Religion and Beliefs: Marxism

Revision cards for AQA A2 Sociology. Marxist views on religion and beliefs. 

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  • Created by: Pheebie
  • Created on: 29-10-12 15:48

Karl Marx

"Religion is the opium of the people"

  • Religion is an illusion, acting to opiate the pain of oppression.
  • It does not bring true happiness, it only makes life bearable.
  • Most religious movements originate in working classes because of their oppression.
  • It is a tool of the ruling class and produces a false class conciousness.
  • FALSE CLASS CONCIOUSNESS: Diverts peoples attention from real source of problems and helps to maintain ruling class power, stops a revolution.


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Marx & Engles

Religion dulls the pain of oppression by...

  • Promising eternal bliss in life after death.
  • "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven." - Bible
  • Virtue of suffering.
  • Offers hope of supernatural intervention.
  • Justify's social order- God made and ordained social structure.
  • Poverty is punishment for sins.


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Religion and Social Class

Ruling class-

  • Adopt religious beliefs to justify their position tot hem selves and others.
  • Christian slave owners use the bible "slaves obey your owners."


  • Indian Caste system. (Brahman --> Untouchables)
  • Slavery System.
  • Poverty.
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Evaluation of Marxism


  • People still look to religion as a source of hope.
  • More relevant in LEDC's
  • More relevant in Karl Marx's time
  • Explains brain washing acts of terrorism e.g. 9/11


  • Even in socialist societies- religion is still prominent e.g. Underground religions in China.
  • TURNER- There is no evidence for peasant going to church in medieval times (many may not have gone for religion but the social aspect.)
  • HAMILTON- Religion sometimes acts as an ideological force and helps bring about change. 
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