de Ste. Croix & dislike of Christianity

His dislike of Christianity did not follow from his Marxism, and there is in any case little sanction in the works of Marx for hostility to historical forms of religion. […] Ste. Croix’s hostility to Christianity developed in opposition to the beliefs of his fundamentalist Christian mother. In his lecture ‘Sex and St Paul’, he explained the personal factors that drew him towards the subject and which, he felt, gave him a special insight into its characteristic attitudes. Mentioning the early Christian belief that the Old and New Testaments constituted ‘the very Word of God, all of it divine revelation, absolutely true, factually and historically’ he continued thus:

As it happens, I feel particularly well trained to deal with this attitude, since it was imparted to me very powerfully as a child. My widowed mother (my father died when I was four) belonged to the sect of the British Israelites, one of those groups on what I hope I may be allowed to call ‘the lunatic fringe’ of Christianity. My mother accepted the Bible, every word of it, as in every respect the inspired Word of God, and for many years I was never allowed to come into contact with any other view.

The central tenet of British Israelism is that the British, or sometimes the Anglo-Saxon people more generally, descend from the ten lost tribes of Israel. Although it was not, strictly speaking, a sect, British Israelism influenced a number of unsavoury organizations, among them the Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity. A feature of Ste. Croix’s upbringing that particularly influenced his views on the early Christians was the violent punishments his mother anticipated for the enemies of her sect, and his abhorrence of early Christian polemic is apparent at numerous points in these essays. He also despised the Jewish God Yahweh, whom he regarded as ‘a cruel and vicious creature, guilty of innumerable acts and commands which no one today, whether Christian, Jew, agnostic or atheist, would regard with anything but detestation’, and charged Jesus with failing to condemn his father’s excesses. The early Church was always a central negative part of his life. He frequently treated early Christians as though contemporaries, attacking Paul and Augustine in particular with a ferocity worthy of early Christian polemic, and showing the ways in which institutional Christianity distorted positive Christian teachings, most notably on property and slavery, but also on toleration. He articulated his hostility to Christianity more explicitly over time, and in this collection it is clearest in Chapter 5. In an interview given shortly before his death, having criticized the pro-Christian bias of most scholarly work on the early Church, he boasted that the book he was then working on was going to be ‘completely antichristian’. Ste. Croix also considered the early Church relevant to contemporary Marxism, although in a way quite diVerent from Engels. In a number of letters written following the publication of The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World he compared the multiplicity of Christian heresies with the numerous varieties of Marxism. It is, however, unclear how he thought his own, rather fundamentalist, approach to the works of Marx would remedy this situation

Joseph Streeter, Introduction: de Ste. Croix on Persecution, Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy, G. E. M. DE STE. CROIX. Edited by Michael Whitby and Joseph Streeter.

Κοντολογίς, στὰ παιδικά του χρόνια ὁ ὀρφανὸς Ste. Croix εἶχε μιὰ ἡμιναζὶ σάικο μητέρα, ποὺ πίστευε ὅτι καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὶς χαμένες φυλὲς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, καὶ ἔβγαλε τὰ παιδο-ψυχολογικά του προβλήματα στὸν Χριστιανισμό. Ἄλλος, ἡ ἱερὴ ἀγελάδα τῶν Ἀριστερῶν, εἶχε γονεῖς ποὺ ἔγιναν ἀπὸ οἰκονομικὸ συμφέρον Χριστιανοί, καὶ ἔβγαλε τὰ ψυχολογικά του ἐν μέρει στὸ Χριστιανισμό. Κι ὁ κατάλογος συνεχίζεται, μὲ τοὺς «Πατέρες» τῶν σημερινῶν μὴ Χριστιανῶν.

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