“Turn To Him The Other Cheek Also” An Essay on Liberation Theology

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We are all familiar with the following Bible verse about turning the other cheek:

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too; if someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you for something, and when someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back. Do for others just what you want them to do for you.” -Luke 6:27-31

On the individual level, this humility and selflessness is admirable. But according to the political line of the early Bolshevik party, as espoused by Bukharin in The ABCs of Communism,

“…the Christian code runs: ‘Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ In most cases there is an irreconcilable conflict between the principles of communist tactics and the commandments of religion. A communist who rejects the commandments of religion and acts in accordance with the directions of the party, ceases to be one of the faithful. On the other hand, one who, while calling himself a communist, continues to cling to his religious faith, one who in the name of religious commandments infringes the prescriptions of the party, ceases thereby to be a communist.”

But Bukharin, and any other socialist or Marxist who defends this ultra-leftist semi-feudal attitude towards religion, fails to understand the underlying philosophy and basic principles of the Christian faith. Christianity in no way supports “turning the other cheek” to systematic forms of oppression and exploitation with no underlying socioeconomic justification of their social existence.
It can be said that the attitude Christianity takes towards this question is as follows, “If you oppress me or strike me as an individual, I shall turn the other cheek. But if you oppress or strike my neighbor, my brother, or my sister, and do so on a systematic basis, then I will not hesitate to deliver them from the yoke of oppression you have forced upon them”.
This is a principle that is fully in line with the basic tenets of the Christian faith:
“This is what the LORD says: “Uphold justice and righteousness. Deliver from their oppressor those who have been robbed. Don’t mistreat or do violence to the alien, the orphan, or the widow, or shed the blood of innocent people in this place.”
-Jeremiah 22:3
Taking into context the historical materialist view on human history, it is no surprise that the Bolsheviks took a hostile attitude towards religion and the church, especially given the backward state of the Russian Empire. The ruling class of each age uses religion, as it uses every other instrument available in the existing superstructure of society, to legitimize its social rule and existence as a class regardless of the actual principles of a religious faith which often are directly opposed to the ‘ethics’ and ideas of the ruling class. But the Bolsheviks did not oppose religion on this basis, on the basis of the Russian Orthodox Church’s reverence of the Tsar as holy, of its antisemitism, of its persecution of protestants and atheists alike, of its semi-feudal and bourgeois character. On the contrary, it opposed religion as such, as a matter of principle. This was one of the most tragic mistakes of the Bolshevik party, a mistake I have elaborated on ceaselessly before.
Take for instance the sign of the cross. What is the cross? In ancient times the cross was not a religious symbol at all, on the contrary, it was a symbol of the political repression and state terror of the Roman Empire. It is easy to forget this fact after 20 odd millenniums of human social development, but the adaptation of the symbol of the cross by the adherents to the Christian faith was the radical transformation of a weapon of the oppressor into the weapon of the oppressed. This is precisely what Liberation Theology and Christian Communism attempts to do today. It takes Christianity, which has been converted by the bourgeoisie into a tool to justify its own existence and oppression of the poor, and it converts it into a weapon of the oppressed to be used against the oppressor. Not only does it do that, but it abolishes the ruling class character of Christianity which has been used to distort the principles of Christianity and  justify oppressive social systems for nearly 2000 years. It brings Christianity back to its roots, which are undeniably communistic in nature.
According to Rosa Luxemburg, in her pamphlet Socialism and the Churches (a pamphlet I recommend anyone interested in this topic to check out),

“The Social-Democrats want to bring about the state of ‘communism’; that is chiefly what the clergy have against them. First of all, it is striking to notice that the priests of today who fight against ‘Communism’ condemn in reality first Christian Apostles. For these latter were nothing else than ardent communists…”

After going into great detail as to the specifics of the communistic nature of the early Christians and the Christian faith, she reiterates her attack on bourgeois Christianity, an attack we can say is still valid against the mainstream, conservative Christianity of today,

“But it is in vain that you put yourselves about, you degenerate servants of Christianity who have become the servants of Nero. It is in vain that you help our murderers and our killers, in vain that you protect the exploiters of the proletariat under the sign of the cross. Your cruelties and your calumnies in former times could not prevent the victory of the Christian idea, the idea which you have sacrificed to the Golden Calf; today your efforts will raise no obstacle to the coming of Socialism. Today it is you, in your lies and your teachings, who are pagans, and it is we who bring to the poor, to the exploited the tidings of fraternity and equality. It is we who are marching to the conquest of the world as he did formerly who proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

She finishes by stressing, directly in opposition to the ultra-leftist, semi-feudal attitude of the Bolsheviks, the compatibility between religion and socialism saying,

“And here is the answer to all the attacks of the clergy: the Social-Democracy in no way fights against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion. But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working classes, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery, he is the mortal enemy of the proletariat, whether he be in a cassock or in the uniform of the police.”

