Politics in Minutes (2016)

Theocracy

Literally meaning ‘rule by God’, theocracy is the form of government in which the clergy of a particular religion rule over the civil state. More than simply a recognition of an official state religion, it is an adoption of that religion as the source of the official policy of the state, administered by its leaders. The officials of a theocratic government are believed to be divinely chosen and guided, and their authority, like the divine right of kings, is God-given rather than granted by the people. The laws that they make and enforce are laid down by their faith, and support its doctrine.

Christian theocracy was once the distinguishing feature of medieval Europe, but is now confined to the Vatican state. Today, the idea is more associated with Islam – regimes, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Ayatollahs in Iran, where clerics are accorded considerable political power. Although absolute theocracy is rare, even in Islamic states, clerics continue to have significant influence in many countries.

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