To most Americans today the word “communism” suggests all manner of evil. You need but whisper, “He is a Communist,” and, if your neighbor believes you, the alleged Communist could next be charged with almost any crime whatever and your neighbor would not be surprised. The Communist has the role of international villain once held by the Fascist, except that the Communist enjoys an even worse reputation. He would rob his own brother blind; he would betray his own parents to the police; he would delight in desecrating churches, for he is an atheist.

Even after making allowances for the excesses of some Communists, most people would indict the Communist philosophy itself for certain basic wrongs. It reduces all men to a common political denominator, it destroys individual initiative and private enterprise, and it takes away the basic freedoms that Western democracies prize. Worst of all, it is godless.

Now there is an interesting combination. How did “godless” get into that line-up? Because, most will say, it belongs there. But why? The other indictments clearly do, of course. Any ideology that seeks to erase all distinctions between men is bound to have a low view of the worth of the individual. Any political system that reduces all its citizens to a common denominator necessarily discourages private enterprise. But why must such a system be godless?

Few people, I dare say, have given much thought to the matter. If we ever notice how often communism shows its atheistic stripe, we probably explain the fact to our satisfaction by saying that it just happened that way: the spread of communism has been controlled by godless men. But, we hasten to add, if the leaders of world-wide communism could be influenced by the Gospel, Western ...

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