RELIGION AND COMMUNISM:
A COMMUNIST’S VIEW OF RELIGION
As a general disclaimer, I would firstly like to say I am speaking of my own views. Some of my comrades may disagree with me. This writing in no way is meant to be a direct translation of most Communist principles, but may apply to some communists like myself. Religion is a far-reaching and personal thing, and with that in mind I would ask the reader’s indulgence. My views, once again, are presented in this article solely as an explanation of how I perceive religious faith in connection to my socio-political belief.
PART ONE: THE NEED OF GOD
For most of us, it would seem there is an overwhelming need for the divine. Whether we are mono-theistic or poly-theistic, most of us believe in a greater power. In my own experiences, I have often asked myself why so many believe. My conclusion is that there are simply things in which we cannot explain. Thus, we accredit these things to a divine or metaphysical nature. Something we simply can’t prove, but believe in none-the-less.
Teachings of holy scriptures (and there are many, aren’t there?) lay forth the foundations of how and why our universe exists. They give us a base moral code to follow, which regardless of the belief system, are intrinsically similar. For example, most beliefs follow that murder is a grave and dire crime not merely against man, but against God. In this regard, the need of God has also given mankind a set of principles that are ethical and just. Would these same principles exist without the need of God or religion? I’d like to believe so, but that is not the point of this topic.
Another need for God seems to be that the belief in a divine being also gives hope. The hope that not all is pure chaos or chance, that there is something out there that guides us. Humans want to believe that there is more to existence then what we can see or touch. It is comforting to think that we are loved and watched over. Much like a child must feel when safely in the arms of a parent. In short, the idea of a Creator gives us hope and security.
PART TWO: SOME CONTRADICTIONS I’VE NOTICED
As a child and into my teenage years, I had been raised as a Christian of the Reformed Church. Denominational differences aside, I had been raised in the same manner as most American children. To believe in Jesus Christ and God the Father. As I became more and more of an individual in my teen years, I began to notice some contradictions in the actions of my fellow Christians in regards to our faith. Many of the same people I would sit with in youth group and Sunday classes were, for the most, very un-Christian in nature outside of these places. The adults of the church, while being generally goodly people (to my knowledge) also had hypocritical actions well under their belts. Suffice to say, I was losing confidence that any of my peers or elders truly followed their faith as God would have deemed true.
Also, on the matter of God and contradictions, I began to wonder why an all loving God would allow for such suffering in the world. Now dear reader, I yet again ask your indulgence, for some of you may wish to rant at me on this point. I have had many conversations with a friend and mentor of mine on this topic. He happened to be my youth group’s leader, and a solid example of strong faith. I ask your understanding of me, as I have heard the explanations behind this very contradiction before. I have personally not been convinced, now or then, of the all loving nature of any divine being that still allows for such suffering.
Yet another contradiction I’ve noticed in religion is how it wishes to reach out to as many people as possible, but is also defensive or outright anti-social to some peoples. If you do not dress in an acceptable fashion, if you are of a certain descent, or if you merely express too many unorthodox ideas to some in the religious circles, they reject you. They no longer wish to reach out to you in their “fellowship”. Thus, even though it is deemed a missionary effort to spread the word of the faith, there are still taboos that prevent this. Why are the religious so unwilling to speak to everyone? I shall only presume this to be some sort of backwards trend of society in general, as I’d like to believe that most religious persons would have an open and humble mind.
PART THREE: RELIGION AND COMMUNISM
Traditionally speaking, as most Communist movements have professed, us in the movement proclaim atheism. Communists indeed have been rather militant in some cases about atheism, but it is also a fact that many of us are indeed of a faith. It is, however, a general policy that Communism tends to be atheistic. However, I would point out that just because Communism supports atheism, it really is more of a general principle in regards to society. I don’t believe it has ever been a concrete rule to not allow a personal belief. Now I know, China has been outright harsh towards religion, going as far as to execute the faithful. I believe that may even have been the case in the former USSR and elsewhere. If you were found to be religious, you would be re-educated or imprisoned. These are examples of the most militant actions by our movement.
Cuba, on the other hand, has allowed for worship for some time now. There are also many Communist Parties that officially support the right to belief. Personally, I have no issues with those who believe in their religion. However, I myself would happen to consider atheism to be a good national principle. It is a further step of the concept of separation between church and state. To legally enforce an atheistic stance towards religion is logical and practical. It keeps the often passionate forces of religion from clouding the judgment of society and it’s operation. On the other side of this thought, I could never condone nor justify summary execution or even imprisonment of any person on the grounds of religious belief. To me, a Communist society would officially endorse atheism, yet allow for individuals to believe in their faith as long as it was not to the detriment of society.
As a note on this, it is of interest that during the Paris Commune, churches were allowed to operate as normal if they allowed their spaces to be used as public forums when services were not being held. A town hall of sorts, one could say. This is an early, but valid approach by Communism in regards to religion. It strikes me as being an appropriate middle-ground between militant atheism and the liberal nature of religion and politics known in many countries today.
All too often, comrades past and present have been a bit too zealous in their goal of eliminating religion. One again could argue that religions of all kinds have been equally zealous in their attitudes towards each other. However, as this part of the article is dealing with Communism and it’s relations to religion, I shan’t go into further detail on that topic. I cannot and shall not apologize for the actions of other Communists in this manner, as I cannot claim to have been there when such things happened. All I can do is express some amount of irritation over such intolerance, regardless of the reasoning. In most cases, Communism and religion both aspire to a peaceful and harmonious world for all of mankind.
PART FOUR: RELIGION AND EQUALITY
With that in mind, it leads me to one of the Communist goals of equality. For all of the tolerance and understanding displayed by most religious persons, it is hard to deny that the differences of belief have not led to discrimination or violence. Thus disturbing the harmonious ideal of peaceful co-existence between mankind. This is directly at odds with Communism, as our movement can’t allow such a schism.
And as I have stated, while militant atheism is not the solution to this problem, any good Communist should not stand by while persecution and crimes between religious factions are committed. This could range from mere slander to outright extermination by one camp or the other. To preserve the ideal of equality between beings, it is unthinkable that any Communist should turn a blind eye to such ultimately petty issues. The whole debate of “Who’s God is the True God” is pointless and counter-productive to world peace. Faith is deeply personal, but it should be kept so. Faith should not be sullied with the taint of petty arguments like this.
Sadly, these differences between religious philosophies are centuries, if not mellenia, old. I doubt if Communism or any other ideal could change this easily.
PART FIVE: MY PERSONAL BELIEFS
By now, if you have read this far, you must be asking yourself if I am an atheist. My words above would indicate so. Since my teenage years, I have turned away from the Christian faith I was raised in. I had been a practitioner of magic and semi-pagan beliefs for a time, I had been a strong believer in the concepts of Fate, and I also had briefly worshiped the ancient goddess Bast. In all my journeys of the spirit, I have indeed become increasingly atheistic, but part of me still refuses to deny some form of deity. For all purposes and reasons, if asked I shall say I am an atheist.
In time, I do believe that even the notion of God shall be explained by scientific process.
written by The-Necromancer