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Enlightenment Ideals in Regards to Religious Minorities Essay

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Updated: May 12th, 2020

In the late mid 1780’s and early, mid 1800’s, most nations opted to adopt ideas of freedom. This was described as the enlightenment era because people needed change, and many individuals were determined to achieve it. Irrespective of the positive changes intended by enlightenment ideologies, the religious minority, were affected negatively by a series of preferential policies.

The limitations placed on religious minority brought about questions that challenged need for equality in all aspects of life ( Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein and Smith 506). This perpetuated protests, full-scale conflicts, and appeals by religious majority group representatives such as Jews to seek for equality and human rights.

With respect to the declaration of human rights, one can understand that citizens were considered nationals irrespective of their ethnic or religious background. The moment a person is limited on participating in politics or undertaking certain profession makes the declaration a bias. For example, in the quest for enlightenment, the declaration was described as a bias (“Petition of the Jews of Paris, Alsace and Lorraine to the National Assembly” (28 January 1790) 95).

This is because it set apart the rights of man and the idea of being a citizen. This was evidenced by the fact that some Jews were restricted to participating in politics or owning property. This was considered a violation of declaration (Declaration of Independence in Congress, July 4, 1776 1).

Considering Clermont Tonnerre’s speech on religious minorities and questionable professions, the delegate argued out to the assembly that the declaration of human rights should meet its specifications (Halsall par. 7). If not, some articles such as freedom of worship should be removed and restrict the population to one denomination.

Other Jews who took part in professions such as acting and executions were discriminated within the society. When actors took another person’s role on stage, the performer was reputed of having immoral behavior (Hunt 87).

For instance, some people believed that imitating roles of people who had immoral behaviors within the society would create room for performing such wicked behavior among the society. The Catholic Church did not allow performances that lured people to have intimate relations such as kissing on stage. These were some of the concerns feared by the Catholic Church in case it gave Jews a benefit of doubt in taking part in politics (Owensby 27).

Additionally, executioners were regarded as murderers. Taking another person’s life was against the law and this was common among the Jewish culture. A person found guilty of issues relating to immorality was punished by the church through crucifixion. Such allegations perpetuated restriction amongst participation of the Jews in politics.

Calvinism is a religious doctrine that declares God’s omnipresence and salvation as the key to inheriting the Lord’s Kingdom. People within this religion also faced negative impacts of the enlightenment ear. Prior to Louis XV I’s government, the Calvinists within France faced challenges with style of worship (Edict of Toleration, November 1787 p. 2).

Louis XIV prohibited any other form of religion within European lands to practice Calvinism. Anyone who was perceived to be part of this religion could not take part in politics or be recognized as a citizen. However, government Louis X VI issued an edict of toleration that allows sovereignty of worship (Hunt et al. 479). This did not make any impact because the verdict still limited Calvinists participation in political and social issues.

The Quest for enlightenment may have brought several changes in the lives of most people from its introduction, adaptation, and reign. This was not effective for the case of the religious minority. This is because it did not match the declaration of rights that allowed freedom of religion. In this case, people opted to fight back through appeals. Some were successful while others underwent scrutiny fearing its impacts to the population.

Works Cited

Declaration of Independence in Congress, July 4, 1776. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

Edict of Toleration, November 1787. Web.

Halsall, Paul 1998, : Richard Price: The Discourse on the Love of Country, 1789. Web.

Hunt, Lynn. The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1996. 47–97. Print.

Hunt, Lynn, Martin Thomas R., Rosenwein Barbara H. and Smith, Bonnie G. The Making of the West: A Concise History, Volume II: Peoples and Cultures, Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print.

Owensby, J. Jackson. The United States Declaration of Independence (Revisited), New York, NY: A-argus books, 2010. Print.

“Petition of the Jews of Paris, Alsace and Lorraine to the National Assembly” (28 January 1790). Web.

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