Critique of Religion

By Olin Williams
November 1, 2023

Within any body of religious believers, there is the danger of extremism and fanatism, which lead to injustice and oppression. The antidote for Christians is to reach for a fuller and truer faith in Jesus Christ.

Documents show that Marx’s analysis of religion as an instrument of oppression was anticipated by the Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7), Jesus himself conducts a major critique of the religion of His day.

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus says, “But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.”

This type of religious discourse comes out as judgmental and condemning, quick to give criticism but unwilling to take it.

Jesus is critiquing the people who pray, give to the poor, and seek to live according to the Bible, but they do so to get acclaim and power for themselves.

This is utilizing scriptures to get leverage over others. The prophets and Jesus are not criticizing against prayer, helping the poor, and obedience to Biblical directions for life.

They are emphasizing the potential of this kind of religion to lead to external forms of greed, materialism, and oppression. “Doesn’t orthodox religion inevitably lead to violence?” asked one individual. He argues that Christian nations institutionalized imperialism, violence, and oppression through the Inquisition and the African slave trade.

Evidence seems to indicate that religion aggravates human differences until it boils over into war, violence, and the oppression of minorities. True Christianity is a relationship with Christ. The essence of Christianity is salvation by grace. It is not salvation by works or human moral efforts but by what Christ did for us.

This type of belief in being accepted by God by sheer grace is humbling. However, in the twentieth century, violence has been inspired as much by secularism as by religion.

There seems to be some violent impulse deeply rooted in the human heart that expresses itself regardless of what the beliefs are in a particular society. Communist regimes rejected organized religion and belief in God.

Without the influence of religion, they produced massive violence against their own people. Even without the ideology of God, a society will find some other concept and hold on to it to appear moral and superior. Even the ideals of liberty and equality can use violence against opponents to attain their purpose. Mankind is sinful by nature. That’s why Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.”