Socialism and Religion


The People
May 13, 1995
Vol. 105 No. 3




I know this isn't the best way to ask, but it is the fastest. What is the position of the SLP on religion in the future socialist world? Does it support official atheism (i.e., discredit religion) or support freedom of practice?

M. Davies




The SLP holds that religion is a private matter -- a matter of individual concern and personal preference. It, therefore, does not fight, and never has fought, religion.

Socialism would guarantee complete freedom of conscience -- including the freedom to hold or reject religious beliefs. The framers of the American Constitution found that class society as it existed in the 13 colonies and Europe did interfere with the religious beliefs of those who differed religiously from the ruling classes in power. Accordingly, they put into constitutional law the principle of freedom of religious belief and disbelief. The principle is a civilized one with which Socialists thoroughly agree.

Socialism will not only make freedom of conscience a living principle, it will create the conditions wherein religion can exist uncontaminated by politics, and people may worship or not worship according to their convictions.

Incidentally, the charge that there will not be, and that socialism intends to "destroy religion," comes from those who are interested in turning religious-minded workers away from socialism. The fact that such people falsify outrageously in order to arouse prejudice against socialism is additional evidence of the baneful influence of private property.

The SLP, as stated, holds that religion is a private matter today and that it will continue to be a private matter under socialism. This means that there will be no public restraint on religion or on religious worship. Freedom of religion will prevail, as will the freedom to dissent from religious beliefs.

However, those who, under socialism, feel the need for clerical guidance will have to bear the expense themselves. Certainly no society of freedom and enlightenment will ever permit organized religion to have a subsidized status, and the constitutional rule of separation of church and state will find a comparable expression in separation of church and socialism's organs of administration.

-- Editor