A policy of dechristianization was pursued most zealously in the early post-revolutionary days of the first French Republic. “Death is an eternal sleep.” All French cemeteries were ordered to display this motto at the entrance. A new religion, called “The Cult of Reason”, replaced Christianity. Only Reason could produce Truth and Liberty, and therefore Reason was really what the people needed to worship.
The apex of the nation-wide Festival of Reason was a ceremony at Notre Dame. All across France, churches had been converted into “Temples of Reason.” At Notre Dame this was accomplished by carving the inscription “To Philosophy” in stone over the front entrance. They lit a big candle on the altar to symbolize truth and then a whole bunch of young, Parisian women wearing togas danced in a circle around the flame. It was a scandal.
Even Robespierre thought the Cult of Reason was insane. To restore order, he outlawed the cult and replaced it with his own, much more normal sounding, cult, “The Cult of the Supreme Being.” Also, he be-headed all of the prominent Cult of Reason leaders. Never hurts.