or privilege obtained by birth. It identifies something attained and enjoyed because of the circumstances of one's birth- the place, time, or parentage. Interestingly the idea of a birthright and the concept of equality, in its many varied forms, are essentially at odds. Whether equality is taken to mean equal opportunity or equal outcomes, a privilege or possession resulting from birth circumstances is a fundamental denial of equality.


Within our society we rarely hear the word birthright, but it is often in the background of our political, economic, and even religious thoughts and discussions. A prime example is the issue of laws governing inheritances. It is obvious that most people cherish the ability to pass accumulated wealth on to whomever they choose. The transmitters of inheritance claim the right to dispose of their possessions as they see fit. For the most part inheritors are family members who enjoy the prosperity of their forbearers as a matter of birth. Few would argue that inherited money is not a distinct advantage in securing further economic success.


Religiously, we routinely hear both church leaders and politicians support a special privilege for Christianity, it being the historically prevalent theology in America. The prevalence and special status of Christianity is a matter of tradition. If we had been born elsewhere we would tend to honor a different tradition. Traditions, religious and otherwise, are another means whereby birthrights are established.


Politically we might consider the current conflict over immigration, legal and otherwise. The entire notion of special status and privilege accruing to some people because they were born inside a certain boundary involves a birthright. 


Our sacred Declaration of Independence declared the inalienability of equality as the crowning principle upon which our nation was to be established. Whether we see that equality as that of opportunity or outcome, how can members of society ever experience either when so much of our economic, religious, and political process promotes privileges based on random factors of birth.


Birthright privileges are the true entitlements in our society. Those who demonize others for enjoying so called government entitlement programs might pause for a moment to consider how much they claim as an entitlement for no reason other than birthright. None of us has earned the privileges and advantages we may enjoy because of birth circumstances. When we insist on those advantages, we demand to be treated extraordinarily merely because we were privileged in the first place. Such thinking is perhaps understandable  but hardly noble or the makings of an exemplary society.