So much for the 'godless communists'
What happened? Used to be you could safely equate communist party membership with atheism because, well, wasn't it always that way? Was that not much of the reason why various various churches during the United State's Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union were famously opposed to communism? Didn't the U.S. put the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance during the Cold War just to show which of the two chief antagonists in that struggle was closer to the Lord? Didn't the movie director and avid anti-communist Cecile B. DeMille help to put up those Ten Commandments monuments in public places as a political statement as well as some nice PR for his movie starring Charlton Heston? And, of course, was it not Karl Marx, co-author of 'The Communist Manifesto' who called reglion the "opium of the people"?
Now comes the Communist Party USA to complicate the matter. According to the Peoples' Weekly World, the party argues that the association of communism and atheism is a misconception, notwithstanding the original Bolsheviks' official atheist position arising from its conflict with the Russian Orthodox Church for its alliance with the tsarist state. Going a step further, the party announces that it has formed a new "Religion Commission" to "welcome people of faith into the party."
The chairman of the commission, Tim Yeager, identified as a 'Chicago trade unionist and member of the Episcopal Church,' says “We invite questions and responses from people who would like to dialogue with us on matters pertaining to religion, Marxism and the struggle for more peaceful, just and secure world.”
Yeager sidesteps that whole unpleasant "opium" business, and instead closes his remarks by quoting Marx otherwise: “As Marx said, the goal is not merely to explain the world, but to change it. We hope that the new Religion Commission will help build greater unity toward that end...We welcome people from faith communities to join us.”
From Washington Post:
A Faith-Friendly Communist Party
Good news for Americans of faith who aren't happy with the Democratic or Republican parties. The Communist Party USA has created a new Religion Commission to reach out to "welcome people of faith into the party."
Wait. Wasn't it Marx who said this? "Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand." And wasn't it Lenin who said this? "Religion is the opium of the people." Isn't communism by definition anti-religion?
This isn't your great-grandfather's Communist Party, apparently. "Some of the greatest leaders in our history have been men and women of faith, and our party has been proud to work with them," Tim Yeager, Religion Commission chairman, Chicago trade unionist and Episcopalian, said in a statement.
As Yeager notes, the party's constitution states that membership is open to "any person living in the United States, 18 years of age or over, regardless of race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or religious belief..."
Yes, there are religious Communists. Robert Mugabe, for example, the brutal Marxist dictator and president of Zimbabwe is a Roman Catholic. OK, bad example. There was Thomas J. Hagerty, the Marxist Catholic priest from New Mexico who co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblys) and once said, "The Ballot Box is simply a capitalist concession. Dropping pieces of paper into a hole in a box never did achieve emancipation of the working class, and in my opinion it never will." Another bad example.
Religious communism could be a tough sell, even in America.