For example, Karl Marx wasn't anti religion, but he was irreligious, as such a fan of Communism I wondered how this is, as the ideas of communism fall in line with the teachings of Jesus.

I'm just wondering if Religion is pivotal to Communism?

  • Most Marxists would say no, that religion is essentially ruling class ideology, but for an interesting counterargument see politicaltheology.com/kojin-karatani
    – Brian Z
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 14:44
  • Most communist groups are strictly anti-religion so no...
    – A.bakker
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 15:07
  • Both the USSR and China promoted state atheism and China still does. Marx believed religion to be "the opium of the people" and detrimental.
    – user64314
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 15:19
  • 1
    See Marxism and religion with references to Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1843): "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness." And Lenin's The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion: "Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion." Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 15:31
  • Would you agree that Marxism is a religion?
    – h_undatus
    Commented Feb 25 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


For Marx, religion was incidental to alienation and was a symptom of oppression. Religion would fall away with liberation of the working classes, so it is not only not necessary, but necessary that it go away.

Given the brief exhortation that is the Communist Manifesto, the desire to unite the people of the world as laborers with a vested interest in not being at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy of the oppressive capitalist class at first glance would seem to align with the Catholic Church's mission to unite the downtrodden under the Banner of Christ. In fact, there is an intersection to be found in more contemporary times in liberation theology (SEP):

The theology of liberation forged a whole new language: the “preferential option for the poor”, the “underside of history”, “the church of the people”, “orthopraxis is prior to orthodoxy” that influenced some philosophers of liberation. Still, two of the most important contributions of the theology of liberation to the philosophy of liberation were the imperative that critical reflection had to emerge out of committed praxis, and the problematization of the concept of “el pueblo”. The theology of liberation may be understood as theological reflection on what constituted a people, a community of faith. In short, theology of liberation asks: who is the subject of God’s soteriology. Most noteworthy is that Gustavo Gutierrez published his Teología de la liberación. Perspectivas (A Theology of Liberation) in 1971 in Peru, while Hugo Assmann published his Opresión-Liberación: desafío a los cristianos (Oppression-Liberation: Challenge to Christians) the same year in Chile. The Catholic Church also provided an institutional framework within which some of the work of philosophers of liberation could be pursued by hosting “jornadas”, sponsoring congresses, and providing teaching opportunities in its affiliated universities for philosophers of liberation, many who had been expelled from public universities.

But of course, Marx himself was critical of religion as a coping mechanism. From the SEP's Karl Marx:

Marx’s ideas concerning alienation were greatly influenced by the critical writings on religion of Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872), and especially his The Essence of Christianity (1841). One key text in this respect is Marx’s “Contribution of Hegel’s Critique of Right: Introduction” (1843). This work is home to Marx’s notorious remark that religion is the “opium of the people,” a harmful, illusion-generating painkiller (MECW 3: 175). It is here that Marx sets out his account of religion in most detail.

While traditional Christian theology asserts that God created man in God’s own image, Marx fully accepted Feuerbach’s inversion of this picture, proposing that human beings had invented God in their own image; indeed a view that long pre-dated Feuerbach. Feuerbach’s distinctive contribution was to argue that worshipping God diverted human beings from enjoying their own human powers... Marx’s explanation is that religion is a response to alienation in material life, and therefore cannot be removed until human material life is emancipated, at which point religion will wither away.

Thus, according to the author, religion isn't something to be pursued, but something that results from human alienation and is used as a coping mechanism to deal with the alienation.

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