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  1. 1. Theories of religion • Marxism Miss Russell Bilton School
  2. 2. Starter You have 3 minutes to Mind-Map the Marxist view of Society. You must use these key words… ruling class, working class, conflict, means of production, capitalism Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  3. 3. Thinking Ladder… To & key terms and ideas of the Marxist approach to society. To knowledge and understanding of Marxism to explaining religion. To & key concepts in the Marxist theory of religion.
  4. 4. How will I know if I am learning? By the end of the lesson… E Will be able to define key terms in Marxist explanations of religion. C Will be able to describe Marxist perspectives on religion. A Will be able to explain Marxist perspectives on religion using key terminology.
  5. 5. Marxism & Religion How can we apply these ideas to religion? How might Marxists explain religion? Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  6. 6. Explain Marx‟s quote: “ Religion acts as an opiate to dull the pain of exploitation. But just as opium masks pain rather than treating its cause, so religion masks the underlying problem of exploitation that creates the need for it. Because religion is a distorted view of the world, it can offer no solution to earthly misery” “Instead, its promises of the afterlife create an illusory happiness that distracts attention from the true source of the suffering, namely capitalism” Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  7. 7. Two key concepts: Religion as Ideology Religion and Alienation What do you think each of these mean? Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  8. 8. Marxism & Religion Religion is a feature of only a class-divided society. As such, in a class-less society… religion would disappear. Religion as Ideology A belief system that distorts reality in ways that serve the ruling class. Religion as Alienation Workers are alienated because they are exploited by the ruling class. Look at the sources in front of you. Try and match them to the correct concept as argued by Marxism. When you have matched them correctly, summarise them in your table. Use your textbook if you need to! Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  9. 9. Religion and Ideology Religion leads people in a false direction and offers hope and solutions (this is an illusion). Religion helps to keep the proletariat in a state of false consciousness – a distorted view of reality that prevents the workers from acting against the ruling class. Charlotte Russell Source 1 Bilton School
  10. 10. Religion and Ideology Lenin on Religion “Religion is a kind of spiritual gin in which the slaves of capital drown their human shape and claims to a decent life!” An intoxicant doled out to the masses to confuse them and keep them in their place. At the time of writing gin was linked to those associated with alcohol addiction…. ‘mother’s ruin!’ Charlotte Russell Source 2 seen as a drink Bilton School
  11. 11. Religion and Ideology Lenin on Religion Lenin: The Ruling Class use religion to manipulate the proletariat by creating a fog which obscures reality and therefore makes them believe that there is no way out. Charlotte Russell Source 3 Bilton School
  12. 12. Religion and Ideology Legitimacy of Power Religion Legitimates the power of the dominant class by making their position divinely ordained. E.g. The King is God‟s representative and is owned total obedience. Disobedience is illegal but also sinful. Charlotte Russell Source 4 Bilton School
  13. 13. Religion and Alienation Marx on religion “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiments of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” • Religion is like a drug that soothes pain of exploitation and distorts reality • It makes life bearable and prevents revolution • It masks the problem of exploitation rather than treating the cause. Charlotte Russell Source 5 Bilton School
  14. 14. Religion and Alienation Religion and Compensation Christianity offers the promise of „salvation from bondage‟ in the afterlife – an illusory happiness. This distracts from true source of alienation – capitalism. This makes life on Earth more bearable. Charlotte Russell Source 6 Bilton School
  15. 15. Religion and Alienation Religion and Compensation – virtue of suffering Religions emphasise the idea that life can be full of suffering. Being poor with dignity will be compensated for in heaven. Charlotte Russell Source 7 Bilton School
  16. 16. Religion and Alienation Alienation exists in all class societies but is extreme under capitalism. Workers are alienated because they don‟t own what they produce and have no control. This dehumanises them and as such they turn to religion as a form of consolation for their exploitation. Charlotte Russell Source 8 Bilton School
  17. 17. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  18. 18. How does Religion dull the pain? 1) Life After Death • Promise of eternal bliss in „life after death‟ E.g. Christianity promises „salvation from bondage & misery‟ in heaven = Life on Earth is more bearable, looking forward to heaven Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  19. 19. How does Religion dull the pain? 2) Compensation for Suffering • If you deal with poverty with dignity & humility = reward for your virtue • Religion makes poverty more tolerable by offering reward and promising compensation. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  20. 20. How does Religion dull the pain? 4) Supernatural Intervention • Hope of supernatural intervention to solve problems on Earth E.g. Jehovah‟s Witnesses – supernatural powers will descend & create heaven on Earth Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  21. 21. How does Religion dull the pain? 4) Justifying Social Order • God creates & ordains social structure • Social arrangements appear inevitable • Those at the bottom = accept / come to terms with their situation Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  22. 22. Key Concepts Write a summary of the Marxist perspectives using all of the following key terms: Ideology Alienation False Consciousness Exploitation Legitimates Opiate/Opium Reality Social Control/Order Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  23. 23. Do you know this song? All Things Bright and Beautiful The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate, God made them high & lowly, And ordered their estate Charlotte Russell Bilton School

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