looking for

Treaty of Westphalia and the Idea of Secularism

Theoretical and historical framework of modern international relations has largely been started from the treaty of Westphalia. It broke thousands years old tradition of religion based administrative structure. In its earlier phase Westphalia defined secular political idea was confined only within Europe. It has spread throughout the world gradually.
For Jeff Haynes, “since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 the history of the development of the global state system has largely been the history of clashing nationalisms, with each national group aiming for its own state and with religio-derived ideologies very much secondary.”[1]
Kritdikorn Wongswangpanich comments about the structural change of social system occurred by this treaty. He says,
The role of Westphalia in conventional international relations is, Western-centrically, the origin of the field itself and the creator of the modern state as such, by the claim of secularization, or the separation of ‘state sovereign power’ and ‘religious power’, which could also be seen as the separation of ‘religion’ and ‘religiosity’.[2]

It can be perceived as a provider of ideological transformation and an event that intersect between medieval age and modern age.
But, secularization, in other words, remained situated within a broader Christian context.
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, one of the leading scholars and theorists on religion and politics points out that,

As it developed, the Westphalian system continued to reinforce a particular concept and practice of Christian secularism. The idea of a secular state system evolved out of and was conceived in opposition to the practices of three specific religious groups — Lutherans, Calvinists and Catholics… in the Westphalian era the term ‘to secularize’ referred specifically to the laicization of church lands. Secular political authority, then, was imagined and enacted within an unquestioned Christian framework…(and) This powerful secular consensus has been sustained through two strategies of secularization in Western democracies — laicism and Judeo-Christian secularism.[3]

However, with some changes this idea and process of secularization have gradually been accepted internationally and this secularization has structured the national and international system for the last four hundred years. Also the international relations as an academic discipline have been constructed and developed on the foundation of Westphalian secular model. The next point is discussed about this matter.

[1] Jeff Haynes, “Transnational religious actors and international politics,” Third World Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 2 (2001): 145, http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/kenwald/pos6292/haynes.pdf (accessed February 25, 2012). 
[2] Kritdikorn Wongswangpanich, “Peace of Westphalia, Secularism and the Rise of Modern State,” April 5, 2012 http://kritdikornwongswangpanich.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/beyond-westphalia-essay-1  (accessed June 5, 2012).
[3] Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, “The Political Authority of Secularism in International Relations,” European Journal of International Relations, op.cit., 241.