My introduction to Religious Socialism

I learned about the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) Religious Socialism Committee from my friend Fran Quigley, director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and a editorial team member.

Fran wrote in response to a blog post I had written, The Evil of Capitalism, December 31, 2020.

This post of yours struck me close to home. I too have become fully convinced of the evils of capitalism. Moreover, I have come to the conclusion that my faith dictates that I work to replace it. Turns out I am far from alone, so I’ve been devoting much of my time this past year to the Religion and Socialism Committee of the DSA, . 

And, as part of a book project on religious socialism, I have published several articles profiling activists from different faith and spiritual traditions who feel called to advocate for a socialist society.  (Examples, if you are interested: a Catholic socialist, a Jewish rabbi socialist, a Black Presbyterian minister socialist, a Liberation Theologian Lutheran minister/professor,  Muslim socialists , a Buddhist socialist and a Black Baptist minister socialist.  I also co-wrote with longtime Religion and Socialism activist Maxine Phillips a short, one-stop primer on the argument for Christian socialism: )  April 22, 2021

Among the things he shared with me is an article he wrote about sometimes negative views about socialism.

I will be interested to know if you get any negative response to your socialism discussion. U.S. Americans of a certain age, especially those of us who can remember the Cold War, often have some knee-jerk resistance to the term. I recently wrote about that a bit in this article profiling a Black Presbyterian woman minister who is a socialist:

Of course, identifying as a socialist can create some challenges in that organizing. For example, Ray Sells, the retired Methodist minister, is not as excited about her embrace of socialism.

“I don’t see the reason to use that word,” he says. “It just turns off so many people from the start. Why can’t we just advocate for things like affordable housing and good public education without putting on a label with all those negative connotations?”

When Cowser is told about Sells’s objection, she nods in understanding. But her experience is that talking about socialism in faith communities is less problematic than Sells and others expect — especially when the conversation is with younger Americans, who polls show prefer socialism over capitalism on average, and black Americans, who similar polls show are likely to hold favorable views of socialism.

“I actually don’t get much pushback on it,” she says. She points out that church communities with strong tithing and aid cultures and healthy union workplaces are already quite socialist, as are many American institutions like public schools, infrastructure, and public safety.

“Plus, the biblical basis for socialism is just undeniable. Just look at the early books of Acts, where the body of believers responded to poverty — and a very gendered poverty — by organizing money and resources for the benefit of poor people,” she says. “And the Jubilee platform in Deuteronomy lays out the whole program for a sharing economy where no one person can be strong without the community being strong.”

To Rev. Angela Cowser, “the Biblical Basis for Socialism Is Undeniable”
BY FRAN QUIGLEY, Jacobin, 12/25/2020
Rev. Angela Cowser, a cofounder of the Institute for Christian Socialism, argues that a society rooted in the dictates of the Gospel would look radically different from the one we have now. There is a name for what that change should look like: socialism.

2 thoughts on “My introduction to Religious Socialism

  1. Embracing to term “socialism” help take the teeth from the number one weapon the rabid Right uses against those who love and care for their neighbor.


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