“Sanger was in fact a Marxist, an atheist and a racist with some real enthusiasm for human eugenics.“
This quote, part of a factually questionable “biography” of Sanger written by Robin A. Brace, makes some interesting claims… interesting, but untrue all the same. We’ve covered the charge of racism before on this blog, but we haven’t touched on Sanger’s supposed Marxism yet, mostly because this claim seems to have been pulled out of thin air.
In her 1922 book, Pivot of Civilization, Sanger makes her feelings about the incompatibility between Marxism and the Birch Control Movement crystal clear:
“No thorough understanding of Birth Control, its aims and purposes, is possible until this confusion has been cleared away and we come to a realization that Birth Control is not merely independent of, but even antagonistic to the Marxist dogma. “
“”Critics have often been puzzled by the tremendous vitality of [Marx’s] work. Its predictions have never, despite the claims of the faithful, been fulfilled. Instead of diminishing, the spirit of nationalism has been intensified tenfold.”
– From the Pivot of Civilization. Chapter VII: Is Revolution the Remedy?
As for the claim that Sanger was an atheist, one who denies the existence of god, it too is untrue. Sanger herself identified as Episcopalian in a 1957 interview with Mike Wallace. She was raised Catholic, married a Jewish man, and eventually joined her second husband, J. Noah Slee, in the Episcopalian Church. She had both of her sons baptized in the Episcopalian faith, a choice that was obviously her own because their father, William Sanger, was Jewish and, thus, would not have advocated for baptism. While it is true that told her son, Grant, that she had “outgrown the need of Church” in a letter written in 1928, she also said in the same letter that she has “no objection to [Grant] joining the church & being confirmed.” [This letter can be found in The Selected Papers of Margraret Sanger: Volume I, page 474]
When looking at all of this information together, it is certainly fair to assume that Sanger considered herself more spiritual than religious, having eschewed the need for a church. However, nothing that she has said – in early letters, or later interviews – indicates that she was an atheist.
As always, we would like to implore authors like Robin A. Brace to do some research and consider the truth before publishing work like this.