While in Oxford, as well as in other English universities, I became involved in many discussions with students on the situation of religion and believers in socialist (Communist) countries. On one such occasion, an Oxford student asked a question I had not encountered before: “Why are Marxists against religion? What has Marxism to do with religion?”
The question put me on the spot. I did not know how to answer it. But the essential importance of the question was such that I determined to do everything possible to find the answer. It was obvious that a dialogue on the place of a Christian in socialism must begin with this question.
It is known that Marx, Lenin, and Stalin were deeply interested in religion in their youth. They studied it seriously and wrote about it sympathetically. What caused these men to turn against religion and find it imperative to fight for religion’s destruction, its removal from men’s thoughts and lives? In attempting an explanation, one writer cites certain traumatic experiences which these leaders had with the church or Christianity in general. But this attributing of a vast social phenomenon to the unfortunate experiences of a few, even though they were the creators of Marxism-Leninism, seems to be inadequate.
Many years of Marxist studies at school and university, and ten years of political education as a teacher in a country with a Marxist government, have taught me that an idea cannot take root and become a phenomenon of the masses unless it meets with favorable social and political conditions. Therefore, applying Marxist thought to the interpretation of an aspect of Marxism, I posed this pertinent question to myself. What special historical conditions persuaded the teachers of Marxism-Leninism ...1
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