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1.1 Background of the Study

Religion is a phenomenon that cuts across all human society and cultures. Religion is everywhere man is. This is true because man due to fear of the future occurrence fixes his mind in the unknown being called God. Although any time the issue of religion is raised, people do or normally react either negatively or positively. Some other people are indifferent. The positivists include; Sts. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure other people who are not the medieval philosophers include William James as well as Spencer.

These people can also be theists. They gave way to religious reasoning rather than their rational and systematic reasoning. Simply put, they sacrifice reasoning at the alter of faith. On the other hand, we have religious negativists or atheists. The people that represent these people include; Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Fredrich Nietchez to mention but a few. Although all these people deny religion because of how it is being practiced.

Religion although springs up from man ontology, but the excessive practice of it is inimical to psychosocial development of man. This can be seen in the 15th century when Luther was tagged heretic because he questioned the absolute dogmas of the church. Before then people have suffered persecution in the hands of earlier church fathers because their ideas about reality differ from that of the church Copernicus is a typical example of the above stated.

Based on this we can say with no contradiction that religion over the years has hindered development (in the man as an individual and the society at large) In Islamic religion, this problem of remains unabated. It has been an annual revolutionary problem in the country. Most times we have seen religious fanatics in the Northern area trying to subject or even kill the Christians because of their faith.

A Muslim can fight and die because of his faith. This is nonsensical. Religion as regards Islam is like a whim that gingers the jangled nerve to fight and kill his opposition. Religion to them acts like opium that blinds the members not to question any decision taken by their religious authority. Islamic religion encourages terrorism. The Muslims are ‘fellow goat’ Apart from the above two religions, our own traditional religion (African Traditional Religion) has never favored us.

It is often heard on the news that so, so and so killed a ten year old boy or girl for sacrifice. Also there are some occasions we do hear about inter-tribal wars, ethnic crises and gender discriminations. All these are problems created by religion. Religion part form blinding man’s psyche, it encourages; class distinction, gender segregation, alienation, exploitation, and enmity between peoples. All these are problems associated with the practice of religion.

No wonder Karl Marx was attracted to it. Therefore in this researched work, the researcher sees the necessity of reformation and reformulates religious dogmas in the society. Karl Marx is a humanitarian activist as well as an advocate of social justice. His ideas about religion will help in the redirection of all bad aspect of religious practices.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The practice of religion has done more harm than good to humanity. It has created more problems than it can solve. This was why Karl Marx tried to unmask all the dogmas associated with religion so that man will take his destiny in his own hand. In this research work, the researcher has tried to find out the truth in Marx idea of religion. This is because over the years people have inverted Marx’s idea of religion. Also religion especially Christianity have been so dogmatic over the years and these have made the Christians to believe in their alienating nature.

Religion is hypocritic in nature (especially Christianity). It encourages war, while its rule states ‘that thou shall not kill’. Religion serves as a palliative measures. It is used to console the downtrodden and the oppressed. It professes that before God all men are equal but in practice, women’s right are swept under the rug. In the worst situation of man, it will only promise hope, in the world to come as well as heaven instead of trying to find a lasting solution to man’s problem. It has preaching for both classes in the society (the bourgeoisie and the proletariat). Although religious alienates man, but now the question that comes here include:

Can religion be eliminated in the society?

Can a real classless society be realized?

Can Marx’s materialism be justified?

1.3   Purpose of the Study

At the background of this work, it has been noted that religion is one of the greatest problem man have faced over the years. This was why Karl Henrich Marx got attracted to it. He wanted to find a lasting solution to man’s problem as regards to religions. Karl Marx is an advocate of social justice and a humanitarian activist. This is why he tried to unmask any that any be a hindrance to his ambition that is the realization of an egalitarian society.

So based on this he portrayed religion in a negative way. Religion instead of bringing unity, love and peace in the society. It encourages enmity, diversity, exploitation, class oppression in the society. It religion is got rid of, a perfect classless society founded on the basis of truth and unity will be realized. Psychological and social freedom will be a reality instead of the dreams and empty promised offered by religion.

This is because religions over the years have being an inflictor of a rational and psychological blindness. Religion has been a palliative measure to the poor. This is to show that even, religion is a business. It is of course a lucrative business at the detriment of the poor masses. Religion, especially Christianity is hypo critique in nature. This work tries to unmask all the evils covered by religious practitioners. Religion is used to cover evils that hinder man’s realization of the authentic self. Religion is truly an opium of the people according to the Marxian idea. This is to show that religion is an obstacle to the realization of classless society.

1.4   Justification of Study

One of the primary aims of this work is to explicate the relevant of Karl Marx’s idea of religion and how religion should be practiced by the practitioners. However, if there is no problem with religious practices, this work would have been a fruitless endeavor. Starting from the ancient time till this moment, religion has been the phenomenon that has being constituting problem in the society even in the midst of the practitioners.

