Socialister om religion (Danish references)

Collections of articles

International Viewpoint

Debate: Marxism and Religion

Reds – Die Roten

Section: Religion


Category: Science & Religion (Audio)

Workers Liberty

Featured Topics: Religion & Politics

World Socialist Web Site

News & Analysis: Religion

Articles etc.

Against the Current

Terry Eagleton: The God Question (No.136, September/October 2008)
“Why has my local bookshop suddenly sprouted a section labeled ‘Atheism’? Why, just as we were apparently moving into a post-metaphysical, post-ideological, even post-historical era, is theology breaking out all over the place? Can we put it all down to fanatical Islamists and falling towers?”

Fourth International

Felix Morrow: Religion: its social roots and role (1932) (Vol.5, No.6, June 1944) + Part 2 (Vol.5, No.7, July 1944)
“One of the strengths of the essay that follows is the author’s insistence that religious ideas are rooted in an attempt to come to terms with the material world, rather than simply representing a reactionary set of ideas.”


Beyond Belief: a new approach to Atheism (Vol.2, No.6, March 2008)
“With debate about religion seldom out of the headlines Nick McKerrell asks if it is time for atheists to stand up and be counted.”

Historical Materialism

Alberto Toscano: Beyond abstraction: Marx and the critique of the critique of religion (pdf) (Vol.10, No.1, 2010, p.3-29, online at
“This article reconsiders Marx’s thinking on religion in light of current preoccupations with the encroachment of religious practices and beliefs into political life.”

In Defence of Marxism

John Pickard: Religion and secularism (27 April 2011)
“As the twenty-first century progresses, there has been an increasing interest and not a small amount of debate on the role of religion in society and particularly on advances in secularisation.”

Alan Woods: Marxism and Religion (Audio, 20 February 2009)
“Alan Woods talks at the IMT Winter School in Berlin … [and] explains the materialist conception of the world, integral to the theory of Marxism, and contrasts it to the idealist perspective that gives rise to religion.”

Alan Woods: Marxism and Religion (July 22, 2001)
“Religion is what Marxists would call a false consciousness, because it directs our understanding away from the world and towards an otherness, about which we can know nothing and about which it is useless even to ask questions … In the struggle of science against religion – that is to say, the struggle of rational thought against irrationality – Marxism sides wholeheartedly with science. But there is more to it that that. The whole purpose of acquiring rational knowledge of the world is to change it.”

International Socialism

Roland Boer: The full story: on Marxism and religion (Issue 123, Summer 2009, p.161-179)
“[John Molyneux’s] section on Marx is as interesting for what it doesn’t say as for what it does … In fact, what I would like to do is bring Engels back into the discussion, since he is more important that many of us realise.”

John Molyneux: More than opium: Marxism and religion (Issue 119, Summer 2008, p.51-73)
“… a deficient, mechanical or one-sided understanding of the Marxist analysis of religion has been a substantial contributing factor to a number of left individuals and groups completely losing their former political bearings and ending up as left apologists for imperialism.” In Norwegian: Mer enn opium: marxisme og religion (Rødt! nr.3, 2010, p.36-55)

Paul Blackledge: Not just opium (Issue 113, Winter 2007, p.191-194). Review of Scott Mann, Heart of a heartless world: Religion as ideology (Black Rose Books, 1999)
“Mann’s book includes fascinating discussions of how the image of god changed through history; from the worship of the goddess in pre-class societies in Europe to the overthrow of this religion and its replacement by male gods following the emergence of class societies after the last ice age. He also has interesting things to say about the rise of Catholicism and Protestantism, and even an entertaining, if speculative, discussion of Jesus.”

Neil Davidson: Enlightenment and anti-capitalism (Issue 110, Spring 2006, p.85-112)
“The Enlightenment was an intellectual and social movement which, like the Renaissance and the Reformation before it, characterised a specific historical period, in this case beginning in the middle decades of the 17th century and ending over 200 years ago, at the end of the 18th century. Yet it remains at the heart of current concerns in a way that, for example, Reformation debates over predestination do not. The Enlightenment remains a contemporary issue and not merely a historical one.”

International Viewpoint

Freedom to criticize religion is a touchstone of free expression (Issue 452, September 2012)
“While Gilbert Achcar strongly condemns Islamophobic hate material, he rejects any curtailment of free speech in the name of preventing blasphemy. ‘Freedom to criticize religion is a major touchstone of the right to free expression’, he says in an interview with Farooq Sulehria.”

Gilbert Achcar: Marxists and Religion: yesterday and today (15 October 2004)
“Achcar’s survey ranges from basic principles, the disputes over the hijab, to the policies of the French and British far left organisations – some of which he finds ‘unacceptable from a Marxist point of view’.” In Swedish: Marxister och religionen – igår och idag (pdf) (

Labour Review

Cliff Slaughter: Religion and social revolt (Vol.3 No.3, May-June 1958)
“For the understanding of some of the great problems of human history, the study of religion is a necessity. What is the relationship between the social divisions among men and their beliefs about the nature of things? How do ruling classes ensure long periods of acceptance of their rule by those they oppress? … It was out of the examination of questions like this in the German school of criticism of religion that Marx emerged to present for the first time a scientific view of society.”

Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Dave Holmes: Marxism, socialism & religion (June 2010)
Introduction to Marxism, Socialism & Religion (Resistance Books, 2001): “The focus is on Christianity and the European experience but the basic points made have a universal relevance for our understanding of religion and the fundamental considerations determining the way in which the revolutionary socialist movement should relate to it.”

Marx Myths and Legends

Cyril Smith: Karl Marx and religion (March 2005)
“In this article, Cyril Smith explores Marx’s attitude towards criticism of religion – ‘the prerequisite of all criticism’.”

The Meek and the Militant: Religion and power across the world
By Paul N. Siegel (London, Zed Books, 1986, 229 pages)
“It is time … to review the classical Marxist analysis of religion in order to understand what it says and what it does not say. Such a review will enlighten religious believers and others who are sincerely concerned with understanding the Marxist view of religion.”

Monthly Review

John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York: Marx’s critique of heaven and critique of earth (Vol.60, No.5, October 2008)
Chapter 5 of the author’s book Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present (Monthly Review Press, 2008)

MR Zine

Roland Boer: The ethical failure of Terry Eagleton (22.09.10)
“Eagleton offers both a truncated theology and a dismembered socialism. Ethics becomes nothing more than a code of life for the religious left, or rather a much more spiritual left.”

Alexander Saxton: Marxism and religion: the break from Hegelian idealism (7.12.06)
“This essay is excerpted and adapted from Chapter 11 of his new book Religion and the Human Prospect (Monthly Review Press, 2006).”

Freedom from religion. An interview with Alexander Saxton
by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (MR Zine, 9,11.06)

Louis Proyect: Socialism and religion: what Marx believed (The Unrepentant Marxist, January 2, 2007).

New Politics

Roland Boer: The dilemma of freedom of conscience: Lenin on religion, the national question and the Bund (No.54, Winter 2013)
“Freedom of conscience first comes to the fore in Lenin’s texts with respect to religion. Despite all his castigating of religion as both result of and contributor to suffering, as a feature of human existence that would be overcome through revolution and education, Lenin had to deal with a central platform of European Social Democracy.”

New Socialist

Michael Löwy: Marxism and religion: opiate of the people? (Issue 51, May-June 2005)
“The Marxist view of religion has been greatly over-simplified, typically identified with the well-worn refrain that it’s the ‘opiate of the people’. In this article, Michael Löwy challenges this misconception, and presents us with a richly nuanced view of Marxism and religion.”

Socialism and Religion
By F.A. Ridley (The Engels Society, the late 1940s / Rationalist Socialist League, 1997, 39 p.)
“… religion has not died out. On the contrary, in many respects, it has increased its power. And it has done this because religion is not only an intellectual but a social product.” See review by Chris Gray (Revolutionary History, Vol.7, No.2, 1999)

Socialism Today

Niall Mulholland: Religion and society (Issue 114, Dec-Jan 07-08)
“New Labour’s promotion of ‘faith schools’, disputes over public display of religious symbols and clothing, the ‘war on terror’ and political Islam, the Buddhist monks’ ‘saffron revolution’ in Burma”¦ religion and religious-related issues are regularly in the news headlines. As The Economist magazine recently remarked, ‘These days religion is an inescapable part of politics’.”

Socialist Register

Gilbert Achcar: Religion and politics today from a Marxian perspective (pdf) (2008, p.55-76)
“Two of these have received a lot of attention in recent years: Christian theology of liberation and Islamic fundamentalism. A comparative assessment of these two phenomena from the standpoint of Marxist theory, enriched by further inputs from the sociology of religions, is a particularly challenging and politically enlightening endeavour, as I hope to establish.” In Swedish: Religion och politik idag från ett marxistiskt perspektiv (pdf) (Tidsignal, nr.11, 2010, 14 s.)

Socialist Review

Neil Davidson: Reason, faith and revolution (June 2009). A review of Terry Eagleton’s book (Yale University Press, 2009)
“In this very welcome contribution to the current debate on religion, Terry Eagleton has two central objectives. One is to dismantle the pretensions of leading figures among the New Atheists, above all Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whom he conflates into a single entity called ‘Ditchkins’.”

Neil Davidson: The threat to reason (July/August 2007). A review of Dan Hind’s book (Verso, 2007)
“This is a powerful counterblast to the vulgar reductionism and mock radicalism of the pseudo-enlightened tomes which are currently cluttering our bookshops.”

Socialist Worker

Religion””is it just ”˜the opium of the masses’? (Issue 2485, 5 January 2016)
“For some, religion lies behind conflict and oppression. For others it’s a comfort. Sadie Robinson looks at the complex reality.”

