NO PERFECT RELIGION- The story of Voltaire

It does not matter one be protestant or catholic along both dimensions. No logical connection between constitution-identity and who is to be the authorized interpreter of the constitution (Levinson, 29).

The topic of last week ‘Constitution in Civil Religion’ reminds me that religious institutions are to set good examples in our society since we look up to them for salvation. But how can the religious institutions interpret the constitution when they don’t follow their own doctrines. This week, I read the book Candide, written by one of the most prominent historians and philosophers, Voltaire who failed to accept that the world we live in was a perfect place; I came to realize the type of corruptions in religion. In Candide, the medieval educational system based their society on the Bible or religion. At this time, the philosophers were not free to openly criticize the church or state because of the power the church leaders had. (McKay et-al) This means that the only way the philosophers can educate the public was by writing plays, poem, histories, encyclopedias and dictionaries. This was what Voltaire successfully engaged in doing by writing Candide. Voltaire wrote his text filled with satire in order to spread his message to the audience and avoid getting punished for criticizing powerful religious institutions. He expressed his mind to make fun of the Catholic Church, nobility, the government and the society as a whole. Voltaire clearly showed in the text how evil the society was at that time and there was a need for change which was the Enlightenment. In Candide, he tried to advocate the rights of women. He did so by portraying one of the characters Cunegonde as a prostitute. Even though one might see it as demeaning to women, I believe that Voltaire tried to expose the treatment Cunegonde received from the men of God as they took advantage of her situation. Since Cunegonde was from the noble background, it was not possible for her to willingly become a prostitute. With the kind of life she lived, I will interpret Voltaire’s idea as advocate for women so that such evil behavior should stop.
Voltaire had joined the struggle to criticize the French government, mocked at the Catholic Church because it maintained what he believed was the existence of human miseries. Voltaire’s view of the Catholic Church was that it was hypocritical and one of the most corrupt institutions on earth and the leaders he described as being among the most sinful of all people. Voltaire set the following scene to prove his accusations. As a child, He pointed out that after the earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal, religious leaders turned their backs on the victims. Here the wise men, as he called them, hung Pangloss; flogged Candide, burned two others and called for an auto- da- f` (act of faith). Voltaire experienced fathers engaged in homosexual affairs with children. It was claimed by the old lady that she suspected a Franciscan priest to have stolen Cunegonde’s (the baroness) money and diamonds. It was also evident when Cunegonde admitted having sex with Don Issachar on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sabbath, and to the Inquisitor on the other days of the week. (p35) Candide himself experienced the fact that the Inquisitor was his rival. He killed him together with the Israelite. (p39) It was surprising to note that the Pope has a daughter as the old lady claimed “I am a daughter of Pope Urban X and the Princess of Palestrina.” (p42) If this claim of the old lady were true, then it illustrated the evil behaviors of the religious leaders. How can a pope have a child when in fact he took a vow of celibacy? This showed the corrupt practices of the Catholic Church.
In our reading, the catholic doctrine with regards to the constitution is, one needs to obey the court’s judgement regardless one agrees with the court’s decisions or not. To the Catholics, this demonstrates respect for the constitution (p37). The Catholics also believe in the Supreme Courts as the dispenser of ultimate interpretation just as papal supremacy (p37). The Catholics believe in changing moral of the society does not resonate with me. My question is how can one follow the Catholic constitutional interpretation when in fact Voltaire has exposed their evil behavior? If our religious leaders are not perfect, how do we expect our founding fathers to draft a perfect constitution?

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3 Responses to NO PERFECT RELIGION- The story of Voltaire

  1. azucenagonzalez598 says:

    Thank you for your post! It was an interesting read. I particularly thank you for addressing that there are indeed male victims of rape and for clarifying why you would be doing so. I ponder on the reasons how Estrich talks about sexism in law (Estrich 166) and it seems to me that a perpetuation of sexism of occurs when female victims are emphasized. I would argue that if it is hard for a female to convince the police, court, etc. that she has indeed been raped for “real”, it must be harder for a male to do the same because of various reasons, e.g. gender roles and victim stereotypes. Nonetheless, I agree that victim blaming is not appropriate and displaces some responsibility away from the accused to the victim.

    Empowering woman is a great way of practicing agency, however, I believe another way to decrease the occurrence of rape is by addressing the perpetrators as well. In solely focusing on the victim, it is possible to do the same which is trying to be prevented. This could be by informing every one of respecting each other’s space and what that looks like. This will most likely require going over being considerate of others, etc. This is a multi-faceted problem that has to be addressed in a multi-faceted manner.

    No means no.

    • azucenagonzalez598 says:

      My reply to this blog was misplaced, as it was meant for the blog titled “Taking a Stand Against Rape.”

  2. pizza says:

    Great post! One thing to just piggy back off of your post which, you have touched on is how religion is, in a way, dictating what the people can and cannot do even if these people do not share the same beliefs. I was once a very religious person, but once I did some further reading and the feeling of conviction, I no longer wanted to practice that religion. What I realized from religion and those who practice it is this: the intentions of religions is usually not bad however it is how the religious person practices it and how they tend to share/enforce it. If that makes any sense. I really like your photo because it made me think of Hobby Lobby. The owners are religious and are forcing their beliefs onto their employees who most likely do not share the same beliefs. This is not just. I am sick and fed up with businesses and laws forcing people to do or not do something based off of religion (birth control, gay marriage, etc). Church and law should be separate. I always use this statement because it is simple and further proves how ridiculous this practice is: Telling someone they cannot do something based off of their personal beliefs is like me telling you,” hey, you cannot eat that slice of pizza because I am on a diet.” *drops the mic*

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