The 1928 trial of José de León Toral, assassin of Mexican caudillo Álvaro Obregón, afforded President Plutarco Elías Calles the opportunity to show domestic and international audiences that the revolution had yielded a nation of laws predicated on spiritual principles. Summary executions of Catholics had allowed detractors and even sympathetic observers to question the depth of civic values in Mexico. The article shows how authorities deliberately presented the hearing as the concrete realization of Calles's claim that his administration had established institutions that embodied the principles of the revolution. Although the Christian idioms presented by the prosecution support recent scholarly arguments regarding deist tendencies within revolutionary ideologies, this article points out that the government's emphasis on its spiritual conviction sought to bolster the claim that anticlericalism was not antireligious but rather necessary for the rule of law.

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