English Blasphemy
Abstract

Abstract:

Some have seen the desuetude and final abolition of England’s blasphemy laws in 2008 as the belated triumph of a liberalism grounded in individual rationality and consent. Postcolonial scholars, though, have interpreted the decriminalisation of blasphemy as symptomatic of the ideological role of liberal individualism, acting on behalf of a secularised nation-state, in repressing immigrant communities committed to the political exercise of religion. In showing that modern English blasphemy laws arose with the formation of the Anglican confessional state, forming part of its political theology and jurisprudence, this article argues that the abrogation of the laws signified neither the victory of rational individualism nor the triumph of a repressive secular state, but the final undoing of the Anglican settlement by an opposed political theology and jurisprudence.