Answers to the Problem of Secularism in Mexico's Cristero War

By: Julia Rahimzadeh

April 28, 2022

Spring 2022 Student Symposium: REWA Minors

This project will investigate the secularist policies that led to the outbreak of the Cristero War, an early twentieth-century conflict between the Mexican government and its Catholic population. The war had its roots in secularization efforts on the part of the government that had been going on for quite a while in Mexico—attempts to reduce the Catholic Church’s influence stemmed back to the mid-nineteenth century—but became increasingly strict in the 1920s, when the government clamped down on the Church and took drastic measures against Catholic priests, leading to violent outbreaks. This project will use José Casanova's theoretical framework on secularism to argue what a more fruitful direction might have been in the vie for power between government and Church.


Roderic Ai Camp. Crossing Swords: Politics and Religion in Mexico. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

José Casanova. Public Religions in the Modern World. (University of Chicago Press, 1994).

James W. Wilke. “The Meaning of the Cristero Religious War Against the Mexican Revolution.” Journal of Church and State 8, no. 2 (1966): 214–33.

Peter L. Berger. “Secularism in Retreat.” The National Interest, December 1, 1996.

Robert H. Vinca. “The American Catholic Reaction to the Persecution of the Church in Mexico, From 1926-1936.” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia 79, no. 1 (1968): 3–38.

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