“The market does not really want a rigorous expression of religion in the public sector. This is another reason why religion in the modern world gets fenced into the private domain, and is always messy when it intrudes into the marketplace. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of capitalistic economics is that it is based on the death of God. ‘This is no secret revelation; some of the key architects of capitalist economics fully understood this and stated it publicly.’….
“In an odd way, this perversely mirrors Bonhoeffer’s statement about God no longer being seen as a stop-gap. Once we function very well on our own, God becomes superfluous. In the matter of economics we find that markets function much better if they are devoid of any religion: ‘… the peculiar genius of the market mechanism lies precisely in its ability to coordinate peaceful and ordered economic exchange in the absence of consensus on religious matters of substance.’ Fidelity to the economic order almost necessitates the absence of loyalty to anything higher….
“The great irony of our day is that acceptance of the current form of the great powers of economy and state as necessary leads to people who, while celebrating their freedom, are less free than they realize. The more individual they become on the conditions that the state and the market allow, the more cut-off from community they are. And the more removed from community we become, the less able we are to resist those very forces of ideology and economics that exercise such a subtle power to shape and control us.
“In fact, the ‘world come of age’ that we are creating is fashioning a fascist architecture of the soul in the service to abstractions like state and economics that take certain concrete forms, most often secured by violence. We close ourselves into the very prisons we have built and then tell ourselves we are authentic selves, but the selves we have created are themselves but wisps that appear and disappear as circumstances warrant….
“The market also expresses its own ecumenicity, for we are all joined by the narratives the market creates for us. Globalization has taken local narratives and extended them over the world: ‘Utopia,’ says the president of Nabisco Corporation, is ‘One world of homogeneous consumption … [I am] looking forward to the day when Arabs and Americans, Latins and Scandinavians will be munching Ritz crackers as enthusiastically as they already drink Coke and brush their teeth with Colgate.’ It is to be seen whether the hand not holding Coke and Ritz crackers will be holding the barrel of a gun to keep others from getting their soda and crackers.
“The market seeks to create a community that serves particular ends, but whether this is the ecumenicity of desire for a community able to transcend the boundaries that the state seems to maintain is doubtful. Even more dubious, for those who seek to resist this movement of a ‘world come of age’ on the grounds of Christian faith is whether the type of community engendered by capitalism can offer help to those most in need of a community of peace. A communion of Ritz crackers becomes a poor substitute for the table of peace engendered by the bread and wine of the crucified Jesus.
“In the face of this when we look at apocalyptic literature in the Bible we may not be too surprised to find that the sign that stands above all signs of the evil thing, the mark of the Beast, is the mark that allows one to buy or sell.”
Jeffrey C. Pugh, Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Troubled Times (London and New York: T & T Clark, 2008), pp. 61-65.