Christianity teaches love, humility, forgiveness, mercy and justice at the same time. These principles are not hypocritical to one another, but rather they express themselves dialectically in the living action of the holy spirit as embodied in the believers of Christianity and its teachings. The philosophy this embodies best is not a Kantian resistance to all forms of liberation struggles on the grounds of universal standpoint of morality as many on the right-wing claim, but rather an adherence to taking whatever path causes the least possible social harm to others. On an individual level, it would be harmful and morally indefensible to lash out violently against someone because a wrong or form of oppression they caused you. This is what turning the other cheek means. Many ultra-leftists fail to understand this principle. They sink into degeneracy and moral cowardice, they abandon the basic ethics of socialism and Christianity alike when they enthusiastically celebrate the death or killing of a police officer or a capitalist or a landlord- as if the crimes of an entire social class manifest themselves entirely into a single individual, a product of the world they were born into, who probably never questioned the fundamental superstructure of society at all! Such despicable “celebratory remarks” are innately anti-socialist in character.

It is on the social basis alone that socialism wages the class struggle, that the ethics of Christianity wholeheartedly support. It seeks, yes, first and foremost to liberate the poor and oppressed, but its goal is the liberation of the whole of humanity without exception. It seeks to make life better for all and not merely for the oppressed. It does this for the former oppressor on a spiritual level, if not a material one. By abolishing the antagonism of social classes, socialism reconciles the former bourgeoisie and the former proletariat into a single class, the working class, and thereby it creates a classless society. This represents even for the former bourgeois, a liberation from the immorality of exploitation and the moral bankruptcy caused by living off of the labor of the poor. This represents also, the abolition of the social conditions which cause the petty-bourgeois to go bankrupt and homeless after a business they start fails, or when the investments a bourgeois has placed into a single company collapses in a stock market crisis, bringing the sum total of an entire life’s work to naught. Socialism and Christianity support the class war because it causes the least possible social harm.

Some would argue that Christianity and Communism are incompatible on the grounds of the “violence” revolutionary socialism has historically employed. Ignoring the pacifism of some socialists, we must say that if socialism utilizes positive violence, it does so as a tragic necessity (and it rarely does so). It does so only as a reaction to, and in an effort to stifle counter-revolutionary violence. Socialism seeks to abolish the negative violence represented by the toil and sweat, cold and homelessness, heartbreak and hidden tears of the oppressed, of the working class and the poor. Socialism struggles to make the state itself superfluous, the organization in our society with a monopoly on violence that forcefully maintains the existence of class society. Negative violence is itself a form of violence. As fellow comrade and Christian Communist blogger Christian Chiakulas (who’s blog you can find here) said,

“In a world that produces enough food to feed each and every one of us, starvation is violence.  In a society where vacant houses outnumber homeless people six to one, homelessness is violence.  A country in which health insurance companies rake in billions in profits while leaving nearly thirty million people uninsured and unable to access medical care is a violent society.

This is the everyday violence of capitalism – if it is profitable to let somebody die, or languish in abject poverty, we do so.  That is a violent society.”

Christianity opposes violence as a tactic when at all possible, but when the path to reconciliation of a social contradiction that is profoundly violent can only be reconciled by a lesser violence alone, that is the path it takes. Non-action is itself a form of action, it is better to act and cause a little harm than to refuse to act, and in moral cowardice, cause a far greater harm by not acting. This is the moral justification on which Christianity has supported just wars over the centuries. This moral justification is no different when it comes to socialist tactics. It does not, as no socialist should, glorify or fetishize acts of violence. But it does not take a liberal Kantian attitude towards the question either.

