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A Taliban enforcer beats a woman for removing her burqa in public.
Preach to the choir
Icon religion.svg
Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the Despot abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them: and to effect this they have pervertedWikipedia the purest religion ever preached to man, into mystery & jargon unintelligible to all mankind & therefore the safer engine for their purposes.
Thomas Jefferson[1]
You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tartWikipedia threw a swordWikipedia at you!
—Constitutional Peasants, Monty Python and the Holy Grail[2]

A theocracy is a form of government in which the policy is governed by divine intervention or divine guidance. Though God is the actual head of state in theoratic ideology, in actuality, due to communication issues, divinely inspired prophets or clergy control the actual law-making and day-to-day administration.

The historian Flavius Josephus coined the word theocracy (Greek θεοκρατία) in the 1st century CE — he used the term to describe the Judaean regime, as opposed to the Roman secular regime.[3]

Arguments against a theocracy[edit]

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.Wikipedia 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… 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.
C.S. Lewis[4]
  • 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 have problems providing evidence of their existence, amplifying these problems.
  • Theocracies, by necessity, introduce a class of clergy that acts independently of the ruling class. You better beg that the rulers and clergy are on friendly terms, because otherwise, the clergy will recruit a mob of civilians to declare war against the king's soldiers.[note 1]
  • Freedom of religion and philosophy are stifled — as any theocracy, by definition, is hardly welcoming to other religions or, dare one 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. (Heck, one doesn't even have the right to remain silent!)
  • By extension, 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 ("Pie in the sky when you die"[5]).
  • Legal review process is, by definition, non-existent: How dare one challenge The Judgement™ passed by the gods, delivered by the divinely inspired prophet? Not that one needs such a process because an omniscient god will know whether one is truly innocent and, given god's omnipotence, may bring you back to life if you are killed in the process.
  • By receiving authority from gods, the ruling priest class (or anyone charitable enough to make righteous contributions) is essentially unaccountable.
  • As holy books are (supposedly) unchanging, anything that can be quote mined from them (whether they are in line with the context/spirit of such holy books or not) can and will be easily institutionalized. In addition, policies that come from (potentially) inconsistent quote mines would be difficult to resolve because they are from the same book(s), and emphasizing one over the other would stir up schisms within the religion. This seems to have a bizarre habit of occurring with the Supreme Court of the United States and the US Constitution, suggesting that Clarence Thomas is at work the doctrine of originalism may be even more religious in character than previously believed.
  • Progress and change can be hampered by adherence to holy books (to be fair, one can implement progress and change by rewriting reinterpreting the holy books, but most people don't care or have the time).
  • While modern economic policiesWikipedia can be implemented, they must constantly make reference to those holy books whenever they advocate a policy. This can be disastrous at any period where those economics lead to a crisis situation and where suggesting a different policy than the one which the holy books seem to advocate could resolve it. Of course, since you adhere to God and how he wants you to implement the economy, the only possible outcome would be that no economic crises will ever happen, and everything bad will promptly be attributed as "tests of faith".
  • 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 to enter a country is quite pleasant.


2017 Iranian presidential election results by county.

"TheodemocracyWikipedia" 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 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 government 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), with no guarantee he won't steal the election, and the Supreme Leader is selected by the Assembly of Experts, and half are themselves popularly elected. The other half are chosen by the Supreme Leader, while all of the candidates (for not only the Assembly but Parliament and the Presidency) require approval from the Guardian Council, headed by the Supreme Leader. In practice, the Assembly has never questioned or removed any of the Supreme Leaders. The Supreme Leader has a lifetime term, and there have been only two since 1979. The Guardian Council also routinely disqualifies candidates they deem as being too reform-minded. The Guardian Council must approve bills passed by Parliament — it frequently vetoes them. While the Parliament has to appoint members of the Guardian Council, its members are nominated by the Supreme Leader and the head of the courts (himself appointed by the Supreme Leader). It is also the constitutional court, with control over the interpretation of the laws. Therefore, real power rests in the hands of unelected leaders.

So, in reality, Iran is what you'd expect theocracy to be like — it's not pretty. "Theodemocracy" is a bit like the Trojan Horse or a wall crack hidden by a picture frame. It might look good on the surface (to some, anyway), but the gift is an ambush and that crack is still there.


