François-Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778), better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, essayist, deist and philosopher known for his wit, philosophical sport, and defense of civil liberties, including freedom of religion. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform despite strict censorship laws and harsh penalties for those who broke them. A satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize Christian Church dogma and the French institutions of his day. Many of Voltaire's works and ideas would influence important thinkers of both the American and French Revolutions, an honor that he would share with other political theorists such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.
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