Jesus said “turn to him the other cheek also” because non-action in this case causes the least possible social harm. Despite the claims of various ruling classes over the centuries, Christian ethics is not and never has taken such a position of non-action towards social and systematic forms of oppression and exploitation, at which point the slogan “liberate the oppressed from the oppressor” comes into play. If a form of oppression or exploitation are historical necessities (as slave, feudal, and bourgeois society was), Christianity sought to reduce the violence associated with this antagonism on the individual and systemic level, even if the ruling class hijacked Christianity for its own ends. It did this because we live in a “fallen world”, in an effort to cause the least amount of harm possible. It did not take a Utopian stance towards a revolution during the early Roman Empire. It did seek to build a communist society within the community of believers by peaceful means, who held all property in common. Even if the experiment failed and had no social basis to succeed, the first act of the early Christians was an attempt to establish a communist society. Christianity has never been opposed to struggles for social justice or liberation. Because we have the means to realize the communistic society the early Christians hoped to build, to eradicate poverty, hunger, and homelessness on a global level, Christians and socialists alike should support the fight to realize such a society. There ought to be no contradiction between socialism and Christianity. The symbol of the cross alone repels the advocates of continuing the existing order of misery and oppression. Let the symbol of the cross bury the present bourgeois society as it buried the Roman Empire! Let that be the slogan of Christianity today!

Against Christian Fundamentalism

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45% of Americans believe the universe is less than 10,000 years old. How did we get here? I had thought most everyone accepted the big bang theory and the theory of evolution as a scientific fact. This statistic terrifies me. If you make it a war of science vs. religion, science will always win. Evolution and the big bang are theories backed by mountains and mountains of scientific evidence. Creationism is a great creation myth, but it’s literalism is just that, a myth. I’m sorry but outside this ancient text, these ancient scribblings, written by men, perhaps inspired by God as I and many Christians believe they are, there is no actual scientific evidence for the universe being 6000 years old. In fact, the scientific method illuminates empirical truth through reason and skepticism, it reveals that there is not one shred of evidence for such a claim.
 
The modern conception of God to many Christians is, in my view, horribly wrong. God is not supposed to be, as Neil DeGrasse Tyson put it, “an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance”. God is not some being that acts directly through some hitherto undiscovered scientific mechanism of action. 45% of Americans are ignorant of, or blatantly in denial of, basic scientific fact. When they discover the truth, many of them will abandon religion altogether as I once did. This will no doubt spark a nietzschean moral and existential crisis, the likes of which have never been seen in Western society. The Creation Museum is a museum of human ignorance. For every one person it “saves”, ten more are irrevocably turned away from the Christian faith, for Christianity becomes, in their mind, merely a testament to the ignorance and stupidity of the dark ages.
 
The denial of reason and the embrace of superstition is not a testament of faith, but on the contrary, it is evidence of a faith so weak that it has to deny and attempt to bury any and all rational arguments against it. The true testament of faith is found in one who accepts new evidence against old interpretations of scriptures, one who subjugates their religious convictions to the light of reason and scientific evidence, who asks questions and does not dogmatically follow the flock.
 
If you claim that the only way there is a God is if evolution is a “satanic conspiracy” and the big bang is a “hoax”, then I would claim that there is no God. But this rigid, literalist interpretation of Christianity is not the only one in the least. Many Christian sects are coming around and saying that there is no contradiction between science and religious belief, that the evidence of the big bang and evolution is evidence that our literalist interpretation of scripture is wrong.
 
But I go one step further. I claim that while I believe in God, I also believe a time will come when virtually every single phenomenon will be explained by science and the laws of physics. The backward view of God as this ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance will be abolished and thrust into the dustbin of human ignorance. God, as we believers understand him, will take on a radically different form. I do not claim this form will be inherently atheistic, but that it will do away with the ignorance and rigidity of the religions of the past. This, of course, will affect all existing religions, not just Christianity.
 
Christian institutions, and indeed all religious institutions, in every epoch, justifies and ideologically reinforces the prevailing socioeconomic order (hitherto in slave, feudal and capitalist societies, forms of oppression and exploitation). Modern bourgeois Christianity takes Americanism and turns American Fundamentalist Christianity into a civil religion that directly justifies U.S. imperialism, military expansion, the police force, economic exploitation, oppression of minorities, violence, and decadence of our capitalist order. Even more so, it declares America to be “God’s chosen nation today”. But nothing could be further from the truth, nothing could be more in opposition to Christian moral values than capitalism and imperialism. A billionaire is to a Christian as Ted Bundy is to Saint Basil. There can be no comparison.
Even worse is the social hostility of modern Christians towards women’s and LGBT+ rights. Such abominable and backward views are ethically anti-Christian, yet those adhering to the alleged infallibility of the Bible ceaselessly defend such backwardness in the name of religious freedom. Christianity is thereby turned from a religion which proclaims God is love into one that proclaims God is hate.
 
