The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v. Taylor (1676)
Representations, Vol. 103, pp. 30-52, Summer 2008
23 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2009
Date Written: July 3, 2008
This article provides an account of the emergence of the common law jurisdiction over blasphemy, arguing that the blasphemy laws first developed in Rex v. Taylor had an explicitly secular purpose. Instead of understanding this crucial decision as an emblem of the early modern fusion of church and state, this article reads Sir Matthew Hale's famous axiom that 'Christianity is parcel of the laws of England' as a step towards the emergence of an English civil religion.
Keywords: blasphemy, common law, civil religion, secularization,
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