Living in the Shadow of the Cross

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Over the centuries, Christianity has accomplished much which is deserving of praise. Its institutions have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and advocated for the poor. Christian faith has sustained people through crisis and inspired many to work for social justice.

Yet although the word "Christian" connotes the epitome of goodness, the actual story is much more complex. Over the last two millennia, ruling elites have used Christian institutions and values to control those less privileged throughout the world. The doctrine of Christianity has been interpreted to justify the killing of millions, and its leaders have used their faith to sanction participation in colonialism, slavery, and genocide. In the Western world, Christian influence has inspired legislators to continue to limit women's reproductive rights and has kept lesbians and gays on the margins of society.

As our triple crises of war, financial meltdown, and environmental destruction intensify, it is imperative that we dig beneath the surface of Christianity's benign reputation to examine its contribution to our social problems. Living in the Shadow of the Cross reveals the ongoing, everyday impact of Christian power and privilege on our beliefs, behaviors, and public policy, and emphasizes the potential for people to come together to resist domination and build and sustain communities of justice and peace.


"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, and Founding Faculty, Social Justice Training Institute

"Paul Kivel’s deep and detailed analyses of Christian assumptions are both appalling and empowering. He shows that those of us who were raised in  Christian traditions can lessen institutional Christian oppressiveness without disowning the soul itself."

— Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director, Wellesley Centers for Women and Founding Director, National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum

 "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."

— Hugh Vasquez, social justice educator and Senior Associate at the National Equity Project