In a word, what modern Christianity needs to do is to break away from its scientific ignorance and its ceaseless defense of capitalism and imperialism. The tool to do this, I believe, lies in Liberation Theology. But what is also needed is a historical materialist critique of Christianity through the ages (slave, feudal, bourgeois) and how our religion is alienated from itself in each epoch and used to justify oppression and exploitation, how our religion must adapt institutionally to condemn capitalist exploitation and defend socialist democracy if it is to truly take on a Christian character.

Pope Francis on Christianity and Communism, and my views as a Christian and a Communist

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Pope Francis himself said:
 
“I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the centre of the Gospel… Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, 20 centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: ‘but then you are Christian'”
 
“The option for the poor (liberation theology) comes from the first centuries of Christianity. It’s the Gospel itself. If you were to read one of the sermons of the first fathers of the Church, from the second or third centuries, about how you should treat the poor, you’d say it was Maoist or Trotskyist.”
 
“It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom”
 
I am extremely critical of the Catholic church as an organization. I do not approve of the Catholic church or some of the popes more reactionary views. I do however, feel that he is right about this. I have the unique experience of being both a Christian and a communist. They do not contradict one another, on the contrary, my Christianity and my communism nurture and define each other. It is because I am a Christian that I have become a communist. It is the only view, in my mind, that is in sync with the message espoused by Christ.
 
The flag of true Christianity is not an American flag with a thin blue line and an arrow through an LGBT+ symbol. No, the flag of true Christianity is a red flag with a cross and a sickle.

To my fellow Christians and people of faith, an open letter from a Christian Socialist

When I drive my car, I see that people either have the Jesus fish on their car or the Darwin fish with legs. Well then, I must ask, why not both? An expression of the total acceptance of the Darwin fish, that all humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor, and, at the same time, the acceptance of the Jesus fish because religion and science are not mutually exclusive insofar as one does not subjugate reason to faith. Why, WHY must you object to the subjugation of your faith to reason?
 
I tell a grim warning, that our religion will die out in a few generations if you refuse to accept rudimentary, basic, undeniable scientific fact. It will die out completely if you cling to your outdated myths. It will die out completely if you cling to literalist interpretations of creation which are, in actuality, and because of their fundamentalist interpretation, illusions. Let’s not beat around the bush here, to think the earth is 6000 years old is an illusion, a fog of scientific denial and ignorance of material reality.
 
If your God is but an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance, and not the totality of the scientific endeavor, the force that set all matter into motion, then in 500 years or perhaps even less we will have disproven your foolish notion of ‘God’ and along with it all faiths that refuse to accept scientific fact will go into the dustbin of history.
 
Even more problematic is those that use my faith, and religion generally, to tell the oppressed and exploited people of the earth to work hard, accept their oppressive conditions, to be pacifists and refuse to change their conditions here on earth in hope of a better life after death! What mockery of the Christian legacy is that? No! True Christianity is an emancipatory doctrine firmly rooted in the principle that the meek shall inherit the earth, it is an emancipatory doctrine of liberation! Both liberation in the spiritual sense and thereby, necessarily, of those in this life here on this earth from poverty, oppression, and exploitation everywhere!
 
It is absolutely, positively, and irrevocably incompatible with capitalism, feudalism, and all class society, as well as all forms of systematic oppression and exploitation beyond their historical necessity. And it is against capitalism even more so than feudalism because of its foundations in the sins of greed, gluttony, and pride. It is not to be used as a tool to numb the pain of those who are oppressed but to rouse them up in an open and unrestrained fight against the oppressors and exploiters of the earth!
 