The problem include: class society, gender discriminations, exploitation by the cabals, tribal conflicts capitalism to mention but a few. The worst part of these problems is capitalist system and gender segregation. Therefore, if Marx’s idea of religion is adhered to, the living standard of the masses which has been neglected by the authorities will be the thing of the past. The religious practitioners (the masses) will have both psychological freedom and social freedom. All these freedom will help to up grade the standard of living of the masses.

1.5 Scope of the Study

Many people have commented on the issue of religion over the years. Some have seen religion in a negative way while others in positive way. These people either saw religion as an artificial or man made while on other hand they see it as ontological to man.

In this work, the researcher centers his tenet on Karl Marx’s idea on religion as an obstacle to the realization of classless society. The researcher gave an appraisal to Karl Marx’s negative idea of religion. This shows that religious doctrines are problematic because it is like a double edged sword. It is hypocritic

1.6 Methodology

This is a philosophical work, it is devoid of form of dogmatism and extravagant illusion.

The data for this work is divided into two; the primary and secondary sources. This implies that text books, journals, articles, websites, encyclopedia are used. All these materials will be critically analyzed and reviewed to identify notable issues.

This work is expository, critical analytical, argumentative, and evaluative.

In documentation, the work is documented in a new MLA style.

1.7 Organization of the Study

This work is scientific in nature. It is divided into five chapters.

Chapter one deals with general introduction. This is where the whole work is introduced. It clears the ground for the understanding of the whole work.

Chapter two examines the people’s comments on Karl Marx’s idea of religion. This place examines both the negative and the positive ideas of people about Marxist theory of religion.

Chapter three, deals with the exposition of the whole work of Karl Marx. It will first of all deal with Marx’s biography, his idea of society and how he wants to realize his avowed ambition.

Chapter four, deals with the evaluation of Karl Marx’s idea of religion.

Chapter five is the concluding part of the work. The first phase is the summery of the work and the conclusion.

 1.8 Clarification of terms

For the easy comprehension of this work, there are some words and phrases in this work that needs to be clarified, this will help the reader to understand our intentions clearer. Although some terms have eluded a unvocal definition, but here the researcher some times describe such word, phrase or term. Such words includes; religion, classless society or socialism and capitalism.


Religion has been conceived by people in different ways. Each and every one of them gave religion an interpretation based on his own orientation and conception. But one thing that is certain about religion is that the concept of God is common among all religions.   The concept religion is derived from Latin word thus Onwuanibe asserts:

The word religion is from a Latin word‘religare’ which means ‘to bind’. Essentially religion expresses the bond of relationship between man and deity, God, transcendence and provident. It involves the system of believes, rites worship in theory and practice of this relationship in theory and practice of this relation.The notion of a deity, God, mystery and other worldliness is central to religion (2).

In the above citation, religion is seen as a communion between the material man and the immaterial being. Man worships a being he does not see or have any justification for its existence. Religion is what links man (concrete and material) to deity or God (the immaterial being). This simply means that man and God are sine qua non to the definition of religion since it is only man that practices religion.

According to Alfred Nortwhitehead, religion what stands beyond human being. For him man relates to the being greater than himself through religion. Thus he opines:

Religion is a vision of something which stands beyond, behind and within the passing flux of immaterial things. Something which is a remote possibility and yet the greatest of present facts. Something that gives meaning to all the passes and yet eludes comprehension, something which is the ultimate ideal and yet the hopeless quest (cited by Okoro M.2).

This definition simply means that religion is not a thing that can be a subjected within a space of time. It transcends time and space. For him the final goal of man is to have an eternal rest.

Herbert Spencer saw religion as the recognition that all things are manifestations of power which transcend our knowledge.

However the definition of religion will be incomplete if we did not touch all the theories of religion. Each theory describes religion in its own perspective. Thus we have; Anthropological theory, Sociological theory, Marxist theory and theological theory.

Anthropologically, religion is seen as a man’s worship of himself.

Sociologically religion is seen as one of the social institution that unites men in the society.

In the Marxist theory, religion is seen as the opium of the masses.

Theologically, religion is seen as a search for the ultimate being. Religion according to this theory springs from man’s ontology

Classless Society /Socialism

Socialism is a system of government where every body is equal, both economically and in access to social amenity. Here every body is treated equally. There is no golf between the rich and the poor in the classless society. In the socialist system of government, the government owns all the means of production and the distribution of goods. Socialist system of government is an opposite of capitalism.

According to Agena Prince et al in their book ‘Comprehensive Government for Schools and Colleges’ said that classless society is a ‘place where the concept of mine and yours are meaningless.


Capitalism is an opposite of socialism. It is a system where individual own the means of production and distribution of goods (wealth in the state). In this place, there is a very big golf between the rich and the poor. Occupational specialization is noticed in this place.

Nwankwo B.C. defined capitalism as ‘an economic system which allows private ownership of property, means of production and distribution’ (29).

Anyele Ugoji in his view described it as a political cum economic system in which almost all the means of production and distribution of goods are owned and controlled by private individual and which the economic activity of the government is at minimum.


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