The Socialist Trojan horse within the U.S. Christian church
By Bill Connor
In recent years, the number of Christians identifying as “Christian socialists” or “Christian communists” has skyrocketed in a way not seen in more than 40 years. Sarah Ngu, in her 2020 article “Why These Young American Christians Embrace Socialism,” wrote that during the past three years, “some American Christians have rediscovered this tradition and found themselves gravitating to socialism — in all its varieties, from democratic socialism to full-fledged communism.” Gary Dorrien, a professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary, writes, “The revival [of Christian socialism] is a Christian flank of the current upsurge for democratic socialism.” For the most part, the orthodox Christian community has remained silent about this growing trend, seemingly oblivious to the dangers. It’s time we acknowledged how the Trojan horse of socialism entered the church, and fight back.
First, doctrine and history make clear that biblical Christianity and socialism and/or communism are in opposition on fundamental levels. The intellectual forefather of socialism, Karl Marx, taught this about Christianity: “The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self-contempt, abasement, submission, humility …” Marx further asserted, “The more of himself that man gives to God, the less he has left of himself.” Like all future communist and socialist leaders who follow Marx, he believed that “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.”
The history of the socialist war against Christianity is instructive. The League of the Militant Godless was developed based on the philosophy of early Soviet leaders like Vladmir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Its slogan tells volumes: “The struggle against religion is the struggle for socialism.” In approximately 15 years, the league boasted 3.5 million members and included 100 ethnicities. This was while Soviets in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were executing tens of thousands of priests and millions of Christians, demolishing churches and ruthlessly suppressing Christianity. The official literature of the Comintern (International Communist Front), stated, “One of the most important tasks of the cultural revolution affecting the wide masses is the task of systematically and unswervingly combating religion — the opium of the people.”
Ben Gitlow was a top figure in the early Communist Party of the United States, and twice ran for vice president of the U.S. on the Communist Party ticket in 1924 and 1928. He left the Communist Party in 1929 and began hearings before Congress about Communist infiltration in America starting in 1939. According to Gitlow in answering Congress about the Communist “united front” technique of infiltrating America: “The tactic of the united front adopted by the Communists in 1922 after they realized that their militant policy for instigating a revolution in Germany and then throughout Europe and the world had failed … enabled the Communists to greatly increase the effectiveness of their infiltration activities.” The aims were to first build pro-Soviet sentiment in America, second, to set conditions for Communists to capture trade unions and third, to “spread Communist propaganda, incite discontent among the people, undermine the loyalty of the American people and to divide them on religion, national, racial and economic lines.”
Importantly, Gitlow said this about infiltration of the Christian church in America: “The united-front policy enabled the Communists to widely expand their infiltration activities on the religious field because instead of using the Communist Party directly [with pro-Soviet Christian organizations],” they used united-front organizations not directly connected to the Communist Party. Communist Party USA leader Manning Johnson told Congress that “deceit” about the anti-Christian nature was “a major policy of the Communist propaganda.” According to Johnson, Communists “made fine gestures and honeyed words to the church people which could be likened unto the song of the fabled sea nymphs luring millions to moral decay, spiritual death and spiritual slavery. An illustration of this treachery, I might point out, is smiling, sneaky Earl Browder, for example, who was vice chairman of the American League Against War and Fascism, greeting and praising ministers and other church workers participating with him in the united front, antiwar activities, while secretly harboring in his heart only contempt for them and for the religion that they represented.”
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and no longer commands the worldwide Comintern. However, communism as a worldwide movement continues. The ideology spawned during those decades made substantial inroads into the church and academia (an estimated 18 percent of American professors today identify as Marxist). United Methodist Reverend Lindsey Joyce provides a window into the modern infiltration: “Socialism gave me a politics that finally provided clarity … It wasn’t about my individualistic faith or spiritual gifts.” Christianity centers on individual spiritual redemption, but socialism is about the collective and material. The perspective of communist “Christian” Dean Dettloff is indicative of the fraud being promulgated to soften and revive communism within the church. Dettloff claims, “The worst abuses in history have actually been committed by people who are devoted to Jesus Christ.” This glosses over the more than 100 million people who died under 20th-century communism, a number that dwarfs almost 2000 years of alleged Christian “abuses.”
The church can no longer remain silent. The Trojan horse of socialism and communism, wheeled in to the U.S. in the 1920s, is a growing “enemy within.” Neither communism nor socialism can be reconciled with Christianity, and it’s time to voice that truth boldly and loudly. We fight back with spiritual weapons and in Christian love, but against this threat we must fight back.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.