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Marxist View of Religion
· Karl Marx
· "Religion helps keep society strong and stable" (agrees with)
BUT, the primary function of religion is to reproduce and maintain the
legitimate social class inequality
· Religion is an ideological force; an instrument of ruling class exploitation,
oppression and alienation
· Religious belief `blinded' and `confused' people into thinking that social
class world was `God given' and therefore unchangeable
· Religion stands in the way of emotional and intellectual development of
the working class
· Religion justified social order and projected each individuals position
within it
· Religion is an `opium of the people'; where it helps `dull the pain of
oppression' by:
1. Promising a paradise of eternal bliss after death therefore pain and
suffering is more bearable
2. Suffering is made to be understood as a `test'/ `punishment' from God in
order to justify it
Marx: "once the illusion of religion in the society disappears, the working
class would be able to express themselves further and so throw
capitalism and settle for communism…read more

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Evidence to support Marxist views
· Sects ­ who draw their members from the working class
population, where the charismatic leader would manipulate
them rather than help them genuinely
· Catholic church ­ has so much wealth, however this wealth
is not used to help the poor
· Iran ­ close relationship between Islam and the state
· Islamic state revolution; the ruler was kicked out and
replaced with another leader who held strict religious
views, this event provides evidence of the power and
influence of religion that is still present in society today
· Church of England ­ supports the upper class because they
hold shared norms and values. It is also generally supportive
of the state, who also benefits the upper class
· Hindu Caste system ­ claims that the caste is `ascribed',
where the `untouchables' within the caste hierarchy are
socialised into `accepting' their situation in life as God's will.…read more

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Neo-Marxist views of Religion
· Otto Maduro
· "Religion has some independence from the economy of society"
· "Religion is NOT always a conservative fore and claims, as it can also be
revolutionary"
· Maduro believes that members of the clergy can develop `revolutionary potential',
which would pressurise the priests to take their cause and lead to interpretations of
religion that is critical of the rich & powerful
· These developments in Latin America have led to formation of the `liberation
theology'
· The liberation theology preaches the duty for the church members to fight against
unjust and oppressive right wing dictatorship
· Pope put an end to the liberation theology because it would give the poor ideas,
which were `above their station'
Of Marxism:
· Fails to consider secularisation in society and how it undermines the ideological
power of religion
· Overlooks the positive functions of religion and beliefs in society
· Growth of religious fundamentalism goes against his prediction that religion would
disappear
· Religion can help overcome people's alienation in society by providing comfort and
compassion and therefore promoting social solidarity
· Feminists argue that Marxists overlook the real problem - patriarchy…read more

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