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Marx (1867)
· Religion = institution maintaining capitalist
rule
· Instrument of domination & oppression
· Keeps the subject class in place
· The idea that desiring wealth is `only natural' helps
support the capitalist system…read more

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"Opium of the People"
Pacifying drug
Religion prevents the working
classes from becoming aware of
true nature of their exploitation
Religion is the sigh
of the oppressed
creature... It is the
opium of the
people…read more

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Marx says there are 4 ways that religion `dulls the pain'
1. Life After Death
· Promise of eternal bliss in `life after death'
E.g. Christianity promises `salvation from bondage & misery' in
heaven
= Life on Earth is more bearable, looking forward to heaven
2. Compensation for Suffering
· If you deal with poverty with dignity & humility = reward for
your virtue
· Religion makes poverty more tolerable by offering reward
and promising compensation…read more

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3. Supernatural Intervention
· Hope of supernatural intervention to solve problems on Earth
E.g. Jehovah's Witnesses ­ supernatural powers will descend &
create heaven on Earth
4. Justifying Social Order
· God creates & ordains social structure
· Social arrangements appear inevitable
· Those at the bottom = accept / come to terms with their
situation…read more

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Religion is also a mechanism of social control
= it keeps people in their place!
· Religion offers an illusion of hope
· Discourages people from attempting to change their situation
and bring a communist society (classless)
False Consciousness
· Religion is created and promoted by the ruling class.
· To pass on their dominant ideology to the working class and this
provides them with a false consciousness.
· Religion blinds people to their true situation
· They see their exploitation as "God's will"
Passively accept things
= People remain in state of false consciousness…read more

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