E. Belfort Bax

Socialism and Religion

(22 September 1906)

Socialism and Religion, Justice, 22nd September 1906, p.4. (letter)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Comrade, – While in no way approving the precipitate action of comrade Aldred in resigning, I must enter an emphatic protest against the accusation of intolerance and bigotry editorially fulminated against him. For my own part I should certainly decline to accept the note on Socialism and Religion in Justice for September as a complete and correct statement of the S.D.F. position on the question. On the contrary, it contains passages which, however they may be meant, wear at least the appearance of disingenuous pieces of sophistry. Aldred finds it impossible to expound Socialism on certain sides without criticising at the same time certain sides of Christian dogma and ethics. Consequently as the “note” in Justice seems to lay an embargo upon him in this respect he, too hurriedly, resigns. For this he is editorially abused as a bigot. I think, on consideration, you must yourself admit that your comments were not restrained within the limits of the courtesy Justice usually shows towards its contributors and members of the body generally. Accusations of intolerance and bigotry are often brought against the S.D.F. The fact is, every man or organisation prepared to stick to principles risks the accusation of intolerance and bigotry, just as every man who is prudent risks the accusation of cowardice, and every man who is brave of rashness. We, of the S.D.F., did not appreciate it when certain persons some time ago accused us of intolerance and bigotry for holding to the principle of the class-war. And this is a precisely parallel case. Comrade Aldred presumably holds that Socialism as a conception of life (as distinguished from Socialistic legislation) is incompatible with Christianity. Large numbers, probably the majority of Socialists, hold the same view. Those who think thus can hardly agree that attacks on Christianity “form no part” (i.e., never form a part of “Socialist propaganda,” or that such attacks “should be exercised elsewhere than on a Socialist platform.”


E. Belfort Bax

(No one was abused. The point is that religious or irreligious bigotry is out of place in the Socialist movement. – Ed.)


Last updated on 10.7.2004