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Were socialism merely a theory taught in schools, it might in practical life be reconcilable with religious toleration. But it is not only a theory, but a movement, to which the theory imparts light and direction, life and energy. The doctrinal tenets, therefore, must be spread among the rank and file of the socialists and be instilled into their minds. Hence the circulation of the works of Marx and Engels and their interpreters among the educated, hence the spreading of numerous pamphlets and of periodical literature to popularize the socialist doctrine and bring it home to working men as well as women. From this connection between the socialist theory and the socialist movement an anti-religious attitude follows as a necessary consequence. What else than hatred and contempt of religion can result from the scornful denial of the existence of God so often repeated, from the derision of the divine worship resounding everywhere in socialist literature? Let us hear some utterances that come from the mouths both of masters and pupils and are heard in all countries on both sides of the ocean.
The following are sayings of Marx:
Religion is an "absurd sentiment," "a fantastical degradation of human nature."
"Man makes religion, not religion man."
"Religion is the sentiment of a heartless world as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions." "It is the opium of the people."
"Religion is only an illusory sun, which revolves around man as long as man fails to revolve around himself."
"Religion is the self-consciousness of a human being that has either not yet found itself or again lost itself."
It has recently been maintained by J. Spargo that Marx opposed professional atheism. In the "International Socialist Review," March 1908, Spargo grants him to be an agnostic. But the above quotations, verified by Cathrein and Untermann, show hatred and contempt for all religion so intense that they can not be interpreted merely as agnosticism, but must be taken for positive atheism.
Engels expresses his contempt for religion in almost the same terms as Marx. In his criticism of the socialist platform he demanded that the labor party declare its intention "of delivering men's conscience from the specter of religion."
In his "Anti-Duehring" he writes:
"Religion is nothing but the fantastic reflection in the brains of men of those powers by whom their daily existence is dominated, a reflection in which the natural forces assume supernatural forms."
In a letter of 1890 published in the "Leipziger Volkszeitung" he maintains that the higher ideologies of religion, philosophy, etc., still in vogue are prehistorical and traditional, consisting of what we nowadays term nonsense, gradually to exterminate which and to replace with new but ever less absurd nonsense is the task of science.
E. Untermann quotes him as saying:
"Man lost in religion his own nature, divested himself of his manhood. Now that religion has lost its hold on the human mind through historical development, man becomes aware of the void in him and of his lack of support. There is no other salvation for him, if he wishes to regain his manhood, than to thoroughly overcome all religious ideas and return sincerely, not to 'God' but to himself."
Bebel, repeating a saying of the frivolous poet Heine, leaves "Heaven to the angels and the sparrows." From his numerous utterances breathing intense contempt for God and religion we quote the following:
"It is not the gods that create man; it is man who turns the gods into God."
"In the image of himself (man) he creates Him (God), not the opposite way."
"Monotheism has also suffered changes. It has dissolved into pantheism that embraces and permeates the universe; ... it volatilizes day by day. Natural science reduced to myth the dogma of the creation in six days; astronomy, mathematics, physics, have converted heaven into a structure of air."
"Morality and ethics have nothing to do with organized religion. The contrary is asserted only by weak-minded people or hypocrites."
Liebknecht writes in the "Berliner Volksblatt," 1890, n. 281:
"We may peacefully take our stand upon the ground of socialism, and thus conquer the stupidity of the masses in so far as this stupidity reveals itself in religious forms and dogmas."
J. G. Brooks in his "Social Unrest" remarks: "A single passage from Liebknecht's paper ('Der Volkstaat') in 1875 stands fairly for opinions that may be quoted from twenty authoritative sources:
"'It is our duty as socialists to root out the faith in God with all our zeal, nor is one worthy of the name who does not consecrate himself to the spread of atheism.'"
James Leatham, an English socialist, says in the preface to his "Socialism and Character" (1899):
"Faith, properly so called, is dead. The belief in God with all it implies is now without a raison d'etre. The original conception of God has everywhere been that of a Creator, a great Master Workman of the Universe, who made it and who sustains it. But the idea of creation is now given up. The conception of a universe beginning to be out of nothing is found, even by Roman Catholic theologians(?), to be unthinkable, and they now speak of God and the universe as 'coexistent entities.'"
"Nor is the conception of God, the Sustainer, any longer an intellectual necessity, as it was when men could not account for the phenomena of Nature in terms of the natural. There is nothing left for the deity to do."
Robert Blatchford, the famous English socialist and agnostic, writes:
"The greatest curse of humanity is ignorance; religion, being based on authority, is naturally opposed to knowledge."
To present the views also of American socialists let us first quote from two ex-ministers of the Gospel: G. D. Herron, ex-minister of the Congregational Church and ex-professor of Applied Christianity; and from William Thurston Brown, formerly pastor of the Plymouth Church in Rochester, N. Y., both now prominent leaders in the Socialist Party.
G. D. Herron, in a lecture on the "Co-operative Life" delivered in the Chicago Temple, and printed in "Socialist Spirit" January, 1903, tells his audience:
"All religions the world has ever seen have been imposed for the purpose of preventing the operation of the collective will. They have been mere philosophies of submission, aiming at the subjection of the people. The world has therefore only advanced as the collective will has found halting expression in successive revolutions made against these imposed dogmas, both the church and the state. Thus humanity can hope to advance only as it forsakes all reliance upon any resources outside the common life. The common life and its common aims, aspirations, and efforts must be its own saviour. He makes even now its own heaven and its own hell."
W. T. Brown is quoted as saying in a sermon:
"The truth is, as all thinking men are aware, we have no such thing as intellectual honesty in the sphere of religion. We have made religion a department of human thought and action in which moral principles do not figure. We have not even succeeded in getting a conception of God that has any moral quality. The deity men pray to and exhibit in theological systems is not a moral being. He does not act in accord with principles, but at his own caprice or to meet unforeseen emergencies."
To these unmistakable utterances of the two ex-ministers we add a clause from E. Untermann's profession of faith in the "Appeal to Reason," February 21, 1903:
"Religious dogma is a survival of the childhood of the race, when man bowed in fear and superstition to the unknown forces of nature and endowed them with human names and qualities. The Manitou of the North American Indian, the Zeus of the Greek, the Jupiter of the Roman, the Jehovah of the Jew and the God of the modern Christian, are all the result of the same feeling of impotence in the face of the elements of nature. They bear the same visible marks of the human hand, and clearly testify to the fact that God was made in the image of man, and not man in the image of any God. They are fit subjects in the romantic and ignorant imagination of undeveloped races or of the children of more advanced nations. They are nothing but the heroes of fairy tales by which nations testify to their religious feelings. Up to a certain state of mental development, they perform a useful service, by keeping a dim light of higher aims burning in the minds of men. But the mature minds of deeper thinkers do not find any rest nor any inspiration in those idols, and demand a new and better foundation for their march toward godhood."
Intense, indeed, is the hatred and contempt of religion expressed in the foregoing quotations. But these embittered sentiments do not spring merely from the individual views of socialist writers. No, they are the necessary outcome of socialism under both its aspect as a materialistic system of philosophy and an economic and political movement.
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