marxist View on religion

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Marxist Theory
3 main outlooks believed by Marx (1842)
1) Religion oppresses
"Religion is only the illusionary sun which revolves round man so long as he does not revolve round
himself". Marx believes that you should look after yourself instead of praying to something that you
can't see. He wants to see communism as you will help each other out so God will not be needed.
"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed, creating the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit
of a spiritless situation. It is the opiate of the people". Marx is basically saying that religion dulls the
pain but doesn't solve anything.
Religion distorts people's perception in ways that benefits the upper class.
The ruling class control ideas that are fed through church, media and education system.
Religion legitimates the poor's suffering as its `inevitable'. The poor believes that they are
suffering now but will be rewarded later.
Religious views= a false consciousness- a distorted view of reality that prevents the poor
from taking control and changing their situation
Lenin= religion is a `spiritual gin' as it keeps people in their place. The ruling class use religion
cynically by keeping them under a mystical fog that obscures reality.
Religion legitimates power and privilege to the ruling class by making their position look
divine e.g. King used to be chosen by God.
Religion acts as an opiate to dull the pain of reality
Heaven etc distracts attention from the true cause of suffering today capitalism
Alienation appears in the workers because they have no control over what they do or when
they do it etc. They are doing repetitive jobs every day. Thus no freedom to become
creative uncontrollable people.
Christianity teaches us that by suffering now, we will be rewarded in heaven. For example,
"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter
the kingdom of heaven".
Religion praises people suffering e.g. poverty.
Religion helps us cope with world events e.g. 9/11 and therefore makes life seem bearable.
Religion is used to justify the social class order.
It is believed that God decides who is rich and who is poor etc so don't complain as it's part
of his plan. "The rich man in his castle. The poor man at his gate. He made them high or lowly,
and ordered their estate".
Caste system keeps people in their place. In Hindu culture, everyone is controlled by religion
even down to career.
Ideological control
An agent of social control

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Lenin= capitalists are taught by religion to practice charity while on earth. They often gave
houses to factory employees (they were very low quality). It is believed that doing this they
get `tickets' to heaven. This is actually oppression in all aspects of their lives... they shouldn't
be fooled by this.
2) Neo Marxism
Neo Marxists were around in the 20th century (after Marx). Neo Marxists acknowledge that religion
can oppress but religion can also help create social change, can give energy, determination etc.…read more

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Marxists do agree that religion has lost contact with common people
In the USA, there is a lot of emphasis on the new Christian right agenda which is very
strict. The bourgeoisie led the church- ideological control.
The Catholic Church is too conservative and traditional. The Pope has too much control in
society. The church should really be doing more real things e.g. combat poverty.
The Hindu caste system is too strict for outsiders... controls too much of individuals lives.…read more


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