Manifesto

The Wind Blows Where It Chooses!

A New Manifesto for Christians for Socialism in the United States and Canada

  1. Ghost Stories
  2. Revolutionary Tradition
  3. Smashing Mammon Today
  4. Liberating Theologies
  5. Neither Church Nor Party
  6. The Kingdom of God is Among You

Ghost Stories

“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

–John 3:5-8

Inspired by the prayer of Jesus’s mother, Mary, a peasant girl from a colonized people group, we feel compelled to once again sing a song of liberation that announces the rich will be sent away empty and the poor will be filled up! It is time, again, to follow Jesus as he drove the money changers out of God’s temple, multiplied the loaves and fishes, declared a year of Jubilee, and set the captives free!

The Holy Ghost of Liberation has not abandoned us, but hovers over the embers of past movements and fans their flames. It is up to us to look up and see the tongues of flame dancing above our heads, and to leave our locked room, speaking all kinds of languages, announcing that the God of the Poor is risen indeed!

A spectre is haunting the world–the Holy Ghost, the Spectre of Liberation. All the powers of the present age have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise it: presidents and parliaments, bishops and governors, scientists and liberals, Wall Street and police departments. And yet, in blatant disregard for those who rage against it, in defiance of all who wish to tame it, in catastrophe for the rich and celebration for the poor, the Spirit blows wherever it chooses. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.

As at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the powers and principalities of this world fear the movement of the Spirit of Liberation. They, too, cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going, but they react out of paranoia and self-preservation, not trust and fidelity. Today, the wealthy and powerful take God’s name in vain to convince the oppressed that they are not their enemies, all the while insisting that their oppression is a matter of circumstance and chance rather than an intentional arrangement to benefit a small group of people.

Following this Spirit, we move toward the embodied resurrection of a Christian left––a real Christian contribution to socialism that makes no moderate claims toward the oppression set upon individuals by capitalism, racism, ableism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and all the dominating structures at work in our world. Christians for Socialism is a movement for the liberation of all people.

Revolutionary Tradition

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

–Hebrews 12:1-2

In 1971, 80 Roman Catholic priests in socialist Chile gathered to write a declaration on Christian participation in their revolutionary society. “To be a Christian is to be in solidarity, in fellowship, with other human beings,” they said. “And at this moment in Chile fellowship means participation in the historical project that its people have set for themselves.” Affirming the task of liberation common to socialists and Christians, the priests concluded “it is necessary to destroy the prejudice and mistrust that exist between Christians and Marxists.”

These 80 priests and other Christians, including clergy, members of religious orders, Protestant pastors, and laypeople founded Cristianos por el Socialismo, a group of Christians committed not to reformist policies, nor to polite resolutions of impolite struggles, but to revolutionary change. They implored Marxists to engage Christians as mutual dialogue partners, seeing liberating potential in Christian life, and they implored Christians to remember that God intervened in human history, materially, telling us to love our neighbors.

Cristianos por el Socialismo was not a clerical movement. On the contrary, the revolutionary energy of the people in Chile drew in Christians of diverse vocations and hierarchical positions, from bishops to peasants For the few short and verdant years of Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile, Cristianos por el Socialismo worked to organize clergy and laypeople to build a new society premised on revolutionary love. During this time, Christians from around the world visited Chile to see firsthand what socialist Christianity looked like.

News of Cristianos por el Socialismo spread rapidly throughout Latin America. Priests from the group were invited to Cuba, and Fidel Castro visited them when he visited Allende in 1971, arguing that Christians and Marxists did not need a simply opportunistic alliance, but an integrated struggle, both believing in a society for the poor. A year later, the group held an important conference in Santiago, where they shared reports from countries around Latin America to get a sense of the material struggles there. Argentine priests attended despite living under a military regime, while Christians from Brazil and Bolivia were discouraged from participating in the conference by police repression. In the following years, members did not just imagine socialism, but organized peasant federations and union movements, taking concrete steps to building a real alternative through Christian thought and praxis.

Christians organized within other “Third World” leftist movements in Asia and Africa were also connected to the burgeoning Cristianos por el Socialismo movement, attending conferences and bringing their unique perspectives to the problem of capitalist imperialism. Beyond Latin America, Christians in Spain, too, organized as Cristianos por el Socialismo under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, and the movement cropped up in Belgium, Italy, France, the Netherlands, West Germany, and elsewhere, channeling the political fervor of 1968, a year of great upheaval throughout the world.

