Religion and Society: A Theory

I see the logic in the statement by Marx that religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, religious suffering is the expression of real suffering, and that religion is the opium of the people. That being said, I do not believe in Marx’s strict adherence to atheism, his dismissal of religion as a simple social construct brought about by class struggle. Furthermore I do not see dialectical or historical materialism as being inherently atheistic in nature, the science of which seems to me to be agnostic rather than atheistic. Orthodox Marxists and many Marxist-Leninists often see atheism as the only way forward, as religion being something- like class oppression, which the proletarian masses need to be liberated from. I fundamentally disagree with this analysis. Historically policies of State Atheism such as those in the USSR and China have resulted in mass religious persecution. Not only is this persecution wrong, but it is/ was a hinderance to their revolutionary struggles. I see religion as having a peculiar effect on society. Regardless of how religion evolves, it strictly adheres and defends the prevailing socioeconomic system as the ‘best’, or most ‘moral’ system. It acts as a kind of social glue, binding a significant majority of the populous to defend the prevailing socioeconomic system. We see this in early Christianity with primitive slave society. We see texts saying to ‘treat your slaves kind, treat them as you treat your wife’. Christianity is more concerned with not going to hell than the prevailing issues and class conflicts which we find in society. We also see examples of this phenomenon in Feudal Europe. The Church intertwines itself in the Feudal system, defending it with the utmost conviction. Any deviation from the social norm being seen a potential threat to the church. We even see this today in capitalist society. Despite the fact that it is a social system based on greed, which puts people before profits, it is adamantly defended by the religious people. So thus, religion acts as a kind of glue which holds society to the prevailing socioeconomic system. However there is another effect, which comes with religious persecution. Religious persecution alienates the religious people from the state and from the prevailing socioeconomic system. They will practice their religion in private, they will pray for the destruction of the state. This is a threat to any governing body. It cannot be weakened by increasing religious persecution, this only increases the alienation and this increases the threat to the state. The only solution is a complete lack of any religious persecution, along with the strict separation of Church and State.

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