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Marxism, Communism, and Socialism are critical theoretical concepts with a direct link to various religious aspects and elements. Ideally, the Marxism, Communism, and Socialism theories are usually against different religious ideologies, which provide diverse stances on issues based on the knowledge of the founding theorists. The main focus, in this case, is how communism, Marxism, and socialism are against religion. The three theoretical frameworks significantly facilitate the understanding of religion from a critical angle which cannot be attained based on the usual knowledge from religious scripts and other scholarly views. They provide reliable evidence as to why religious viability should be questioned. 

Marxism and Religion

The concept of Marxism was formulated by Karl Marx and has been continuously interpreted in various ways when it comes to application in religion. Marx focuses on the prevailing differences and continuous struggling between the working-class people and the capitalists. He argued that the existing relations between the working class people and capitalists are based on exploitation, and the main outcome will be the creation of conflict between various classes. This particular 19th-century philosopher from Germany perceived religion as a “Soul of the soulless conditions.”[1] Alternatively, he described it as the “opium of people.” These descriptions significantly showcase how deeply religion connects with human life. 

The concept adopted by this ideal makes it apparent that Marxism and religion can’t coexist. The Marxism and religion concept which comes out of this context is that although the worshipping of deities is temporarily crucial for the spiritual advancement of people, in an ideal sense, it is obsolete. Despite religion being termed as the opium of people, it does not entirely serve the purpose of pain-killing effectively. The deepest explanation of understanding which comes out is that it is an underlying outcome of materialism realities just like the other elements of the societal superstructure of ideologies. 

marxism, communism, and socialism

Also, Marxism and religion can’t coexist because Marxism usually approaches religion as a way of the working class protesting against their poor alienations and deteriorating economic situations. Therefore Marxism and religion under such situations stand out as two divergent opposing sides. The Marxism from the word go portrays religion as a form of falsehood. The main answer to this Marxism approach is entirely based on the issue of materialism. 

The antagonism of Marxism and religion is also directly depicted in a capitalist society. According to Marx, the opposition against religion in a capitalist society is that religion is usually aimed at maintaining a status quo of inequality. Specifically, Marx stipulated that Bourgeoisie relied on the tool of religion to control the less powerful, and also the group categorized as proletariats as pacified as possible. The Bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.[2] Therefore, according to Marxism, if the laxity of the religion is scrapped, the workers, in this case, will be able to do a constructive intervention to their pathetic conditions. 

Marx, in this case, calls for the abolition of religion since it only creates an illusionary sense and happiness for people.[3] Therefore, through discarding the main cause of such illusionary trends, which is religion, man will be capable of thing and reasoning independently without any interference and, in turn, regain the ideal senses. In this case, religion is considered as the only core form of illusion that usually revolves around the man if he doesn’t.[4] The main paradigms of Marxism and religion criticism are mainly based on Christianity and Judaism. 

Marx upholds the critical thoughts that religion is indeed a form of what can be described as false consciousness. [5] The trend of religion sanctifying the existing social order makes it be considered as a force that is against the revolution. Hence, the Marxists will opt to fight religion given that it stands out as a distractive force. Marxism, just like the general religious approach, usually creates an extensive means or approach of developing the worldview through the interpretation of the cultural and social phenomenon. In this case, religion is categorically demonized for corrupting the entire world and creating inevitable struggles by overriding all the possible action plans which could have led to development. 

Based on the rational assessment, the Marxism and Religion assessment by Marx is majorly presented more in what can be termed as the human secular way. Religion is presented as a manipulation basis and alienating component in the larger society. It also distracts the people from building an effective society while still directing their eyes to heaven for assistance. Therefore, Marxism and religion can’t coexist because Marxism will oppose religion since it usually blocks the way in course of society building. If the religion in the due course disappears, there will be no class of people to be exploited, and also, there will be no existing individuals who will be standing in desperate need of religious consolation. In this case, religion and Marxism are embodied by functionalism. Marxism is described as the only doctrine in the modern world which systematically managed to translate different religious issues as a project of revealing human possibilities and advancing the understanding of societies. It captures the ideology of the need for liberating the present from past burdens and, in turn, facilitating the construction of the future. 

Marxism and Christianity depict the real religious position of this theoretical concept based on the handling of various related issues. Christianity under Marxism is depicted as a form of revolutionary group or influential movement which is composed of a large population of people pursuing a similar agenda. Also, Christianity is presented alternatively as a religious representation of people who are under a particular form of slavery and tirelessly struggling for emancipation. The masses in churches are not attracted there purposely for religious purposes but majorly because it gives what is known as the social consciousness for different groups of people who have undergone severe oppression. [6]

However, the outstanding value of the church has not been continuously sustained for a longer period. The overall outlook of the then reliable church shifted significantly and, in turn, became a representation of devastated people who have an overall outlook and traits of despair. Additionally, the position of the church significantly changed and, in turn, became an integral part of the feudal hierarchical order. Also, theology was compromised and, in turn, included other alternative alien values. Therefore, the salvation concept shifted from the core mandate of fighting and standing against the oppression of the oppressed people as well as those who are under different forms of enslavement.[7] Alternatively, the church changed into a component of pursuing earthly missions and goals rather than its core mandate. In turn, the people who suffered the detrimental impact of religious oppression for emancipation were given proxies. Therefore, Marxism and the church are two incompatible elements since the latter is compromised to leave the core mandate and pursue the unfulfilling course. 