Chile’s radical Christian socialists would not enjoy their freedom for long, however. In 1973, Allende’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a coup led by Augusto Pinochet, a brutal dictator backed by the United States. Cristianos por el Socialismo was repressed by the new reactionary government and conservative voices in the Christian community. Many Christian socialists fled to the U.S., where they came in contact with other socialist Christians, some of whom had even visited Chile before and during the coup. Though Cristianos por el Socialismo was expelled from Chile, its seeds were distributed among fertile ground elsewhere. The pollination led socialist Christian groups to identify with their incoming Chilean comrades, including establishing Christians for Socialism chapters in the U.S. and Canada.

For over a decade in the U.S. and Canada, Christians for Socialism, made up of Christians from many denominations, helped local chapters contribute to their own missions for justice, supported strikes, organized conferences, radicalized students, prepared study materials, distributed pamphlets, and cultivated a network of believers ready to confront an increasingly neoliberal form of capitalism at its epicenter. Unintimidated by Cold War polemics, these Christians clarified their position as one outside the left-liberalism of the Democratic Party in the United States and the major liberal parties in Quebec and English Canada, advocating for more structural change, rubbing elbows instead with local anarchists, socialists, and communist parties.

Christians for Socialism held a global meeting in Quebec in 1975, where they articulated a new vision for their expanding movement. They produced a document that examined transnational capitalism as well as international class struggle. A “two-fold fidelity” was proposed in response: faithfulness to the church and faithfulness to the people. That faithfulness was put to the test as Christians went out into the world to spread the Good News of God’s liberation by praying with their feet, to borrow a phrase from Rabbi Abraham Heschel.

In the United States, after many successful years, Christians for Socialism finally folded following the election of Ronald Reagan, reading the signs of the times and losing financial support. Its members did not leave jaded, but continued to work in local struggles. The Christian Right has enjoyed a political hegemony in the U.S. for decades, culminating in the election of Donald Trump. However, that dominance shows signs of cracking as people of faith, repulsed not only by Trump’s unbecoming demeanor but the barbarism of the political vision of the capitalist class, are looking for an alternative way of collectively and politically living with one another.

In Canada, the limitations of the back-and-forth elections between the Conservative and Liberal parties have been made obvious. Justin Trudeau has failed to provide material opposition to U.S. foreign policy and the legacy of colonialism and capitalism in Canada. As white supremacist groups organize across Canada, but most noticeably in Quebec, the witness of a leftist Christianity is especially important. The time is ripe again for a new Christian socialist movement, one that traces its lineage to the priests and people of Chile willing to step out in risk and commit to material struggles as Christians.

The witness of Christians for Socialism proves the possibility of a revolutionary Christian collective, built on an ecumenism of solidarity. It is our intention to retrieve the examples, stories, and symbolism of these revolutionary Christians toward establishing a new Christian coalition to deal with ongoing neoliberal oppression and the emerging fascism fueled by Trumpism and the impotence of liberalism. Christians for Socialism believe that a better world is possible, that we can do better for and with each other than how capitalism forces us to relate. We believe that we can use the powers we collectively have available to us to build a more loving and just world for all people.

We draw from the strength and hope of those Christian socialists who have already paved our way. Though the times seem unprecedented to some, a materialist analysis suggests that our present remains a continuation of a conflict between two paths: the path to life and the path to destruction. Knowing that capitalism is an economic and political project that serves destruction, we take courage from our Christian comrades who took another path, often at great personal cost, some even paying with their very lives on the path to life.

Smashing Mammon Today

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

–James 5:2-6

There is a tendency to interpret the Bible’s more radical words as spiritual wisdom. While we should not disparage the possible spiritual meanings we might derive from biblical texts, we ought not discount the possibility that the Bible actually means what it says. Reading the above passage materially, with an understanding of prophetic literature and the early church, allows us to draw different conclusions about what it means to “preach good news to the poor.”

Jesus was not executed because he was trying to save people’s souls, but because he was upsetting the material-social order of the time. The good news to the poor is not a new piety that helps people cope with poverty, but rather the possible abolition of poverty. Starting from this material understanding of Jesus’ ministry, Christians for Socialism will bring the good news to the poor. Poverty and economic class today are not ordained by God or by some kind of natural order, but are established by the machinations of capitalism which can be overturned through the material and spiritual liberation taught by Jesus Christ.