Anindya Bhattacharyya: Marx and religion (Issue 1990, 4 March 2006)
“A careful examination of Marx’s writings on the subject reveals that while he certainly criticised religion, he was equally scathing about liberals who elevated criticism of religion over all other political concerns.”


Sean Matgamna: The ‘Dialogue between Marxism and Christianity’ (1967) (3/92, 27 April 2006)
“The fight against religion – not the search for liberal formulas to coexist with it, but the fight against it – has not for many, many decades been part of the mental furniture of the British left. Our ancestors had, it seemed, won that fight. Now, however, we must win it again. ‘Rapprochement’ with religion did not start with Tony Blair or the SWP. The Stalinist parties got there first. In the 1960s and 70s, they pursued a ‘dialogue of Marxism and Christianity’.”

Paul Hampton: The truth about Marxism and religion (3/90, 23 March 2006)
“An article, ‘Marx and religion’ in Socialist Worker (4 March 2006) argued that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were not very hard on religion … The article is largely rationalisation, reading back into history the SWP’s current politics of courting some Muslims organisations. It fails to represent the complexity of Marx and Engels’ views on religion.”

Trotskyist International

Religion and the tasks of the revolutionary party (No. 12, Sept/Dec 1993)
“Religious movements are on the rise across the world. What is religion and how do Marxists fight it? Mike Evans reviews the revolutionary approach from Marx to Trotsky.”

Weekly Worker

Religion: Painfully detailed origins. By David Douglass (Issue 979, September 26, 2013). Review of John Pickard, Behind the myths: the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (AuthorHouseUK, 2013, 492 p.)
“This is a thoroughly researched and painfully detailed review of the origins of Judean, Christian and Islamic belief, based upon archaeological evidence, historical documentation and comparative histories.” See also review by Tom Trottier (In Defence of Marxism, 9 October 2013)

The sigh of the oppressed, Part 1 + Part 2 (Issue 867, May 26, 2011)
“Jack Conrad examines Marx and Engels and their criticism of passive materialism, theological atheism and religion.”

Earthly core of misty creations (Issue 790, October 22, 2009)
“Camilla Power addressed the CPGB’s Communist University on the origins and evolution of religion. This is an edited version of her speech.”

Adjunct of the state and an enemy of socialism (Issue 731, July 24, 2008)
“Jack Conrad explains why nowadays religion has no progressive role and why non-religious Church of England property ought to be confiscated by a CPGB government.”

Supernatural and material force (Issue 714, March 27, 2008)
“Chris Gray reviews Jack Conrad’s book Fantastic reality: Marxism and the politics of religion (JC Publications, 2007, 528 p.)

The sigh of the oppressed (Issue 658, February 1, 2007)
“Gerry Downing looks at the origins of monotheism and assesses the attitude of communists towards believers.”

Fantastic reality: Marxism and the politics of religion (Issue 653, December 14, 2006)
“Extract from the introduction to Jack Conrad’s new book (JC Publications, 2007, 528 p.)”

History and fantastic reality (Issue 584, July 8, 2005)
“In an excerpt from the introduction of forthcoming book ‘Religion : communist approaches and analysis’, Jack Conrad argues that those who would change the world must get to grips with the role of contemporary religion and how it comes down to us.”

Secularism, what it is and why we fight for it (Issue 577, May 19, 2005)
“Jack Conrad looks at the origins of secularism, pseudo-secularism and how the SWP got very confused over the question.”

Karl Marx and religion, Part 1. By Michael Malkin (Issue 365, 21 December 2000) + Part 2 (Issue 369, 1 February 2001) + Part 3 (Issue 373, 1 March 2001) + Part 4 (Issue 377, 29 March 2001)

What Next?

Andrew Coates: In defence of militant secularism (No.29, 2004)
“A strange alliance has arisen: from conservative members of the Muslim Association of Britain, the SWP, to London’s Mayor, all are in an uproar about ‘Islamophobia’ … All are reactionary responses to the secular view, which is at the centre of anti-racism.”

Ian Birchall: So what is secularism? (No.30, 2005)
“I don’t question Coates’ sincerity as a socialist. I just think he is wrong. To begin with the Enlightenment. Coates is absolutely right to defend the Enlightenment tradition (widely repudiated by post-modernism). But the Enlightenment must be understood in historical terms.”

Andrew Coates: An enlightened response to Ian Birchall (No.31, 2005)
“Birchall fails to grapple with the nature of political secularism, its philosophical roots, the account of the French secular education system is hopelessly skewed, and his belief that Respect is ‘secularism in practice’, is wholly misguided.”

Workers Liberty
Theme: Marxism and religion (3/1, February 2006):

Sean Matgamna: Marxism and religion – Introduction
“The question of how socialists relate to religion, including to those religions which criticise aspects of capitalism, is again of great importance.”

Max Shachtman debates Charles Owen Rice: Fighting sin or fighting capital? (1948)
“Most of the issues posed to Marxists now by political Islam are there in Shachtman’s confrontation with political Catholicism. The Catholic priest, too, is a critic of capitalism, as historically was the Catholic Church.”


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