Theocracy as Political PracticePosted: January 10, 2009
A few explanatory notes about what Theocracy means in practice
(as an answer to a private communications on the matter.)
You need to think more about the issue and what Theocracy means in a political sense, not scriptural. Scripture is a poor guide since you can take almost any religious book and quote the ridiculous. Everything from the Torah to Scientology is riddled with discrimination and anger mixed with wisdom.
Except for the Vatican and the government in exile of Tibet, there are no formal theocracies in the world today (that I can think of), so we have to look at their political behavior to determine if they are theocratic or not – to see how religion affects their politics.
Iran has a guiding authority by a religious order (the Ayattolahs) overseeing the secular government, so it is a theocracy in practice quite obviously. No need to go further.
Israel has a policy of religious segregation, similar to the racial segregation of Apartheid. The government has guidelines for journalists when traveling to Arab countries. Any Jew from anywhere in the world can claim Israeli citizenship and this option is not open to others. This is the founding principle of Zionism. Christian and Arab citizens of Israel are officially tolerated but the reality is that Non-Jews in Israel have less political rights and are discriminated against so its behavior is strongly theocratic.
The UK has an official religion, but it also practices no discrimination in a broad scope. Muslims and Hindus in London tend to live together by social choice but are also able to prosper in British society both within and without their own cultures. They exercise and enjoy full political rights so Britain is not a theocracy in practice even though individual instances of racial and social discrimination exist.
The US is not a theocracy in most senses, in that there is almost no religious discrimination, but it has strong theocratic tendencies in the political expression of the Christian fundamentalists who, though a minority, are able to influence the political choices America makes. Many Conservative politicians who would not normally vote on religious grounds do so in order to satisfy this tendency. (Note Sen McKain’s turn-around on many issues once he was nominated. I used to like the guy a lot until he got the nomination and stopped believing in himself.)