French Revolution and atheism
|“|| Between 1700 and 1750 thousands of atheistic clandestine manuscripts circulated across Europe (although still only read by a very small minority)...
The French Revolution (1789-94) would dramatically transform the power relationship between belief and unbelief in Europe: whereas before atheism had been 'high brow', discussed in the cafes and salons of Paris, henceforth it would set itself down among the people. A strident unbelief became a real political factor in public life, as the anticlerical 'dechristianisation' period following the revolution would demonstrate. The impact of the French Revolution in inspiring people to put the irreligious ideas of the Enlightenment into practice would extend beyond France to other European countries, and to the American colonies (although in the latter it would take a deistic rather than atheistic form).
The Reign of Terror of the French Revolution established established a state which was anti-Roman Catholicism/Christian in nature (anti-clerical deism and anti-religious atheism and played a significant role in the French Revolution), with the official ideology being the Cult of Reason; during this time thousands of believers were suppressed and executed by the guillotine.
Kenneth Weinstein wrote in The American Interest:
|“|| Charlie Hebdo has suddenly become the best-known example of a venerable French tradition: vituperative and unrelenting anti-religious satire, a provocative yet regular phenomenon of French public life. And now—not, alas, for the first time in that nation’s history—it has occasioned actual bloodshed.
Lampooning of the Bible, Christian doctrine, and clergy dates back almost 400 years to the “strong thinkers,” French learned skeptics in the 16th century. The primary target of anti-religious satire was France’s official religion, Catholicism, the Church’s ties to the state, and its control over education. And the ridiculing wit long directed against these targets would eventually play a central and crucial role in reducing the status and influence of religion in the French Republic...
The method of the forerunners of Charlie Hebdo—unrelenting and vicious satire of religion and clergy — proved so effective that France became a fully secular state, to such an extent that certain of its practices, laicité, would be regarded as unsettlingly alien and intolerant by most Americans.
- The material was formerly at the University of Cambridge's Investigation Atheism website. A website which closed down. The material has been transferred to 18th Century History, Investigating Atheism
- Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789, pp. 1-17 1991 Continuum International Publishing
- SPIELVOGEL, Jackson Western Civilization: Combined Volume p. 549, 2005,Thomson Wadsworth
- Latreille, A. FRENCH REVOLUTION, New Catholic Encyclopedia v. 5, pp. 972–973 (Second Ed. 2002 Thompson/Gale) ISBN 0-7876-4004-2
- War, Terror and Resistence
- Forging Freedom: The Life of Cerf Berr of M Delsheim by Margaret R. O'Leary, iUniverse (June 1, 2012), pages 1-2
- Multiple references:
"It is wonderful that, amid the horrors of this dismal period, while 'the death dance of democratic revolution' was still in rapid movement, among the tears of affliction, and the cries of despair, 'the masque, the song, the theatric scene, the buffoon laughter, went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace.'”
"It's this second Enlightenment tradition that Cardinal Ratzinger referred to when he wrote, 'The radical detachment of the Enlightenment philosophy from its roots ultimately leads it to dispense with man.' Actually this transition happened not 'ultimately' but almost immediately. The first instance occurred when Enlightenment worship of abstract 'reason' and 'liberty' degenerated quickly into the mass murders committed during the antireligious Reign of Terror in France. 'Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name', said Madam Rolande as she faced the statue of Liberty in the Place de la Revolution movements before her death at the guillotine. She was one of the early victims of a succession of secular systems based on rootless notions of 'liberty', 'equality', and 'reason'.
"As many historians have pointed out, the atheist regimes of modern times are guilty of far more crimes than any committed in the name of religion. Communist governments alone were guilty of more than one hundred million murders, most of them committed against their own people.”
- Charlie Hebdo and France’s Irreligious Tradition by Kenneth R. Weinstein