Hanne Nabintu Herland with Paul Craig Roberts

Voltaire, founding father of secular intolerance


As the mainstream media shuts down diversity of opinion, pulling the “Fake News” card on anyone who does not see the world from the leftwing CNN angle, many feel that the West is turning into a Soviet Union.

It has long been worrying that over 90 % of the US media is owned by only 6 corporations, as it makes it very easy to manufacture consent and produce an illusion of choice.

People wonder where the authoritarian push came from, this demand for everyone to agree with the politically correct, leftwing perspective, but the idea is very old, writes historian and founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Nabintu Herland. (Illustration: Hanne Herland with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts)

The 1700s French philosopher François-Marie Arouet Voltaire, who lived at the time of the French Revolution has been hailed as the secular “apostle of tolerance.” Yet, his values were the exact opposite of tolerant, setting the tone for what was later to come: The hypocritical leftwing proclamation of “tolerance and diversity”, yet in reality representing the very opposite: Tolerance only for the leftwing groups and a remarkably tough stance against conservatives and those who wanted to keep the traditional, historical values that once made the West such a great civilization.

The current New Left trend of speaking with a “double tongue” – hailing freedom of expression, democracy, and tolerance, yet using it to repress the groups that disagree with them – this was seen already in the work of Voltaire.

He became famous for stating the importance of tolerance, saying: “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The sentence has been immensely admired in the West, quoted millions of times as a reflection of a leading “secular Western ideal” at the dawn of atheism.

Hanne Nabintu Herland Report 2019


Voltaire spoke highly of tolerance, yet practiced the very opposite. He was famous for his immense hatred towards the Christian Church and the religious traditions in his time. His writings are filled with the very opposite of the respect for the majority view in society or the right to differ in opinion.

For example, “Christianity is the most ridiculous and the most absurd bloody religion that has ever infected the world” or “Theological religion is the source of all imaginable follies and disturbances. It is the parent of all fanaticism and civil disorder. It is the enemy of mankind.”

Yet, his disturbance and discontent with life are apparent in yet another quote: “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life.”

This was the beginning of the revolt against the very values that made the West a great civilization hailed by men like Voltaire who proclaimed: “The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason.” He died in 1787, a few years before the 1789 revolution in France.




Precisely the demand for tolerance has been portrayed as a secular ideal yet was but a copy of the Christian view of humanity, based on the belief that all peoples, regardless of class, gender or race, have a fundamental human value. Voltaire did not develop this altruistic ideal in a vacuum, but rather, it derived from Christian philosophy.

Many of the angry philosophers who had such a grudge towards the philosophies of Jesus Christ reflect more than anything lack of knowledge of the very faith they criticized.

Voltaire says: “The Bible. That is what fools have written, what imbeciles command, what rogues teach, and what young children are taught to learn by heart.”

So, the very values that Voltaire detests are the very same he professes to pursue. He voices the need for tolerance – itself a religious principle demonstrated by Jesus during his life. Whoever would read The Bible, and especially the first four books of the New Testament, would find in it the fabulous stories of how Jesus demonstrated tolerance, respect for the weak, empathy with the dying, kindness to the unwanted, all values that Voltaire hated?

It was Christian theology in the Middle Ages and Spanish scholasticism that formed the basis of what we today call human rights, as we have seen.

Even before that, Athenian democracy spoke of the need for public debates and arenas in which intellectuals could discuss morality, politics, and social issues in a civil manner.

Yet, Voltaire’s writings are permeated with a reeking dislike of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He does not seem to have a shred of respect for religious freedom.

It went on to the degree that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, upon Voltaire’s death, allegedly burst out, saying that “the arch-scoundrel Voltaire has finally kicked the bucket.”

It may be argued that Voltaire was one of the founding fathers of the mannerless intolerant and totalitarian lack of respect for those who have other world views than the liberal Left, making him one of the grand hypocrites of his time.


About the author

The level of censorship in social media and search engines is all-time high. Do like thousands of others, subscribe to The Herland Report newsletter here!

Hanne Nabintu Herland is a historian of religions and bestselling author. She is the founder of The Herland Report Scandinavian news site and TV channel on YouTube with millions of readers/viewers. This is a great place to watch interviews with leading intellectuals, thought leaders from across the political spectrum. Herland’s latest book The Billionaire World. How Marxism Serves the Elite (2023) is a razor sharp analysis of how the elites use Marxist repression of the people to achieve their goals. Buy it here. Other books include Alarm, Respect, Det Nye Babylon (2018), Tyranni (2020) and in English – Crime and Refuge (2013), The Culture War. How the West lost its Greatness (2017)Trump. The Battle for America (2020),  New Left Tyranny. The Authoritarian Destruction of Our Way of Life (2020), The Billionaire World (2023). www.theherlandreport.com

Herland Report Newsletter Subscribe

Check Also

Brutally Ruthless Marxism: A study of Karl Marx: Herland Report

Will Marxist hatred for the West Finally Cancel America?

  Did Karl Marx really aim to help the working class or simply to replace …

Jacques Derrida and the Racist Left Victimization of Blacks: Socialist Racism, Herland Report

Neo-Marxist Jacques Derrida and his Racist Deconstruction Theory

  The Left has implemented the Neo-Marxist Jacques Derrida Racist Deconstruction Theory that does not …

Book The Billionaire World Hanne Nabintu Herland How Marxism Serves the Elite