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convictions is overwhelming.

Let us summarize this testimony.

Karl Marx: "The religious world is but the reflex
of the real world. And for a society based upon the pro-
duction of commodities, . . . Christianity, with its
cultus of the abstract man, more especially in its bour-
geois developments, Protestantism, Deism, etc., is the
most fitting form of religion." 2

1 "Socialism : What It Is, and What It Seeks to Accomplish," p. 35 ;
Kerr & Co.

2 "Capital," I, 32; Humboldt Edition.


Frederick Engels, the cofounder of modern Socialism :
"Now religion is but the fantastic reflection in men's
minds of the external forces which dominate their every-
day existence, a reflection in which earthly forces take
the form of the supernatural." 1

August Bebel, whose authority is second only to that
of Marx and Engels: "Religion is the transcendental
image of society at any given period. The religion of
society changes in the same manner as society changes
and as its development increases. The ruling classes
seek to preserve it as a means of upholding their su-
premacy." 2

Joseph Dietzgen, also associated with Marx, and per-
haps the most philosophical writer of the movement:
"Yet Socialism and Christianity differ from each other
as the day does from the night. . . . Indeed, all reli-
gion is servile, but Christianity is the most servile of
the servile." 8

Paul Lafargue, son-in-law of Marx, and leading thinker
of the Socialist movement in France: "The victory of
the proletariat will deliver humanity from the night-
mare of religion." 4

Emile Vandervelde, the ablest of the Belgian Socialists :
"For the Roman Church religion is not merely a meta-
physical doctrine, but a political and social doctrine
whose dominant ideas are diametrically opposed to the
Socialist ideas." 5

1 "Landmarks of Scientific Socialism," pp. 256, 257; Chicago,

2 "Woman," p. 146; San Francisco, 1897.

8 "Philosophical Essays," p. 122; Chicago, 1906.

4 International Socialist Review, November, 1903, p. 293.

6 "Le Mouvement Socialiste," No. 113, p. 201.


Enrico Ferri, perhaps the most learned and widely
read of the Italian Socialists: "Socialism knows and
foresees that religious beliefs . . . are destined to perish
by atrophy with the extension of even elementary
scientific culture." 1

Robert Blatchford, who has been more widely read
than any other English Socialist: "The greatest curse
of humanity is ignorance. Religion, being based on
fixed authority, is naturally opposed to knowledge." 2

Belford Bax, also an Englishman, who has written
on religion and ethics from the viewpoint of Marxian
Socialism: "Lastly, one word on that singular hybrid,
the Christian Socialist. . . . The association of Chris-
tianism with any form of Socialism is a mystery, rivalling
the mysterious combination of ethical and other contra-
dictions in the Christian divinity itself." 3

George D. Herron, at one time a Congregationalist
minister : "The church of to-day sounds the lowest note
in human life. It is the most degrading of all our insti-
tutions, and the most brutalizing in its effects on the
common life. For Socialism to use it, to make terms
with it, or let it make approaches to the Socialist move-
ment, is for Socialism to take Judas to its bosom." 4

John Spargo, likewise a former Protestant clergyman,
the author of more Socialist productions than any other
man in the United States: "The ethics of Christianity,
like its practices, are characterized by a monstrous
disregard of the common life. Christianity and tyranny

1 "Socialism and Modern Science," p. 63; Chicago, 1909.

* "God and My Neighbor," p. 195; Chicago, 1904.
8 "Ethics of Socialism," p. 52.

* The Worker, March 30, 1902.


have for ages been firmly allied. The ethical teaching
of Jesus even was not Socialism; even His pure spirit
had no clear concept of that great common-life standard
which the race was destined to reach through centuries
of struggle and pain." 1

William English Walling, a very able American So-
cialist author: "We may slightly paraphrase Bebel's
statement above given, and say that the majority of
Socialists are firmly convinced that Socialism and modern
science must finally lead to a state of society where there
will be no room whatever for religion in any form." 2
Moreover, Mr. Walling declares in the same paragraph
that the overwhelming majority of Socialists believe
that religion will disappear without any violent attack,
and are working to "hasten that day."

