Theocracy is a form of political system where, instead of having independent leaders to rule the population, the government bestows the duty to rule to religious leaders. This means the way of governing is done in the name of God, Allah or another religious entity. This political system is more common in the countries of the Middle East today than anywhere else in the world. However, some countries, such as the US, are running a form of psuedo-theocracy government, where it is believed by the people that their heads of state are elected due to God’s Will.
Like any other forms of government, theocracy also has its benefits and drawbacks. Let us take a closer look at its pros and cons in order to get an idea whether it is good or not in the modern world.
List of Pros of Theocracy
1. It makes finding compromises within the majority easier.
Theocracy brings the majority of the country’s people together in a form of harmony over the problems that the nation is facing. This is due to the fact that they all base the foundations of their actions and opinions upon a particular holy book that dictates their responses. This implies that lesser debates and more actions can take place.
2. It makes it easier to create social reforms.
If people are united under one government and one church, they will be able to work together without limitations in order to create social reforms they desire. A good example of this is the leaders of the early Mormon Church in the US, who moved out West to support their specific ideals. Then, these religious leaders also functioned as government leaders until all their members officially joined the US.
3. It allows directives to be implemented much more quickly.
Usually, a theocratic form of government is authoritarian, which means that when a top leader creates a single decree, it can be filtered down to the rest of the population and can become law more quickly compared with that of a democratic process of representation. Because debate is discouraged in this type of situation, there will be faster movement and solution of potential issues.
4. It can create more unity from a global perspective.
Considering that communication happens fast today, we must look at more than just national, regional or local issues. Moreover, there must be a global consideration. Now, when theocracy is put in place, then the country will have natural allies if all of them are all following the same holy book.
5. It allows for easier control over the citizens.
Though society would become compliant through fear, it is still compliance nonetheless. And with a higher level of control, the country can attain a higher level of productivity.
6. It does not allow red tapes.
Everything revolves around the combination of state and church in theocracy, so there will be lesser red tapes that would stand in the way of spending money on necessary things. As experts say, this will help alleviate hunger, poverty and other low-income issues, as the holy book’s dictations would be in place to help these issues as mandate of governing.
List of Cons of Theocracy
1. It may not recognize minorities legally.
If someone does not conform to the religious beliefs of the majority, then he would risk not having a legal status within a theocratic country. Good examples of a group that shows this practice are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Baha’i. Aside from them, there are more practices or denominations within a faith that may ban a person from holding a certain status.
2. It would allow intolerance to be common.
Every time theocracy is put in place, intolerance will be present. The reason for this is that the church and the government are seen as one identity. If someone in a country with this political system were to question the leadership of their rulers, it would be viewed as questioning the supernatural entity, which is the focus of the governing ruling.
3. It may be viewed as hypocritical.
A lot of religions speak of loving their neighbors as themselves, and this would make it difficult to go to war with other nations from a theological standpoint, as war is violent by nature. This would also cause other countries to see a theocratic government as hypocritical.
4. It might prefer imitation over innovation.
Because anything that might be contrary to the theology and dogma of religion is considered to be outside the approval of God, theocracy would ultimately hold a society back from developing. When we look at the predominant government during the Dark Ages that was theocratic Christian, the work of science then was dramatically reduced for many years.
5. It can ultimately boil down to a follow-or-die attitude.
If you want to become somebody in theocracy, then you must be converted. By doing otherwise, then you might face severe punishment, even a threat of death. Because of this, many people would go into hiding, be persecuted and not have access to everything the society is offering. Aside from these things, it would also inspire the majority to bully the minority just because they are different.
6. It sees people as fallible beings.
Even if most of us believe in a perfect, unfailing God, it is not Him who is actually ruling over a country’s citizens, but rather the imperfect humans who are prone to anger, greed and mistakes. When someone is given the authority to rule a rich kingdom, he might give in to the temptations to serve his personal needs over others’, no matter how devout and holy he is. The instance this happens is the time when theocracy fails as an effective form of government.
Theocracy would be seen as a very good idea on paper, but its pros and cons should be carefully measured and weighed down before it is to be implemented. By doing so, we can have a truly accurate opinion about whether or not its implementation is a good idea.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.