We say all the time on BreakPoint that reason and faith go hand in glove. But in revolutionary France, the disciples of reason unleashed one of the bloodiest revolutions in history.
Last week, fireworks exploded over Paris, lighting up the Eiffel Tower. French citizens were celebrating the two-hundred and twenty-ninth anniversary of Bastille Day, a holiday recalling the storming of the Bastille fortress at the beginning of the French Revolution.
But not everyone in France was celebrating—and with good reason.
While people tend to view the French Revolution in a positive light, many of its darker elements have been forgotten, or suppressed. As my friend John Zmirak wrote in Crisis magazine, Bastille Day “marks the beginning of the greatest organized persecution of Christians since” the fourth century. And he argues that these brutal attacks spawned the killing sprees carried out by revolutionary leaders over the next two hundred years.
French radicals inspired by secular, Enlightenment philosophy, wanted to expunge all religious influence and replace it with “reason.” This ideal was exemplified at Notre Dame, where revolutionaries removed Christian symbols and replaced them with “Goddesses of Reason”—women dressed provocatively in Roman attire who danced about the cathedral—now a Temple of Reason. All clergy were ordered to declare allegiance to the state rather than the church.
Catholic peasants in the Vendee region revolted; Some 300,000 of these rebels were killed, most in terrible ways. It was, writes historian Francois Furet, “massacre and destruction on an unprecedented scale” and revealed “a zeal so violent that it has bestowed as its legacy much of the region’s identity.”
Ironically, Zmirak notes, the French monarchy helped sow the seeds of its own destruction back in 1767, when the King began the suppression of the Jesuits because they were loyal first to Rome and not to the crown.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Eric Metaxas And Anne Morse