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Marxism and Religion

5. Marxism and Liberation Theology

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the influence of Marxist thought on Liberation Theology, a theological approach that emerged in Latin America in the 1960s, focusing in particular on: (i) what Liberation Theology is and where it emerged; (ii) the extent to which Liberation Theology engaged with Marxist thought; (iii) the extent to which the Catholic church were suspicious about the use of concepts borrowed from Marxist thought, which was described as "reductivist" and "connected with a praxis of class hatred and struggle […] and the denial of God"; (iv) the question of whether Liberation Theology succeeded or failed – or if it's too early to tell; and (v) the ideas of some of the most influential thinkers in the Liberation Theology tradition – Gustavo Gutierrez, Paolo Freire and Otto Maduro. The lecture ends with some concluding thoughts about Marxism and religion as a whole.


In this course, Dr Paul-François Tremlett (The Open University) explores Marxist approaches to religion. In the first lecture, we provide a broad introduction to Marx himself. In the second lecture, we explore what Marx said about religion. In the third lecture, we turn to two twentieth-century thinkers who worked in the Marxist tradition – Louis Althusser (1918-90) and Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) – and think about the concepts of power, ideology and hegemony in relation to religion. Next, we explore two thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School – Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and Jürgen Habermas (1929-) – and think about the concepts of 'critical theory' and 'communicative action'. In the fifth and final lecture, we consider the influence of Marxist thought on the theological approach known as Liberation Theology.


Dr Paul-François Tremlett is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at The Open University. He is interested in theory and method in Religious Studies, and, as well as ethnographic research in the Philippines, has conducted research in Hong Kong and London on the Occupy movement.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Tremlett, P. (2021, August 23). Marxism and Religion - Marxism and Liberation Theology [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Tremlett, P. "Marxism and Religion – Marxism and Liberation Theology." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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