The French Revolution 


Logo The French Revolution achieved its signature triumph with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. In fairly short order the bankrupt monarchy collapsed, but what followed was not so much a new birth of freedom as a terrifying transmutation of the revolution into a monster: "The Revolution, like Saturn, is devouring its own children." (Vergniaud, quoted Book 3.4.VIII., Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution; quote attributed to Danton, p. 157, Note 3212, HIppolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 3). A revolution ostensibly devoted to the Rights of Men sent dissidents to the guillotine. The Reign of Terror consumed tens of thousands of lives, as the 'Enlightenment' ideals which spawned the revolution showed the world what man, without God, could achieve. Ultimately the exhausted French people gave up on liberty and meekly submitted to Napoleon's despotism, explaining to one another that subservience means freedom:


Anti-Clericalism Madness
Temple of Reason Robespierre
Deism The Old Regime
Voltaire The Devil's Due
Divine Right of Kings Knock on the Door
Butcher's Bill Lavoisier
Legacy

LogoAnti-Clericalism

The abortive French Revolution, which preached liberty, equality and fraternity, and gave mankind instead Napoleon's tyranny, was anti-clerical from the outset:


Byzantine Medallion


  • “One of the first measures of the French Revolution was an attack upon the Church. Of all the passions to which that Revolution gave birth, that of irreligion was the first kindled, as it was the last extinguished. Even when the first enthusiasm of liberty had worn off, and peace had been purchased by the sacrifice of freedom, hostility to religion survived. Napoleon subdued the liberal spirit of the Revolution, but he could not conquer its anti-Christian tendencies. Even in the times in which we live, men have fancied they were redeeming their servility to the most slender officials of the state by their insolence to God, and have renounced all that was free, noble, and exalted in the doctrines of the Revolution, in the belief that they were still faithful to its spirit so long as they were infidels.”

  • (Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, Chapter II).




Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii


LogoWhile affording nominal religious liberty, the revolutionary reality was as stated by Carrier, "'Tell me who the fanatics are that shut their shops on Sunday and I will have them guillotined.'" (Hippolyte Taine, Volume 3, p. 151). To this very day, the French do not have any real concept of religious liberty, preferring instead to pass laws which disadvantage and humiliate religious people without accomplishing any meaningful secular purpose, for example their recent legislation to outlaw the head scarves some Muslim women prefer to wear. The French concept of 'secularism' involves the state in programmatic hostility against religion, under the impression that religion is a dangerous delusion of the people from which they must be rescued by the elite who rule.

This fundamental hostility to religion, present from the outset, is a striking contrast between the French Revolution and the earlier American Revolution:

"The French Revolution was partly inspired by an antireligious agenda, with a particular animus against Catholicism. While the French-language Protestant intellectual tradition may have done much to lay the foundations for the revolutionary idea of 'justifiable regicide,' the French Revolution appears to have harbored a generic hostility to Christianity, and many of its proponents pursued a program of 'de-Christianization,' which affected most churches. The American Revolution, in marked contrast, was undertaken with at least some degree of explicitly religious motivation." (Alister McGrath, Christianity's Dangerous Idea, p. 161).

Prior to the Revolution, the French Church had been financed by means including a mandatory tithe and rents received from its substantial land-holdings. The French clergy were rather inconsistent theonomists, believing very strongly that Moses' tithe continued as a New Testament ordinance, but failing to notice that Moses' law, institutionalizing a land reform every forty-nine years in the Jubilee, criminalized the system of land tenure then characteristic of France, namely feudalism. The government, greedy for revenue, took over the tithe and the church lands, and subordinated the church to the state, making the clergy into salaried public functionaries: "But now that functions were becoming public, it was necessary to make a magistracy of the priesthood as they had made one of royalty; and, in order to make them dependent on the state, it was essential they should be paid by it. . ." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter III).

One of the earlier visions that guided the Revolution in its baby-steps was the hope France could become like England, already a constitutional monarchy; and England, owing to Henry VIII's desire for a divorce, had itself enacted a similar take-over. But in France, unlike in England, there were hardly any sympathetic clerics who found the new order of things congenial, or who thought it could be made to work for the promotion of sound doctrine and good church order. This was a state take-over of a church by its avowed enemies. When the French revolutionary government bulldozed over the wall of separation between church and state, its totalitarian momentum impelled it onward; its progress could not be stopped before it had reduced the religion celebrated in those lofty cathedrals, property of 'the people' because they stole it fair and square, to an obscene parody:


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LogoThe new French state of the Year Zero was to be totalitarian; nothing independent of the state was to be allowed to remain in operation:

"The finances of the revolution depended on a more daring and more vast measure. . .One way alone remained — to declare ecclesiastical property national, and to sell it for the rescue of the state. . .It was important not to leave an independent body, and especially an ancient body, any longer in the state; for in a time of revolution everything ancient is hostile." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter III).

Another old institution taken away from the church at that time was the tithe, though whether it was ever intended to be a New Testament ordinance is open to debate:


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LogoThe Revolutionists demanded that the clergy sign their consent to this new order of things, and those clergymen who from principle would not sign were subject to persecution from the beginning of the Revolution until its inglorious end in Napoleon's autocracy. From the starting gun, the church was in opposition: "The revolution had had as enemies, from the beginning of the states-general, the court. . .since the decree respecting the property and civil constitution of the clergy, the whole ecclesiastical body. . ." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter III). Those pastors who would not endorse this hostile take-over of the church by the state were marked men, many of them losing their lives before the killing stopped. As will be seen, once the churches were seized by the state, what went on in them became bizarre and paganish, including even idolatrous worship of a living woman purported to represent 'Reason.'

Like the abortive English Revolution of the prior century, the outcome of the French Revolution was abject failure. After ten years of turmoil, the French ended as cringing subjects of arbitrary military dictatorship. Beginning by proclaiming liberty and self-rule, both the English and the French ended in subservience to the conquering heroes, Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon Bonaparte. These adventurers picked up power where it lay in the streets. The difference between these individuals and the dead kings they displaced was that the king's power was somewhat circumscribed by tradition and custom, whereas the dictators' new power knew no bounds. The two Revolutions differed in that Cromwell's king-killers had not set out to shake their fists in God's face, as did the French Revolutionists. Neither did the successful American Revolution.

In spite of their Revolution's failure, the French cannot stop proclaiming its glories to anyone who will listen, including a school-boy taught by the French colonialists who misruled Cambodia, Pol Pot. He learned from his tutors that liberation means mass death. It's a bad lesson, the misconstrued moral of a tragic and erring history, that should not be accepted without objection.

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LogoMadness

Unlike the American Revolutionary War, which left the American people calmly in possession of self-governance, the French Revolution spawned a self-devouring frenzy:



  • “When the French Revolution overthrew civil and religious laws together, the human mind lost its balance. Men knew not where to stop or what measure to observe. There arose a new order of revolutionists, whose boldness was madness, who shrank from no novelty, knew no scruples, listened to no argument or objection. And it must not be imagined that this new species of beings was the spontaneous and ephemeral offspring of circumstances, destined to perish when they passed away; it has given birth to a race which has spread and propagated throughout the civilized world, preserving a uniform physiognomy, uniform passions, a uniform character. We found it in existence at our birth; it is still before us.”
  • (Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, Chapter XIV.)