Sign forbidding women to enter the "Sacred Community of Mount Athos".



  • Mount Athos,Wikipedia an autonomous region in Greece ruled by an ecclesiastical council of the Greek Orthodox Church in which only men may reside or enter.
  • Hungary, another authoritarian Christian state.
  • Russia, which claims itself to be the leader of the worldwide Christian nationalist movement. Also a hellhole due to effectively being the personal fiefdom of a deranged lunatic.
  • Uganda, a staunch Christian nationalist country with harsh theocratic laws.
  • The Vatican City, whose head of state is the Pope.




Imperial cults[edit]


  • The Twelve Tribes of IsraelWikipedia (before becoming the United Kingdom of Israel)[9] (note these entities are more myth than history, known only through unreliable Bible accounts, and may not have existed at all).
  • Kingdom of Judah (937-539 BCE).
  • Maccabean Kingdom (2nd to 1st centuries BCE).



  • Arabia under Mohammed, and the Caliphates which succeeded him.
  • DAESH, a self-proclaimed caliphate (really an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization) that ruled a swath of the Middle East and Africa.
  • Chechen Republic of Ichkeria after the assassination of the country’s first president.
  • Somalia (briefly in 2006 under the Islamic Courts UnionWikipedia)


In popular culture[edit]

God created Arrakis to train the faithful.
—Frank Herbert

Unfortunately, there are fewer than one would think, with Wikipedia's listWikipedia actually larger than the one on TV Tropes.[13] If books are your thing, Margaret Atwood didn't write The Handmaid's Tale for nothing.[note 2] In video games, check out the Covenant in Halo,[note 3] the anti-papal goodness of Final Fantasy X, Father Comstock's Columbia in BioShock Infinite,Wikipedia[note 4] the Holy Sacred Empire of Abel in Anima: Beyond Fantasy,[note 5] Eden's Gate in Far Cry 5,[note 6] Unitology in Dead Space,[note 7] and the Imperium of Man in Warhammer 40K.[note 8] The series His Dark Materials acts in part as a critique of theocracy. The 2020 fantasy cartoon The Owl House has the Boiling Isles function similar to a theocracy in that the ruler, Emperor Belos [note 9] claims to be acting under the "will of the Titan."


Islamofascism refers to the idea of supporting the establishment of either a Middle East-wide or a worldwide caliphate. This is somewhat related to the (actual) ideologies of Islamism and jihadism, although "Islamofascism" includes some purely fantastic elements. Islamists and fascists do have some things in common, among them their hatred of (((Them))).

For example, in the neocons' view, all Islamofascists are supposed to be working together in a grand conspiracy against the US. Any conservative Muslim, or even anyone who is not a sufficiently enthusiastic war hawk, is said to support "Islamofascism".

The whole idea of Islamofascism largely ignored:

  1. The actual stated desires of the terrorists we were fighting
  2. The grievances of the Middle East as a whole
  3. The sectarian character of Islam, which kept many of the so-called "Islamofascists" from ever coming together in the first place (and actually has opened avenues of cooperation between the U.S. and some of the so-called "Islamofascists").

To say that this ignorance has been counter-productive for progress in the region is an understatement.[14]

The concept's relations to Islam and fascism are both tenuous since Islam and fascism historically had little to do with each other (Amin al-HusseiniWikipedia notwithstanding); however, the more extreme strains of Islamism can be seen as analogous to the form of authoritarian conservatism sometimes known as "clerical Fascism" — a variant of theocracy. Some states that might fit this pattern in the Middle East and North Africa are/were also receiving large sums of money in the form of foreign aid from the United States.[note 10]

Some Arab nationalist regimes did, in fact, draw inspiration both from Soviet communism and fascism, the most notable among which were the Syrian/Iraqi Ba'athist regimes as well as Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt, though, in terms of economics, Ba'athism and Nasserism had far more in common with the state socialism of the Eastern Bloc than with the corporatism of Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Third Reich. The Ba'athist and Nasserist regimes were largely secular and were actually opposed by most Islamic extremists for being too "moderate" on religion. Only in later years did regimes like Saddam Hussein's Iraq embrace Islam more openly, with Saddam first styling himself as the Sunni champion against the Shi'ite Iranian ayatollahs during the grueling 8-year Iran-Iraq War and then putting the takbīrWikipedia on the Iraqi flag (where it remains to this day) during his (brief) occupation of Kuwait.

