The Marxist Approach
The Marxist approach suggests that religion eases the pain of oppression and exploitation in three main ways:
- Religion promises an eventful escape from suffering and oppression in this life with promises of an ecstatic future in life after death.
- Religion sometimes offers hope of supernatural intervention to solve problems on Earth.
- Religion provides a religious explanation and justification for inequality.
MARX thought religion did two main interrelated things:
- It acted as the 'opium of the people', cushioning the pain of oppression and exploitation in unequal societies.
- It legitimises and maintains the power of the ruling class.
Religion can act as a form of resistance to the powerful, and as an agent of social change, and not simply as a conservative force, as the following suggests:
- Some early Christian sects opposed Roman rule.
- Islam, particularly Islam fundamentalism, is often a vehicle for resisting the influences of Western CULTURAL IMPERIALISM.
- In Iran, Islam produced revolutionary change to overthrow the Shah establishing the Islam republic in 1978/9.
- In South America in the 1960s/70s. Roman Catholic Priests played a major role in fighting against political dictatorship and poverty.