19-25 December 2014 #737

Back to religion

Editorial in Naya Patrika, 16 December

Karl Marx’s views on religion was subtle, but his critics usually only cite the last sentence from his writing: ‘Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realisation of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.’

At the moment religion is once more in the news. While the prime minister is talking nonsense about secularism, a British ambassador is pushing an irrelevant discourse about the right to religion conversion. Nepal’s interim constitution already accepts the division of state and religion, while protecting the citizens’ right to their faith. This means we already have the freedom to follow whichever religion we choose, or the freedom not to have a religion. Just as the British envoy’s statement is irrelevant and undiplomatic, the prime minister’s views are also anti-political.