Living in the Shadow of the Cross is a powerful, compassionate, yet challenging piece of work. This is a must read for anyone who is committed to social justice and ameliorating oppression. As a Pastor in the Christian church, I initially wanted to explain away or make excuses, but Paul offers a perspective that feels very familiar to me as one who has felt the impact of White Supremacy and patriarchy.
—Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, Assistant Pastor, Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore Founding Faculty, Social Justice Training Institute
Living in the Shadow of the Cross serves as a reminder of why the United States is not a Christian Nation and never was. Kivel illustrates why no religion should attempt to cram the First Amendment into an exclusionary theological straightjacket. Disturbing yet necessary truth-telling for those of us who are Christian or who follow any religious belief system.
—Chip Berlet, American Political Writer and Photojournalist
We need this book. In the Shadow of the Cross helps us understand the many ways that ruling classes historically and today use Christianity to justify, implement, and even celebrate, colonization, exploitation and oppression. Working for liberation requires us to decolonize our minds for the logic of the oppressor so that we can generate logics of liberation from which to create, live, love, and act from. Decolonize your heart, mind and soul and study this book.
—Chris Crass author of Towards Collective Liberation: anti-racist organizing, feminist praxis and movement building strategy
After more than 200 years, a book has finally emerged that validates Thomas Paine’s concerns about Christian hegemony. Living in the Shadow of the Cross shows readers of all faiths how the ruling elite turned a doctrine of love into a doctrine of discovery that has ultimately kept us from embracing the spiritual wisdom of Indigenous cultures that Paine and other founding fathers of the U.S. saw as incompatible with Christian orthodoxy. This book is a must read if we are to break through the illusions that continue to keep our collective heads in the hegemonic sands that are contained by Christian seas. Our very survival may require such an awakening as Kivel offers here.
—Four Arrows (Don Trent Jacobs, Ph.D., Ed.D.), author of Teaching Truly, Primal Awareness and Unlearning the Language of Conquest.
With Living in the Shadow of the Cross, Paul Kivel once again sets a high standard for investigating and making visible dominant group privilege, power, control, and domination, which are pervasive and deeply entrenched. By coming into the topic from multiple perspectives – historical, theological and philosophical, economic, and political Kivel exposes how the Christian cross has not merely cast a shadow across the globe, but more importantly, how it has operated like a coercive hammer (a weapon) in several spheres resulting in colonization, to forced conversions, confiscations of property and resources, territorial expulsions, and, ultimately, to genocide. Living in the Shadow of the Cross puts to rest lingering false impressions and long-standing justifications for a supposed “naturalness” and “normalcy” of Christian hegemony.
—Warren J. Blumenfeld, Co-editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States, Associate Professor, School of Education, Iowa State University
As a white Christian woman who has spent her life attempting to understand white privilege and white supremacy and to make change, Paul Kivel has upped my ante of personal work and understanding. Christian hegemony is an essential piece in the puzzle of systemic domination. What a gift!
—Frances E. Kendall, author Understanding White Privilege
You may not realize it, but this is the book you have been waiting for! In the growing field of Privilege Studies, religious privilege has been under-examined. In his characteristically accessible style, Kivel provides us with nuanced yet comprehensive volume that fills this gap. This will be an indispensable resource and teaching tool for anyone seeking to understand privilege, and the ways that religion intersects with race, class and gender studies.
—Abby L. Ferber, Director of The Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, and Professor of Sociology and Women’s & Ethnic Studies at University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
In Living in the Shadow of the Cross, Paul Kivel courageously confronts Christian hegemony by addressing historical and present-day realities that few are willing and able to openly challenge. With careful detail, Kivel clearly delineates distinctions between systems of oppression and Christians who resist dominance due to their deep commitments to social justice and liberation (e.g. abolitionists, liberation theology, etc.). Moreover, he gives voice to those of us who are outside of the Christian religion and consistently subject to Christian hegemony by highlighting how we are forced to navigate realities that dramatically shape and impact our daily lives.
—Amer F. Ahmed, Educator, Social Justice Activist, Poet
Paul Kivel has done it again, awakened us to a system of dominance that has been invisible for centuries. I found myself defending Christianity and arguing its “goodness,” seeing its dominance revealed by Kivel but still denying its hegemonic impact on the world. The success of this book will not be measured by one’s agreement or disagreement but rather the degree to which it helps change the discourse about Christian power and dominance. Can we be open-minded enough to engage in deep discourse and ultimately change the dominant paradigm and structures that lead to power and privilege?
Living in the Shadow of the Cross: Understanding and Resisting the Power and Privilege of Christian Hegemony, Paul Kivel challenges readers to deepen their analysis. Deeper than post-Christendom and the War on Christmas is the massive system of Christian hegemony. Whereas the former ways of thinking acknowledge that norms are shifting, an awareness of Christian hegemony unmasks the framework that created and perpetuates the norms.
—Joanna Shenk, Associate Pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco. Editor of Widening the Circle: Experiments in Christian Discipleship and co-producer of the Iconocast podcast. Read the full review here.