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The Profits Of Religion

by Upton Sinclair

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Book Description
This excoriating critique of religion, especially as represented by powerful clerical institutions, is a lesser-known work by Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), who had earlier become famous for his novel THE JUNGLE. More than just a broadside against religion, THE PROFITS OF RELIGION (1918) is the work of an impassioned, idealistic socialist writing at the end of the First World War, when the notion of an international socialist revolution still seemed like a very real possibility to many of the left-leaning thinkers of the day.

Sinclair's chief concern is social justice and his aim is to enlighten common people by training his critical intelligence on the many hypocrisies of established religion, which stand in the way of achieving a just society for all. He is particularly incensed by the collusion of religion with the power structure of capitalism in exploiting the poor to increase its own wealth while ignoring the obvious material needs of the less fortunate.

This work, written before Sinclair and others on the American Left became disillusioned with Soviet-style socialism, offers a fascinating glimpse into the intellectual currents prevalent on the left at the beginning of the twentieth century.

About the Author
Upton Sinclair was born on September 20, 1878, in Baltimore, Maryland. He received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1897 and was a graduate student at Columbia University. Sinclair took up writing for newspapers and published several unsuccessful novels before writing THE JUNGLE for serialization in the socialist newspaper "Appeal to Reason". Intended to lead to improved working conditions for the exploited immigrant workers in the meat-packing industry, THE JUNGLE led to passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, to protect consumers. Publication of the novel in 1906 placed Sinclair in the ranks of the early twentieth-century muckraking writers who used their pens to expose corruption and social injustice. He used the royalties from THE JUNGLE to help found a cooperative-living venture, Helicon Hall, in Englewood, New Jersey. His interest in social and industrial reform underlies most of his 80+ books, including the topical and polemical novels THE MONEYCHANGERS (1908), KING COAL (1917), OIL! (1927), and BOSTON (1928); a cycle of 11 historical novels about a contemporary American, Lanny Budd; and many political and social studies such as THE PROFITS OF RELIGION (1918) and THE GOOSE-STEP (1923). Sinclair won the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for DRAGON'S TEETH, the third novel in the Lanny Budd series. Joining the Socialist Party in 1902, Sinclair helped found the Intercollegiate Socialist Society in 1905. For many years he was active in California politics, running unsuccessfully as a Socialist candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1920 and 1922, and for governor of California in 1926 and 1930. In 1934 he received the Democratic nomination for governor of California, running on the Socialist reform platform EPIC (End Poverty in California). He founded the American Civil Liberties Union in California. Sinclair died in Bound Brook, New Jersey, on November 25, 1968.



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