Now, the leaders just cited, and others who take the
same attitude toward religion, are the makers of Socialist
literature. They have written books which are every-
where recognized as authoritative, which are read by
the more intelligent Socialists, and which through news-
papers, magazines, and speeches filter down to the rank
and file.

Consult, for example, the list of works advertised by
the chief Socialist publishing house in America, C. H.
Kerr & Co., in the pamphlet, "What to Read on Social-
ism," 3 and the books recommended in Socialist meet-
ings, and by Socialist writers, lecturers, and lecture

The prominence of antireligious statements and theo-

1 Editorial in The Comrade, May, 1903.

2 "The Larger Aspects of Socialism," p. 381 ; New York, 1913.
1 Chicago, 1911.


ries in Socialist books naturally varies according to the
class of readers for which they are primarily intended.
In popular works like those of John Spargo, the shock
to the religious believer is reduced to a minimum. In
the more scientific and fundamental treatises, such as
those of Marx, Engels, Bebel, and Lafargue, the irre-
ligious implications of Socialist doctrine are presented in
all their repulsiveness. Speaking summarily, we are
justified in saying that practically all standard Socialist
books contain, explicitly or implicitly, some quantity
of irreligious materialism; that the most authoritative
and systematic of them (mostly from the German) are
saturated with it; and that the average religious be-
liever who reads sympathetically many of these books
is in imminent danger of either losing his faith or per-
verting it into something quite "undogmatic" and

"Unless it retires to one of the poles of the earth,
ecclesiastical hierarchy, like all other despotisms, will
soon be crowded off the earth." [

"For us, we fear the enmity of the Church less than its
friendship, and this we should say equally of any other
church, or any other organization accepting the capital-
ist ideal." 2

"The very word Socialism embodies an ethical con-
cept infinitely higher than anything that organized reli-
gion has ever known. Nothing could well be more
dangerous than the no doubt well-meant attempts to
prove Socialism true by an appeal to religion." 3

1 The International Socialist Review, August, 1912, p. 118.

2 The Worker, May i, 1902.
* The Comrade, April, 1902.


"To be sure, scientific Socialism has certain aspects
with which the Church must of necessity disagree." l

"It is characteristic of the Roman Church that it
keeps the masses in ignorance and bigotry, and thus in
submission to the ruling class." 2

Practically all Socialist magazines and newspapers
publish something of this sort occasionally. The more
popular periodicals contain less of it than those which
are designed for the educated and for persons confirmed
in the Socialist faith. Witness the difference in this re-
spect between the Appeal to Reason and the International
Socialist Review. Moreover, the newspapers present
anti-religious doctrine in a more indirect and diluted
form than the books. Nevertheless, the spirit of all of
them is quite other than the spirit of religion.

The oratorical expressions of the Socialist movement
seem to be irreligious in about the same degree as the
newspapers. During political campaigns the party
speakers refrain, as a rule, from utterances which are
specifically offensive to religious persons. At other times
statements of this character are fairly frequent, both
from the "soap box" and from the lecture platform.

The great majority of Socialists seem to be either
unfriendly to religion, or at least to have severed their
connection with the church and the synagogue. While
this statement is from the nature of the case incapable
of mathematical demonstration, it is so well established
by universal observation that no Socialist seriously at-
tempts to call it in question. So far as Catholics are

1 The Call, January 5, 1912.

* The Social Democratic Herald, August 12, 1912.


concerned, I am certain that only an insignificant frac-
tion of those who become identified with the Socialist
movement remain loyal sons of the Church. Except
in an infinitesimal number of cases, they cannot truth-
fully assert that they have been "driven out of the
Church by the priest." They have been driven out, or
drawn out, by the irreligious teaching and influences
pervading the movement. In America, as in Europe,
the normal result of Catholic affiliation with Socialism
is that noted by the editor of Justice : * "Roman Cath-
olics, I gladly recognize, have become very good So-
cialists, but only on condition of becoming very bad

It is occasionally asserted by Socialists that the irre-
ligious utterances of the movement should not be charged
against the Socialist organization, any more than similar
expressions from prominent Democrats and Republicans
should be set down to the discredit of their respective
political parties.

