By Christina Grattan
It was Karl Marx, the prolific socialist thinker, who confessed that “Law, morality, religion...are so many bourgeois prejudices,” 2 and that the proletariat would “centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state.” 2 Draconian thought such as this would certainly evoke the fatalistic death of religious freedom.
Dr. Bruce Ashford of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission justifies why socialism naturally obliterates religious freedom. “Socialism goes too far, extending communal ownership beyond its normative limits... it transforms material equality into a deity...this... goal becomes a beast whose tentacles reach past the public square and into every sphere of life, including the arts and sciences, business and entrepreneurship, education and scholarship, and even home and family life. Socialism offers a critique of society that becomes inherently totalizing.” 2
When a government institutes economic control over society, no part of it can be independent of the government’s grasp. This includes religion since in a true socialist government faith is subordinate to the main cause of the state: equality. When it is the state’s responsibility to achieve these ends, they must take control of civil society, especially when it becomes a threat to its power. The state’s “moral” cause, in essence, becomes the “religion” of the people as the state oversteps its boundaries into one’s personal affairs and civil liberties, leaving no room for religious expression.
The United States Senator, Rand Paul, increases this claim that “Complete control of the economy means complete control of the people participating in that economy. To exert such pervasive control, extraordinary state power is necessary.” 3 Socialism is a recipe for state coercion, and if religion becomes an obstacle to this, it will be silenced. History has repeated this paradigm as Kent R. Hill, a senior fellow for the Religious Freedom Institute, postulates that “Marxist states have often succumbed to the temptation to force the decline of religion when it refuses to disappear on its own. ” 1
When Russia became a communist country, churches were seized by the government since the state violated private ownership, “nationalizing all the land.” 1 Only under the precept of socialism was it possible to achieve this force since it gave the Soviet Union economic autonomy over religious institutions.
The state suppression of religion is not unique to the Soviet Union and still runs rampant in many socialist countries today. In Cuba, many children of different faiths such as Catholicism or Judaism are barred from government-run schools and face bullying, while pastors have been arrested, and churches have closed. 3 Also, the “sinicization of religion” in China by the Chinese Communist Party has caused Buddhist temples, churches, and mosques to be obliterated, and religious leaders to be arbitrarily arrested for long prison terms due to “illegal business operation” and “inciting subversion of state power.” 4
The unprecedented authority that socialism grants the state inevitably proves that religion will always be under fire in a country where there is little economic independence. For it is a threat to the state that seeks to control every aspect of an individuals’ life. The only viable alternative where religious freedom will be safeguarded is capitalism.
Francis Mahaffy, a missionary and writer for The Foundation for Economic Education, states that “Capitalism is the system that alone allows freedom of thought, of criticism, and of religion. Under no other system can the Christian Church be free to propagate its ideas. Only under capitalism can the Christian freely teach the Christian message of the sovereignty and love of God.” 5
Religion cannot peacefully exist with socialism when the individual’s will is deemed inferior to the state’s. Only capitalism will preserve religious freedom since the individual’s interests are protected in a competitive society. The time has come for those who demonize the bourgeoisie to lay down their antagonism and embrace capitalism to promote a freer world where faith can be left untainted by statism.
1. Hill, K. (1991). Turbulent Times in the Soviet Church: The Inside Story. Multnomah Press. pp. 48, 33
2. Marx, K. & Engels, F. (2005). The Communist Manifesto. Project Gutenberg.
3. Paul, R. (2019). The Case Against Socialism. HarperCollins. p. 137
Christina is currently a junior political science major at Biola University, who has a genuine heart to help the world. Her strong faith in God drives her to pursue justice to create a freer and better world, which starts with fighting the lies of socialism. In her free time, you can find her reading books to inform herself, discussing politics, and making frozen yogurt runs.