Yesterday I wrote about Religious Socialism an idea my friend Fran Quigley told me about. He wrote in response to a blog post I had recently written, The Evil of Capitalism, a conclusion he has come to as well. He and Maxine Phillips, coauthors of the article discussed below, are active with the Religion and Socialism Working Group of Democratic Socialists of America.
Beginning to look into alternatives to capitalism, I’m now learning about socialism, Karl Marx, the Black Panthers, Mutual Aid, and anarchists. I just joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
The Acts of the Apostles describes the first Christian communities as being profoundly socialist. For example, from Acts, chapter 2, verses 44-45: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone in need.” Later, in chapter 4: “No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. … From time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
This system was a fresh response to Jesus’ teaching that we should love our neighbors as ourselves and see Christ embodied in the poor and the sick. The early Christians were also deeply familiar with the Hebrew Bible’s many mandates to redistribute wealth. Consider Deuteronomy 24:19-22’s call to leave a portion of harvests available for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, and Isaiah 10:1-2’s emphasis that the poor are not to be pitied and given alms – they have rights to be honored.
The scripture reflected the law of the Hebrew communities, carried out in the Sabbath and Jubilee years of debt forgiveness and free access to harvests (Leviticus 25:10 and Deuteronomy 15:2). And they lined up with the consistent obligation tzedakah imposes for Jews of means to give their surplus to the poor – which Jewish scholars insist is more akin to a tax than to charity.Christian Socialist. Before Karl Marx, there was Jesus Christ. And before secular socialism, there was Christian socialism by MAXINE PHILLIPS and FRAN QUIGLEY, Democratic Socialists of America, McGahan Publishing House.
I have heard “the bread in your hoard belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked.” Basil, the fourth-century Bishop of Caesarea.
Eugene V. Debs, concluded that “Socialism is Christianity in action.”
I didn’t know Quaker leader, Bayard Rustin, was a socialist.
In one of our nation’s best moments, the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, Christian socialists played major roles. A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin were very open about their socialism, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who praised democratic socialism both publicly and privately, stood on the shoulders of previous generations of socialist African American social gospel leaders.
These Christian socialists agreed with Karl Marx’s ground-breaking analysis of the devastating impact capitalism wreaks on working people. But they parted ways when it came to Marx’s antipathy to religion, and they rejected Marx’s exhortations to revolution by any means. For religious socialists, the instrument of revolutionary reform is a political one at the ballot box and nonviolently in the streets. That approach works. Consider the many nations comparable to the United States, particularly in western and northern Europe, where socialist advocacy within the democratic process has led to universal healthcare, progressive taxation, and comprehensive social services that assure safe housing and a minimum income. Compared to the United States, life there is far closer to the kingdom of God on earth.Christian Socialist. Before Karl Marx, there was Jesus Christ. And before secular socialism, there was Christian socialism by MAXINE PHILLIPS and FRAN QUIGLEY, Democratic Socialists of America, McGahan Publishing House.
They conclude, “we are members of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose membership has swelled from 5,000 members in 2105 to more than 70,000 today. That growth reflects the fact that a majority of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, and a majority of U.S. women aged 18 to 54, prefer socialism over capitalism. Our Religion and Socialism Working Group within DSA publishes weekly articles and produces monthly podcasts, now supplemented with a series of webinars“
At the moment, our primary activities are the website (religioussocialism.org), a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/religioussocialism/) as well as a Twitter feed https://twitter.com/religsocialism , a podcast series https://soundcloud.com/religioussocialism and a Twitter page for the podcast at https://twitter.com/religsocialpodEmail, Maxine Phillips