Karl Marx V. I. Lenin
Bhagat Singh Mao Zedong
Pol Pot Enver Hoxha
The Derg Che Guevara
No True Atheist Why?
Tu Quoque Prince of Tyre
Atheist Armies Jim Jones
The French Revolution

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Logo The revolutionary attitude toward due process is best summarized by Maximilien Robespierre, who said, "A people does not judge after the manner of a judicial body; it does not render sentence, it launches the thunderbolt." (Maximilien Robespierre, quoted p. 164, The French Revolution, a Short History, by Robert Matteson Johnston). The hopeful secularist might expect the abandonment of religion, lambasted as superstition, to lead to a neutral state. Instead it leads to this: "One day a Jacobin in the tribune declared: 'We shall be a nation of gods!'" (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 2, p. 32). Those human beings who happened to be in the vicinity, who did not want to storm heaven and become gods, were made guillotine-fodder: "'We will make France a graveyard,' exclaimed Carrier, 'rather than not regenerating it our own way!'" (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 2, p. 33).

When it is brought to their attention that officially atheist regimes, such as those of Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, have committed atheist atrocities, atheists shrug and explain that communism is a religion. In some ways, they make a valid point: Marx and Engels predicted, on 'scientific' grounds, that history would come to an end and a reign of universal justice and bliss would descend. This promise, fraudulent as it turned out, is suspiciously similar to themes in Judaism and Christianity of a Messianic reign, an era of peace and justice. Was Marx, consciously or unconsciously, repackaging a familiar theme for secular consumption?:



  • “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
    And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
  • “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
    For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
    And her people a joy.
  • “I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
    And joy in My people;
    The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
    Nor the voice of crying.
  • “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
    Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
    For the child shall die one hundred years old,
    But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
  • “They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
    They shall not build and another inhabit;
    They shall not plant and another eat;
    For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
    And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
  • “They shall not labor in vain,
    Nor bring forth children for trouble;
    For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD,
    And their offspring with them.
  • “It shall come to pass
    That before they call, I will answer;
    And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
  • “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
    And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
    They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
    Says the LORD.”
  • (Isaiah 65:17-25).


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Since non-Marxist atheists resent being lumped in with doctrinaire Marxist-Leninists, study of the French Revolution may provide us with a pure play, demonstrating what non-Marxist atheists can do on their own. What did the atheists give the world, when given the power to remake it in their own image? Peace, justice, freedom? No, ideological conformity or death. The record of this revolution is a horror story. There is an old pagan saying, 'Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.'

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LogoTemple of Reason

None of the leading French Revolutionists was a Christian. Some were Deists, some atheists. Some thought there was a supreme being worthy of worship, others wanted to worship personified 'Reason.' Both factions agreed in their contempt for Christianity and joined hands to repress it. The French Revolution brought into being two new religions, both tricked out with impressive ceremony and audio-visual effects, which is what the cynical revolutionists thought appealed to the masses in the Roman Catholicism they were now instructed to abandon. Determined to blaspheme, openly, publically, and outrageously, was the Cult of Reason, an officially atheistic religion. It was, of course, a persecuting faith:



  • “Bearing a bust of Marat, the crowd marched to the Temple of Reason, the erstwhile cathedral, over whose portals were placed a large tricolor and a placard reading 'Light after darkness'. . .An orchestra played, and the gathering (alleged to number ten thousand) sang a 'Hymn to Nature':
  • "Mother of the Universe, eternal Nature,
    The People acknowledges your power eternal;
    On the pompous wreckage of ancient imposture
    Its hands raise your altar...”
  • (Twelve Who Ruled, The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution, R.R. Palmer, p. 188).




LogoNotre Dame Cathedral in Paris was defiled by the idolatrous worship of a woman dressed up to personate 'Reason:' "On the 10th of November the Cathedral of Notre Dame was dedicated to Reason, a handsome young woman from the opera personifying the goddess. Two weeks later, just as Danton reached Paris, the Commune closed all the churches of the city for the purpose of dedicating them to the cult of Reason." (The French Revolution, a Short History, by Robert Matteson Johnston, pp. 202-203). This desecration of a cathedral was an official governmental function, with those under whose misrule this unhappy nation was then suffering in attendance:

"To wind up, the Convention decrees that it will attend that evening the fete of Reason and, in fact, they go in a body. . .They take their seats in the front rows, while the Goddess, an old frequenter of the suppers of the Duc de Soubise, along with 'all the pretty dames of the Opera,' display before them their operatic graces. They sing the 'Hymn to Liberty'. . .In the great nave of the Cathedral, 'the dancers, almost naked, with bare necks and breasts, and stockings down at the heel,' writhe and stamp, 'howling the carmagnole.' In the side chapels, which are 'shut off by high tapestries, prostitutes with shrill voices' pursue their avocation." (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 3, p. 134).

As they say, Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose: the most striking feature of today's internet atheists, their filthy mouths, belonged also to their forbears. They are like little boys exploring the out-house and discovering the wonders beneath the out-house; why does this kind of talk so fascinate the atheists, when it does not the rest of us?:



  • “Hebert's faction, which, in a work entitled Pere Duchesne, popularized obscene language and low and cruel sentiments, and which added derision of the victims to the executions of party, in a short time made terrible progress. It compelled the bishop of Paris and his vicars to abjure Christianity at the bar of the convention, and forced the convention to decree, that the worship of Reason should be substituted for the catholic religion. The churches were shut up or converted into temples of reason, and fetes were established in every town, which became scandalous scenes of atheism.”
  • (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter VIII).




Logo When you or I, dear reader, free associate on the theme of 'Reason,' nothing obscene is likely to come to mind. But the atheists are not like you and me. Not too long ago they held a 'Reason Rally' featuring as its center-piece Tim Minchin spewing obscenities in random directions. Thus, when the plundered French churches were rededicated as temples of Reason, a drunken riot sometimes ensued; "Other mysteries, seemingly of a Cabiric or even Paphian character, we heave under the Veil, which appropriately stretches itself 'along the pillars of the aisles'. . ." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Book III, Chapter 3.5.IV Carmagnole complete.). Down through the ages, the same causes produce the same results, with an almost uncanny precision:



  • “Chaumette, an attorney, was the man who proclaimed atheism, and his example had many imitators. . .He it was who imagined those orgies, termed the festivals of reason. On of the most remarkable of these festivals was celebrated in this very church of St. Eustache.
  • “Although Mademoiselle Maillard, the singing heroine of the French opera, figured more than once as the goddess of reason, that divinity was generally personified by some shameless female, who, if not a notorious prostitute, was frequently little better. Her throne occupied the place of the altar; her supporters were chiefly drunken soldiers, smoking their pipe; and before her, were a set of half-naked vagabonds, singing and dancing the carmagnole. . .
  • “In other churches, balls were given; and, by way of shutting the door in the face of modesty, these were continued during the night, in order that, amidst the confusion of nocturnal revelry, those desires which had been kindled during the day, might be freely gratified under the veil of darkness.”
  • ('Paris as it was and is: a Sketch of the French Capital, Illustrative of the Effects of the Revolution,' Francis William Blagdon, Volume I, Letter XXIII, Church of St. Eustache).




