50 Years Ago: Ruling Class Use of Religion
In the eyes of the class that is supreme in society, religion is for the people, as Napoleon once pointed out, but not for the rulers. It is something to stupefy or drive into a frenzy the mass of the people, as the needs of the ruling class demand. Since the days of the native medicine man, religion has been a prop and a handmaiden to each ruling class, and a priestly group has evolved parallel with the growth of government. So much has this been so that each social evolution of the past has had a religious glamour cast over it and has involved modifications of the creeds of the defeated rulers. Apart from its philosophic unsoundness, the success and the curse of religion has been its propagation of the myth of another world.
When the oppressed are weary from the hopeless struggle for existence and might be moved to rise and throw off the yoke of oppression, the deadening hand of religion stretches out to them, bids them to be of good cheer and be patient, and all will be well in the hereafter, where “all good people” will live in a heavenly rose garden.
From an article, The Cloak of Religion, by Gilmac, Socialist Standard July 1930.