The Cult of the Supreme Being (French: Culte de l'Être suprême)[note 1] was a form of deism established in France by Maximilien Robespierre during the French Revolution. It was intended to become the state religion of the new French Republic and a replacement for Roman Catholicism and its rival, the Cult of Reason.
|Cult of the Supreme Being|
|Culte de l'Être suprême|
"The French people recognize the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul" (printed in 1794)
|Origin||7 May 1794|
|Defunct||28 July 1794|
|Church buildings||None; absent|
The French Revolution had occasioned many radical changes in France, but one of the most fundamental for the hitherto Catholic nation was the official rejection of religion. The first new major organized school of thought emerged under the umbrella name of the Cult of Reason. Advocated by radicals like Jacques Hébert and Antoine-François Momoro, the Cult of Reason distilled a mixture of largely atheistic views into an anthropocentric philosophy. No gods at all were worshiped in the Cult of Reason—the guiding principle was devotion to the abstract conception of Reason itself.
This rejection of all godhead appalled the rectitudinous Maximilien Robespierre. Though he was no admirer of Catholicism, he had a special dislike for atheism. He thought that belief in a supreme being was important for social order, and he liked to quote Voltaire: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him". To him, the Cult of Reason's philosophical offenses were compounded by the "scandalous scenes" and "wild masquerades" attributed to its practice. In late 1793, Robespierre delivered a fiery denunciation of the Cult of Reason and of its proponents and proceeded to give his own vision of proper Revolutionary religion. Devised almost entirely by Robespierre, the Cult of the Supreme Being was authorized by the National Convention on 7 May 1794 as the civic religion of France.
Robespierre believed that reason is only a means to an end, and the singular end is virtue. He sought to move beyond simple deism (often described as Voltairean by its adherents) to a new and, in his view, more rational devotion to the godhead. The primary principles of the Cult of the Supreme Being were a belief in the existence of a god and the immortality of the human soul. Though not inconsistent with Christian doctrine, these beliefs were put to the service of Robespierre's fuller meaning, which was of a type of civic-minded, public virtue he attributed to the Greeks and Romans. This type of virtue could only be attained through active fidelity to liberty and democracy. Belief in a living god and a higher moral code, he said, were "constant reminders of justice" and thus essential to a republican society.
Robespierre used the religious issue to publicly denounce the motives of many radicals not in his camp, and it led, directly or indirectly, to the executions of Revolutionary de-Christianisers like Hébert, Momoro, and Anacharsis Cloots. The establishment of the Cult of the Supreme Being represented the beginning of the reversal of the wholesale de-Christianization process that had been looked upon previously with official favour. Simultaneously it marked the apogee of Robespierre's power. Though in theory he was just an equal member of the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre at this point possessed an unrivalled national prominence.
To inaugurate the new state religion, Robespierre declared that 20 Prairial Year II (8 June 1794) would be the first day of national celebration of the Supreme Being, and future republican holidays were to be held every tenth day—the days of rest (décadi) in the new French Republican Calendar. Every locality was mandated to hold a commemorative event, but the event in Paris was designed on a massive scale. The festival was organized by the artist Jacques-Louis David and took place around a man-made mountain on the Champ de Mars. Robespierre assumed full leadership of the event, forcefully—and, to many, ostentatiously—declaring the truth and "social utility" of his new religion.
The Cult of the Supreme Being and its festival may have contributed to the Thermidorian Reaction and the downfall of Robespierre. With his death at the guillotine on 28 July 1794, the cult lost all official sanction and disappeared from public view. It was officially banned by Napoleon Bonaparte on 8 April 1802 with his Law on Cults of 18 Germinal, Year X.
was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1794th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 794th year of the 2nd millennium, the 94th year of the 18th century, and the 5th year of the 1790s decade. As of the start of 1794, the Gregorian calendar was
11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is opposition to religious authority, typically in social or political matters. Historical anti-clericalism has mainly been opposed to the influence of Roman Catholicism. Anti-clericalism is related to secularism, which seeks to remove the church from all aspects of public and political life, and its involvement in the everyday life of the citizen.Some have opposed clergy on the basis of moral corruption, institutional issues and/or disagreements in religious interpretation, such as during the Protestant Reformation. Anti-clericalism became extremely violent during the French Revolution because revolutionaries believed the church had played a pivotal role in the systems of oppression which led to it. Many clerics were killed, and French revolutionary governments tried to control priests by making them state employees.
Anti-clericalism appeared in Catholic Europe throughout the 19th century, in various forms, and later in Canada, Cuba, and Latin America.Auguste-Louis Bertin d'Antilly
Auguste-Louis Bertin d'Antilly (1763–1804) was a French dramatist and journalist whose patriotic songs and topical libretti were prominent during the French Revolution, but who emigrated from France under Napoleon.