The yoke of capitalism can be understood from a variety of vantage points––we could recount the life stories of those working in sweatshops, those being laid off of factory floors, or those relying on crowdsourcing campaigns to pay for medical care. The vantage point of the real life experience of actual people is enough. However, here we will speak the language of macroeconomics to illuminate the hard to see, yet thoroughly felt, realities of everyday capitalism. Consider a report from the Economic Policy Institute that details an important function of contemporary capitalism.

There has been substantial overall economic growth since 2000, and a growing economy has the potential to increase wages and improve living standards across the board. Unfortunately, as with the decades leading up to 2000, overall economic growth has not translated into rising wages for the vast majority of workers.[1]

The EPI reports that between 2000-2016 wages in the U.S. were largely stagnant. The report goes on to suggest that this stagnation signals something is broken for the U.S. working class that could be fixed; but the diagnosis of a “broken system” is insufficient. Capitalism is not ‘broken’—it is working as intended. Capitalism, by its nature, maximizes profits while minimizing costs and expenditures. Reform fixes nothing. What is required is the abolition of capitalism.

Further yet, the reality of interlocking oppressions means stagnating wages impact some communities more than others. For example, a stagnating wage cannot be applied uniformly across all people. Poverty disproportionately affects Indigenous, Black, and Hispanic populations more than white populations.[2] Further, stagnant wages mean less social mobility. We must dispel the myths of meritocracy and the “American dream.” The inequality at the root of capitalist society, summarized by the opposition between the 1% and the 99% that galvanized #OccupyWallStreet, is not solved by a few poor people escaping their conditions. Today, the 1% owns half of the wealth of the entire world. Within that 1%, eight men–Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helú, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg–own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the globe (3.6 billion people) combined. On a global scale, this inequality is on track to widen in the coming years.

In the United States, Canada, and other so-called “developed” nations, the production of capital has taken on a new dimension by which workers are alienated and oppressed: the financialization of capitalism. While profits have always been the primary driver of capital, the centrality of the stock market to the stability of the global economy has erected a precarious edifice. Corporations are beholden more to shareholders than workers, and every decision made by corporate elites is geared toward the short-term gain of stock price increases.

This creates a volatile and unpredictable financial climate, where bubbles burst and ruin the futures of average citizens (as in the 2008 financial crisis). But for the wealthy, volatility is an opportunity to make more money. This dynamic is two-fold: companies with “stock options” are incentivized to increase profits and decrease expenses for their shareholders. Meanwhile, workers have their jobs cut, automated, or outsourced in order to save the company money. Workers are thrown into an increasingly bleak job market where they will likely make less money than before, so that CEOs and shareholders can make a few extra cents on the dollar.

Capitalism is also a persistent and especially brutal problem for the workers of the so-called “Third World.” V.I. Lenin is famous for saying that “Imperialism is the highest form of Capitalism.” This insight is critical for understanding the way capitalism moves and acts on the global stage. When a company in any given country reaches its limits for growth, it invades another country––economically or otherwise––expropriating resources and cheap labor. Silvia Federici makes similar observations in her detailed analysis of the way N.G.O.s and other organizations use the developing countries to produce capitalist surplus production.[3] In this move, local economies are integrated into global production chains and become reliant on the import/export of global capitalism. Workers everywhere are made to serve the ever-growing system of transnational capitalism. However, because of intersecting forms of oppression like sexism and racism, those in the “Third World” are affected in ways those in the United States and Canada are not.

These two nations hold a specific place in the global scheme of economic and ideological domination. Though the U.S. is presently the dominant capitalist nation, achieved by intervening in other countries and hounding socialists at home, it maintains this status through the willing collaboration of its allies, not least Canada. The stereotypical picture of Canada as a polite and apologetic nation obscures its colonial past and present. Behind the screen of pleasantries one finds that Canada is a junior partner in the imperialism of the U.S., both out of ideological similarity as capitalist nations and out of economic need, since Canada is reliant on its southern neighbor’s economy for the health of its own. Like the U.S., Canada is built on stealing Indigenous land and murdering Indigenous people for the sake of a white settler, colonialist, capitalist state. The similarity between the countries has been made most obvious in the ongoing struggles over the development of oil pipelines on Indigenous land. These struggles have been publicized in the resistance of the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States or the recent approvals of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in Canada. In both cases, the profits of private, ecologically catastrophic companies take precedence over the health of the planet and the sovereignty of indigenous peoples.

Competition among capitalists makes the resources of creation subservient to the desire for profit, exhausting the gifts of the earth. Christians for Socialism is eco-socialist, in solidarity with all of creation, defending our human and non-human siblings. As Pope Francis puts it in Laudato Si’, “we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” The intimate relationship between the exploited poor and the exploited planet means an eco-socialist vision is imperative in Canada and the U.S., wealthy nations that generate their riches by abusing our common home.

