Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Ted Vial


Religion, Secularization, International law


Drawing on Charles Taylor’s historical analysis in A Secular Age, this dissertation reveals connections between the process of Euro-Western secularization and its roots in the universalizing project of Christianity. This work asserts that religion, a term often identified with Christianity, developed in conjunction with secularization and concludes that these theoretical constructs influenced international legal principles which marginalized indigenous cultures that did not conform to its tenets. Not only did Christianity and the secular arise from the same roots, but both were shaped by colonialism.This paper provides a detailed overview of the development of international law as a colonial project that combined theological and secular interpretations of natural law and the law of nations creating a vehicle for land acquisition and resource extraction by examining the writings of Francisco de Vitoria, Hugo Grotius and John Locke. In order to trace the effects of flows of power from religious authority to state authority, this paper examines the views of Michel Foucault and Talal Asad on power, agency, identity and freedom through the lens of religion and the secular. This project focuses on the Native American experience to demonstrate the interface between Christian missionizing, the imposition of discipline and civilization and the current American legal system that asserts a separation of church and state.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Stephanie Yuhas


Received from author

File Format




File Size

278 pgs


Religious studies, International relations