RESOLUTION OF THE THIRD ECCI PLENUM ON THE COMMUNIST ATTITUDE TO RELIGION
23 June 1923 Inprekorr, iii, 113, p. 988, 5 July 1923
In view of the fact that erroneous statements have been made in the Swedish communist press, which might cause confusion among com-munists, the plenary session of the Comintern Executive declares:
Communists demand that religion shall remain a private matter in relation to the bourgeois State; in no circumstances, however, can communists declare that religion is a private matter in relation to the communist party also. Communists demand that the bourgeois State as such shall have no relations with religion and that religious associations shall not be connected in any way with the bourgeois State authorities.
Communists demand that every citizen shall be free to acknowledge any religion he chooses or no religion, that is, to be an atheist, which normally every conscious communist is. Communists demand that in regard to the rights of citizens the State shall make no distinction which is based on religious affiliation. They demand that in official documents no mention should be made of the religious adherence of the citizen. They would deprive the bourgeois State of any power of granting any material or other support to ecclesiastical or religious bodies. Taken all together, this amounts to the demand that, in relation to the State, religion shall be declared a private matter.
But in no case can the communist party remain indifferent to the fact that some of its members devote themselves, even as 'private persons', to religious propaganda.
The communist party is an association, voluntarily formed, of conscious and advanced fighters for the emancipation of the working class. The communist vanguard of the working class cannot and must not remain indifferent to ignorance, unenlightenment, and religious obscurantism. The communist party is obliged to train its members not only in the devoted pursuit of a particular political programme and economic demands and party statutes; they must also have implanted in them the clear-cut and homogeneous world outlook of Marxism, of which atheism is an essential part.
It is obvious that anti-religious propaganda must be conducted with particular caution and after careful consideration, according to the kind of groups among whom it is being conducted. Communist anti-religious propaganda, particularly among young people, must be carried out according to a carefully elaborated programme which takes any special circumstances into consideration.
Occasionally members are to be found in a mass communist party who have not entirely discarded religious sentiments and prejudices. The party as a whole, on the other hand, and in particular its leading sections, must combat religious prejudices and carry on propaganda for atheism in an expedient manner. Active religious propaganda by leading comrades, especially intellectuals, is absolutely inadmissible, however up to date the form it takes.
Communists are in favour of all workers, whatever their religious opinions, joining the trade unions which have a class character. Since, in many countries, there are still millions of workers of a religious turn of mind, communists must draw them into the general economic and political struggle; in no circumstances should they be rejected because of their religious prejudices. In their agitation for a workers' government or a workers' and peasants' government, communists should in particular always emphasize that they are proposing a fraternal alliance with all workers, whether believers or atheists.