His comment is frequently twisted to imply that religion was a narcotic given to a gullible proletariat by the nineteenth century Church. Marx thought otherwise: in his own words, religion is both "the expression of real misery" and "the protest against real misery".
In a sentence which precedes the famous reference to opium, he writes: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions."
Seen in its proper context, the full quotation indicates that Marx had a more profound view of religion than is commonly supposed. Is it laziness, I wonder, that leads modern commentators to misrepresent him so often or is it evidence of a fashionable disdain for religion that, in this particular respect at least, Marx did not share?
The Reverend ROD GARNER
Holy Trinity Southport