To promote Christianity is one thing, but the realization of the impossibility of secular Judeo-Christian ethics being the foundation of our social structure is another. As Christian Socialist James Connolly said, “We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we also know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world… Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve him and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you. No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him. As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.”
Even to you self-proclaimed pacifists, when you assert that your religion, your church should be embodied in, officialized and have power over the state do you not realize what you are doing? The state is that organ in a given society that has a sole, absolute, and legitimate monopoly on violence. It is an inherently repressive institution whereby one class subjugates another by the police, the army, the courts, etc. In other words, by the barrel of a gun. What Christian, in their right mind could claim to be a pacifist and support anything but strict state secularism? And even those like me who are not pacifists, you cannot in your right mind support the state in capitalist society, a tool used to hold down the oppressed and not the oppressors. A tool used solely to keep the poor and bondage by enforcing and prolonging their exploitation.
 
What else is there to say? I admit wholeheartedly that the atheist’s criticism of religion is correct up to and excluding the point where it dictates the necessity of atheism. Take a look in the mirror, when I read the works of Karl Marx on issues such as religion, I, a religious person, find myself agreeing with him. What does that say about our faith? That it was Marx, a brilliant man no doubt, but an atheist, who first discovered and unveiled the laws that dominate human society and the capitalist economy at large? It was Marx, not a man of God, who correctly discovered such things. What does that say about us? Take a look in the mirror damn it! If you truly care about your faith, subjugate it to reason and scrutiny. Reject any and all literalist interpretations, especially those of creation, and stop using it as a tool to keep the oppressed and exploited people’s of the earth in bondage! Turn all organized religion upsidedown from a tool of the oppressor to a tool of the oppressed. You think religion is powerless and pacifistic, but in reality, it is a weapon. For centuries it has been used to hold down the oppressed. Now let it be used to encourage the oppressed to hold down the oppressors until the systematic exploitation of man by man is no more! What more can I say?

Christianity and Socialism (With a section by James Connolly)

Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to enter into the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. This is absolute, there are no exceptions. You cannot be a kind exploiter or a generous thief. It is one or the other. There is some room for a gray area for the moral, but ineptitude is the state of the moral capitalist. If a capitalist set up his business in a way that attempted to please God he would at once be found insane and made a joke of by his business rivals. It is impossible for such a man to exist. Exploitation is exploitation. There is no generous exploitation, no just injustice. This is absolute. This is not to say people cannot change. For they certainly can, such is the foundation of Christianity. But to continually exploit the poor for personal profit and to serve God at the same time is impossible. This is inseparable from the Christian faith. Christ spoke more of material wealth and greed than anything else. Christianity is supposed to be the religion of the exploited and oppressed, not the exploiter and the oppressor. Let’s take it back to its roots, a religion of radical emancipation of the poor and oppressed.

James Connolly outlines this general sentiment quite well in his work Socialism Made Easy. He does a much better job explaining the necessity of socialism to the Christian faith than I. I have included his section on Religion below:

BUT SOCIALISM IS AGAINST RELIGION. I CAN’T BE A SOCIALIST AND BE A CHRISTIAN.

O, quit your fooling! That talk is all right for those who know nothing of the relations between capital and labor, or are innocent of any knowledge of the processes of modern industry, or imagine that men, in their daily struggles for bread or fortunes, are governed by the Sermon on the Mount.

But between workingmen that talk is absurd. We know that Socialism bears upon our daily life in the workshop, and that religion does not; we know that the man who never set foot in a church in his lifetime will, if he is rich, be more honored by Christian society than the poor man who goes to church every Sunday, and says his prayers morning and evening; we know that the capitalists of all religions pay more for the service of a good lawyer to keep them out of the clutches of the law than for the services of a good priest to keep them out of the clutches of the devil; and we never heard of a capitalist, who, in his business, respected the Sermon on the Mount as much as he did the decisions of the Supreme Court.

These things we know. We also know that neither capitalist nor worker can practice the moral precepts of religion, and without its moral precepts a religion is simply a sham. If a religion cannot enforce its moral teachings upon its votaries it has as little relation to actual life as the pre-election promises of a politician have to legislation.

We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we also know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world.

He would not be half as certain of reaching Heaven in the next world as he would be of getting into the ‘bughouse’ in this.

And, as for the worker. Well, in the fall of 1908, the New York World printed an advertisement for a teamster in Brooklyn, wages to be $12 per week. Over 700 applicants responded. Now, could each of these men love their neighbors in that line of hungry competitors for that pitiful wage?

