Assess the Usefulness of Marxist Theories in Understanding Religious Today. (40 Marks)

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Marxist theories of religion relates mainly on how religion helps dominate the Bourgeoisie within the society by the Proletariat. The division of the two classes where the Middle class who owns the means of production, exploits the labour of Working class in the capitalist society. There are many ways whereby Marx replicates his theories against religion whether it has created a positive or negative societal effect. Other perspectives such as Functionalism and Feminism criticises Marx’s values according to the different roles of religions. Firstly, Marx argues that religion is portrayed as an ideology where there’s a set of ideas and values, in other words, a belief system that disadvantages the Working class as they become exploited. The sufferings they offer is thought of as a God given state as they fall under the false consciousness. Religion misleads the poor by making them believe that they will be rewarded in heaven (afterlife) as long as they obey the capitalist class. Lenin therefore describes religion as ‘spiritual gin’, known as the intoxicant dolled out to the masses by the ruling class to control them in accepting their lower status. However, Gramsci argues that the ruling class domination can be overthrown where a classless communist society will be replaced. This is where the means of production benefits the society as a whole (equality). But in order to do so, working class must become conscious with the reality of their oppression. Gramsci refers to this as hegemony. Working class can develop ideas to challenge Proletariat hegemony through ‘dual consciousness’. This can be developed from Working class past experiences in working under a capitalist state. If workers are successful they are able to spread it throughout the working class to raise awareness. Although some might refuse to rebel against Middle class due to economic factors such as fear

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