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Steve Weatherbe

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French Revolution’s dark secret revealed in movie about war against Catholic peasants’ resistance

Steve Weatherbe
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LOS ANGELES, California, January 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A new docudrama presents a far different picture of the Vendee Rebellion in France during the late 1700s than the Revolutionary government’s version of the story.

Official, secularized accounts of the government’s intervention in the localized civil war say military force was necessary to secure the revolution. But revisionist historians see it as a brutal precursor of the worst Stalinist and Maoist purges, a mass murder bordering on genocide, and an ideological war on Christian faith.

“For 300 years,” says Daniel Rabourdin, the maker of the film about the Vendee insurrection that saw the French army kill an estimated 150,000 civilians, “we have been amputated from our Christian past.”

His production, The Hidden Rebellion: The Untold Story Behind the French Revolution, intertwines re-enactments of the key events in the rebellion filmed in the Vendee with interviews with historians such as Reynald Secher and Stephane Courtois.

Secher dares to call Paris’ use of mass, conscript armies to kill Catholic peasants the first modern “genocide.” Courtois has already challenged the Leftist narrative dominating European social science with The Black Book of Communism, which argued that communism was worse than Nazism because, though equally opposed to fundamental freedoms, it murdered far more people (and tens of millions of peasants).

In The Hidden Rebellion, Courtois extends his indictment of totalitarian thinking and its inevitable crimes to the French Revolution. Though not a Christian, he identifies the hostility of the revolutionaries to God as the root of their unrestrained viciousness toward fellow French men and women.

The rebellion, the film shows, was incited by several actions from Paris: the requirement for all clergy to take an oath of allegiance to revolutionary government, the confiscation and sale of church properties, and universal conscription.

Though their Catholic faith and loyalty to their priests was “only about 40 percent” of the rebels’ motivation, Rabourdin estimates, and though their enemies dismissed them as Royalists, they chose as their emblem the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the words “God the King” (not “Louis the King”).

“The people of the Vendee were sympathetic to the Revolution at first,” Rabourdin said. “So was the king, for that matter, and many bishops and clergy.” But the Revolution advanced like a wheel, he says, “and with each turn went further” from the ideals of fraternity, equality and liberty.

As Rabourdin sees it, the French Revolution was founded on an atheistic and utopian belief that humankind began in perfection but was corrupted by religion and other man-made institutions. Destroy these “and man is free to become perfect again.”

But the terror and the brutal suppression of the Vendee Rebellion instead reinforced the Christian understanding of human beings as created good but sinfully flawed. Without the restraint that religious faith and traditional institutions like the monarchy provide, Rabourdin says, the Revolution unleashed demons — or madness. Courtois, in one of his filmed segments, describes this as “the megalomania” of the totalitarian mind.

Rabourdin’s movie is an effective blend of these historical arguments and re-enactments of the murders in which violence is implied rather than explicitly revealed.

Why did Rabourdin sink more than $300,000 of his own savings in this project with only faint hope of recouping much of it? “Because I cared enough about freedom of religion and of conscience to repair the injustice,” he told LifeSiteNews.

“Because I wanted to show how following atheism and agnosticism has created huge crimes against the Church, in a harsh form in the Soviet Union and China, and a soft form in France.”

Raised in France, where he was subjected to the anti-Christian dogma of France’s secular state in the public schools, he moved to the U.S., where he produced programming for EWTN before working on this movie for the last four years. Now Rabourdin hopes churches, youth groups and schools will purchase or stream his DVDs ($19.95 or $9.95).

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