Dechristianization

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Dechristianization

 

the attempt to abolish the Catholic religion during the Great French Revolution (mainly in 1793). Dechristianization was an expression of the revolutionary terror in the struggle against the counter-revolutionary clergy rather than actions of an atheist state policy, although it did have some antireligious elements. In the course of dechristianization churches were closed, their treasures were requisitioned for defense needs, and priests were forced to renounce their orders. The movement for dechristianization arose in the provinces. It originated with the Hébertists and other groups close to them and was supported by the Paris Commune. Christianity was replaced by a new revolutionary and rationalist faith, the cult of reason. The new cult was often imposed by force and caused extreme dissatisfaction among the peasantry. Realizing that dechristianization could cause a counterrevolutionary mood among the people, M. de Robespierre opposed the cult of reason. On Dec. 6-7, 1793, the Convention officially condemned measures of violence, declaring them to be “contrary to freedom of religion.” The leaders of the dechristianization policy, P. G. Chaumette, J. R. Hébert, and J. Fouché, renounced the policy of dechristianization.

REFERENCES

Domnich, M. Veliakaia frantsuzskaia burzhuaznaia revoliutsiia i katolicheskaia tserkov’. Moscow, 1960.
Mathiez, A. La Révolution et I’église. Paris, 1910.

M. IA. DOMNICH