Church, State, Resistance1

AuthorJean‐Luc Nancy
Publication Date01 Mar 2007
ISSN: 0263-323X, pp. 3±13
Church, State, Resistance
Jean-Luc Nancy
This article problematizes a separation of Church and State that is
nevertheless identified as constitutive of politics. Democracy has come
to manifest a tension between the `autonomy' of t he political and a
`heteronomy' that, exceeding rationalist or social contractarian
accounts of our co-existence, is here presented as an irreducible
affect of our being together. Autonomy, it is argued, resists heteronomy
through all representations of democracy; yet, by contrast, heteronomy
resists autonomy, and does so with the force of this affect. So if civil
religion is impossible ± and if we know only too well where its
realizations lead: by default, to republican celebration, or by excess, to
fascism ± then we must take up again, and from scratch, the question of
the affect according to which we co-exist.
The separation of Church and State is the expression, linked in France to the
dominant Catholic Church, for the complete distinction of competences,
laws [droits] and powers between the religious order (be it ecclesiatical or
otherwise constituted) and the political order. It is understood that in any
civil or public matter the political order prevails; while in any religious
matter ± henceforth considered as private or as having to do with the
intimacy of conscience ± the authority exercised is defined by a religious
body [instance]towhich everyone is free to adhere.
Today this separation is recognized as a given of democracy, whatever the
precise form of its enunciation in public law (and even where, as in England,
there exists a very particular situation which may seem, but which is not
really, one of non-separation). The constitutional and/or institutional affirma-
ß2007 The Author. Journal Compilation ß2007 Cardiff University Law School. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
Âde Strasbourg, 22 rue Rene
ÂDescartes, 67084 Strasbourg, France
1 Translated by VeÂronique Voruz, Lecturer in Law at Leicester University, and Colin
Perrin, Commissioning Editor with Routledge.

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