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Dechristianization of France during the French Revolution information


Looting of a church during the Revolution, by Swebach-Desfontaines (c. 1793)

The aim of a number of separate policies conducted by various governments of France during the French Revolution ranged from the appropriation by the government of the great landed estates and the large amounts of money held by the Catholic Church to the termination of Christian religious practice and of the religion itself.[1][2][3] There has been much scholarly debate over whether the movement was popularly motivated or motivated by a small group of revolutionary radicals.[1] These policies, which ended with the Concordat of 1801, formed the basis of the later and less radical laïcité policies.

The French Revolution initially began with attacks on Church corruption and the wealth of the higher clergy, an action with which even many Christians could identify, since the Gallican Church held a dominant role in pre-revolutionary France. During a one-year period known as the Reign of Terror, the episodes of anti-clericalism became some the most violent of any in modern European history. The new revolutionary authorities suppressed the Church, abolished the Catholic monarchy, nationalized Church property, exiled 30,000 priests, and killed hundreds more.[4] In October 1793, the Christian calendar was replaced with one reckoned from the date of the Revolution, and Festivals of Liberty, Reason, and the Supreme Being were scheduled. New forms of moral religion emerged, including the deistic Cult of the Supreme Being and the atheistic Cult of Reason,[5] with the revolutionary government briefly mandating observance of the former in April 1794.[6][7][8][9][10]

  1. ^ a b Tallett 1991, p. 1-17.
  2. ^ Spielvogel 2006, p. 549.
  3. ^ Tallett 1991, p. 1.
  4. ^ Collins, Michael (1999). The Story of Christianity. Mathew A Price. Dorling Kindersley. pp. 176–177. ISBN 978-0-7513-0467-1. At first the new revolutionary government attacked Church corruption and the wealth of the bishops and abbots who ruled the Church -- causes with which many Christians could identify. Clerical privileges were abolished ...
  5. ^ Kennedy, Emmet (1989). A Cultural History of the French Revolution. Yale University Press. p. 343. ISBN 9780300044263.
  6. ^ Helmstadter, Richard J. (1997). Freedom and religion in the nineteenth century. Stanford Univ. Press. p. 251. ISBN 9780804730877.
  7. ^ Heenan, David Kyle. Deism in France 1789-1799. N.p.: U of Wisconsin--Madison, 1953. Print.
  8. ^ Ross, David A. Being in Time to the Music. N.p.: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. Print. "This Cult of Reason or Deism reached its logical conclusion in the French Revolution..."
  9. ^ Fremont-Barnes, p. 119.
  10. ^ Tallett, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 pp. 1-17 1991 Continuum International Publishing

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