Christians for Socialism in North America is thereby a decolonial coalition against the globally united front of colonial capital. The fundamental sin of capitalism is that it privileges private financial gains over the flourishing of all of the earth’s inhabitants, creating a social class, the capitalist class, that subjugates others to benefit themselves. Capitalists, those who own the means of production, steal the profits, time, and life of the workers who are organized beneath them. They live “in luxury and in pleasure” and “have fattened [their] hearts in a day of slaughter.” Throughout the gospels, Jesus tells the rich disparaging news: their wealth is a stumbling block on the way toward righteousness. In fact, it is easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle–an impossible task–than for a rich person to go to heaven at all! As Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The good news is not just the poor being liberated from oppression, but also the rich being liberated from that which causes them to sin––their wealth. Jesus announces that a different way of being with one another is not only possible, but present. God’s power makes material what we only imagine: a community of equality in which all are provided for. Christians for Socialism believes that socialism is the best way of arranging our lives together and that a community of equality and justice can be practiced here and now.

Liberating Theologies

He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to let the oppressed go free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

–Luke 4:16-21

While capitalism is a mode of production that continues to organize our lives, it is not the only cause of oppression. It is one oppressive structure that gives power to and is powered by other forms of oppression, like white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and settler colonialism. Over the course of its own history, Christians for Socialism wrestled through these tensions, most notably when many of its members participated in two conferences known as Theology in the Americas, both held in Detroit.

The first conference helped introduce liberation theology and class struggle to American and Canadian Christians. Drawing from the lessons of Latin America, the need for Christians to take class struggle on board as a specific and necessary problem was made clear, galvanizing an already excited movement. But there were significant blind spots. In its zeal to articulate the importance of class struggle, the first conference failed to adequately address white supremacy and racism that people of color experience. Specifically, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and Asian Americans, as well as women, were regularly named as sidelined voices in reflections on the event. Another conference was planned, and marginalized groups advocated for stronger representation.

While the aforementioned groups had more representation at the second conference, they still had to fight for space and the ability to organize among themselves. As James Cone remembers the conference in his book For My People: Black Theology and the Black Church,[4] it was clear that whiteness remained a problem for building a workable leftist coalition in the United States. Cone says the moment was well-captured in a reflection on the conference by Gregory Baum, who wrote:

The socialist language offered by the ardent socialists at Detroit II was too ‘white,’ because it was presented as a finished theory, relying on a certain kind of rational analysis, with only the briefest reference to the part which minorities of color and women may play in defining the society of tomorrow. There was an excessive trust in a purely economic analysis of oppression and liberation; far too little importance was attached, the minorities argued, to the cultural and spiritual factors which determine their own oppression and define their own identities.[5]

Both Cone and Baum concluded that these voices did not turn the group away from socialism, but brought them more deeply into an understanding of the legion of oppressive structures that need to be torn down along with capitalism. To their conclusions, we must explicitly add the need for the liberation of LGBTQ+ people, noting that many in Christians for Socialism fought for this very cause as an extension of their commitment to material liberation.

The lesson of these two conferences is that the horizon of liberation must remain constantly open to the movements of the Spirit, which cannot be foretold, predetermined, or fixed in a once-and-for-all program. Christians for Socialism must be on guard against the willingness to wait for justice criticized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” which applies not only to the white moderate, but to many “radical” circles as well. Christians for Socialism will struggle to follow the lead of people of color especially, committed to undoing the implicit and explicit habits of white privilege that threaten to undermine its cause from within.

Contrary to an approach that reduces all oppression to class oppression, liberation theology has shown that oppression is distributed along multiple lines and needs to be fought on multiple fronts. This means struggling against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and capitalism. It does not, however, for that reason need to be fought by multiple special interest groups. On the contrary, a unified coalition of liberators is needed precisely to support and critically affirm the efforts of each participant. In this way, none of these struggles are wrongly taken in abstraction from the others or defanged by the implicit oppressive patterns that inhabit all of us.

