he does not revolve round himself". Karl Marx.
Before we can look at the Marxist theory of religion we must first
have some understanding of what religion is. For many in todays world
religion is becoming something alien, only 3% of the population of
Britain attend Church! Religion is, however, much more than simple
Church attendance, something that has never been high amongst the
British working-class. Religion for me involves two things: beliefs
and practices, or, rituals. Roland Robertson defines religion in the
following succinct manner:
"(religion) refers to the existence of supernatural beings that have a
governing effect on life"
This is as clear a definition of religion as I have come across.
Religion refers to the existence of beings that transcend nature, that
is, they do not conform to the laws of nature. These supernatural
beings are superhuman, they can perform tasks that no creature on
earth could possibly perform. This definition of religion may,
however, lead to some religions not being defined as religions. No
definition is perfect.
Religion also involves practices or rituals. What is a ritual? For me
it is simply some repeated pattern of human action which has some
religious significance or connection. For example, marriage ceremonies
in churches, baptism, prayer, confession, confirmation are all
rituals. Such rituals can be conceived of in ideological terms, or in
terms of control. They are symbolic in nature often expressi...
... middle of paper ...
Did Jesus not tell his disciples to cast off their worldly
possessions, and not to think of tomorrow?
While it may indeed be true that religion and religious movements have
challenged the status quo at given times it remains the case that
throughout the history of religion the vast majority of religious
organisations and beliefs have served the interests of the
ruling-class. Even those religions and religious movements that have
at one time challenged the status quo have been turned over the course
of time into a tool of the powerful, that is, into ruling class
ideology. The Marxist case with regard to religion is very
comprehensive, even if we accept that in some cases religion can be a
force for change. Certainly no other theory explains religion in so
comprehensive and compelling a manner.
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