Logo The blasphemous performance at Notre Dame Cathedral was far from an isolated incident, these shameful and degrading pantomimes were going on all over the country. Whether these ceremonies are to be counted as idolatrous depends on whether anyone meant this nonsense seriously:

"For the same day, while this brave Carmagnole dance has hardly jigged itself out, there arrive Procureur Chaumette and Municipals and Departmentals, and with them the strangest freightage: a New Religion! Demoiselle Candeille, of the Opera; a woman fair to look upon, when well rouged: she, borne on palanquin shoulder-high; with red woolen nightcap; in azure mantle; garlanded with oak; holding in her hand the Pike of the Jupiter-Peuple, sails in; heralded by white young women girt in tricolor. Let the world consider it! This, O National Convention wonder of the universe, is our New Divinity; Goddess of Reason, worthy, and alone worthy of revering. . .And now, after due pause and flourishes of oratory, the Convention, gathering its limbs, does get under way in the required procession towards Notre-Dame;— Reason, again in her litter, sitting in the van of them, borne, as one judges, by men in the Roman costume; escorted by wind-music, red nightcaps, and the madness of the world. And so straightway, Reason taking seat on the high-altar of Notre-Dame, the requisite worship or quasi-worship is, say the Newspapers, executed. . ." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Chapter 3.5.IV Carmagnole complete.)

Do the Roman Catholics, a sacramental people, have any ceremonies for re-sacralizing an altar which has been polluted in this manner? Presumably such has been accomplished, because Notre Dame is still in use today as a Christian church. Beyond random acts of desecration, the atheists sought to re-educate the French. The authorities ordered the slogan "Here is eternal sleep" to be posted over the cemeteries of France: ". . .also, on Cemeteries, or Houses of the Dead, stood printed, by order of Procureur Chaumette, Here is eternal Sleep: . . ." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Book 3.V., Terror the Order of the Day, Book III, Chapter 3.5.1).

Not content with sacrilegious pantomimes, the atheists howled their atheist sermons from the pulpits of the expropriated churches:

"Monvel is author as well as actor. . .By his zeal for the revolution, he alienated from him a great part of the public. When every principle of religion was trodden under foot, and, under the name of festivals of reason or of the goddess of reason, orgies of the most scandalous nature were celebrated in the churches, Monvel ascended the pulpit of the parish of St. Roch, and preached atheism before an immense congregation. Shortly after, Robespierre caused the National Convention to proclaim the following declaration: 'The French people acknowledge the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.'" (Francis William Blagdon, Paris as it Was and as it is: A Sketch of the French Capital, Illustrative of the Effects of the Revolution, Volume II, Letter LIV).

Christians, oddly enough, also worship 'Reason;' one of Jesus' titles is 'the Logos' or Word of God, which may be translated as 'Reason.' I will leave it to the reader to judge which is the better upholder of the title, He who made the world according to it, or a rouged woman only satisfied if she can hear the constant whir of the guillotine. Like the American Atheists' recent 'Reason Rally,' which featured Tim Minchin spewing obscenities in random directions, outside observers have a hard time perceiving why some atheists see 'reason' in their unbecoming activities; perhaps they do not understand what the word means:

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LogoRobespierre

Maximilien Robespierre was enough of a practical politician to realize the difficulties involved in imposing state-sponsored atheism upon a heretofore Catholic populace and called a halt to the forcible anti-theism campaign. Not, however, the Dechristianization program, which appealed to the Deists as much as to the atheists:



  • “Some would go further. Under pretense of destroying superstition they would make a kind of religion of atheism itself. . .It will be said perhaps that I am narrow-minded, a man of prejudice, even a fanatic. I have already said that I spoke not as an individual or as a systematic philosopher, but as a representative of the people. Atheism is aristocratic; the idea of a great Being that watches over oppressed innocence and punishes triumphant crime is altogether popular.”
  • (Maximilien Robespierre, quoted in Twelve Who Ruled, The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution, R.R. Palmer, p. 121).




LogoNot that this retrenchment could deflect the momentum of the revolution; the killing had already started. Just as it would later, under Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, on through the depressingly long list of atheist mass killers the twentieth century witnessed. Is there a counter-example, an officially atheistic regime which did not slaughter its people nor subvert their right to religious liberty? Learning nothing from the failure of the French Revolution's first artificial religion, the Cult of Reason, they tried again, this time with an officially Deist faith, the Cult of the Supreme Being. This new religion acknowledged that there was a God and averred faith in an after-life, but was otherwise as hostile to Christianity and the practitioners of Christianity as was its predecessor, the Cult of Reason. Both failed to win the support of the people, whether because the masses had a prior commitment to Christianity or whether they simply disliked being made to appear ridiculous.

Was Robespierre a sincere believer in his new, hot-house religion? Or was he an elitist opportunist imposing upon a people he thought child-like? Was this new, artificial religious product a desperate expedient to keep the revolution alive? Robespierre was willing to endure static from his revolutionary comrades, which might suggest a measure of sincerity. He was accused of wanting to return the nation to superstition:

"A deputy having demanded that mention should be made of the Supreme Being in the preamble of the constitution, Vergniaud replied: 'We have no more to do with Numa's nymph than with Mahomet's pigeon; reason is sufficient to give France a good constitution.'—Buchez et Roux, XIII. 444. Robespierre having spoken of the Emperor Leopold's death as a stroke of Providence, Guadet replies that he sees 'no sense in that idea,' and blames Robespierre for 'endeavoring to return the people to slavery of superstition.'—Ibid., XXVI. 63 (session of April 19, 1793). Speech by Vergniaud against article IX of the Declaration of Rights, which states that 'all men are free to worship as they please.' This article, says Vergniaud, 'is a result of the despotism and superstition under which we have so long languished.' (note 3358, Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 2, p. 243).

The atheists are always optimists; the reader will recall how certain the New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, were that religion was just about to evaporate any moment now. But it didn't catch on. Upon the failure of the misnamed Cult of Reason, the French Revolutionists were not done trying to control men's minds and spirits; even as the Hebertists went to the guillotine, Maximilien Robespierre, whether through sincere conviction or cynicism, inaugurated the second try at a new religion of the French Revolution, Deism:

"On the 7th of May, a month after Danton's death, Robespierre delivered a long speech before the Convention, a speech that marks his apogee. . .Voltaire and the Encyclopedists were bitterly attacked; Jean Jacques Rousseau was deified. The State should adopt his religious attitude, his universal church of nature. In that church, nature herself is the chief priest and there is no need of an infamous priesthood. Its ritual is virtue; its festivals the joy of a great people. Therefore let the Convention decree that the Cult of the Supreme Being be established, that the duty of every citizen is to practice virtue, to punish tyrants and traitors, to succor the unfortunate, to respect the weak, to defend the oppressed, to do good unto others. Let the Convention institute competitions for hymns and songs to adorn the new cult. . ." (The French Revolution, a Short History, by R. M. Johnston, pp. 210-211).

