Are classless societies and religion mutually exclusive? I believe that this is one of the major hurdles of communism; that the only way to remove socioreligious classes would be to ban religion, but that would cause much fight-back. So has anybody come up with a non-atheistic alternative to the problem of religion in communism?

ADDENDUM: I asked related questions on some religious Stack Exchanges:

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    Which religion? For example, Hindusim advocates a strict caste system while Christianity has some very communist messages (Marc 10:23-25). You need to differentiate. – Philipp Apr 3 '16 at 17:31
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    By the way: Pope Francis was called a communist on more than one occasion. A while ago he tweeted: "Earnings and capital are not more important than the human person, but should be at the service of the common good.". Although he insists that he is not and only preaches the gospel. – Philipp Apr 3 '16 at 18:20
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    I don't see any reason that religion should have anything to do with social classes. – Bobson Apr 3 '16 at 19:46
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    @tox123 - Sports meets those criteria, too. It's highly competitive, and while I don't know of a war started in the name of sports, there have been many major riots. There's also both inter-team and intra-team hierarchies. – Bobson Apr 3 '16 at 21:20
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    The Declaration of Independence claimed that all men are created equal, so seems to have been promising a classless society, while recognising God. In practice, that hasn't worked out. – Phil Lello Apr 3 '16 at 22:14

Anabaptists (especially of Munster) basically tried to build an officially-classless society. (of course, as is 100% the case when someone tries to do that, some animals got to be more equal than other animals even in Munster, but the sordid details of Van Leiden's excesses and abuses are more in scope for History.SE. You should listen to an awesome Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" podcast on the topic as a good intro).

In addition, more generally, religions exist on a spectrum where the clergy is more or less separated and defined (including as a class).

In one corner you have religions like in Ancient Egypt, where priesthood were by definition higher caste.

In another, to the best of my knowledge, modern Wicca doesn't have a dedicated clerical class the way Druids existed back-when.

In another, you have Protestantism, which has made the communication between the deity and layperson much more direct than Catholicism or Eastern Orthodox Christianity did, culminating in some branches of Protestantism (especially with Anabaptist branch) where you basically have little need for a priest as a separate class. (I am not an expert, but Latter-Day-Saints seems to also devolve much of clerical stuff on community members).

In general, original Christianity - before becoming state religion after Constanine - has many classless/communist themes, in places. E.g. Acts 2:44. This obviously got perverted to an extent once the Roman Church merged with Roman state, but the concepts of vows of poverty, ascetic monks and such persisted even past that. Cardinal Barbarini may have been upper-class; but a random Dominican monk working the fields or doing some other menial work likely wasn't any different-class from regular peasants, aside from being able to read/write.

  • Caveat - I'm far from expert on any of the Christian denominations, so if any of the above is invalid please ping me. – user4012 Apr 5 '16 at 1:56

By definition, Judaism cannot be a "classless" society in the sense that anyone can take on any role in society. For example, the Priestly class (descendant of Aharon the high priest) are the only ones who can serve as priests in the Temple and have special laws which are restricted to them. The Levites (tribe of Levi son of Jacob) did not inherit any land in the nation and were the only ones to take on certain roles within the temple.

The head of government must be the king who is descended from King David through the direct male line from all his successors.

I can answer only about Judaism because every religion would require a separate set of answers based on the beliefs and practices of that religion. As such, I would be unable to answer properly.

As a general system, any monotheistic religion implies a hierarchy under G0d and would require classes in a way similar to Judaism. Any pagan religion, believing in multiple deities would actually treat the "deitic race" as if they were super beings ruling over humanity. This in an of itself implies classes with the deities being in the position of a ruling class and every human part of the slave class.

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    While technically correct, this merely addresses that Judaism cannot be a classless society. That doesn't address a general question about religion overall. – user4012 Apr 5 '16 at 1:47
  • @user4012 I added a brief note about religion in general that states that religion by definition cannot be classless.. However, I do not know enough about other religions to prove that point absolutely. I note that your answer speaks only about Christianity and also would be subject to your objection. – sabbahillel Apr 5 '16 at 2:00
  • Also, extra technicality - the above only works when the Temple is around. Post-diaspora Judaism doesn't technically speaking require a clerical class in most cases (until the Temple is rebuilt); even though in practice in most Jewish communities the Rabbi is still "upper class" person by station. – user4012 Apr 5 '16 at 2:08
  • @user4012 Even though the way I described it is the ideal that is used, the basis of Judaism still continues to maintain this even in the circumstances of the exile. We must consider those who study Torah and follow G0d as a higher "class" than the others. It is only because so many are ignorant of the ideal that they fall prey to the myths that pervade the current society. – sabbahillel Apr 5 '16 at 2:27

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