Bertin d'Antilly possessed the sinecure of premier Commis des Finances au département des revenus casuels du Roi, and thus was a pensioner of Louis XVI of France. In 1783 his one-act L'Anglais à Paris was a comedy without overt political content, and his two-act comedy L'école de l'adolescence was played in June 1789; but that same year, as "Citoyen B. Dantilly" he wrote the libretto for Pierre-David-Augustin Chapelle's opéra comique, that is, with spoken rather than sung dialogue, La Vieillesse d’Annette et Lubin based on a story by Jean-François Marmontel: at the third act finale, peasants armed with their tools face the seigneurial regime in defiance.His "Ode à l'Être Suprême" (Paris, 1794) reflects the Revolutionary Cult of the Supreme Being. Patriotic sentiments were to the fore in his libretto for La prise de Toulon par les français : opéra en trois actes, mêlés de prose, de vers et de chants, which celebrated the Siege of Toulon, an early Republican victory over a Royalist rebellion in the southern French port of Toulon, 18 December 1793. After the revenge assassination in January 1793 of Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau, who had cast the deciding vote for the execution of Louis XVI, Bertin d'Antilly provided the libretto to a two-act trait historique, Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, ou Le premier martyr de la République française, with music by Frédéric Blasius.
Under the Directoire Bertin d'Antilly abandoned his Jacobin views and moved to the political right. In 1797 he began to publish a daily journal of social and political commentary, Le Thé, ou Le journal des dixhuit, which ran from 16 April, under the epigraph "Je vois de loin; j'atteins de même"; it dropped its subtitle, ostensibly referring to eighteen editors, in favor of the subtitle Le contrôleur général. It was suppressed 18 fructidor An V (5 September 1797) in connection with the counter-revolutionary Coup of 18 Fructidor; earlier that year the Imprimerie du The that printed the journal had printed his "Disgrâce des triumvirs: chanson constitutionnelle", a commentary on disunion among the members of the French Directory. Some years later, a journal under the same title appeared, but Bertin d'Antilly had no part in its redaction. Firmly opposed to Napoleon, he had taken up residence at Hamburg, where he published the journal Le Censeur in collaboration with the émigré M. de Romance, chevalier de Mesmont; when Napoleon put diplomatic pressure on the Hamburg Senate, they were arrested, then released when the Comte d'Artois convinced the Russians to intervene on their behalf.Catherine Théot
Catherine Théot (born at Barenton (Normandy), France in 1716; died September 1, 1794) was a French visionary. Catherine believed she was destined to work for God. She gained notoriety when she was accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow the Republic and was attributed to the downfall of Maximilien Robespierre.Committee of General Security
The Committee of General Security (French: Comité de sûreté générale) was a French parliamentary committee which acted as police agency during the French Revolution that, along with the Committee of Public Safety, oversaw the Reign of Terror.
The Committee supervised the local police committees in charge of investigating reports of treason, and was one of the agencies with authority to refer suspects to the Revolutionary Tribunal for trial and possible execution by guillotine.The Committee of General Security was established as a committee of the National Convention in October 1792. It was designed to protect the Revolutionary Republic from its internal enemies.
By 1794 the Committee became part of the opposition to Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety and members were involved in the 9 Thermidor coup d'état. On 4 November 1795, along with the end of the National Convention, the Committee of General Security dissolved.Cult of Reason
The Cult of Reason (French: Culte de la Raison) was France's first established state-sponsored atheistic religion, intended as a replacement for Roman Catholicism during the French Revolution. It also rivaled Robespierre's Cult of the Supreme Being.Dechristianization of France during the French Revolution
The dechristianization of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of the results of a number of separate policies conducted by various governments of France between the start of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Concordat of 1801, forming the basis of the later and less radical laïcité policies. The goal of the campaign between 1793 and 1794 ranged from the public reclamation of the massive amounts of land, power, and money held by the Catholic Church in France to the termination of Catholic religious practice and of the religion itself. There has been much scholarly debate over whether the movement was popularly motivated.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 Roman Catholic church held a dominant role in pre-revolutionary France. During a two-year period known as the Reign of Terror, the episodes of anti-clericalism grew more violent than 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. In October 1793 the Christian calendar was replaced with one reckoning 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, with the revolutionary government briefly mandating observance of the former in April 1794.Fall of Maximilien Robespierre
The fall of Maximilien Robespierre refers to the series of events beginning with Maximilien Robespierre's address to the National Convention on 8 Thermidor Year II (26 July 1794), his arrest the next day, and his execution on 10 Thermidor Year II (28 July 1794). In the speech of 8 Thermidor, Robespierre spoke of the existence of internal enemies, conspirators, and calumniators, within the Convention and the governing Committees. He refused to name them, which alarmed the deputies who feared Robespierre was preparing another purge of the Convention.On the following day, this tension in the Convention allowed Jean-Lambert Tallien, one of the conspirators who Robespierre had in mind in his denouncement, to turn the Convention against Robespierre and decree his arrest. By the end of the next day, Robespierre was executed in the Place de la Revolution, where King Louis XVI had been executed a year earlier. He was executed by guillotine, like the others.French First Republic
In the history of France, the First Republic (French: Première République), officially the French Republic (République française), was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.Gottgläubig
In Nazi Germany, Gottgläubig (literally: "believing in God") was a Nazi religious term for a form of Deism practiced by those Germans who had officially left Christian churches but kept their faith in a higher power or divine creator. Such people were called Gottgläubige, and the term for the overall movement was Gottgläubigkeit. The term denotes someone who still believes in a God, although without having any institutional religious affiliation. The Nazis were not favourable towards religious institutions, nor did they tolerate atheism on the part of their membership: Gottgläubigkeit was a kind of officially sanctioned unorganised religion. The 1943 Philosophical Dictionary defined gottgläubig as: "official designation for those who profess a specific kind of piety and morality, without being bound to a church denomination, whilst however also rejecting irreligion and godlessness." In the 1939 census, 3.5% of the German population identified as gottgläubig.Irreligion in France
Irreligion and atheism have a long history and a large demographic constitution in France, with the advancement of atheism and the deprecation of theistic religion dating back as far as the French Revolution. In 2015, according to estimates, at least 29% of the country's population identifies as atheists and 63% identifies as non-religious.Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel
Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel (1 September 1727 – 13 April 1794) was a French Catholic cleric and politician of the Revolution. He was executed during the Reign of Terror.Laurent Lecointre
Laurent Lecointre was a French politician, born at Versailles on 1 February 1742, and died at Guignes, Seine-et-Marne on 4 August 1805. He is also known under the name of "Lecointre de Versailles".
Unlike almost all his colleagues of the National Convention, Laurent Lecointre was not a lawyer by training, but a merchant of canvases. In 1789, he was second in command ("lieutenant-colonel) of the National Guard of Versailles under the orders of Charles Henri Hector d'Estaing. It was Lecointre, who evacuated the chateau de Versailles, and regulated the crowd on the 6th of October 1789, the day of the Women's March on Versailles. He was a important member of "La Société des amis de la Constitution" de Versailles. On September 15, 1792, he proposed that the dauphin and his sister were separated from their parents. He became the first witness at the trial of Marie-Antoinette in October 1793. Lecointre denounced the crazy nights in the Grand Trianon, and the luxury of the court.
It was Lecointre, who lead Robespierre to the carpenter Maurice Duplay, on 17 July 1791, after the Champ de Mars Massacre. After the defection of Dumouriez in April 1793, Count Louis-Auguste Juvénal des Ursins d'Harville became suspect and was arrested at the request of Lecointre. The day of the ceremony of the Cult of the Supreme Being on 8 June 1794, he and Barras called Maximilien de Robespierre a tyrant and feared for their lifes on 9 Thermidor. According to Lecointre the Law of 22 Prairial was written by Robespierre and not by Couthon. Lecointre, the instigator of the coup, that led to the Fall of Robespierre, contacted Robert Lindet on the 6th, and Vadier on the 7th Thermidor. The other members were: Fréron, Barras, Tallien, Courtois, Thuriot, Rovère, Garnier de l’Aube and Guffroy (Fouché was not involved). They decided that Hanriot, Dumas and the family Duplay had to be arrested first, so Robespierre would be without support, but things went differently.
In april 1795 he was involved in the Insurrection of 12 Germinal, Year III. The Assembly immediately voted the deportation of Collot, Billaud, and Barere to Guiana. Eight prominent Montagnards were arrested including Amar, Leonard Bourdon, Cambon, René Levasseur, Maignet, Lecointre and Thuriot. It was an indication of the extent to which the Assembly was now bent on undoing the past.He benefited from the general amnesty general voted during the separation of the national Convention on the 26th of October 1795. Laurent Lecointre, then adheres to the ideas of Gracchus Babeuf, but denies any link with him?Under the French Consulate Lecointre was the only one who voted against the Constitution of the Year VIII (1799), which established three consuls for life? He was exiled to Guignes, where he owned a property, and ended his days.Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier
Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier (17 July 1736 – 14 December 1828) was a French politician of the French Revolution.Maximilien Robespierre
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (French: [mak.si.mi.ljɛ̃ fʁɑ̃.swa ma.ʁi i.zi.dɔʁ də ʁɔ.bɛs.pjɛʁ]; 6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Estates-General, the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizen without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to petition. He campaigned for universal suffrage, abolition of celibacy, religious tolerance and the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. He played an important role after the Storming of the Tuileries, which led to the establishment of a French Republic on 22 September 1792.
As one of the leading members of the insurrectionary Paris Commune Robespierre was elected as deputy for the National Convention, but he is perhaps best known for his role during 14 months of Reign of Terror and arranging the execution of many political opponents. When France threatened to fall apart in the summer of 1793, the republic was severely centralized to become "one and indivisible". In July 1793 he was named as a member of the powerful Committee of Public Safety launched by his political ally Georges Danton and exerted his influence to suppress the Girondins on the right, the Hébertists on the extreme left and the Dantonists in the middle. (As part of his attempts to use extreme measures to control political activity in France, Robespierre moved against his former friends, the more moderate Danton, and Desmoulins who were executed in April 1794.) The Terror ended four months later with Robespierre's arrest on 9 Thermidor and his execution, events that initiated a period in French history known as the Thermidorian Reaction.Robespierre's personal responsibility for the excesses of the Terror remains the subject of intense debate among historians of the French Revolution. Each time, the controversy is around two different points of view: for some, Robespierre is the incarnation of Terror; for others, he was its principal ideologist and recalls the first democratic experience, marked by the French Constitution of 1793.Pierre-Joseph Cambon
Pierre-Joseph Cambon (10 June 1756 – 15 February 1820) was a French statesman.
Born in Montpellier, Cambon was the son of a wealthy cotton merchant. In 1785, his father retired, leaving Pierre and his two brothers to run the business, but in 1788 Pierre entered politics, and was sent by his fellow-citizens as deputy suppliant to the Estates-General, where he was mostly a spectator. In January 1790 he returned to Montpellier, was elected a member of the municipality, co-founded the Jacobin Club in that city, and on the flight to Varennes of King Louis XVI in 1791, he drew up a petition to invite the National Constituent Assembly to proclaim a Republic —the first in date of such petitions.
Elected to the Legislative Assembly, Cambon was viewed as independent, honest, and talented in the financial domain. He was the most active member of the committee of finance and was often charged to verify the state of the treasury. His analytical skills were recorded in his remarkable speech of 24 November 1791.
It was Cambon who made the initial suggestion for the state debt to be "rendered republican and uniform" and it was he who proposed to convert all the contracts of the creditors of the state into an inscription in a great book, which should be called the "Great Book of the Public Debt". This proposal was implemented in 1792 when the Great Book of the Public Debt was created as a consolidation of all the states debts.He held his distance from political clubs and even factions, but nonetheless defended the new institutions of the state. On 9 February 1792, he succeeded in having a law passed confiscating the possessions of the émigrés, and tried to arrange the deportation of non-juring priests to French Guiana. He was the last president of the Legislative Assembly.
Re-elected to the National Convention, Cambon opposed the pretensions of the Paris Commune and the proposed grant of money to the municipality of Paris by the state. He denounced Jean-Paul Marat's placards as inciting to murder, summoned Georges Danton to give an account of his ministry, supervised the furnishing of military supplies to the French Revolutionary Army, and was a strong opponent of Charles François Dumouriez, in spite of the general's great popularity.
Cambon incurred the hatred of the theist Maximilien Robespierre (see Cult of the Supreme Being) by proposing the suppression of the pay to the clergy, which would have meant the separation of church and state. His authority grew steadily. On 15 December 1792, he persuaded the Convention to adopt a proclamation to all nations in favour of a universal republic.
Although he took part in toppling Robespierre in July 1794, Cambon was targeted and pursued by the Thermidorian Reaction, and had to live in hiding in Montpellier. During the Hundred Days, he was a deputy to the lower chamber, but only took part in debates over the budget. Proscribed by the Bourbon Restoration in 1816, he died at Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, near Brussels.Religion in France
Religion in France is diverse under secular principles. It can attribute its diversity to the country's adherence to freedom of religion and freedom of thought, as guaranteed by the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité (or "freedom of conscience") enforced by the 1880s Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Catholicism, the religion of a now small majority of French people, is no longer the state religion that it was before the French Revolution, as well as throughout several non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second French Empire).
Major religions practised in France include the Christianity (include Catholics, various branches of Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Armenian Christianity), Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism amongst others, making it a multiconfessional country. Sunday mass attendance has fallen to 5% for the Catholics, and the overall level of observance is considerably lower than in the past. According to a Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2010, 27% of French citizens responded that they "believe there is a God", 27% answered that they "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", and 40% answered that they "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". This makes France one of the most irreligious countries in the world.Secular religion
A secular religion is a communal belief system that often rejects or neglects the metaphysical aspects of the supernatural, commonly associated with traditional religion, instead placing typical religious qualities in earthly entities. Among systems that have been characterized as secular religions are capitalism, communism, anarchism, fascism, nationalism, Auguste Comte's Religion of Humanity and the Cult of Reason and Cult of the Supreme Being that developed after the French Revolution.Timeline of the French Revolution
The following is a timeline of the French Revolution.