Informed by the success and failures of the past, Christians for Socialism seeks to embody the Gospel message of liberation from social and structural sin. We believe that nobody is free until everybody is free. Furthermore, Christians for Socialism maintains an intersectional and multi-faceted material analysis in our struggle. We believe that in order for this organization to be effective, we must be committed to work in solidarity with other oppressed communities for our mutual liberation. In the words of Marx, and later Assata Shakur, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Neither Church Nor Party

I hate, I despise your festivals,
   and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
   I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
   I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
   I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

–Amos 5:21-24

Christians for Socialism is faithful to the confessing body of Christ, but it is not a church. It is likewise faithful to the cry of the oppressed, but it is not a party. It occupies a space between, building bridges where there is mutual suspicion. Within the church, Christians for Socialism provides tools for realizing its vision of a coming kingdom of peace, educated by organizers and thinkers who have direct experience addressing the structures of injustice. Within the left, Christians for Socialism provides a network for reaching the masses and building a mass movement of average people who may be otherwise put off by the powerful lobby of anticommunism in capitalist societies. Historically, Christians for Socialism understood itself, too, as a critical apparatus within both the church and the left.

For the church, the movement identified where the institutions of Christianity were themselves tied up with class interests and bound by the chains of their own property, privilege, and authority. Christians for Socialism must also help remind the Christian communion of its origins as a liberation narrative for the marginalized, manifesting in distributed wealth and infidelity to the ruling class. Remaining within the Christian community is challenging for socialists, not only because Christianity has often been a barrier to socialist progress, but because it has often betrayed its liberating roots. During the 70s and 80s, Christians for Socialism was maligned as being not truly Christian, and for putting its leftist commitments before its Christian witness. That was patently false, a lie deliberately spread in order to discredit the movement. Christians must work to recognize when their faith has been stolen in the interests of the ruling class, and help other Christians, who are often dependent on media owned by the ruling class, to do the same.

For the left, Christians for Socialism attended to the misunderstandings between people of faith and leftist projects throughout the world, attempting to help leftists appreciate and support the liberating moments in spiritual life and to reject a naive understanding of religion that has made for unnecessary and counterintuitive errors in socialist projects.

These errors, combined with a massive misinformation effort designed to poison the people against socialism, has made even some of the most radical Christians wary of jumping into leftist coalitions. Around the world, however, Christians have found common cause with socialists, for example in Nicaragua, where the Sandinista revolution was sustained by the willing participation of confessional and authentic Christians, and in the Philippines, where the National Democratic Front contains the revolutionary group Christians for National Liberation. Moreover, in Cuba, Fidel Castro was instrumental in rehabilitating relationships between communists and Christians, modeling a path by which that dialogue might continue with mutual openness and recognition.

To be sure, leftists are rightly suspicious of Christians in particular, who have so often sided, unapologetically and openly, with all that leftists hope to dismantle. Christians should admit this. Yet as Fidel Castro noted, to target and persecute religious people specifically only drives them into the open arms of reactionary and counter-revolutionary forces, obscuring the real material struggle at hand. Lenin agreed, despite his atheism, saying in “Socialism and Religion” that “Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven.” Castro went on to say that Christians should disarm the ruling class of its ability to wield Christianity as a powerful weapon against the oppressed.

Likewise, anarchist thinkers noted the revolutionary relationship to property embodied and inaugurated by Christians throughout the ages. For example, Peter Kropotkin wrote, in his entry on “Anarchism” in the Encyclopedia Britannica, that medieval and modern Christians prefigured the anarchist critique of state and property, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon also affirmed a radical heart to the Christian message in his famous text What Is Property? While Christians for Socialism is rooted in a Marxist approach, anarchism encourages us to think about how socialists of many backgrounds have seen the radical seeds of a liberative future in Christianity, and furthermore encourages us to think about how to organize across leftist traditions just as we organize across ecclesial traditions.

By providing a space where Christians and leftists comingle, Christians for Socialism aims to help Christians get involved in organized politics and to help leftists better understand the people they wish to organize without getting distracted by tertiary intellectual curiosities. Christians for Socialism does not aim to replace the church, though it does aim to cultivate a people’s church, informed by the struggles of the least of these. Nor does Christians for Socialism aim to replace organizations like the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Democratic Socialists of America, the Communist Party of the USA and Canada, politicized trade unions, or other socialist organs, so much as it hopes to introduce them to otherwise timid or tentative people of faith.

Christians for Socialism holds no naive assumptions about the ultimate organizing supremacy of Christians, preferring instead to situate itself as one unique horizon of organizing that contributes to a broad popular struggle. The goal is not to assert the superiority of Christianity, but to invite Christians into an expression of faith motivated by justice. As neither church nor party, Christians for Socialism also recognizes the importance of building coalitions with people of other faiths and perspectives, remembering that Christian supremacy singles out non-Christians, often allying with white supremacy, to oppress Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others.