Communism and Religion

Communism and religion are two conflicting aspects that cannot match the specific ideologies of each other. Ideally, communism refers to a unique form of movement or ideological prompt whose focus is creating a communist society. It is usually advanced based on political, social, economic, and philosophical attributes. The structure of communism is a socioeconomic order which aims at attaining common production means and, it also supports the absence or unavailability of social class, state as well as money. [8] Communism is a more distinctive and specific concept of socialism and also incorporates different Marxism schools of thought. Hence, the relations of communism and religion can be better understood from a multi-dimensional perspective. 

There are no substantial efforts or amounts of hope that can do away with the outstanding record of communism, especially in terms of the religious adherents’ blood. This outcome means that high volumes of blood from the religious followers are usually lost in the course of safeguarding or advancing the communist agendas. Different regimes with communist backgrounds always aim at purging their peoples’ faith using hurting and dangerous tactics which go to the extent of costing them blood. Therefore, it is realistic to stipulate or posit that in ideal situation, communism is not usually an irreligious concept but an anti-religious form of campaign. 

The intensive faith hatred of the communist elites should not be perceived as a fault but an integral part that forms the basis of this unpleasant ideology. According to Karl Max, “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their happiness.”[9] In this case, calling for the people to do away with the illusions regarding their conditions directly relates to encouraging them to do away with the specific condition that needs illusion. Also, Marx notes that “criticism of religion is the criticism of that vale of tears which of which is the halo.” Hence, according to Marx, although religion may be a way of showcasing an urge for quality or better existence, it may be also a means of preventing that particular urge or drive from materializing and changing into reality. Propaganda, in different instances, has been used as a means of liberating or freeing the working-class masses from the perceived prejudices advanced by the religion. 

In realistic situations, communism and religion cannot coexist in any given way. In different communist societies in the past, religion is significantly controlled and regulated by demand and supply-related interventions. The main techniques applied and pursued in the course included substitution or even regulation. In most instances, religion was supposed to be substituted with the concept of scientific atheism, which is one of the major components of communism. Atheism refers to both the secular forms of ceremonies as well as distinct rituals, which are usually intentional and integrated into both public and private peoples’ lives. Through the technique of regulating markets, in turn, the communists could easily control the religion’s demand. The major technique, however, which communism incorporated involved the elimination of the religion’s demand amongst people. 

The ways in which communism impacts religion can be directly seen or evident from the past experiences where this ideology was predominant. The perception towards the religion is directly linked to the existing different worldviews among various religious denominations, which significantly disagreed on the ideal means of pursuing issues in communist societies and turn creating substantial confusion. For instance, some religious denominations emphasized the ideology of questioning the existing authorities and offering direct support to the ideology of individualism, while other divisions did the direct opposite and, in turn creating substantial divisions. Some of the religious denominations provisions under such circumstances go directly opposite with the provisions of communism and, in turn creating a conflict of interests.

Therefore, the outcomes were usually devastating as the different religion-based activities. In this case, the duties of the religious function could be suppressed or fail to be supported since the political class elites developed the understanding that different communist concepts were not compatible with the communism advancement.[10] Thus, it is conclusive that communism and religion can’t coexist since they have incompatible philosophies. The possible outcomes under such instances include lethal actions like the demolition of worshipping centers and the possibility of clergy being persecuted, put under imprisonment, or even in other instances killed. Also, church-going could be abolished, and the main stakeholders remove religious education from the main syllabus. These brutal actions by the ruling elites in communist societies are a culmination of the lethal link with religion which overshadows any possibility of progress or advancement. 

The communist regimes will only support and uphold only the theological components which support communism and scrap off those that don’t. This action plan is advanced with the core aim of solidifying the major communist ideologies regardless of what will happen to the religious stability and well-being. Hence, under such circumstances, religion and communism can’t coexist since they carry different ideologies which are less likely to match under any provision or concept. Religion, however, will be on the losing side since there are powerful communist elites who will propel their agendas by all means. However, the emergence of different denominations, especially in Christianity with divergent religious views, is described as a possible enabling factor that facilitated communism by establishing ideal cultural environment platforms for thriving without collective interference. 


Socialism and Religion

Socialism and religion is another widely explored topical issue in the course of understanding divergent religious aspects. Normally, socialism is a form of social organization economic and political theory that stipulates that production means distributing ways, and all the forms of exchange should be regulated by the whole community collectively. Socialism is considered largely as a form of a rational system.[11] However, there socialism and religion have visible disconnects regarding certain issues identified through critical assessment. 

