… IT FORMS BUT LICENTIOUS AND PERVERSE DESPOTS, AS WELL AS ABJECT AND UNHAPPY SUBJECTS.
We are told constantly of the immense advantages which religion secures to politics; but if we reflect a moment, we will see without trouble that religious opinions blind and lead astray equally the rulers and the people, and never enlighten them either in regard to their true duties or their real interests. Religion but too often forms licentious, immoral tyrants, obeyed by slaves who are obliged to conform to their views. From lack of the knowledge of the true principles of administration, the aim and the rights of social life, the real interests of men, and the duties which unite them, the princes are become, in almost every land, licentious, absolute, and perverse; and their subjects abject unhappy, and wicked. It was to avoid the trouble of studying these important subjects, that they felt themselves obliged to have recourse to chimeras, which so far, instead of being a remedy, have but increased the evils of the human race and withdrawn their attention from the most interesting things. Does not the unjust and cruel manner in which so many nations are governed here below, furnish the most visible proofs, not only of the non-effect produced by the fear of another life, but of the non-existence of a Providence interested in the fate of the human race? If there existed a good God, would we not be forced to admit that He strangely neglects the majority of men in this life? It would appear that this God created the nations but to be toys for the passions and follies of His representatives upon earth.
Tell us what you really think, Abbe Meslier! Don’t hold back!
I sense that not only was Meslier an atheist, he was a bit of an anti-authoritarian. Considering his time and place, it makes sense – the French monarchy and the Catholic Church operated hand in hand. After various purges, the population was almost entirely nominally Catholic – and the church owned around 6% of the land in France. The idea of separation of church and state owes a lot to pre-revolutionary France.