The poor and poverty in general are important topics of many Religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Sharing one’s wealth with the poor is strongly recommended. Socialism promotes common ownership of goods, with the stated purpose of eliminating poverty. On the surface, these are very similar teachings, so how compatible are Socialism and the main Religions?
Not much. Over the recent history, Socialism has mostly been associated with another religion – Atheism. Under Socialism, people have been discouraged from their traditional Religious practices, and many have been persecuted in the East, or at best neglected and marginalized in the West.
The difference is clear and simple: Religious sharing is an act of Love, while Socialist taking by force is an act of Hate. Both might reduce poverty if carried as planned, but over the long term, sharing has an overall positive effect on society, while taking by force weakens the society.
Many Christians, and perhaps even the Pope (Francis) are confused. Jesus has always told people to give – never to take – even when they think they deserve. He recommended not only giving to the poor, but also renouncing one’s earthly possessions and becoming poor. Poverty by itself is neither good nor bad, but can be a way to salvation. The rich have to give voluntarily – their free will giving saves them, while being taxed into poverty does not.
All else equal, isn’t poverty always bad? Why let people suffer? All things are never equal – the poor can be happy having peace of mind, and rich people can be miserable for many reasons. Indeed, studies have shown that more wealth is associated with more happiness, but these studies never shown how wealth was accumulated. It matters whether the wealth was accumulated through personal effort and recognition, pure luck, or immoral practices.
Con: Atheist Matt Ridley claims that Fascism and Communism are religions of the state and a form of Intelligent Design, worshiping a political leader just as religions worship God. Free trade on the other hand is supposed to be atheistic Evolution at work.
Pro: At best, Religion and Political views are not neatly aligned. As [indeed] state religions, Fascism and Communism have aligned with atheism while being hostile to other religions. In turn, believers have resisted the new, fake gods brought by these doctrines. Free trade has flourished for centuries in all Abrahamic Religion civilizations. Clearly, the “evolution” of trade has not been random, blind, mindless, and purposeless as per the atheistic definition. Instead, it was done by intelligent individuals doing their best to control (design) their lives and the future of their children.