It is a form of government in which the supreme deity (or group of deities) is the ultimate ruler, either directly as a god in human form or indirectly through earthly servants (usually the clergy) who rule in his or her stead.
The government of a theocracy serves its god rather than the citizens, and the laws of a theocracy are founded on religious principles. It is because of this that theocracies tend to be authoritarian, with rigid regulations and severe penalties for those who breach them.
Many early civilizations, as well as many other countries and peoples throughout history, were ruled by theocracies. According to mythology, ancient Egyptian pharaohs were descended from Ra, the sun god.
Sun goddesses’ progeny were adored in Japan, where emperors were considered to be gods. There were also theocracies in Tibet, Israel, and China. Only a few theocracies persist in the world today.
It was only in 2019 that Sudan’s Islamic theocracy was replaced by a (still-struggling) democratic administration.
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Every one of the world’s theocracies:
- Saudi Arabia
- Vatican City
For example, oligarchies are controlled by a limited number of individuals (usually affluent elites) but do not have a spiritual component in contrast to democracies, where power belongs to the people; monarchies, when a single human person holds power; and theocracies.
Theocracy country profiles in today’s world
In recent years, the Taliban, a strict religious rule whose policies are mainly based on Islamic Sharia law, has resurrected in this Middle Eastern nation.
For example, the Taliban forbid everything from going to the movies to owning dogs to cutting their beards or allowing women to work because of their rigorous interpretation of their sacred texts and teachings.
There are a few democratic components in this oil-rich country’s constitution, but they are founded solely on Islamic values and standards.
With numerous religious leaders holding the most important governmental posts in Iran, from military commanders to judges, and the religious Guardian Council even having the right to reject legislation or prohibit political candidates, clerics in Iran wield great influence.
Since its independence in 1960, Mauritania, one of the few African theocracies, has seen a series of coups and one-party dictatorships.
There are signs that Mauritania’s government is moving toward democracy, with elections held, many of which feature more than one political party, although their results are often challenged. As a case in point, atheism is punished by death in several countries.
As a one-party monarchy with no elections, Saudi Arabia’s government is managed by a prime minister who is also the king of the kingdom. A 1992 royal proclamation declaring Sharia Law and the Quran and Sunnah (Muslim sacred texts and teachings) to constitute the country’s constitution also made it a theocracy.
Religious police patrol the streets of Saudi Arabia, enforcing laws like as clothing requirements and the segregation of women and men. Women have relatively few rights in Saudi Arabia.
One of the world’s few surviving Christian monarchies, Vatican City serves as a worldwide hub for Catholicism. Almost all government officials and the vast majority of Vatican City’s inhabitants are members of the clergy.
Also See: TAA Compliant Countries 2022
The pope, who is theoretically an absolute monarch, is in charge of the whole country. The canon law of the Catholic Church is also addressed by the laws of Vatican City, which govern the operations of the Vatican City/Holy See sovereign state.
Situated on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is a Muslim-majority nation that adheres to Shari’a law as the basis of all of its laws and regulations. Despite the country’s long history of political and social upheaval, theocracy has stayed in place.