But the cases are not parallel. In the first place, there
is a very great difference of proportion. Only a small
minority of the distinguished members of the old parties
are avowed atheists or agnostics, while practically all
the leaders of Socialism must be so classified. James
Leatham, a well-known English Socialist, writes :

"At the present moment I cannot remember a single
instance of a person who is at one and the same time a
really earnest and intelligent Socialist and an orthodox
Christian. . . . Marx, Lassalle, and Engels among
the earlier Socialists; Morris, Bax, Hyndman, Guesde,
and Bebel among present-day Socialists are all more

1 London, September 30, 1909.


or less avowed atheists; and what is true of the more
notable men of the party is almost equally true of the
rank and file the world over." l

This statement is substantially applicable to the
United States.

In the second place, the Socialist leaders deliberately
connect their irreligion with their Socialism, and propa-
gate it in books and periodicals which are primarily
intended for the advocacy of Socialism. Their agnosti-
cism and their Socialism go hand in hand.

We are sometimes told that Socialism in the United
States shows very little of that antagonism to religion
which prevails on the Continent. This is a mistake.
Both the leaders and the literature of the American
movement are in harmony with the International Social-
ist position on this subject. Whatever minor differences
exist are of method, not of substance or spirit. The
opposition of American members of the party to religion
is apparently less outspoken, less crude, and less direct
than that of their European comrades ; but it is not less
positive, insidious, and menacing. A striking and con-
clusive proof of this view is found in the latest book of
Professor Rauschenbusch.

Speaking of American conditions, he declares that men
who draw their "democracy and moral order from Jesus"
have difficulty in cooperating with party Socialism. In
Socialist meetings they "find an almost universal attitude
of suspicion and dislike against the Church, which often
rises to downright hate and bitterness, and expands to
general antagonism against religion itself. The material-

1 "Socialism and Character," pp. 2, 3; London, 1897.


istic philosophy of history, as the average Socialist ex-
pounds it, emphasizes the economic and material factors
of life so exclusively that the spiritual elements of hu-
manity seem as unimportant as the colouring of a flower
or the bloom on the grape. In large parts of the party
literature the social and economic teachings of Socialism
are woven through with a web of materialistic philosophy,
which is part of 'Scientific Socialism.' The party plat-
form declares religion to be a private matter, but that
declaration of neutrality does not exclude persistent at-
tacks on religion by official exponents of the party." l

Such is the experience and observation of a man who
desires economic Socialism, and the reconciliation of the
Socialist movement with religion, and whose conception
of the Christian Church would enable him to make very
liberal concessions of dogma to attain these ends. If
his religious sentiments are shocked by the spirit of the
Socialist movement in the United States, it is certain that
no orthodox Christian, surely no genuine Catholic, could
feel at home there.

The explanation offered by John Spargo of this con-
stant association of Socialism with irreligion is not at all
adequate. 2 While the founders of Modern Socialism did
attempt to erect it upon the teachings of science, which
in their time was supposed to be atheistic, this fact does
not fully account for the irreligious attitude of the So-
cialist leaders of to-day, when genuine science no longer
puts itself in opposition to religion.

Not science, but economic determinism must shoulder
the greater part of the responsibility. Thousands and

1 "Christianizing the Social Order," pp. 397, 398; New York, 1912.