This brand spanking new religion also had its holy days. The Revlution abolished the seven-day week and replaced it with a ten-day division of time. Didn't catch on: "He [Robespierre] proposed that Decadi should be converted into a new Sabbath. . ." (The French Revolution, a Short History, by R. M. Johnston, p. 210-212).  There were also "statues, processions, bonfires," but they didn't catch on either, though not for lack of persecutory zeal:

"In the forefront appears the fixed and favorite idea of the old-fashioned philosophism. By that I mean the consistent and decreed plan to found a lay religion, and impose the observances and dogmas of its theories on twenty-six millions of Frenchmen, and, consequently extirpating Christianity, its worship and its clergy. The inquisitors who hold office multiply, with extraordinary persistence and minuteness, prroscriptions and vigorous measures for the forcible conversation of the nation. . .Never did the dull imagination of a third-rate scholar and classic poetaster, never did the grotesque solemnity of a pedant fond of his phrases, never did the irritating hardness of the narrow and stubborn devotee display with great sentimental bombast and more administrative officiousness than in the decrees of the Legislative Corps, in the acts passed by the Directory and in the instructions issued by the ministers Sotin, Letourneur, Lambrechts, Duval and Francois de Neufchateau. War on Sunday, on the old calendar and on fasting, obligatory rest on the decadi under penalty of fine and imprisonment, obligatory fetes on the anniversaries of January 21 and Fructidor 18, participation of all functionaries with their cult, obligatory attendance of public and private instructors with their pupils of both sexes at civic ceremonies, an obligatory liturgy with catechisms and programs sent from Paris, rules for scenic display and for singings, readings, postures, acclamations and imprecations. One might shrug his shoulders at these prescriptions of cuistres and these parades of puppets, if behind the apostles who compose moral allegories, we did not detect the persecutor who imprisons, tortures and murders." (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 3, pp. 344-345)

The artificial character of this religion and its pasteboard statues disgusted those commanded to serve as its adherents, many of whom in any case already had their own religion, for which they suffered exile, guillotining, mass drownings, the firing squad, and deportation to fever-ridden Guyana. Inasmuch as Robespierre is the man who said, "If God did not exist we should have to invent Him," (Maximilien Robespierre, quoted p. 204, The French Revolution: A Short History, by Robert Matteson Johnston), it is difficult to gauge his sincerity in inventing this preposterous religion, filled with plaster idols and play-acting; however, given the Deists' demonstrated willingness to send the atheists to the guillotine, and the atheists' eagerness to return the favor, the two faiths cannot be taken as equivalent. Deists are bona-fide theists, even if their conception of the divine nature is decidedly vague and wishful.

Robespierre was, not only apostle, but functioning high priest of this new religion. After, on the 18th Floreal, decreeing the existence of the Supreme Being, they determined, this being a religion, one must worship, or at any rate put on a show. In the old Hebrew religion, the priest was not to come in contact with a dead body; here was a man who transformed the living into dead bodies, at an industrial rate; did he stop to wash the blood off his hands before raising them in worship?:

"The celebration of the new religion had been fixed for the 20th Prairial throughout France. On the 16th, Robespierre was unanimously appointed president of the convention, in order that he might officiate as the pontiff at the festival. At that ceremony he appeared at the head of the assembly, his face beaming with joy and confidence, an unusual expression with him. He advanced alone, fifteen feet in advance of his colleagues, attired in a magnificent dress, holding flowers and ears of corn in his hand, the object of general attention. . .He harangued the people in his capacity of high priest. . .'People, let us to-day give ourselves up to the transports of pure delight!'" (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter IX).

From the time the startled French tax-payers discovered that they were paying the bills for the Cult of the Supreme Being, Deism was a persecuting religion, as eager to do away with its rivals as any Inquisition had ever been, and if anything even less disposed toward respecting due process. They didn't even care much for the atheists, their former fellow travellers, or perhaps they wanted to put distance between themselves and the atheists' unpopularity. The new religion's first corporate act of worship included the downright mean-spirited act of burning an effigy of Atheism:

"This day, if it please Heaven, we are to have, on improved Anti-Chaumette principles: a New Religion. Catholicism being burned out, and Reason-worship guillotined, was there not need of one? Incorruptible Robespierre, not unlike the Ancients, as Legislator of a free people will now also be Priest and Prophet. He has donned his sky-blue coat, made for the occasion; white silk waistcoat broidered with silver, black silk breeches, white stockings, shoe-buckles of gold. He is President of the Convention; he has made the Convention decree, so they name it, decreter the 'Existence of the Supreme Being,' and likewise 'ce principle consolateur of the immortality of the Soul.' These consolatory principles, the basis of rational Republican Religion, are getting decreed; and here, on this blessed Decadi, by help of Heaven and Painter David, is to be our first act of worship.

". . .Mahomet Robespierre, in sky-blue coat and black breeches, frizzled and powdered to perfection, bearing in his hand a bouquet of lowers and wheat-ears, issues proudly from the Convention Hall; Convention following him, yet, as is remarked, with an interval. Ampitheatre has been raised, or at least Monticule or Elevation; hideous Statues of Atheism, Anarchy and such like, thanks to Heaven and Painter David, strike abhorrence into the heart. . .The seagreen Pontiff takes a torch, Painter David handing it; mouths some other froth-rant of vocables, which happily one cannot hear; strides resolutely forward, in sight of expectant France; sets his torch to Atheism and Company, which are but made of pasteboard steeped in turpentine. They burn up rapidly; and, from within, there rises 'by machinery' an incombustible Statue of Wisdom, which, by ill hap, gets besmoked a little. . ." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Book III, Chapter 3.6.IV Mumbo-Jumbo).

Robespierre had said, in mournful prophecy: "If necessary, I am ready to drink the cup of Socrates." (Robespierre, quoted by F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter IX). It wasn't hemlock but the guillotine that did him in, because "Whose diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him." (Proverbs 26:27).

How fares it today with the Cult of Reason and the Cult of the Supreme Being? Atheism still exists, though its ceremonial aspect is generally neglected, but Deism scarcely exists in the world today, at no loss to anyone. To judge by tangible accomplishments, it seems that the tutelary deity of this strange new cult bore more resemblance to Molech than to any other idol, insatiable of human blood:

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LogoDeism

Although their high priest, Maximilien Robespierre, had joined the death march to the guillotine, the Deists did not abandon their efforts to displace Catholicism as the religion of France:

"La Reveillere, the director entrusted with the moral department of the government, then sought to establish, under the name of Theophilanthropie, the deistical religion which the committee of public safety had vainly endeavored to establish by the Fete a l'Etre Supreme. He provided temples, hymns, forms, and a kind of liturgy, for the new religion; but such a faith could only be individual, could not long continue public. The theophilanthropists, whose religion was opposed to the political opinions and the unbelief of the revolutionists, were much ridiculed." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter XII).