As each man stood in line in that awful parade of misery could he pray for his neighbor to get the job, and could he be expected to follow up his prayer by giving up his chance, and so making certain the prolongation of the misery of his wife and little ones?

No, my friend, Socialism is a bread and butter question. It is a question of the stomach; it is going to be settled in the factories, mines and ballot boxes of this country and is not going to be settled at the altar or in the church.

This is what our well-fed friends call a ‘base, material standpoint’, but remember that beauty, and genius and art and poetry and all the finer efflorescences of the higher nature of man can only be realized in all their completeness upon the material basis of a healthy body, that not only an army but the whole human race marches upon its stomach, and then you will grasp the full wisdom of our position.

That the question to be settled by Socialism is the effect of private ownership of the means of production upon the well-being of the race; that we are determined to have a straight fight upon the question between those who believe that such private ownership is destructive of human well-being and those who believe it to be beneficial, that as men of all religions and of none are in the ranks of the capitalists, and men of all religions and of none are on the side of the workers the attempt to make religion an issue in the question is an intrusion, an impertinence and an absurdity.

Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve him and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you.

No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him.

As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.

I do not deny that Socialists often leave the church. But why do they do so? Is their defection from the church a result of our attitude towards religion; or is it the result of the attitude of the church and its ministers toward Socialism?

Let us take a case in point, one of those cases that are being paralleled every day in our midst. An Irish Catholic joins the Socialist movement. He finds that as a rule the Socialist men and women are better educated than their fellows; he finds that they are immensely cleaner in speech and thought than are the adherents of capitalism in the same class; that they are devoted husbands and loyal wives, loving and cheerful fathers and mothers, skilful and industrious workers in the shops and office, and that although poor and needy as a rule, yet that they continually bleed themselves to support their cause, and give up for Socialism what many others spend in the saloon.

He finds that a drunken Socialist is as rare as a white black-bird, and that a Socialist of criminal tendencies is such a rara avis that when one is found the public press heralds it forth as a great discovery.

Democratic and republican jailbirds are so common that the public press do not regard their existence as ‘news’ to anybody, nor yet does the public press think it necessary to say that certain criminals belong to the Protestant or Catholic religions. That is nothing unusual, and therefore not worth printing. But a criminal Socialist – that would be news indeed!

Our Irish Catholic Socialist gradually begins to notice these things. He looks around and he finds the press full of reports of crimes, murders, robberies, bank swindlers, forgeries, debauches, gambling transactions, and midnight orgies in which the most revolting indecencies are perpetrated. He investigates and he discovers that the perpetrators of these crimes were respectable capitalists, pillars of society, and red-hot enemies of Socialism, and that the dives in which the highest and the lowest meet together in a saturnalia of vice contribute a large proportion of the campaign funds of the capitalist political parties.

Some Sunday he goes to Mass as usual, and he finds that at Gospel the priest launches out into a political speech and tells the congregation that the honest, self-sacrificing, industrious, clean men and women, whom he calls ‘comrades,’ are a wicked, impious, dissolute sect, desiring to destroy the home, to distribute the earnings of the provident among the idle and lazy of the world, and reveling in all sorts of impure thoughts about women.

And as this Irish Catholic Socialist listens to this foul libel, what wonder if the hot blood of anger rushes to his face, and he begins to believe that the temple of God has itself been sold to the all desecrating grasp of the capitalist?

While he is yet wondering what to think of the matter, he hears that his immortal soul will be lost if he fails to vote for capitalism, and he reflects that if he lined up with the brothel keepers, gambling house proprietors, race track swindlers, and white slave traders to vote the capitalist ticket, this same priest would tell him he was a good Catholic and loyal son of the church.

At such a juncture the Irish Catholic Socialist often rises up, goes out of the church and wipes its dust off his feet forever. Then we are told that Socialism took him away from the church. But did it? Was it not rather the horrible spectacle of a priest of God standing up in the Holy Presence lying about and slandering honest men and women, and helping to support political parties whose campaign fund in every large city represents more bestiality than ever Sodom and Gomorrah knew?

These are the things that drive Socialists from the church, and the responsibility for every soul so lost lies upon those slanderers and not upon the Socialist movement.

