Theocracy Pros and Cons List

Theocracy is a controversial form of governing, wherein there is no separation between church and state. The laws of the land are typically decided by the predominant religious belief and religious leaders are also granted an inordinate amount of power. Throughout the course of history, many civilizations followed this governing practice.

As with any topic that involves the co-mingling of religion and government, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. That’s why it is important to assess the pros and cons of this approach. While more and more societies are moving away from theocracy, the governing style still a groundswell of supporters sprinkled all around the world. These are the advantages and disadvantages.

List of Pros of Theocracy

1. A More Obedient General Public.
One of the main arguments in favor of theocracy is that the presence of religion in governing bodies discourages citizens from becoming discontent. It is much more difficult for a person to argue with the government’s policies, since these policies also come from a higher power.

It also becomes easier for a theocratic government to propose certain compromises to their population, because everyone has the same belief system and there is bound to be very little dissent. Electing a religious leader to lead the government means experiencing minimal amounts of push back. Their word is typically accepted as the word of the society’s religious deity of choice.

2. Changes Are Approved Rapidly.
Under theocratic rule, it is far easier to propose changes to the government and have them approved in a timely fashion. Anything from new infrastructure to sweeping social reform can happen in an expeditious manner. Theocratic societies are authoritarian in nature, which leaves very little wiggle room for any sort of extended debate among the people.

In order for change to take place, all a leader must do is state that it is the will of their god and this is accepted as an unimpeachable fact by the citizens. No one is ever going to question the rulings of a deity that they cannot physically see or touch. In a society such as this, the leader’s rule is essentially law.

3. Crime Rate Drops Significantly.
Within the confines of a theocratic society, punishments are not doled out based upon the findings of a legal system, they are meted out by a religious leader and based on the predominant belief system of the land. When citizens of a theocratic society commit a crime, they do with the knowledge that their punishment is non negotiable.

In a theocratic government, not only is a crime punishable because it is against the law, it is also considered to be a sin. Since sins and crimes are not tolerated at any time, you will find a much lower rate of crime in a theocratic society, as opposed to a democratic society. Rules that are based in religious belief make for a disciplinary process that is simple to understand and easy to follow.

List of Cons of Theocracy

1. Opinions of the People Are Not Heard.
Citizens of a theocratic society must come to terms with the fact that an individual’s opinion is not going to be valued. The emphasis of a theocratic society is focused on the greater good, so not only is an opinion never heard, but it will not even be considered. Even though a person is able to vote, there is no difference between the two candidates that they have to choose from.

Both candidates are going to have the same religious belief and govern the same way, which can make citizens feel as if their voice does not even matter. In the majority of theocratic societies, a group of elder holy men decide on the candidates that are allowed to run for office, making it very challenging for an average person to pursue any political dreams.

2. Distinct Lack of Rights For Minority Citizens.
Living in a theocratic society means that your opinions and beliefs must align with those of the ruling elite. When you fall into the minority, it means that you will not have access to the same rights and privileges as those whose beliefs agree with the holy men who are in power. Not believing what the rulers of a theocratic society believe means not being recognized as a full citizen.

People whose beliefs fall into the minority of a theocratic society are considered to be of a lower class. Some theocratic societies are even more strict about these policies and citizens who follow the same religious beliefs, but under a different denomination, may also be subject to poor treatment.

3. Hypocrisy of the Government’s Views.
The majority of most major religious followings are built on the bedrock principles of peace, love and acceptance of your fellow man. However, theocratic societies tend to very hypocritical when it comes time to actually live by these views. By not allowing citizens to worship as they choose and receive equal rights while doing so, this goes against religion’s true goal: to bring people together.

Theocracy also makes it very difficult for a nation to defend itself against outside threats. Most religions do not tolerate violence of any kind and live by the ideal of turning the other cheek. While this may be a wonderful idea in theory, it does not work as well in practice, especially when a developing nation’s long term welfare is at stake.