Still, somehow, it never caught on. The people who created and promoted Deism advertised it as the source of a new golden age of love and comity; American patriot Ethan Allen promised ". . .the improvement of succeeding generations, in the knowledge of nature and science, will exalt the reason of mankind, above the tricks and impostures of priests, and bring them back to the religion of nature and truth; ennoble their minds, and be the means of cultivating concord, and mutual love in society, and of extending charity, and good will to all intelligent beings throughout the universe. . ." (Ethan Allen, Reason the Only Oracle of Man,Chapter XII, Section III.). How much "mutual love" the doctrine actually inspired may be discovered in the annals of the French Revolution.

Deism arose out of the reveries of the dreamer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who served an undemanding god of his own imagining: "While walking, I offered up my prayers, not by a vain motion of the lips, but a sincere elevation of my heart, to the Great Author of delightful nature, whose beauties were so charmingly spread out before me!" (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions, Book VI). Conveniently, this deity never speaks; his devotees speak for him. We are reassured to learn he is not angry.

One Deist author widely read in the present day, though mostly by atheists, is Thomas Paine, the pamphleteer who wrote 'Common Sense.' This author concedes that Jesus offered some worthwhile teachings, but condemns such supernatural accounts as the resurrection and ascension, which "has every mark of fraud and imposition stamped upon the face of it." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Chapter 3).

Much of Thomas Paine's material is simply silly, like his claim that 'prophets' were no more than 'poets,' and, you see, everybody has just misunderstood. In spite of its poor quality, this material gets recycled over and over; the irreligious are not done with these 'arguments' yet. Naturally, Jesus is no more than a mere man:

"Had it been the object or the intention of Jesus Christ to establish a new religion, he would undoubtedly have written the system himself, or procured it to be written in his life time. . .He was a Jew by birth and by profession; and he was the son of God in like manner that every other person is; for the Creator is the Father of All." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part I, Chapter VIII - Of the New Testament).

Really?:



LogoThomas Paine was a pioneer of the modern way of studying the Bible. Previously it had been assumed that we learn, from history, what is possible; he adopted the simpler method of deciding first what is possible, and then going back to reconfigure the historical evidence, conforming it to what is deemed possible. Thus Thomas Paine's sense of what it was possible for first century Jews to believe becomes the Procrustean bed in which, Jesus' claimed deity not fitting, it is lopped off:


Age of Reason Deism
Temple of Reason Supreme Being
First Cause Revealed Religion
Civilization Son of God
Methodology Old Testament
Saved by the Blood Small World
Thomas Jefferson Prophets and Poets
Theophanic Angel Love of Learning
Born of a Virgin Until this Day
Three Days


LogoThis might seem like an immensely powerful methodology,— if the facts don't work for you, just change the facts,— however, it is so very powerful, it must be hidden and carefully sequestered away from any danger of disconfirmation, and applied only where you can get away with it, as in secular Bible study. It is to be sure a 'Copernican Revolution' in methodology, however it must pick its targets, and its marks, carefully.

Not only opposed to the New Testament, the Deists were, unlike the unitarians, hostile also to the Old. In this they were rather inconsistent. Christian theology is quite impossible, why? Because it is not the same as Jewish theology; and who are the Jews? "Ruffians," they say, who worship a monster-God:



LogoThe Deists, going back to Jean Jacques Rousseau, generally argue in favor of human innocency and innate goodness. We may if you like, Dear Reader, make the French Revolution into the test case whether man is a sinner, as the Bible teaches, or wholly innocent and harmless, if not perverted by bad institutions like the church, as the French Enlightenment asserted. Sufficient crimes were committed by these enlightened ones, from the whizzing guillotine's endless searching out of thought-crimes, to the slaughter and post-mortem mutilation of Swiss Guards who surrendered their arms under promise of quarter, to leave no doubt which arm of the balance hangs heavy. They are without sin, so they tell us; if they would only stop killing us for a moment, we might whimper agreement.

Thomas Jefferson is often identified as a Deist, especially by atheists who hope to make themselves his fellow-travellers; however this identification is careless. Thomas Jefferson held Jesus of Nazareth's moral teaching in such high regard that he patterned his own life upon this standard. While true Deists like Thomas Paine will sometimes offer faint-hearted praise for Christian morality, they never go so far as to commend actually living that way:

". . .but when it is said, as in the Testament, 'If a man smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,' it is assassinating the dignity of forbearance, and sinking man into a spaniel." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part II, Chapter III).

According to Thomas Paine, God had revealed Himself in trigonometry, not in the Bible. His dismissive attitude toward Jesus of Nazareth was not shared by Thomas Jefferson, much less by Joseph Priestley, Jefferson's sometime pastor. While these latter two were not orthodox Christians, neither were they Deists. The unitarians of that day as a rule did not join Thomas Paine in tossing out the Bible. Of course, once the unitarians were obliged to admit the Bible does not really work for their cause, their ardor for it cooled.

Undoubtedly it goes a long way to understanding why the French Revolution unfolded the way it did, and especially why, once the killing started, it could not stop, to realize the highest and best morality of the revolutionists disallowed loving one's enemies: "Loving of enemies is another dogma of feigned morality, and has besides no meaning." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part II, Chapter III). By contrast, Thomas Jefferson not only praised, but by the testimony of by-standers also practiced to a considerable extent, the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount:

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LogoThe Old Regime

Alexis de Tocqueville, writing half a century after the French Revolution, made note of the fact that it was difficult to recover the mind-set of the philosophes who had conceptualized the Revolution, inasmuch as they and their world had been swept away by the event. This was a group of infidel sybarites who lived for ever more decadent pleasures. Battened down on the body politic as pampered parasites, they lived the kind of life-style one can only live when someone else is paying the bills and there is no God: kind of like today's college students:

"Louis XV converted the palace [Versailles] into the most gorgeous of brothels, and the inmates into the most contemptible and degraded of harlots and pimps." (The French Revolution, a Short History, R. M. Johnston, p. 14).

The mind-set of the French Revolutionists came out of this world, with Voltaire preaching atheism, and Rousseau the champion of a vague Deism. The world of the pre-Revolution aristocracy might be likened to the hippies of the 1960's, for whom life was an endless party. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the French struggled through lives of deprivation and hardship. After all, somebody's got to pay the bills; the hippies were no more self-financing than was the French nobility. After that world collapsed, the French people of succeeding generations had a hard time recovering the mind-set in which 'Temples of Reason' might make sense. Like the English after their failed Revolution, they even restored the monarchy, being unable to master the skill of self-government.

