Evaluate the contribution of Marxist theories to our understanding of the role and functions of religion in the world today

Authors Avatar by faithawoniyihotmailcouk (student)


Evaluate the contribution of Marxist theories to our understanding of the role and functions of religion in the world today

Marxists argue that the role and functions of religion to in the world today is to promote interests of the ruling class by being used to support the ruling class ideology. Ruling class ideology keeps the ruling class in power by discouraging subject classes from realising they are being exploited and then trying to overthrow class power. Marxists see religion as a feature only of class-divided society. As such, there will be no need for religion in classless society and it will disappear. Neo-Marxists often do not agree that parts of the superstructure are completely controlled by the ruling class.

For MARX the role and function religion is to operates as an ideological weapon used by the ruling class to legitimises the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and God-given. Religion misleads the poor into believing that their suffering is virtuous and that they will be favoured in the afterlife. Such idea creates a false consciousness- a distorted view of reality that prevents the poor from acting to change their situation.  Marx is further supported by LENIN who argues that religion is much like a ‘spiritual gin’ that is doled out to the masses by the ruling class in order to keep them in their place. The ruling class use region to manipulate the masses and keep them from attempting to overthrow the ruling class by creating a ‘mystical fog’ that obscures reality. Religion also legitimises the power and privilege of the dominant class by making their position appear to be divinely ordained, e.g. the 16th century notion of the divine rights of kings. The Queen is still head of the UK state, head of the common wealth and head of the church of England. However, Marxism ideology may not be able to be applied to today’s society religious thinking, practice and institutions are becoming less important both in the lives of individuals and in society as a whole, and those involved are a declining group, as a result of structural differentiation. This therefore suggest that religion is no longer needed or used to maintain ruling class power, as religion has lost its influence on many in society today. In addition, functionalist would argue that Marxism ignores the positive benefits of religion to society. Marxist ignore the positivist functions such as ‘facilitating physiological adjustment to misfortune’ allowing them to deal well with what they psychically cannot change, such as times of life crisis such as death, for example the 2016 Orlando shooting. Despite this Marxist still argue that the role and function of religion is operate as an ideological weapon used by the ruling class.

Join now!

Marx also sees religion as the product of alienation. Alienation reaches peak in the division of labour in a capitalist factory. In these dehumanising conditions, the exploited turn to religion as a form Religion acts as an opiate to dull the pain of exploitation. The role and function of religion is to act just like an opium that masks the pain rather than treating its cause, so religion masks the underlying problem of exploitation that creates the need for it. This is done by creating an illusory happiness that distracts attention form the true cause, as it can other no ...

This is a preview of the whole essay