As such, Christians for Socialism refuses the insular attitude of a kind of traditionalist “left” found within many denominations. Some who say they are part of a Christian left, for example, nevertheless attempt to reserve a right of Christian privilege that is strategically invoked to keep them from fully affirming the liberation of certain groups, most notably LGBTQ+ liberation. A true Christian left rejects this as a reactionary purity narrative that fears the full self-determination of those who have already been marginalized primarily by Christians.

Christians can only contribute to liberation if they can prove themselves as worthy partners, which cannot be assumed from the outset. Christians must earn trust through steadfast and reliable presence and humility, and remain open to the reasonable suspicion of others within liberation movements.

The Kingdom of God Is Among You

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

–Acts 4:32-35

The Gospel of Luke says that when Jesus was asked when the Kingdom of God was coming, he told his interlocutors it is “already among you.” Various translators have Jesus say the Kingdom of God is “within you,” and “in your midst.” The Gospel of Mark has Jesus preach that the Kingdom of God is “at hand,” or has “drawn near.” The early Christians responded to this realization by selling their property and sharing everything in common, distributing according to those who had need.

The vision of God’s reign given to us in the Gospels is one that defies the logic of capitalism because it demands that nobody should live in squalor. As such, we feel led to call for a political system that establishes material equality for all. We believe that socialism offers us a means to achieve this vision, one without private property that prioritizes needs and sabotages exclusive gains. It is not yet fully manifested, and yet it is already among us, within us, in our midst, at hand, drawn near. Christians for Socialism carries forward the spirit of the early Christian movement, which means, today, both opposing the structures of domination and building a culture of life.

Christian visions of the Kingdom of God are not only visions. They inform a praxis, one that feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, frees the prisoners, protests injustice, supports strikes, empowers the oppressed, and contributes to a new world where the last shall be first. Through symbols and signs, but also through actions and works, Christian thought and practice invite us to live in the Kingdom that is already here.

Christians for Socialism thereby provides an organizational framework that helps Christians work together to find out how to live in God’s Kingdom today. In its initial formation, Christians for Socialism emerged from the strength of its local chapters, which provided reports on their own struggles, distributed educational resources, and funded the maintenance of a national secretariat and publishing effort through paid dues. At-large members also found solidarity and support from the broader network of chapters and the national secretariat.

Chapters determined for themselves what they were capable of contributing, along with the issues that were most pressing in their communities, e.g. housing in Detroit, strike support in Iowa, supporting gay students in Pasadena, and organizing student workers in New York City. These local issues informed the national secretariat, which coordinated communication between branches and worked to create and sustain solidarity partnerships with similar groups around the world. Moving forward, we will establish and reactivate local chapters and work with at-large members to explore how we can mutually support one another.

We look forward to a time when Christians for Socialism in the United States and Canada will connect more fully with partners around the world, rebuilding its grassroots network in the heart of capitalism’s present empire. With a growing contingent of Christians more open to socialism in the wake of the 2016 general election in the United States, and with the political terrain of Canada shifting with a flashy but vacuous and disheartening liberalism, we are hopeful that such a time is not far off. Christians are looking for ways to be involved with ongoing struggles for justice and to connect with other people of faith. In order to explore and create these ways, Christians for Socialism will be one group among many working toward a more just and egalitarian future.

To Christians who have already committed themselves to socialist struggle, we say: You are not alone!

To Christians who have yet to explore the tools of socialist analysis and practice, we say: You are welcome in our meetings!

And to all Christians, socialist and otherwise, we say: God is coming to judge the living and the dead.

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.


[1] Elise Gould and Valerie Wilson,”Little to no gain in median annual earnings in the 2000s, while significant wage gaps remain,” Economic Policy Institute. September 15, 2017. Accessed November 24, 2017. http://www.epi.org/blog/little-to-no-gain-in-median-annual-earnings-in-the-2000s-while-significant-wage-gaps-remain/.

[2] Janelle Jones, “One-third of Native American and African American children are (still) in poverty,” Economic Policy Institute. September 20, 2017. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://www.epi.org/publication/one-third-of-native-american-and-african-american-children-are-still-in-poverty/.

[3] Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 2012).

[4] James H. Cone, For My People: Black Theology and the Black Church (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1984).

[5] Gregory Baum. “Theology in the Americas: Detroit II.” The Ecumenist 18, no. 16 (September-October 1980): 750-53.