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Religious communism is a form of communism centered on religious principles. The term usually refers to a number of egalitarian and utopian religious societies practicing the voluntary dissolution of private property, so that society's benefits are distributed according to a person's needs, and every person performs labor according to their abilities. "Religious communism" has also been used to describe the ideas of religious individuals and groups who advocate the application of communist policies on a wider scale, often joining secular communists in their struggle to abolish capitalism.
The use of the word communism in a religious context predates the use of the term to describe more secular forms of communism, such as that advocated by François Babeuf in the 18th century, and Karl Marx in the 19th century. Because of the anti-religious nature of Marxism, many religious people on the political right oppose the use of the term communism to refer to religious communal societies, preferring names such as communalism instead.
Examples of religious communism
The term religious communism has been ascribed to the social arrangement practiced by many orders of monks and nuns of such religions as Christianity, Taoism, Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism. The teachings of Mazdak, a religious proto-socialist Persian reformer, have also been referred to as early "communism".
Various other Christian communities have organized themselves along similar principles since then. Due to the generally small size of these communities, little is known about the ones that are believed to have existed more than a few centuries ago. There are several examples from recent history, however, including the pilgrims of Plymouth Colony, the Shakers, the Harmony Society, Hutterites, some groups within the Religious Society of Friends, and the United Order.
- Wherry, Rev. E. M. "A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran and Preliminary Discourse", 1896. pp 66.