2 "The Spiritual Significance of Modern Socialism," pp. 95, 96.


thousands of men who have been drawn into the Socialist
movement by its economic proposals sooner or later
have found that their religious faith was incompatible
with a theory which reduces all social forces and changes
ultimately to economic and material causes, leaving no
place in the universe for the original and independent
action of spiritual forces, or for the existence of that dis-
tinct entity called a spiritual soul. The Socialist news-
paper, the New York Call, 1 stated the situation exactly
when it said: "The theory of economic determinism
alone, if thoroughly grasped, leaves no room for a belief
in the supernatural. "

The materialistic view of the universe and of life which
is implicit in this theory has not remained merely im-
plicit. It has been made quite explicit by the leaders
and scholars of the Socialist movement. They have
applied it specifically to the phenomenon of religion.
They have expressly declared that religion is a product
of economic conditions, that it changes with the changes
in these conditions, and that the present forms of religion
will disappear with the disappearance of the existing
economic system. Kautsky, Labriola, and Engels have
given considerable attention to this phase of economic

According to Kautsky, Christianity arose as a move-
ment for social reform among the slaves and the prole-
tariat, but, owing to changes in economic and political
conditions, became a bulwark of the capitalist class. 2
Engels tries to show that mediaeval Catholicism was but
the religious reflex of feudalism ; that Lutheranism arose

1 March 2, 1911.

1 "Der Ursprung des Christentums," pp. 481, sq.; Stuttgart, 1910.


when feudalism fell ; that Calvinism was the outgrowth
of republican ideas in Switzerland, Holland, and Scot-
land ; and that freethinking responded to the economico-
political conditions in France on the eve of the Revolu-
tion. 1 Finally, Christianity will go out of existence with
the downfall of Capitalism and private property. "If
our juridical, philosophical, and religious ideas are the
more or less remote offshots of the economical relations
prevailing in a given society, such ideas can not, in the
long run, withstand the effects of a complete change in
these relations." 2

How could a movement whose literature is permeated
by such explanations of, and such an attitude toward,
religion be otherwise than irreligious ?

If there be any intelligent student of Socialism who
honestly thinks that it is merely an economic theory,
or who hopes that the Socialist State is likely to be in-
stituted and maintained in conformity with the tradi-
tional principles of religion and morals, he will be con-
strained to accept the following suggestions as entirely
reasonable from the viewpoint of the Christian and the
Theist :

Let Socialists eliminate from their postulates, princi-
ples, and propaganda every element which is contrary
to the traditional teaching on morals and religion. This
will mean repudiation of the theory of economic deter-
minism in so far as the theory implies materialism in
philosophy, relativity in ethics, and in religion agnosti-

1 Feuerbach, "The Roots of Socialist Philosophy," pp. 121-124.

2 "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific," Introduction, p. xxxvii.


It will mean that they will no longer defend confisca-
tion and "love unions," nor make the working-class and
the Socialist State the supreme standard of morality,
nor teach that the principles of morality are essentially

It will mean the cessation of their antagonism toward
religion, and of their attempts to explain the origin and
development of religion on social and economic grounds.

It will mean that capitalists whose property is to be
taken by the Socialist State are to receive full compensa-
tion, and that no industry which is not a natural monop-
oly is to be operated by the State until experience has
proved that the latter is more efficient than private en-

How can Socialists accomplish this task of elimination,
expurgation, and purification? By a method that is
elementary in its simplicity. Let the Socialist party in
national convention formally repudiate all the printed
works which contain teaching contrary to the doctrines
and proposals advocated in the last four paragraphs;
or let it appoint a committee charged with the duty of
relentlessly expurgating from the approved books and
pamphlets everything but the economic arguments and
proposals of Socialism. Let the convention solemnly
condemn beforehand all periodicals, writers, and speakers
who refuse to conform to the new policy ; and let it com-
mit the party to a programme of "socialization" by a
gradual process, through the method of competition
in all competitive industries, and with full compensation
to all capitalists whose property is taken over by the
Socialist State.

Only through formal action of this kind can the Social-


ist movement purge itself of responsibility for anti-
religious and immoral teaching, or become a purely
economic organization and agency. When this has
been done, and the new policy in good faith enforced,
religious opposition to Socialism will probably cease.
Until it has been done, no such result can be expected
by any intelligent man who is honest in his thinking.



Dr. Ryan in substance charges the Socialist movement
with irreconcilable hostility to all forms of religion and
maintains that a Socialist order of society would be in-
compatible with the observance of true religious practices.

To what extent, if any, can the charge be sustained ?

