“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.”

–Karl Marx – 1848

The philosopher, social scientist, historian and revolutionary, Karl Marx, is without a doubt, one of the most influential socialist thinker to emerge in the 19th century. Although he was largely ignored by scholars in his own lifetime, his social, economic and political ideas gained rapid acceptance in the socialist movement after his death in 1883. Marx in his book ‘The Communist Manifesto’ highlights many aspects that leads to social injustice. He considers religion to be one of them.

Marx understood that religion served a purpose or a function in society but did not agree as to the basis of that function. For most, religion is seen through faith or teachings that are held to be true. Religion teaches morality, values, and beliefs that a society will hold its evaluation of behaviour against. Marx had a hard time believing in unseen truths. The basis of his argument is that humans should be led by reason and that religion was masking the truth and misguiding followers. He believed that when one views society and life through the lens of religion, they are blinded to the realities of their life. Religion, then in his opinion, was a false hope and comfort to the poor. He saw that the poor used their religion as a means to find comfort in their circumstances, thus aiding in the process of ‘alienation’.