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LogoVoltaire

Voltaire, the apostle of atheism, whose preferences in this regard sent so many priests and nuns to a martyr's death during the Revolution, specialized in brittle bon mots intended to appear insightful to those who share his viewpoint:

"If it were permitted to reason consistently in religious matters, it is clear that we all ought to become Jews, because Jesus Christ our Savior was born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew, and that he said expressly that he was accomplishing, that he was fulfilling the Jewish religion." (Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 'Tolerance.')


LogoA sprightly, witty sentiment no doubt, but what does it mean? Since the waning years of the first century, Judaism has virtually defined itself by rejection of Jesus' Messianic claim. And Jesus said that He was the Messiah, and God incarnate, just as clearly and emphatically as He said that He was fulfilling Moses' law. Yet today those who acknowledge Him would find an easier time remaining in the synagogue if they professed atheism. So the way to follow Him is to deny Him? There is no clear thought here expressed, yet it sounds clever. That is, unfortunately, what you get from this author: cute, rather 'naughty'-sounding, witticisms, devoid of substance.

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LogoThe Devil's Due

It must be admitted that the hostility between the French democrats and the Roman Catholic Church was mutual. The early church itself enjoyed a democratic form of governance; centuries of 'reforms' in the direction of top-down hierarchy had eliminated this feature altogether from the Roman Catholic polity. However the revolutionary authorities' efforts to 'restore' it had the unfortunate effect of enslaving the people, mind, body, and soul, to a totalitarian state:


Bible Testimony Paul and Timothy
Quench Not Elections
Cyprian Synagogue
Ecclesia The Theory
Bad Government French Revolution

Angel

Logo Although the church itself began life as a democratically government association, by the time of the middle ages, political thinkers took it for granted that one-man rule was the best constitution, on grounds that it ensured, so they thought, unity. The constitution of the state need not be the same as the constitution of the church, however there is a certain synergy. The French philosophes were not interested in calling the church back to the purity of its original constitution; they despised Protestants equally with Catholics. It did not bother them that the Catholic Church was imperfectly Christian; their detestation for it arose from the fact that it was Christian at all.

While for some of the church reform measures of the Revolution there are Protestant precedents, or Jansenist pleadings, it is impossible to see in others anything but a simple attack upon the church itself. The early church elected its personnel; but when did they ever invite the pagans in to cast their vote?:

"The people now, in effect, choose their own ministers, as they do in the Presbyterian church; the bishop is appointed by the electors of the department, the cure by the district electors, and, what is an extraordinary aggravation, these need not be of his communion. It is of no consequence whether the electoral Assembly contains, as at Nimes, Montauban, Strasbourg, and Metz, a notable proportion of Calvinists, Lutherans, and Jews, or whether its majority, furnished by the club, is notoriously hostile to Catholicism, and even to Christianity itself." (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume I, Chapter II - Destruction).

Whether it was well-intentioned or ill-intentioned, the restoration of the early church's practice of popular election for the clergy seems to have excited nothing but indignation in the mind of professing Catholics, then and now, like this author:

"The true historical point of departure from which we must date the beginning of this profound debate between the Revolution and Catholicism, is to be found in the morning of the 30th of May, 1790, when a parliamentary committee (the Ecclesiastical Committee) presented to the House its plan for the reform of the Constitution of the Church in Gaul.

"The enormity of that act is now apparent to the whole world. The proposal, at the bidding of chance representatives not elected ad hoc, to change the dioceses and the sees of Catholic France, the decision of an ephemeral political body to limit to such and such ties (and very feeble they were) the bond between the Church of France and the Holy See, the suppression of the Cathedral Chapters, the seemingly farcical proposal that bishops should be elected, nay, priests also thus chosen, the submission of the hierarchy in the matter of residence and travel to a civil authority which openly declared itself indifferent in matters of religion,—all this bewilders the modern mind. How, we ask, could men so learned, so enthusiastic, so laborious and so closely in touch with all the realities of their time, make a blunder of that magnitude?" (Hillaire Belloc, The French Revolution, Chapter VI, pp. 234-235).

Of course the Roman Catholic Church, unlike Protestant churches, feels no moral weight of the demand to reorganize itself according to the primitive constitution of the Christian church, and certainly it is up to the church to determine how to organize itself, not up to the state. Not all of the constitutional clergy were atheists or Deists polluting an alien pulpit, nor were the plundered and stripped churches all closed down; some were pastored by Gallicans, willing to accept a church constitution similar to the Anglican, with its characteristic defects of confusing the church with the nation and subordinating the church to the secular authorities. Some at least of these people seem to have been sincere Christians, though, in spite of every advantage including nearly ten years' occupancy of the expropriated churches, they were unable to convince the flock they were its proper shepherds.

However well this reformed system worked, or whether it ever worked at all, it was done away with when Napoleon made himself monarch in all but name, and re-established the French Catholic Church as a top-down system run by the pope:

"For some time past he [Napoleon] had opened a negotiation with Pope Pius VII., on matters of religious worship. The famous concordat, which created nine archbishoprics, forty-one bishoprics, with the institution of chapters, which established the clergy in the state, and again placed it under the external monarchy of the pope, was signed at Paris on the 16th of July, 1801, and ratified at Rome on the 15th of August, 1801. . .The concordat was inaugurated with great pomp in the cathedral of Notre-Dame.. .
"In the evening here was an illumination, and a concert in the gardens of the Tuileries. The soldiery reluctantly attended at the inauguration ceremony, and expressed their dissatisfaction aloud. On returning to the palace, Bonaparte questioned general Delmas on the subject. 'What did you think of the ceremony?' said he. 'A fine mummery' was the reply. 'Nothing was wanting but a million of men slain, in destroying what you re-establish.'" (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter XIV).

Apologists for the French Revolution, of whom there remain many in the world,— atrocities just don't strike some people as all that atrocious,— insist the non-juring clergy turned against the new order of things, not because their rights were grievously violated, but because they preferred the old regime and had done so from the start. It does seem elements of the clergy had wedded themselves to the old regime, though the old regime was not a just or admirable organization of society. When the conquering Muslim armies imposed their will upon their prostrate victims, they classified non-Muslims as dhimmis, deprived of certain legal abilities such as the right to serve in the military or in the government. In a somewhat similar vein, the aristocracies of France and England,— the descendants of the lieutenants of the bandit chieftains who had seized power and imposed this system,— reserved for themselves the right to serve, above a certain level, in the military and government. There was no possible career path by which a peasant might rise to the rank of colonel, however capable and patriotic; it just couldn't happen. The church could have protested this injustice (which results from no doctrine or prescription of the Christian faith), but failed to do so. While failures can have consequences, the actual consequences of this one: imprisonment, expulsion, and execution of Christians for preaching and practicing their religion as they understood it,— added up to an atrocity that eclipses whatever past failures had contributed to the ill-will thus exhausted in ruthless, unremitting and blood-thirsty personal vengeance. They tried to stamp out Catholicism, but didn't; they just killed a whole lot of people.

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LogoDivine Right of Kings

It is surprising how many people, having learned about the Christian faith in school, think that there is somewhere taught in the Bible a doctrine called the 'Divine Right of Kings.' Rather, there are exhortations to respect the civil authorities, such as Romans 13. It should be apparent to the reader that this is a 'bearer bond,' payable to whoever holds it, not a prescription for a monarchical, or any other, form of government:



  • “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”
  • (Romans 13:1-7).




