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The forum is focusing discussion on the New Year's Statement from Bob Avakian, A NEW YEAR, THE URGENT NEED FOR A RADICALLY NEW WORLD—FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF ALL HUMANITY, and related questions.

We have posted, to begin, questions that were raised by participants during the February 6 "Zoom into the Revolution" online seminar. We invite everyone to submit your own comments and questions, including responding to those of other participants in this forum.

Will religious activities be prohibited?

Stalin ruled the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. In 1929, a new legislation was drafted that severely prohibited religious activities and called for an education process on religion in order to further disseminate atheism and materialist philosophy. Religious property was confiscated, believers were harassed, and religion was ridiculed while atheism was propagated in the schools. Is this BA’s plan? He seems very anti-religious. As I hope we all know, that there are religions and there are religions… there is a wide variety of spiritual practices. Will BA be against all of these? I understand that most atheists “believe” in science. As Einstein once said, “What which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration of this force—beyond anything that we can comprehend, is my religion.”

I think it would be best to dig into what the Constitution that BA has authored (the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America) says about religion and religious practice in a new society. Section 2. Legal and Civil Rights and Liberties includes this about religion:

"E. No one shall be subjected to denial or abridgement of rights or liberty, or to discrimination, on the basis of nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or religious or other belief.

F. The right to religious belief and religious practice shall not be denied or abridged, except in the case of violation of the law and through due process of law. At the same time, religion and religious practice may not be used to carry out exploitation and to accumulate private capital, in violation of the law, or to engage in violation of the law in some other way; nor may religious persons, groups, or institutions be granted rights or privileges which do not apply to the people in this Republic in general. The right not to practice religion or to hold religious beliefs, and to propagate atheism, shall also be upheld.

The separation of religion and the state shall be upheld and applied: No government body, and no representative of the government, may advocate or propagate and promote religion, nor on the other hand suppress or restrict religious belief and practice, except in accordance with provisions here and elsewhere in this Constitution and laws in conformity with this Constitution. No functions of the state or of the law may be performed in the
name of religion or by persons or institutions invoking religious authority."

So there's a lot to dig into there. Religious belief is upheld totally in private -- people can privately believe whatever they want, and practice their religion, as long as this doesn't violate laws such as those that outlaw exploitation and private ownership of means of production, etc... This Constitution protects that right to belief and worship, within clearly defined, and reasonable, limits. But it is also very clear on the separation between religion and the state and public affairs. There is a very definite, and I would argue, justified, wall there! So that's a real limitation that is very different from what goes on in most societies today, under capitalism.

The Constitution goes on,

"The principles and functioning of the government in various spheres, including the educational system in particular–and its promotion of the scientific method and approach, a spirit of critical and rational thinking, the pursuit of the truth and correspondence with objective reality as the criterion of truth–shall be carried out in accordance with what is set forth in this Constitution, and this may not be interfered with on the basis
of religious belief or practice or through claims of exception based in religious belief or practice. In the educational system, religious beliefs and practices should be analyzed and discussed in terms of their social and cultural content and role, as well as their historical roots and development–in the same way, and in accordance with the same approach and standards, as should be applied with regard to all other social and historical phenomena."

So this is the orientation that will be applied in general, and to the education system, to my understanding. And in this Socialist society there will be compulsory public education, where students will learn, and be taught, the truth about how religions came about and their social role. Religion won't be ignored, or put on some sort of pedestal where it can't be touched or discussed. It'll be dug into and wrangled over and dissected in the good sort of way we would want to do with anything else in human society - to really understand it, and yes, from the communists point of view, transcend it and get to a place where we no longer believe in things as real for which there cannot be proof provided for their existence.

This isn't a totally comprehensive exhausting of this topic. There's a lot more to say, but I think this is a good place to start.

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