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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 was anointed c. 1040 B.C. as God's representative, subject to the prophet Samuel.
  • The Christian Roman Empire after Constantine (c. A.D. 363).
  • The legendary (fictional) kingdom of Prester John beginning the 12th century.
  • Rule by the Lutheran Princes in accordance with The Smalcald Articles beginning in 1537, with the systematic eradication of Catholicism as a crime punishable by death throughout their territories.
  • The several hundred year old Buddhist theocracy, established in Tibet with the assumption of power by the Dalai Lamas in 1642, inaugurating the era of "harmonious blend of religion and politics", and headed by the current Dalai Lama, before atheist Communist China invaded in 1950 in order to "liberate" it from religion.
  • The Vatican of the Roman Catholic Church is a formal Christian theocracy, with the Pope as head of both church and state. By technicality, Vatican City established by the Treaty of the Lateran in 1929 is a theocracy, as it is ruled by the Pope, placed by a divine election.
  • Only two democracies (or more precisely republics) reserve places in their legislatures 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, the monarch of England being also the supreme head of the Church of England since 1559.[4]
  • Wahhabism or militant extremist Islam imposed on countries and communities controlled by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS since the beginning of the 21st century, in the Middle East and Africa and island nations in the Pacific.

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. [2]

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 [5] 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 force which rigorously enforces Sharia.[6]

In Israel, civil cases under the Halakhah (traditional Jewish law based on the Torah) are allowed. However, criminal cases are governed by secular law.

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. The Occult History of the Third Reich 4 program DVD documentary from Eagle Media, copyright 1987/2004 Eagle Rock Entertainment. Disc 1: 100 minutes Disc 2: 109 minutes Total running time 209 minutes approx. Plus additional interactive content. Executive Producers for Eagle Rock Entertainment - Terry Shand & Geoff Kempin. An Eagle Media Release - Eagle Media is a division of Eagle Rock Entertainment Ltd. ISBN 0-9743194-6-5
  2. Access Denied: Iran’s Exclusionary Elections Human Rights Watch
  3. Netherlands, Sweden: Bar Deportations to Torture in Iran - Officials Must Not Return Gay and Lesbian Asylum Seekers to Iran Human Rights Watch [1]
  4. Act of Supremacy
  5. The laws of Manu George Buhler, translated by
  6. Saudi Arabia - The Legal System U.S. Library Of Congress