Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview
who in contravention of the preceding article shall read, distribute, have read, distributed, printed, posted, or shall otherwise give publicity or execution to briefs, bulls, rescripts, constitutions, decrees, or other communications of the court of Rome, not authorized by a decree of the legislative body sanctioned by the king, shall be criminally prosecuted as disturbers of public order, and punished with the penalty of civic degradation, without prejudice to the execution of article 2 of the decree of May 7 last.1Source: Jean B. Duvergier (ed.), Collection complète des lois, décrets, ordonnances, règlements, avis du conseil d'état ( Paris, 1834- 1906), III, 10.
SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

References for Document 28.


35
Decree on Worship of the Supreme Being May 7, 1794 [18 Floréal, Year III]

War, counterrevolution, the fall of the monarchy, and the Terror drove religion underground by 1793. Officially Catholicism was not disestablished and the Constitution of 1793 provided for freedom of worship, but dechristianization was evident in persecution, civil festivals to la patrie, and the new republican calendar. Some clergy, both Protestant and Catholic, openly renounced their faith and functions. In 1793 many churches were turned into Temples of Reason, while many Frenchmen remained apparently indifferent to the break in religious continuity. Some Jacobins, especially Robespierre, disliked this extremism that seized the initiative from the Convention, scandalized some republicans, and violated the theism of Rousseau. Hence Robespierre secured the decree establishing the cult of the Supreme Being, but only he seems to have taken it seriously; whatever vitality the cult possessed was drawn from nationalism.

1. The French people recognize the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.
2. They recognize that the worship worthy of the Supreme Being is the practice of the duties of man.
3. They place in the first rank of these duties [the obligation] to detest bad faith and tyranny, to punish tyrants and traitors, to rescue the unfortunate, to respect the weak, to defend the oppressed, [and] to do to others all the good that one can and not to be unjust toward anyone.
____________________
1
This article defined speeches against the Constitution or Civil Constitution of the Clergy as criminal offenses.

-88-

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