Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Studies

Committee Director

Qiu Jin

Committee Member

Simon Serfaty

Committee Member

Jie Chen

Committee Member

Earl Honeycutt


The developing world is witnessing a growing (some may say disturbing) trend towards “de-secularization” of national governments. This trend has been understudied and misunderstood over the past decade. Government experts and scholars alike too often view this trend through the lens of “threat” analysis and in so doing miss key cultural, historical, and political factors at work. This study attempts to redress this problem. By looking at political legitimacy and the role religious organizations such as the Catholic Church may play, a new understanding of how religious institutions can shape and mold governments and policies emerges.

This study focuses specifically on the Republic of the Philippines and the Catholic Church. The rationale is that Philippines is one of the most interesting and intriguing nation-states in which to study the dynamics between the Church and State. In no other Southeast Asian nation-state can one find a relationship with both the historical and cultural gravitas that exists between the Philippine Catholic Church and secular government. It is a relationship that spans almost five hundred years. Indeed, understanding how the Church uses its power to legitimize and make illegitimate politicians and regimes is a study in power, politics, and religion, all couched in the context of a Southeast Asian nation with its own unique cultural attributes.

Through the use of historical analysis and contemporary case studies this study details for the reader the evolution of Church power and influence and its effects on the legitimacy of Philippine governments. Built on the foundation of Weberian legitimacy and the Eastonian idea of support, the study includes a look at the personalities behind the Church's power, the methods that led to two People Power revolutions, and the consequences of the de-secularization on the Philippines.