Logo The Israelite monarchy was established by God upon demand of the people:

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

“So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest £young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:4-20).

While the monarchy may not have represented God's perfect will for Israel, there were kings of Israel He loved, as well as kings He despised, and He had His own plan for the eventual development of the institution.

There is somewhat of a tendency for Christian monarchs, such as Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, to assign to themselves, blasphemously, titles belonging to the King of Kings, Jesus. Haile Selassie, for example, was purportedly the 'Lion of Judah.' In that the titles are there to be grabbed, this might be perceived as an encouragement. However, the Bible's message is not exactly, 'Jesus is King, so you can be too.' Some might say He has pre-empted the office.

For most of the Middle Ages, the Bible was a closed book to the laity, who in some cases were forbidden by local church councils from attempting to read it. When these restrictions fell away, they eagerly picked up the holy book they had previously been instructed to venerate, not read, and began reading. To their surprise, they encountered nothing there about feudalism or the lord of the manor; the institutions under which they lived were simply unknown to the Bible authors, either under the Israelite theocracy or the New Testament church. Whether these institutions were 'Gothic,' native to the Northern people groups, or the remains of that kind of warlordism that springs up spontaneously in low-security environments, the divine sanction which they had expected to discover simply wasn't there. During the death throes of the Roman empire, barbarian hordes swept from one end of Europe to the other, as restless as the swelling tide. It came naturally to these warrior chieftains to apportion conquered land to their retainers. But God never ordained these primitive customs and manners. There is a law of land tenure in Moses' law, and under it, feudalism is criminal.

So people went in various directions: the English Revolution, scorned for its 'fanaticism,' sought to establish democracy because it was godly, but failed. Succeeding generations of European thinkers looked back on this failure, saw it was noble, and decided the thing to do was dissever the democracy from the 'fanaticism,' i.e., Christianity, and promote it as a stand-alone product. Thereupon the French Revolution ascertained that democracy was ungodly, shook their fists at God, killed a lot of people, and also failed. It is surprising how many people honestly believe that feudalism, a system of land tenure not compatible with Mosaic law, which mandates land reform every 49 years, must somewhere be in the Bible, though no one to this day has yet discovered where.

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LogoKnock on the Door

There is nothing an atheist can less well abide than the thought that there is somewhere, in some quiet corner, someone peaceably sitting there thinking, who does not agree with his views. Something must be done, at once! And so began the persecution of thought crimes, a constant of officially atheist regimes:

"Domiciliary visits were made with great and gloomy ceremony; a large number of persons whose condition, opinions, or conduct rendered them objects of suspicion, were thrown into prison. These unfortunate persons were taken especially from the two dissentient classes, the nobles and the clergy, who were charged with conspiracy under the legislative assembly. All citizens capable of bearing arms were enrolled in the Champ de Mars, and departed on the first of September for the frontier." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter V).

Once these dissidents were rounded up, their lives were of little worth nor of long duration. The end might come from the guillotine, or mob violence:

"During three days, the prisoners confined in the Carmes, the Abbaye, the Conciergerie, the Force, etc., were slaughtered by a band of about three hundred assassins, directed and paid by the commune. This body, with a calm fanaticism, prostituting to murder the sacred forms of justice, now judges, now executioners, seemed rather to be practicing a calling than to be exercising vengeance; they massacred without question, without remorse, with the conviction of fanatics and the obedience of executioners." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter V).
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LogoButcher's Bill

The atheist Voltaire argued against religion on grounds that it makes people kill other people:



  • “One asks if one should encourage superstition in the people; see above all what is most extreme in this disastrous matter, St. Bartholomew, the massacres in Ireland, the crusades; the question is soon answered.”
  • (Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 'Extreme').




LogoCertainly both Protestants and Catholics disgraced themselves by participating in atrocities against the other side. Surely there was room for improvement, room for the atheists to show us how to conduct ourselves. Except. . .

The Revolution gave to the world new methods of execution, Dr. Guillotin's innovation, the guillotine, and the novel ideal of constructing boats bottomed with removable panels so as to drown large numbers of people, to avenge the lack of revolutionary fervor on the part of the inhabitants of Nantes:

"Carrier, having more victims to strike, surpassed even Lebon; he as bilious, fanatical, and naturally blood-thirsty. He had only awaited the opportunity to execute enormities that the imagination even of Marat would not have dared to conceive. Sent to the borders of an insurgent country, he condemned to death the whole hostile population— priests, women, children, old men, and girls. As the scaffold did not suffice for his cruelty, he substituted a company of assassins, called Marat's company, for the revolutionary tribune, and, for the guillotine, boats, with false bottoms, by means of which he drowned his victims in the Loire." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter x).

"'Sentence of Deportation,' writes Carrier, 'was executed vertically." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Chapter 3.5.III). These multitudes of drowned people did not disappear: ". . .but there is in man a hatred crueller than that. Dumb, out of suffering now, as pale swollen corpses, the victims tumble confusedly seaward along the Loire stream; the tide rolling them back: clouds of ravens darken the River; wolves prowl on the shoal-places. . ." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Chapter 3.5.III). In eerie harmony, the atheist Bolsheviks would share the French Revolutionists' attraction for this method of execution: "Still more terrible to us was the practice — initially followed by both warring sides and, later, by the victors only — of sinking barges loaded with uncounted, unregistered hundreds, unidentified even by a roll call." (Aleksandr I. Sozhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 435).

Beware of complaining about cruel and unusual punishments, because if you do, you're next: "A hundred and thirty-two men of Nantes for instance, march towards Paris, in these same days: Republicans, or say even Jacobins to the marrow of the bone; but Jacobins who had not approved Noyading." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Book III, Chapter 3.6.V.), though the timing worked out for this group; the revolution was a monster who devoured her own.

This is where we came in. These people cast aside Christianity, on grounds that the Old Testament offended their refined sensibilities: "As to the character of the book [Joshua], it is horrid; it is a military history of rapine and murder, as savage and brutal as those recorded of his predecessor in villainy and hypocrisy, Moses; and the blasphemy consists, as in the former books, in ascribing those deeds to the orders of the Almighty." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part II, Chapter I). But then they showed, by demonstration, that those Old Testament warriors were pikers, not in the same league with the atheistic Revolutionists, who knew how to eliminate people on an industrial scale.

