Theocracy: Definition, Features & Examples

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Theocracy: Definition, Features & Examples of Theocratic State

A theocracy is an undemocratic form of government. In this, the representatives administer their government in the name of God.

In theocracies, the rulers are, simultaneously, heads of government and spiritual heads.

The ruler in the theocracy is in office by the grace of God, and conducts his rule based on the prevailing religion. The book and the sacred texts are those that govern the state operation, since they are the source of divine inspiration.

The power is concentrated in a single institution, no separation of powers and is the monarch or the theocratic leader who teaches government and justice. The argument is the following: I represent God and his faith, therefore, the decisions that I make are supported by him and can be considered as his will.

Thus, all my decisions are unquestionable, since they are those that God would make in the case of being terrestrial and corporeal.


History of Theocracy and its Origin

The origin of the theocracy is found in the ancient tribes. In which the shaman of the tribe, the wisest, was considered as an incarnation of divine figures, and whose destiny was to satisfy the gods and guide the tribe in its survival.

With the appearance of civilizations, such as ancient Egypt, the rulers followed a dynastic line, whose perpetuation on the throne was due to divine reasons. It should be noted that, during the Middle Ages, although kings had a divine element, it was the Pope who held the religious leadership. Thus a separation of power was established between Rome and the State, with the king having to submit to the divine principles established by the papacy.

Such strength was available to him that Henry VIII, faced with his disagreements with the Pope, disassociated himself from the Church. Establishing Protestantism in England and proclaiming himself as a religious chief.

Characteristics of Theocracy

Theocratic regimes have the following characteristics:

  • There is no separation between state and religion: The head of government is also the spiritual head.
  • Autocratic power: All power is concentrated in a single person. Furthermore, this power knows no limits, since they are marked by it. This, due to the fact that their actions are the will of God.
  • The law is based on religion: The law that are developed, and all aspects of public and private life, are inspired by divine texts and dogmas.
  • Single religion: Theocracies do not accept or respect the plurality that may exist in other states. This is considered as contrary to the regime and divine commandments, so only the prevailing religion is allowed.
  • There is no democracy: For the population to abide by and respect the will of the ruler and, by extension, that of God, those who do not process the laws and the dictates of faith must be repressed and persecuted. Thus resorting, the persecuted minorities, to exile.

Examples of Theocracy

There are numerous examples of theocracies that have existed and developed throughout human history.

Some of them are:

  • The Incas: Settled on the west coast of South America. The form of government that governed the Inca civilization was that of a theocratic monarchy. The Inca was the highest authority, and was advised by the imperial council.
  • Saudi Arabia: The Saudi country is one of the most autocratic regimes in existence. It is a theocracy, whose respect for civil liberties and political rights is null. The king is the highest and only authority figure in the country. And the law emanates from the Koran, this being the Islamic sacred text.
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