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  1. 1. Theories of religion • Marxism Miss Russell Bilton School
  2. 2. To Start Draw a quick image/sketch/diagram to show what Marxist’s believe about religion…You can only include 3 key terms maximum. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  3. 3. Thinking Ladder… To Marxist theory of religion using evidence. To Marxist Theory of religion using evidence. To Marxist Theory of religion using strengths and weaknesses.
  4. 4. How will I know if I am learning? By the end of the lesson… E Will be able to describe evidence and how it relates to Marxist theories of Religion. C Will be able to evaluate Marxist theory using evidence and examples. A Will be able to evaluate Marxist theory using a critical commentary of strengths and weaknesses.
  5. 5. To jog your memory… Clip After you have watched the clip.. use what you can remember from last lesson to fill out the first row of your table ‘Evidence for Marxist Theory of Religion.’ Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  6. 6. Slavery • In slave societies (e.g. sugar plantations in West Indies) slave masters tried to convert African slaves to European religions. • Slave masters saw religion as a way of controlling their slaves, preventing rebellions by giving the masters control over the slaves’ beliefs. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  7. 7. The Hindu Caste System • Hinduism justifies social inequality through the Hindu caste system. • Caste is a system of social stratification based on ascribed status. You are born into the same caste as your parents and marriage between castes is forbidden. • The highest caste is that of the priests, followed by a warrior caste, a merchant caste and the lowest caste of servants and labourers. Beneath these four groups are the untouchables who are not considered to have a caste at all. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  8. 8. The Hindu Caste System • In the traditional Hindu Caste system in India (now illegal to discriminate), people were divided into five castes based upon their supposed degree of religious purity. The Brahmins (priests) were at the top and the Untouchables (unskilled labourers) at the bottom. • No movement was permitted between castes, this system ensured the ruling class maintained their power and control and justified those at the bottom in terms of their religious impurity. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  9. 9. The Hindu Caste System • The doctrine of karma teaches that if you behave well in this world by accepting and observing the rules of caste, after death you will be reincarnated (re-born) into a higher caste. • These rules include strict norms about purity and impurity, governing what food may be eaten and what social contact allowed between members of different castes. Higher castes must maintain higher levels of purity. For example, touching someone from a lower caste may be seen as pollution and must be followed by elaborate cleansing rituals. • The doctrines of reincarnation and karma serve to maintain inequality by assuring those at the bottom of the caste system that their obedience will be rewarded or disobedience punished by reincarnation into a higher or lower caste. Meanwhile, higher castes perceive their privileged positions as a reward for their virtue in a previous life. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  10. 10. The New Christian Right • Highly religious Christians in the United States with highly conservative and procapitalist views. (George Bush – example). • The New Christian Right justify free-market capitalism, which supports the interests of the bourgeoisie, in religious terms, thereby legitimating ruling-class power. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  11. 11. Evangelical Christianity in Latin America • The New Christian Right have encouraged the spread of protestant religious beliefs in predominantly catholic Latin American countries, particular amongst the poor. • Protestant beliefs provide religious discipline and hope of salvation in the afterlife, discouraging them from supporting radical Catholic liberation theology and encouraging support for US-style capitalist values. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  12. 12. Evidence against Marx The church doesn’t always support the ruling class E.g. 1980s Poland - Catholic church opposed the state, and helped bring the downfall of the Communist regime Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  13. 13. Evidence against Marx Religion was banned in Communist Russia & China, but it did not die out - In 1991, 47% of Russians believed in God (Greeley, 1994) The Soviet Union is already a much more ‘religious’ country than Britain or most of Western Europe Hoskins (1988) Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  14. 14. Marxism: PEEL Complete one PEEL with Evidence FOR Marxism and Religion, and one PEEL with Evidence AGAINST Marxism and Religion. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  15. 15. Marxism: Evaluation Points Think about the following questions and use them to evaluate Marxism as a theory of religion: 1) How far does Marxism account for Secularisation? 2) Is there evidence to support all parts of the Marxist theory? 3) Is oppression still present today? How has this affected religion? 4) Is Religion all negative? What would Functionalists say? Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  16. 16. Marxism: Evaluation Points 1) Does not take secularisation into account. How can the ruling class impose its ideology on the masses if the majority of the population does not attend church? 2) There is little evidence for False Consciousness. 3) To say that ‘religion is an instrument of manipulation’ doesn’t explain its existence anymore than saying ‘art has ideological purposes’ can explain existence of art. Doesn’t explain why religion continues to exist when oppression has come to an end. 4) Too negative - he ignores positive functions of religion. Additional: Althusser (1971), reject the concept of alienation as unscientific and based on a romantic idea that human beings have a ’true self’. This would make the concept an inadequate basis for a theory of religion. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  17. 17. Marxism: Critical Commentary Write a critical commentary of the Marxist Perspective of religion. Consider: 1)Evidence 2)Strengths and Weaknesses Be Prepared to share yours! It must be no more than 200 words! Charlotte Russell Bilton School

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