Some of them do, some of them don't, just like everybody else.

It brings up one of the more interesting mis-perceptions of life as American communists in this day and time. Contrary to what may be believed, we don't run around bad-mouthing religious folks. Chairman Gus Hall was famous for saying, "Our quarrel is with capitalism, not God."

Some American Christians join the Communist Party. Others work with Communists on common problems. Communists, for example, are for peace, and many peace activists are devoted to their religions. Communists are for civil rights, against the death penalty, and in favor of helping the poor. So are good Christians and other religionists.

Some religious folks even agree with us on the primacy of the working class in trying to institute progressive change.

The corporate media has gone to great lengths recently to paint all Christians as crazed, Bush-supporting, reactionaries. It isn't true at all. Church people are just as likely to subscribe to revolutionary theology as to reaction. Most religious people fall in between.

Communists, like anybody interested in progressive social change, are interested in theology. Frederick Engels goes to great length to explain the theological changes that accompanied the great peasant uprisings in Germany in the 15th & 16th centuries. The reactionaries had their religious interpretations, and Thomas Muenser, main leader of the revolt, had his, which Engels explains in detail. Engels says that theological changes generally accompany any revolution and are a necessary part. It's well explained in Engels' history, The Peasant War in Germany.

It is unfortunate that Ronald Reagan was able to pull some well-known evangelicals into his right-wing government takeover in 1980. It was even more unfortunate that the corporate media made it appear that religion endorsed the anti-worker trend established. One might recall a quote made in the year 30 AD by Seneca the Younger, Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."

Typically, the ruling class and their corporate media malign Marxists by quoting Karl Marx out of context: "Religion is the opium of the people." In context, though, anyone can see that what he was opposing was oppression, not religion.

Here is what he actually said as a young revolultionary in 1844: "Religious suffering is at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

Religious people are welcomed into the Communist Party, as are all other sincere activists seeking social progress. So don't be shocked if you get a Communist Christmas card!

 

Further Reading: "Marx, Jesus and Capitalism" in Political Affairs has an essay by a retired Baptist minister about his life as a Marxist.

The CPUSA's Religion Commission gave its positions during the 2010 convention discussion.

 

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You can work your way through these little modules any way you want, but now that you have finished this one, then The "National Question" and Forging Unity with Oppressed Peoples is recommended next