To learn about Karl Marx’ views
of religion’
To begin to study the nature
and causes of secularisation
Karl Marx was a Jew who became an atheist.
His philosophy is known as ‘historical materialism’
(Everything exists in history – that is, has a beginning
and an end: material reality is reality; God/mind is
not; history consists of a series of economic struggles
– the last one would lead to communism)
He was greatly influenced in this philosophy by what he
saw in the London of the 1840s – the Industrial
The industrial revolution was making the rich richer and
the poor poorer; sweat shops, child labour, alienated
human beings who never saw the work their labours
produced; could never afford to)
There were more workers than owners; more proletariat
than bourgeoisie – so they could throw off their
They had to be unhappy enough to want to do this.
Religion drugged them; led them to accept their terrible
conditions on the promise of a better life in heaven if
they were ‘good’ and ‘obedient’ -religion is ‘the opium
of the masses’
Karl Marx believed that religion acted like a drug, giving
people the illusion of happiness as religious leaders
promised justice in an afterlife. It prevented them really
understanding the depth of their slavery and therefore
fighting it.
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real
distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the
sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless
world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the
opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory
happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.
The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the
demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
What is it?
How on earth can you measure it?
1/ The reduction in influence of religious
institutions, doctrines and symbols
2/ Increasing concern with the present
materialistic world
3/ The separation of religious values from
national and political life
4/ The source of knowledge and motivation of
behaviour being no longer grounded in religion
5/ The centrality of humanity, nature and
reason at the expense of the sacred and
6/ General acceptance of a change from a
sacred to a secular society
30 – Rochester
06 – Canterbury
36 - Southwark

To learn about karl Marx` views of religion` To begin to study the