After the former king was guillotined, Lyons rose in rebellion; when the rebellion failed, there were reprisals including mass killings:

"Lyons in fact is a town to be abolished. . .Two hundred and nine men are marched forth over the River, to be shot in mass, by musket and cannon, in the Promenade of the Brotteaux. It s the second of such scenes; the first was of some Seventy. The corpses of the first were flung into the Rhone, but the Rhone stranded some; so these now, of the second lot, are to be buried on land. Their one long grave is dug; they stand ranked, by the loose mould-ridge; the younger of them singing the Marsellaise. Jacobin National Guards give fire; but have again to give fire, and again; and to take the bayonet and the spade, for though the doomed all fall, they do not all die;— and it becomes a butchery too horrible for speech. . .
"They were Two hundred and nine marched out; one escaped at the end of the Bridge: yet behold, when you count the corpses, they are Two hundred and ten. . .After long guessing, it is called to mind that two individuals, here in the Brotteaux ground, did attempt to leave the rank, protesting with agony that they were not condemned men, that they were Police Commissaries: which two we repulsed, and disbelieved, and shot with the rest! Such is the vengeance of an enraged Republic. . .But the Republic, as Fouche says, must 'march to Liberty over corpses.'"" (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Chapter 3.5.III)

Readers who follow the 'new atheists' are aware that their main argument against Christianity is, 'the Inquisition, the Inquisition.' Perhaps someone can advise me why it is not sufficient to reply, 'the French Revolution, the French Revolution,' much less to pull out the heavy artillery and say, 'Stalin, Mao,' 'Stalin, Mao.' They reply, 'but I don't support Stalin and Mao;' as if Baptists support the Inquisition.

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LogoLavoisier

It might seem that, down at the bottom of the pile, before any interpretation, there is a list of historical facts, with which any interpreter must come to terms. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that some facts are more equal than others. The Roman Catholic Church held Galileo under house arrest for several years: there is therefore an ineluctable war between religion and science. The atheistic French Revolution sent the world-famous chemist Antoine Lavoisier to the guillotine. . .testimony to the inevitable warfare between atheist ignorance and science? Well, no, some facts have no consequences, even though the people running France at that time were atheists and they were ignorant and they perceived no use for the world-leading chemist:

"In the same court, Lavoisier, the founder and organizer of chemistry, the great discoverer, and condemned to death, asks for a reprieve of his sentence for a fortnight to complete an experiment, and the president, Coffinhal, another Auvergnat, replies,
"'The Republic has no need of savants.'"
(Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 3, Kindle location 7924).

Abbe Sicard, a pioneering educator of the deaf, was arrested and held, though never executed, a fate comparable to Galileo's. As his group was being transported from one prison to another they were set upon by a mob, and Abbe Sicard alone escaped with his life:

"Saddest of all: Abbe Sicard goes; a Priest who could not take the Oath, but who could teach the Deaf and Dumb: in his Section one man, he says, had a grudge at him; one man, at the fit hour, launches an arrest against him; which hits. In the Arsenal quarter, there are dumb hearts making wail, with signs, with wild gestures; he their miraculous healer and speech-bringer is rapt away. . .The thirty Priests are torn out, are massacred about the Prison-Gate, one after one,— only the poor Abbe Sicard, whom one Moton a watch-maker, knowing him, heroically tried to save, and secrete in the Prison, escapes to tell. . ." (Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Book 3.1.II. September).

The old pol (and astronomer) Jean Sylvain Bailly fell prey to the Revolution's cannibalism. Atheists object: the sole and only reason the Catholic Church targeted Galileo, an otherwise devout Catholic, is because of his astronomy, whereas Antoine Lavoisier and Abbe Sicard were targeted primarily because they belonged to suspect classes, the nobility in the one case and the non-juring clergy in the other; Lavoisier, moreover, is alleged to have adulterated the tobacco. This is true; however it is also true that the atheist mobs who set upon these men found no grounds for mercy in their achievements, either to that date or to be expected in the future; they did away with Lavoisier, and Abbe Sicard only got away in the end because his two cell-mates built a human ladder, one man standing on his companion's shoulders, allowing him to clamber up to the loft and safety.

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LogoLegacy

The French Revolution produced, for the brief period of its ascendency, a despotism more complete than that found under the old regime. Speaking of conditions under the kings, one author says,

"An arbitrary government not only will not endure resistance, but it demands that its subjects shall approve and imitate it. After having subjected the actions of men, it persecutes conscience; needing to be ever in motion, it seeks victims when they do not fall in its way." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Introduction).

This fits the revolution to a T. And not only the French Revolution, but the other atheist revolutions which drenched the globe in tears and blood during the twentieth century. To judge from history, this is an atheist thing: they need to keep rooting out thought crimes. One modern atheist author, Sam Harris, even wants to conceal lie detectors in the panelling so we dissidents can't get away with it any more. Looking at facts objectively, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the French Revolution descended to the depths of bestial cruelty because of its prior abandonment of Christianity. There was then no brake. The French, a civilized people, descended into the law of the jungle; the atheists have their own Golden Rule:

"Again, twenty years later, in a  private conversation, on being interrogated as to the veritable object, the secret motive of the Committee of Public Safety, he [Barere] replied:
"'As we were animated by but one sentiment, my dear sir, that of self-preservation, we had but one desire, that of maintaining an existence which each of us believed to be menaced. You had your neighbor guillotined to prevent your neighbor from guillotining you.'" (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 3, p.137).

Though the system of ethics known as utilitarianism had been suggested but not yet been propounded in a formal and systematic way at the time of the French Revolution, it was fast becoming apparent such a system was required to rescue the atheists from their hard-earned reputation for monstrosity: "Danton was a gigantic revolutionist; he deemed no means censurable so that they were useful, and, according to him, men could do whatever they dared attempt." (F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter V). All these bloody crimes accomplished what? Liberty? To the contrary, this whole killing spree ended in Napoleon's military dictatorship. Military dictatorship is one of the oldest forms of state oppression; no innovation in the world was required to bring it in. The same would prove true of Lenin's crimes, of Stalin's murders: what did they accomplish, what new dawn in human affairs? Nothing at all; yet the atheists keep piling up the dead bodies in the vain hope the pile will someday reach to heaven. And they're not done yet:


What is Utilitarianism? Subjective Feelings
Sermon on the Mount Body Pile
Trojan Horse Baboon Troop
Hate Literature Good Folks
Peaceful Co-Existence Barn-Yard
Sadists' Rights Comrade Mother
Grand Inquisitor Humpty Dumpty
Gorgias Wrath of Achilles
Flash-Light Unmet Expectations
Fallacy of Scale Hall of Mirrors
Pretty Pebble Great Leap Backwards
Bow-Wow Minority Rights
God's Math

Angel

Logo Wicked men, indeed often atheistical men, like the blood-drenched murderers of the French Revolution, commit appalling crimes; therefore there is no God. Say what? I'm not making this 'logic' up, Dear Reader, see:

"If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn't this go against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?" ('Why I Raise my Children Without God,' posted January 14, 2013, CNN iReport).

Is it true, as the atheists imagine, they can blot out the light in the heavens with the darkness of their own crimes? They have set up a perpetual motion machine: atheist revolutions massacre millions, then deeply concerned ethicists like Bart Ehrman intone that we cannot believe in God because He allows millions to be massacred. By this agnostic critic's own admission, he abandoned Christianity because the Marxist Dergue engineered a famine in Ethiopia. Do you get to do that? Can you extinguish the light of heaven by drawing the blinds?:

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Angel