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1. government by a deity or by a priesthood
2. a community or political unit under such government


government by a priesthood.



a form of government in which both political power and religious power are centered in the church.

Usually the supreme power in a theocratic state is vested in the leader of the predominant church, so that he is the head of state and is recognized as a “living god,” as “god’s vicar on earth,” or as the “chief priest” (he may be called the pharaoh, caesar, emperor, or caliph). In practical terms, the state’s power is vested in the church hierarchy and in the priests. “God’s will,” as expressed, for example, in the holy scriptures and the sharia, is acknowledged as law, together with the will of the head of state and of the church.

The term “theocracy” first appeared in a work by Flavius Josephus. Examples of theocracies during the era of the slaveholding system were the ancient Eastern despotisms of Egypt, Babylonia, the Judaic kingdom, and the Arab caliphate. In the Middle Ages the theocratic power of the pope was established in the papal domain. In accordance with the political doctrine of Catholicism of that time, the power of a European monarch was considered to be derived from and subordinate to the pope’s supreme power. The material expression of this dependency was the church tithe, a levy exacted in the Catholic countries of Europe. Today, theocratic forms are preserved only as vestiges of the past in underdeveloped countries.

References in periodicals archive ?
Although the 'conformity of Pakistani laws to Islam' is determined by the Federal Shariat Court, the CII does maintain some sort of status as an eminent religious authority, and it still remains a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice.
Karbala'i said: "The Shiite religious authority has taken on a fatherly role for all Iraqis, but they must pay some specific attention to the Shiites, so that they may take back some of their rights which have been stripped from them through the years".
The "who" and "how" questions of religious authority are also examined in light of the complex and often contradictory religious goals of the fundamentalist movements.
Clearly, for those who wish to maintain a religious authority, much is at stake.
Religious authority, and religious views, have no place in the political arena.
Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority last weekend issued an Islamic edict banning Pokemon games and cards for ''possessing the minds'' of Saudi children, reports said.
The basic premise of Muhammad Qasim Zaman's work is that religious authority in the first half century of [subset]Abbasid rule (750-809) was a cooperative enterprise between the caliphs and the [subset]ulama.
This statement is not only a challenge to established religious authority but also one that contains a political message.
Chapter 8 enlists Max Weber on religious authority to understand some of those changes.
Sadr al-Din al-Qabbanji said that the Iraqi people is expected to open large files of corruption in response to the call of religious authority and restore the billions of looted money.
Albania's religious authority is working on developing cooperation with Kuwait's humanitarian and Islamic organizations to support religious tolerance in Albania, the official told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Thursday.

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