For more Connolly check out: Marxist.net (CWI source)

Also, there is a section on Marxists.org

A Christian Socialist’s attack on the Modern Church

Christ spoke more on money and greed than any other topic in the New Testament. The teachings on this topic by Christ are absolutely fundamental to Christianity, yet it is all but ignored by the modern church in American and European society today. Now I profess that I am a Christian and a socialist, a communist and in most every regard a Marxist. Though I am rather unorthodox in both arenas as I will be the first to admit. Contrary to what you may say I am no revisionist. I am an intellectual by nature and as such I cannot help but viciously attack the modern church for its inherently bourgeois character and reckless defense of the capitalist system. Let us look at what Christ himself has to say on the ‘virtues’ of greed and wealth as they are so often portrayed in capitalist society:

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As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Why is this verse so savagely ignored in the church today? To say that it is not would be absolutely absurd. Rockefeller for instance was said to be a devout Baptist yet the church never confronted him about this terrible sin he was committing. This sin was his parasitic lifestyle, his merciless exploitation of the poor and the working class, the amassing of an unfathomable fortune on a systemic basis that was irrevocably and undeniably incompatible with the Christian faith. Now I do not say that Rockefeller is in hell, I cannot judge him and make such an accusation. Only God can do that. But the absurd contradiction still exists and cannot be ignored. My fellow Christians hear me when I say to you that you are either with God or Mammon!

As I have previously stated, in the New Testament Jesus offers more wisdom and has more to say about money and greed than any other subject besides the “Kingdom of God.” How are alarm bells not ringing in the church today? Indeed it is true what Marx said, “The ruling ideas of each age have only ever been the ideas of its ruling class.” In other words the accepted ideas of any period are only ever those that serve the dominant economic interests. Religion, and organized religion to be more specific, is by no means exempt from this. By that I mean its teachings and interpretations of even the most basic fundamentals of a given faith are perverted by the ruling class in a given epoch. Religion, like any other idea, evolves in order to defend the prevailing economic order. Whether it is slavery, feudalism or capitalism. All of these are perversions to the Christian faith. They are to never be defended but merely tolerated by the religious body in question and only insofar as they are necessary stages of human development in a given period of time.

One of the worst perversions of the Christian faith by the bourgeoisie is the advent of the dreaded ‘prosperity gospel’ which defends the hoarding of material wealth and the idolatry of money. The irony of this it’s essential founding in Luke 4: 7 in which Satan says to Christ, “If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine.” Indeed how can a Christian not but scoff at a ‘Christian’ theology that founds and justifies itself on the words of the devil himself? This I shall never know.

But this is absolutely fundamental, how long has our religion been perverted by the ruling class of any particular epoch in the last 2 millennia in order to exploit the poor, to keep them in chains with the promise of a better life after death? You cannot look at modern Christianity today and tell me it is not a perversion of Christ’s teachings. I am not a socialist for religious reasons. I am a socialist on a material, logical, matter of a fact basis. But regardless I must ask, how can a Christian not advocate for a society that truly reflects the values of their given faith? How can a Christian defend an economic order that represents everything that is contrary to his/ her faith? Capitalism is irrevocably incompatible with Christianity. Let me say that again, capitalism is irrevocably incompatible with Christianity! Of course when it first came about during the Calvinist reformation it was never intended to be what it is today by the religious thinkers of the time. Yet here we are in a world run solely on everything Christ preached against! Christians I urge you to read Marx if you are in good faith, cling to your faith and see that while this thinker may have been wrong on religion and other minor philosophical matters and interpretations of materialism, he is absolutely right on economic ones.

The society he envisioned and advocated (though he wrote very little on the future) is the same type of society followed by the early apostles in the book of Acts. He was a militant Atheist as everyone knows, but he never advocated the abolition of religion by force, merely that it would become unnecessary in such a society. This is a disagreement we have, but it is trivial in the grand scheme of things. I slam the early church for not having such an ideology originate from a Christian thinker. That the mechanisms of historical processes and the economic laws of capitalism were revealed by an atheist and not by a follower of God. But that guilt falls solely on the early church and it’s bourgeois nature. Don’t just read Marx, read James Connolly. Connolly was a devout catholic and a Marxist. He founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party and led the good fight for Irish independence. He argued as I do that not only can a Christian be a socialist, but that they must be! You will see his face on the right of the header of this blog as he has inspired my thinking greatly. So I write this in his name, in honor of such a great man.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/index.htm