Is religion opium for the masses?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Labeling Christianity (and/or other religions) the "opium for the people" or the "opiate of the masses" is a fairly common tactic used by those dismissive of religion. Using phrases like this is a ...

July 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Agnes Stuart
It depends how you define 'religion'. If by religion you mean adherence to a set of beliefs and the carrying out of the rituals and practices associated with these beliefs, then yes it can become like a drug, taken for it's 'feel good' effect. Many people, sadly including many who call themselves Christians, practice their religion because they have been brought up to do so and would be socially ostraciszed if they didn't; or they do it to salve a guilty conscience. Others can be quite fanatical about their religion and find purpose and fulfillment in imposing it on others - as is happening in the Middle East today. 

Christianity does not fit into this definition of religion. It is not so much about a set of beliefs and practices as about a personal day-to-day relationship with the God we believe in- the God who created us in His image, the God who has adopted us into His family and cares for us as a father cares for the children he loves. This is very different from what Karl Marx was referring to. He saw only the blind following of organised religion and it's destructive outcomes throughout the history of the world.

October 04 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I haven't read Marx's actual writings, but my impression of his meaning in calling religion the opiate of the masses was that religion (in his view) kept the people of the laboring class focused on the hope of life after death (which I suppose in Marx's view did not exist) as a means of coping with the general hardship and poverty of their earthly life in that era (the mid-1800's), rather than becoming conscious of the way in which they were being exploited by the wealthy capitalists who owned or controlled the means of production (such as factories) in which the people of the working class made the goods that the capitalists then became wealthy by selling, without sharing the proceeds with the laborers who had actually done the work, and who had made the capitalists' wealth possible. 

Marx's goal was to make the people of the working class conscious that they were being oppressed in this manner, which would then motivate them to overthrow the capitalists and seize control of the means of production for themselves, but, to Marx, this required that they focus their attention on this present world, rather than concentrating on religion's promise of a reward to be received after death.

By contrast, Christianity, while offering the hope of eternal life, at the same time views this world (although fallen) as God's creation, and this present life as a gift from God to be used in His service and for the benefit of others, rather than as a mere "waiting room" for eternity. Some of the greatest initiatives in pursuit of social justice (such as the abolition of slavery, and the civil-rights movement) have been products of the application of Christian principles to secular society.

Also (in my opinion), God intends earthly life for His followers to be an experience that faith in Christ allows them to enjoy and savor, rather than just to tolerate or endure.

October 04 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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