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Theocracy is a form of government ruled by divine means or by leaders considered to be divinely guided.

Examples of Theocracies

  • Israel was a theocracy before King Saul.
  • Only two democracies reserve places in their legislature specifically for representatives of the state religion, these are the aforementioned Islamic Republic of Iran and the United Kingdom where Bishops of the Church of England sit in the upper chamber, the House of Lords under the designation of Lords Spiritual.

Theocracy as tyranny

C.S. Lewis wrote:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. [5]

Theocracy may also describe any government which seeks to impose religious principles or law, such as the Sharia, or the Hindu laws of Manu Smriti [3] on its population, even if the government is formally secular.

One well known example of such a state is Saudi Arabia where the legal system is based on Sharia (Islamic law as interpreted by state authorities), Saudi Arabia also has a religious police [4]

In Israel, civil cases under the Halakhah (traditional Jewish law based on the Torah) are allowed.

Theocracy and the Kingdom of Heaven

In a society where most people are centered on God, and really in touch with His love and His will, the formal system of laws and courts will probably be less necessary. Rev. Moon said, "Eventually we will not need elections. If people go back to their hometowns and serve they will be asked to take public offices, become a king or queen, whoever becomes the center of their hometown does not need to be elected." (unofficial sermon notes, Nov. 23, 2010)

This idea is in contrast to the a forcible theocracy, in which theocratic law is imposed with penalties.

Arguments against theocracy

  • Stifling of free speech and freedom of religion. In a theocracy, it would be counterlogical to allow the citizens to know, or accept other religions or ideologies. Presumably, some mechanism will be placed to prevent dangerous speech, or make the ideas within artificially unwanted.
  • Thought is severely engineered, to prevent "dangerous" thoughts (Atheism, etc).
  • Unaccountable government. Because the government is supposedly an extension of a deity, they cannot be held accountable.

See also


  1. Access Denied: Iran’s Exclusionary Elections Human Rights Watch [1]
  2. Netherlands, Sweden: Bar Deportations to Torture in Iran - Officials Must Not Return Gay and Lesbian Asylum Seekers to Iran Human Rights Watch [2]
  3. The laws of Manu George Buhler, translated by [3]
  4. Saudi Arabia - The Legal System U.S. Library Of Congress [4]