Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Elimination of Inequalities
in Society Hinders Our Understanding
and Love of God
Excerpt from a Saint of the Day, Monday, March 10, 1969 (*)
A commentary of a religious nature should be made about the Vendean War. It is said that the Vendeans rose up in defense of the throne and the altar; actually, in the hierarchical order, in defense of the altar and the throne.
Someone could ask: What is the throne doing beside the altar?
Revolution and Counter-Revolution and our studies have made this entirely clear: The French Revolution was an irreligious and anti-Christian Revolution in two ways. First, because it wanted to directly eliminate the Church. To do this it persecuted the Church, closed churches, created a false church, had a semi-naked woman adored as Goddess Reason in Notre Dame cathedral, etc.
Second, because the political program of the French Revolution was an irreligious program to establish complete equality among men.
This idea of establishing complete equality among men is intrinsically irreligious. It is above all not a political or economic or social idea; it is above all an irreligious idea. It is above all an affirmation of atheism.
In what sense is it an affirmation of atheism?
Italian [Christian Democrat] leader Mariano Rumor, who is very fashionable nowadays, clarified this point in a work that I read. He said that men have an idea of God because they have the inequalities in human society right before their eyes. Because man sees that a person is a student, another a teacher, one is father and the other the son, one is governor and the others governed, one is department head and the other a low-ranking cleric; one is a general and the other a mere soldier, one is noble and the other plebeian, one is rich while the other is poor, and so forth. So, he says, men conceive the idea of inequality and in so doing they are led to the idea of a Supreme Being that reunites in Himself all possible kinds of superiority. And then, from the existing inequalities man deduces, infers the idea of God.
He goes on to say that the way to eliminate the idea of God from the minds of men is to create a completely egalitarian world in which no inequality exists and in which, therefore, man will not find these terms of comparison which, from one point to the next lead him all the way to the consideration of a supreme God.
Consequently, he says, combating religion is foolish. To try to kill it by piercing it with a sword is sheer stupidity. What you need to do is to keep the air out of its lungs. By doing so it dies of starvation. It dies without anyone having touched it or done it the least violence: it simply stops breathing and dies.
Plunder of a church during the French Revolution. Painting by Victor-Henri Juglar.
How to suck the air out of religion? By allowing it to exist but at the same time creating such equality inside and outside the Church that seeing equality in all things man will lack the means to make an exact idea of God.
This is a more refined way of religious persecution than the old one. It does not have the ferociousness of drunken marauders invading churches and breaking down altars, statues, profaning tabernacles, spreading filth in the sacred place and killing the ministers of God. It is a different thing: simply create conditions that make it extremely difficult for the human mind to conceive the idea of God.