|It doesn't stop at the water's edge:|
|Random strands and actors|
A theocracy is a form of government in which the policy is governed by divine intervention or divine guidance. Often, in a true theocracy, God is the actual head of state. In practice, due to communication problems, the actual laws and day to day governance are handled by divinely inspired prophets or clergy.
The term theocracy was coined by Flavius Josephus in the 1st century CE. The historian used it to describe the Judaean regime, as opposed to the Roman secular regime.
 Arguments against a theocracy
“”I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant, a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.
And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme -- whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence -- the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.
- Essentially, a theocracy is a form of totalitarianism and authoritarianism so most arguments against those also hold. In the case of a theocracy, the ultimate authorities has problems providing evidence of their existence, amplifying these problems.
- Freedom of religion and philosophy is stifled - as any theocracy by definition is hardly welcoming to other religions or, dare we say it, atheism.
- Freedom of speech is also stifled, as it's unhealthy for a theocracy for the people to know that alternative views exist.
- By extension of the above, freedom of mere thought is stifled and oppressed.
- In many theocracies, people are ruled by threats of punishment or promises of rewards in the afterlife; such religious beliefs are easy to exploit to keep people in line.
- By receiving authority from gods, the ruling priest class is essentially unaccountable.
- Progress and change can be hampered by adherence to holy books. (To be fair, one can implement progress and change by
rewritingreinterpreting the holy books, but most people simply don't care or have the time)
- Historically, heretics and apostates are met with great wrath from the ruling religion. Compared to what such an Inquisition could do, being put on a police file for attending an anti-government rally, or being fingerprinted and retina scanned just to enter a country is quite pleasant.
"Theodemocracy" is an idea put forward by Joseph Smith for his planned Mormon paradise. In a theodemocracy, people supposedly have many of the traditional rights of a liberal democracy within the framework of rule by a single god (or religion).
In a broad sense, one could consider present-day Iran a theodemocracy, as many of the important governmental positions are elected, and many of the others are selected from people who are elected. For example, the President is directly elected, in theory at least, no guarantee he won't steal the election, and the Supreme Leader is selected by the Assembly of Experts, who are themselves popularly elected.
In practice, of course, Iran is what a theocracy looks like and it's not pretty. "Theodemocracy" is lipstick on a very ugly pig; you can try to make it look better by trying to hide the ugly parts, but in the end, you're still stuck with one ugly porker.
- The Vatican State
- Mount Athos
- Dubai, despite attempts to convince the Western world that lots of money really means they're advanced and not mediaeval thugs
- North Korea, with Juche as its national pseudo-religion
- Saudi Arabia
- Imperial Rome: some Roman Emperors were considered gods.
- Similarly Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs were treated as gods.
- Kingdom of Judah (937-539 BCE)
- Maccabean kingdom (2nd to 1st centuries BCE)
- Many early medieval European kings (c. 6th-10th centuries)
- Afghanistan under the Taliban (1996-2001)
- Florence under Girolamo Savonarola (1494-1498)
- State of Deseret (1849-1850, never recognized)
- Calvinist Geneva (16th century)
- Early (and most of modern) Utah
- Tibet, until China moved in.
- Montenegro (1516-1851)
- Somalia (briefly in 2006 under the Islamic Courts Union)
- Slovakia (under Tiso)
- Croatia (under Pavelic)
- Imperial Japan. The emperor was considered divine, but in practice was a figurehead.
- Pre-revolutionary China - the emperor was considered a conduit between heaven and earth.
- Arabia under Mohammed.
- Turkey, if the Constitutional Court there does not show some nerve pretty fast.
- The United States, if the
GOPreactionary dominionists have their way.
- Israel, if the Ultra-Orthodox outbreed the secular Israelis.
The world under the rule of the Antichrist and false prophet, installed by the Illuminati.
- India, as Hindu nationalists are hard at work in this area.
 In popular culture
“”God created Arrakis to train the faithful.
Unfortunately, not as many as you'd think, with Wikipedia's list[wp] actually larger than the one on TV Tropes. If books are your thing, Margaret Atwood didn't write The Handmaid's Tale for nothing. In video games, check out the Covenant in Halo, the anti-papal goodness of Final Fantasy X... and every other Final Fantasy out there, and the Imperium of Man in Warhammer 40K.