Front Page Titles (by Subject) 21.: On Religion 49 - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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21.: On Religion 49 - Frédéric Bastiat, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics, translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation editor Dennis O’Keeffe (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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[vol. 7, p. 355]
I always thought that the religious question would continue to move the world. The legitimate religions of today, however, retain too much of the spirit and methods of exploitation to be reconciled with the inevitable progress of enlightenment. On the other hand, corrupt religious practice will put up a long and terrible resistance, being based on, nay confused with, the greatest need of humanity, that is to say with religious morality.
It appears, therefore, that humanity has not done with this sad pendulum swing which has filled the pages of history. On the one hand religious abuse is attacked, and in the heat of the conflict people are led on to dislodging religion itself. On the other hand, people stand as the champions of religion, and in the zeal of defense abuses are justified.
This long tearing apart was decided upon on the day a man used God to make another man his intellectual slave, the day one man said to another, “I am the minister of God. He has given me total power over you, your soul, your body, and your heart.”
But, leaving aside these general reflections, I want to draw your attention to two facts referred to by the newspapers of today which prove how far from resolution are the problems surrounding the unity or separation of the spiritual and the temporal.
It is said that it is this complete separation which will solve all the difficulties. Those who put forward this assertion should begin by proving that the spiritual and the temporal can follow independent destinies and that the master of the spiritual is not the master of all.
Be that as it may, here are the two facts, or perhaps there is only one fact.
His Lordship, the Bishop of Langres, having been chosen by the electors of the département of —— to represent them, did not think he had to regard this election as sufficient, or even rely on his own decision. He has a superior who is neither French nor in France and, it should be said, who is at the same time a foreign king. It is to this superior that His Lordship the Bishop of Langres refers. He says to him, “I promise you full and gentle obedience; will I do well to accept?” His spiritual superior (who is at the same time a temporal king) replies, “The state of religion and the church is so alarming that your services may be more useful on the political stage than in the midst of your flock.”
At this, His Lordship of Langres lets it be known to his electors that he accepts their mandate. As a bishop he is obliged to leave them, but they will receive in compensation an apostolic blessing. Thus all was arranged.
Now, I ask you, is it to defend religious dogmas that the pope confirmed the election of ——? Is his Lordship of Langres going to the Chamber to fight heresies? No, he is going there to pass civil laws and to occupy himself exclusively with temporal matters.
What I want to point out here is that we have fifty thousand people in France, all highly influential in character, who have sworn total and gentle obedience to their spiritual leader, who is at the same time a foreign king, and that the spiritual and temporal are so intertwined that these fifty thousand men can do nothing even as citizens without consulting this foreign king whose decisions are unquestionable.
We would shudder if someone said to us, “We are going to endow a king, whether Louis-Philippe, Henri V,50 Bonaparte, or Leopold,51 with spiritual power.” We would think that this might establish a boundless despotism. However, whether you add spiritual power to temporal power or superimpose one upon the other, is it not the same thing? How is it that we would not consider without horror the usurpation of the government of souls by the civil authorities while we find quite natural the usurpation of civil government by priestly authority?
After all, His Holiness Pius IX is not the only man in Europe in whom is vested this twin authority. Nicholas is both tsar and pope and Victoria is queen and female pope.
Let us suppose that a Frenchman professing the Anglican faith is elected as a representative. Supposing that he writes and has published in the newspapers a letter that goes as follows:
I owe you nothing as queen, but as you are placed at the head of my religion, I owe you my total and gentle obedience. Please would you let me know, after consulting your government, if it is in the interests of the state and the Church of England for me to be a legislator in France.
Let us suppose that Victoria replies and has her reply published as follows:
My government is of the opinion that you should accept the office of deputy. Through this you would be able to render great service directly to my spiritual power and, consequently, indirectly to my temporal power, for it is very clear that each of these serves the other.
I ask you, could this man be considered a loyal and sincere representative of France? . . .
[49 ](Paillottet’s note) This draft article indicates its date itself. [There are references in this piece to Pope Pius, who was pope from 1846 to 1878. Also there is a reference to “His Lordship, the Bishop of Langres” (Pierre-Louis Parisis), who was elected to the Constituent Assembly of 4 May 1848. Thus, we estimate that this article could be dated sometime in mid-1848.]
[50 ]The name given by the absolutists to the count of Chambord, son of Charles X. He never reigned.
[51 ]Leopold I.