No Make-Believe God Has or Will End Oppression

August 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a Reader:

The article "They Must Not—They Will Not—Get Away with This!!" from Revolution newspaper (#311, July 28, 2013) about the outrageous acquittal of George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin includes the following paragraph:

There are those who say we need prayer vigils. To pray for WHAT? And more than that, to pray to WHOM? The sooner we put aside fairy tales about how some non-existent god is going to take care of this... any day now... or how the victims of this system have gone to a heaven that doesn't exist... the sooner we confront the reality that when this system kills people there is no afterworld that somehow redeems them... the sooner, in other words, that we actually confront the real problem—then the sooner we will get to the real solution. Anyway, who decided that African slaves and the descendants of African slaves have to kneel down to Jesus? We don't need consolation... we need REVOLUTION!

A religious activist objected: "How can the author of this text put in print the paragraph [reprinted above]. The anger of the African American community with your organization is fueled by the ways in which you undermine the foundations of the 'faith that has brought us thus far.' Some would say that your remarks are racist. You cannot teach this community experience that has been lived, and neither can you start the 'revolution' by advocating violence."

I was provoked to write this short response.

First, how can the newspaper print the paragraph above? Because it's TRUE, and people need to hear it.

Let's take the writer's objections apart:

  • "Faith that has brought us thus far." Bullshit, it's done no such thing. The experience of Black people in this country has been one of repeated misery and oppression for generation after generation, since the first Africans were brought here in chains right up to today. Pick any decade in the last 400 years. Can you think of a single one that hasn't been filled with momentous crimes—against Black people, and for that matter against all oppressed people, here and around the world? The vicious murder of Trayvon Martin and the system's whitewash of Zimmerman's actions are just the latest in a long line of outrages. Contrary to this notion that "faith has brought us thus far," any advances that actually have been made, any real concessions that have been forced, have resulted from STRUGGLE—from the slave revolts, to the organization of the underground railroad that helped to free slaves, to the heroic battles by Black troops in the Civil War to the struggles against lynching and segregation including pitched armed battles in the '30s, '40s and '50s. Then there was the upheaval of the 1960s, including the urban rebellions, the building takeovers and sit-ins, and more. Throughout the history of this country, people faced reality and fought to change it, and this struggle not only prevented the rulers from crushing the masses of Black people and breaking their spirit, it inspired others all over the world. People faced reality and fought to change it.

    Yes, people have turned and continue to turn to a nonexistent god to seek answers or consolation, but what has that served? To keep people in mental slavery. Calls for prayer vigils right now will only get people to stay quiet and passive—when what they REALLY need to do is be in the streets refusing to accept this verdict.

    If you don't think religion does harm, just look at Juror B29. She knew she should fight for a hung jury, but then she gave up—and she rationalized this by saying that some make-believe god was going to take care of it.
  • It is completely false to say "the African American community is angry with the RCP." Some people love what the RCP and BA are saying and some hate it, and many people have contradictory feelings about all this. And for the same reason—because of what this revolution is about. We unite with people broadly who want to fight for a radically better world, including religious forces and others who don't agree with everything the RCP stands for.

    And it's ridiculous to say it is racist to struggle against religion. Religion is not inherent in Black people. Who decided Black people would be on their knees to Jesus in the first place? Ask yourself this—why did the slave owners do everything they could to crush the spirit of the African slaves, make it a crime punishable by death to sing or drum or even speak the language people had grown up with—yet they tolerated and even BUILT UP the Christian churches among the slaves? Our reader did not speak to this. Anyone who does disagree with us should actually answer this question: "who decided?"
  • The RCP is not trying to "teach this community experience that has been lived," but it is laying bare the SOURCE of that experience and the revolutionary SOLUTION. You can't get that from just "living your experience."

    People learn to hate oppression, to dream of a much better world, and they find ways to rise up against the misery of this capitalist-imperialist system and join with others to fight back. But as important as all that is, it does not lay bare why this system is driven to work this way, and it does not tell you the way out. To get that, you need science.
  • The strategy of the RCP is not to "start the 'revolution' by advocating violence." What the RCP has done and is doing is to lead people to resist the violent repression that is visited on people by the powers-that-be 24-7 and to stand firmly with them when they do resist. The RCP has been clear that fundamental social, revolutionary change can only be achieved when millions of people are desirous of such change and determined to bring it about. The work of the RCP includes "raising the political and ideological consciousness of masses of people and building massive political resistance to the main ways in which, at any given time, the exploitative and oppressive nature of this system is concentrated in the policies and actions of the ruling class and its institutions and agencies—striving through all this to enable growing numbers of people to grasp both the need and the possibility for revolution when the necessary conditions have been brought into being, as a result of the unfolding of the contradictions of the system itself as well as the political, and ideological, work of revolutionaries." (See "Some Crucial Points of Revolutionary Orientation—in Opposition to Infantile Posturing and Distortions of Revolution" at

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