When we complain about the violence and evils which generally religion causes upon earth, we are answered at once, that these excesses are not due to religion, but that they are the sad effect of men’s passions. I would ask, however, what unchained these passions? It is evidently religion; it is a zeal which renders inhuman, and which serves to cover the greatest infamy.
Do not these disorders prove that religion, instead of restraining the passions of men, does but cover them with a cloak that sanctifies them; and that nothing would be more beneficial than to tear away this sacred cloak of which men make such a bad use? What horrors would be banished from society, if the wicked were deprived of a pretext so plausible for disturbing it!
Instead of cherishing peace among men, the priests stirred up hatred and strife. They pleaded their conscience, and pretended to have received from Heaven the right to be quarrelsome, turbulent, and rebellious. Do not the ministers of God consider themselves to be wronged, do they not pretend that His Divine Majesty is injured every time that the sovereigns have the temerity to try to prevent them from doing injury? The priests resemble that irritable woman, who cried out fire! murder! assassins! while her husband was holding her hands to prevent her from beating him.
I don’t agree with Meslier, for once!!
Meslier’s argument is that religion is the trigger that unleashes hatred and strife – but what put that hatred there before it was unleashed? The relationship between religion-as-incitement and religion-as-social-control is complicated and I don’t think it’s as easy to pick apart as Meslier tries to do. Eventually, I need to do a separate posting on this, I can see. It’s popular in the atheoskeptical community (and among Trump supporters!) to call islam a religion of hate but – is it? Perhaps it’s the faith of many hate-filled people, and perhaps it’s the contextualizing trigger for releasing that hatred: but what put that hatred there? As I’ve argued in other postings, causality is more complicated than we can understand – we can’t just point at one of the infinity of causes of a situation and say, “it was this thing that caused it.”