The term is often conflated with ideas like Eurabia and white genocide.

Christopher Hitchens also questioned the term, preferring the less syncretic description "fascism with an Islamic face" where relevant (such as in the case of DAESH).

The threat of Islamofascism can be treated much the same as Christofascism — while genuine authoritarian Muslim ideologues are most common, genuine movements blending Islam and fascism can exist. A few examples are:

  • Erdogan’s regime in Turkey. His rule and tactics have been noted by scholars and educators on fascism to be a unique and indigenous version of Turkish fascism.
  • Ebrahim Raisi is another example, this time of Islamic fascism in Iran. Like his equally fascist predecessor Achmadina, he employs massive antisemitism and Holocaust denial in his rhetoric.
  • Ba'athism could also be considered a loose example of Islamic fascism (with many of its members being culturally Muslim), though the movement itself was more so secular than Islamic.


Christofascism is a neologism coined in response to two trends:

  1. The use of the word "Islamofascism" to describe a group ranging in size from a few fundamentalist Islamic theocratic leaders to the entire religion of Islam.
  2. The observation that in the West (particularly in the United States), there are demagogues who seek to replace the established secular governments with theocracies built on their version of Christianity. For example, dominionism.

Some examples that approach genuine Christofascism include:

However, Christofascism is often overblown (much like Islamofascism). Merely advocating Christianity or "Christian values" in the public sphere is not fascism — it is only when Christianity is forced onto non-Christians that it is Christofascism.

See also[edit]


  1. And if they are on friendly terms, then see Jefferson's quote above.
  2. Margaret Atwood is Canadian, so it probably isn't big amongst American exceptionalists.
  3. Even more in the expanded universe. Yikes, Forerunners.
  4. In this case, a brutal deconstruction of American exceptionalism.
  5. Where the Holy Sacred Emperor (now Empress) is also the head (at least in theory now) of the Catholic-inspired Holy Church of Abel.
  6. Literally Christian fundamentalism taken to its logical conclusion.
  7. Fans and reviewers have noted their heavy similarities to the Church of Scientology.
  8. Their fan nickname is "Catholic Space Nazis."
  9. His real name was Philip Wittebane, a settler from 17th century Connecticut which explains a lot of his goals and behaviour.
  10. Do you need examples?


  1. Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 17 March 1814 National Archives.
  3. Theocracy, New Advent.
  4. On Stories And Other Essays on Literature by C. S. Lewis (2017) HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780062565563. Page 116-117. "A Reply to Professor Haldane".
  5. See the Wikipedia article on The Preacher and the Slave.
  6. Wikipedia on CaligulaWikipedia
  7. See the Wikipedia article on Imperial cult.
  8. See the Wikipedia article on Son of Heaven.
  9. Compare: Perry-Jenkins, Danell (2011). "3: The Kingdom of our God". Faces of Religion: The Unveiling of The Children of God. Bloomington, Indiana: WestBow Press. p. 47. ISBN 9781449717230. Retrieved 2017-08-13. "The United Kingdom of Israel was first a theocracy (with God as King), but afterward a monarchy with Saul the first King in 1 Samuel 9." 
  10. See the Wikipedia article on Caesaropapism.
  11. Davidson, Ronald M. (2004). "Tibet". In Buswell Jr., Robert E. (ed.). Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Macmillan Reference. pp. 851–59. ISBN 978-0-02-865910-7.
  12. P. Newton Singh (2015). "Ideas, Institutions and Social Change in Sikkim". In Singh, N.William; Malsawmdawngliana; Saichampuii Sailo. Becoming Something Else: Society and Change in India's North East. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 9781443886338. Retrieved 2017-08-13. "Sikkim was once a theocratic state with institutions like a monarchy, feudalism ans Lamaism. Sikkim underwent change when liberal democracy, with principles of liberty, equality and citizenship, started penetrating the society during the 1960s. [...]Ultimately, the old institutions of theocracy collapsed and gave way to the introduction of new kinds of institutions, which are democratic elements in Sikkim." 
  13. The Theocracy, TV Tropes
  14. "Iraq 10 Years Later (2): What was the Neocon Theory behind the War?"] by Robert Kelly (2013-03-19) The Duck of Minerva.