At the outset it cannot be too strongly emphasized
that the organized Socialist movement as such is not
hostile to religion. Nor is it friendly to it. It is entirely
neutral in all matters of religious belief.

"Religion is a private matter," proclaims the Erfurt
Programme, adopted by the German Social Democracy
in 1891, and the Socialist Party of the United States as
late as 1908 made the still more specific declaration :
"The Socialist Party represents primarily an economic
and political movement. It is not concerned with
matters of religious belief."

That these party declarations mean precisely what
they say appears abundantly from the testimony of the
most authoritative spokesmen of the Socialist movement.

Dr. Anton Pannekoek, an influential and accepted


modern writer on Socialism, states the proposition most
tersely and cogently when he observes :

"We Socialists consider religion as a private concern
of each individual, and we demand that the state shall
take the same position. This demand proves clearly
that the assertion of the clergy that we wish to abolish
religion is simply a deception and slander. The plat-
form plank, Religion is a private matter, clearly ex-
presses that fundamental character of our movement by
which it may be distinguished from all earlier revolu-
tionary mass movements. We do not inquire into per-
sonal views ; we do not demand any profession of faith ;
we insist only on cooperation in our practical aims. Our
aim is a definite, material transformation of society, a
different regulation of labour, the substitution of the Socialist
mode of production for the capitalist system. Nothing
else. Anybody who wants to cooperate with us for the
attainment of this aim is welcome as a comrade-in-arms,
regardless of his philosophic, religious, or other personal
views. Our aims bear no relation to religion they
move in entirely different spheres. " *

Wilhelm Liebknecht elucidates the party declaration
of neutrality in the following instructive language :

"Socialism as such has absolutely nothing to do with
religion. Every man has the right to think and believe
what he will, and no man has the right to molest another
in his thoughts or beliefs or to place him at a disadvan-
tage on their account. . . . Opinions and beliefs must
be free. We, as Socialists, must respect them, and those
Socialists who respect the sincerity of the beliefs of their
fellow-men will also avoid scoffing at them."

1 " Die Abschaffung des Eigentums, des Staates und der Religion."


The absolute tolerance of the Socialist movement
toward all religious beliefs makes it possible for many
of its adherents to combine deep religious convictions
and even devout Church practices with whole-hearted
participation in the practical struggles of Socialism.
"One may well be a good Christian, and still feel the
warmest sympathy for the class struggle of the prole-
tariat," attests Karl Kautsky, the foremost living ex-
ponent of Marxian Socialism. And he adds: "The
organization of the militant working-class, the Socialist
party, has not the slightest ground to reject such ele-
ments, if they are able and willing to fight the class
struggle in our way. " l

But these explicit statements do not satisfy Dr. Ryan.
Following the example of most clerical opponents of
Socialism, he goes "behind the record," and seeks to
palliate the force of the unambiguous Socialist declara-
tions by ingenious interpretations and arguments. He
contends that the accepted Socialist philosophy, and par-
ticularly the Marxian doctrine of economic determinism,
are inherently incompatible with religious beliefs, and
that a large majority of Socialists are agnostics or atheists.

These conclusions are based on aprioristic reasoning,
unverifiable general observations, alleged but unrecorded
speeches, and fragmentary utterances of Socialist writers.
They are rendered plausible by a somewhat indiscrimi-
nate use of terms.

Throughout the discussion my opponent employs the
expressions Religion, Christianity, and Church inter-
changeably and without any attempt to define or differ-
entiate them. But such a differentiation is very essen-

1 "Die Sozialdemokratie und die Katholische Kirche."


tial for a fair and just statement of the Socialist atti-

Probably no other word in our language is so vague
and elastic as Religion. In the attempted definitions of
the term the most authoritative dictionaries and stand-
ard theological works present an almost hopeless con-
fusion of ideas, through which, however, two main con-
ceptions may be roughly distinguished. The first, which
we shall designate as the idealistic or philosophic concep-
tion, defines religion as any belief in a universal and
superhuman force; any acceptance of a great ethical
principle, and even any faith in a high social ideal.

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