Karl Marx feels that religion is a system inside of a sick world. He further feels that a world that requires illusion (religion) has something wrong with it. Karl Marx talks about two primary functions of religion in the “real world”, it being the opium of the people and also it being the sigh of the oppressed creature. According to Marx these two functions are not synonymous.
As mentioned above, Marx talks about two primary functions of religion in what he calls the “real world”. First he says that religion is the opium of the people. Marx feels religion provides anesthesia to the masses. To him, religion is a way for people to escape from some of the suffering in their lives or to somehow feel better despite all of their suffering. Religion deters suffering of the present situations of people. It allows people to put off their suffering because they believe it will be taken care of in heaven, or where ever, after they die. And as it would follow, religion helps people put more hope into “the year after”. People who are religious really do believe “life” will be better for them after they die. Also religion helps to maintain the oppression of the lower classed people by the people who make up the upper classes.
The second primary function of religion in a society, according to Karl Marx, is that it is the sigh of the oppressed creature. Religion brings with it a safety value. People end up being lulled into the protection religion seems to offer them, and people do feel the need to feel and be safe. Religion also gives people an opportunity to complain about the ways of the world. The world is not the way religion says it should be and therefore people complain about the way it actually is, as a way of feeling like a good member of their chosen religion. Religion allows people to acknowledge the dehumanized state of their lives. It helps people to see the horrible way in which we are in and it helps keep us in this horrible way. We realize through religion that we are not finding fulfillment in our lives.
Marx would view a relationship between religious belief and progressive social activism as a display of a dehumanized society yearning for self actualization. The people of a progressive social activist society are not getting self actualization because there political system allows for scarcity of necessities, goods and jobs, and they also oppress the people of their society. According to Marx, if people are without self actualization they will create a place where they can find self actualization. Religion helps people do that.
I would have to agree with Marx to a certain extent. In my opinion religion does do all of the things Marx says that it does. I am not disagreeing with Marx on this aspect. I just don’t think religion is the only thing that does this in society. Looking around the world after having taken a closer look at a great deal of factors in societies I see oppression running rampant. Although I do see religion playing a huge role in the oppression of individual societies, I feel the governments of the world, and the advertising companies, as well as agribusiness, the oil and auto industries, and the coal industry, are wrecking even more havoc on people.