Based on a rational assessment, socialism is usually against the liberty of religion. Liberty, in this case, is usually composed of the ability to exercise, expressing and living based on the framework of individual faith provisions. Therefore, when such privileges are overridden, the essence of religion is usually compromised and, in turn losing the basic value and viability. Having religious freedom is one of the core elements which were integrated by the founding entities of religion. In most societal settings, there is a very close link between respecting the liberty of religion and the overall success economically, politically, and also in attaining civilization. However, in the different settings or societies whereby socialism is predominant, the situation is usually totally different, and there is no religious liberty. Under such a situation, there are reversal trends, and it is almost impossible for the religious functions and activities to thrive as expected. 

Therefore, the continuous attacks and interference on religion and related activities are one of the common and predominant problems which are evident in socialist societies. In societies whereby there has been the advancement of democracy, the introduction of the socialist order usually breaks the overall order and causes the destruction of all the foundational institutions in that particular setting. The religious institutions are usually the main targets and rendering them incapable of operating with the required efficiency level. Also, people with certain religious affiliations and interests are usually blocked from pursuing their ideal interests. These outcomes directly showcase the incompatible nature of religion and socialism as well as the extensive outcomes, especially on the people with particular religious affiliations. 

The disintegration of a particular societal foundation and causing oppression to a particular group of people through the stripping of their basic it also means that the image of God who is the Supreme Being is also compromised and exposed to the demeaning portrayal. The religious ideology that all people are from God and they all have equal rights is not upheld. The socialist regimes usually take this responsibility and portray themselves as the main source of authority even whereby the religious decisions are supposed to be made. Additionally, whereby there is socialism, the religious groups will be subjected directly to excessive vigilance and become the core targets.[12] Under such a situation, the main order usually turns out to be blocking as well as continuous monitoring of all the religion-based activities including the ministerial functions and processes. 

The enmity towards religion in socialist societies, especially from the ruling elite is not only powerful but also negatively impactful. The trend of systems in socialist settings to use extreme and excessive powers to actualize and push on reversal agendas that undermine the course of religion is considered to be one of the major setbacks. However, it is crucial to note that different consequences are linked with the disrespect of religious values and freedom, which have been protected for ages. Such consequences in socialist contexts can be evaded by upholding the liberty of religion and avoiding possible interference. 

Religion and socialism cannot tally because, in most socialist societies, authoritarianism and totalitarianism styles of governance are the most predominant. Therefore, under such a scenario, expectations of more coercion are high from the societal leaders. Since all the powers were given to the government, the occurrence of what has been described as the systematic terror of religion is inevitable. Up to date, the ideology of socialism remains a high compelling power in many different settings. Religious equality is usually disintegrated from the ideal Biblical framework and structure, and it is changed into a lethal or dangerous weapon at the control of state entities. Hence, it is rational to conclude that if religious equality was to be achieved, then not through the ideology of socialism. 


Based on the critical assessment, Marxism, communism, and socialism provide a clear stance in regards to how they are objected to religion. The critique based on the three theoretical concepts holds a significant deal on religion especially in the current century when people and scholars are critical in understanding its main basic and underlying prompts and overall influence on human life. Religion in the Marxism, communism, and socialism context to a substantial extend is usually perceived to facilitate some reversal trends, and it may not be favored by the facilitators of these particular ideologies and concepts. In other contexts, there is excessive monitoring and control such that the ideal religious activities and functions cannot be carried out or undertaken effectively as per the required order. These action plans have the collective results or outcomes of undermining the religion constructs as well as the original framework and rendering it incomplete or unable to advance the desired agendas in various contexts. The assessment and approach of religion in the Marxism, communism, and socialism ideologies is mainly based on diverse approaches, including reliance on the economic, social, cultural, and political elements. Therefore, to enhance the welfare of religion, it is crucial to create balance guided by these elements. The balancing act will ensure that all the issues are advanced rationally without ignorance of some aspects like religion which equally has significant influence in personal development, especially in terms of spiritual prompt which guides the human life direction and well-being. 

  [1] Stromberg, R. N. (1979). Marxism and religion. Studies in Soviet Thought19(3), 209-217.

[2] Marx, K., & Engels, F. (2012). The communist manifesto. Yale University Press.

[3] Latief, J. A. (2011). Karl Marx’ s Criticism on Religion. Al-Ulum11(2), 257-266.

[4] Marx, K. (1977). Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of right’. CUP Archive.

[5] Stromberg, R. N. (1979). Marxism and religion. Studies in Soviet Thought, 19(3), 209-217.

[6] Kurian, K. M. (1974). Marxism and Christianity. Social Scientist, 3-21.

[7] Kurian, K. M. (1974). Marxism and Christianity. Social Scientist, 3-21.

[8] Bukharin, N., Paul, E., & Preobrazhenskiĭ, E. A. (1922). The ABC of Communism… Translated… by Eden and Cedar Paul. Communist Party of Great Britain.

[9] Marx, K. (2002). Marx on religion. Temple University Press.

[10] Djankov, S. & Nikolova, E. (2018). Communism, religion, and unhappiness. Vox EU. Retrieved from https://voxeu.org/article/communism-religion-and-unhappiness

[11] Shepherd, G. (1965). Socialism as Religion. Transition, (23), 11-14.

[12] Barosso, P.M, (2020). The dangers of socialism to religious liberty in the US. First Liberty. Retrieved from https://firstliberty.org/news/dangers-of-socialism/