Session 2: Religious Dominance - Religious Pluralism:
Understanding Un-Discussed Polarity
March 14, 2018

Religion is one of the primary human divides. Rather than trying to understand other religions first, this session focuses on dominant Christianity, the impact it has had on the political, economic, and cultural systems of the United States, and how it manifests in our behaviors, beliefs, values, relationships, and workplaces.


What holidays are recognized in your workplace? What norms exclude or marginalize Muslims, Jews, atheists and other non-Christians? Are there key Christian concepts that shape the way people think and behave in embracing or distancing themselves from issues of diversity and multiculturalism? Are there Christian leaders, denominations or parachurch organizations that influence the way that equity issues are addressed in your community?


Just as hierarchies of race and gender in the workplace empower some, marginalize others, and lead to ineffectiveness, high turnover, tarnished interpersonal relationships, and destructive personal behavior, our religious hierarchy has major implications for our organizations as well. 


We have enshrined freedom of religion in our Constitution in the phrase “separation of church and state”(notice the use of the word “church”) but even that is under attack. How do we create organizations based on religious pluralism so that the wisdom, creativity and inspiration of non-Christian traditions is valued and honored and no one is disrespected, marginalized, or excluded from full participation?

Learning Objectives: At the end of this session, participants will:

  • Understand how Christian dominance manifests in society, in individuals, and in organizations.   

  • Explain how the Christian concepts of dualism, individualism, sin and salvation, one truth, and dominion over nature affects how we think, the language we use, and how we perceive and behave toward difference

  • Understand the connections between Christian dominance and how certain groups of people are marginalized or Othered



Paul Kivel‘s work grows out of over 45 years in community education, engaged parenthood, political writing, and practical activism all focused on one overriding question: “How can we live and work together to nurture each individual and create a multicultural society based on love, caring, justice, and interdependence with all living things?”

Paul was co-founder of the Oakland Men’s Project and a leader in the anti-violence movement developing resources to work with men against sexism and male violence.  He is also part of the group that started SURJ—Showing Up for Racial Justice and a leader in the anti-racist movement developing resources for white people working for racial and economic justice.  His work gives people the understanding to become involved in social justice work and the tools to act as effective allies in community struggles to end oppression and injustice and to transform organizations and institutions.


He is the author of You Call This a Democracy?  Men’s Work, and Helping Teens Stop Violence, Build Community and Stand for Justice. His most recent books are a revised, updated 4th edition of Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice and Living in the Shadow of the Cross. Learn more at about Paul and his work on his website: