10 Nov: The Temple of Reason

The French government introduced a new State religion on 10th November, 1793: the ‘Cult of Reason’, which attempted to reflect the anti-clerical attitudes of the French Revolution. 

But – as with the new secular calendar that reset the year to zero and gave democratic names to the months – the general public did not take to their local Church becoming a ‘Temple of Reason’, and most of the men involved in propagating the idea were ultimately executed.

The worship of reason was personified by living women in Roman dresses, who were met with ridicule, and a mishmash of Greek and Roman-inspired ceremonies that struggled to define their purpose, often resembling confused and peculiar public exhibitions rather than a cohesive religious doctrine. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider Robespierre’s replacement religion, the “Cult of the Supreme Being”; explain how Napoleon’s rise marked the end of both cults; and reveal how the Temples of Reason provided one truly enduring legacy: cremation…

Further Reading:

‘When Atheists Persecuted Christians – The Cult of Reason’ (Theopedia, 2020):