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1. government by a deity or by a priesthood
2. a community or political unit under such government
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


government by a priesthood.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
MiS on March 31 was widely quoted by the Western media as warning there will be an Iran-Saudi war if more sanctions and other forms of pressure on Tehran did not work to change Safawi plans against the Shi'ite theocracy's Arab neighbours.
IRGC's command practically controls the theocracy's extremist Safawis, who include very powerful ayatullahs and MPs.
Host James Robinson shot back that what we have right now is a secular theocracy. Huckabee agreed, calling our current system, "humanistic, atheistic, even antagonistic toward Christian faith" and later remarked, "the only thing worse than not being elected president would be to be elected president without God's blessing.
The Orthodox parties aspire to transform Israel into a theocracy.
And it enables the editors to point out that the Republican theocracy currently enslaving America distorts information about condoms that could save millions of lives and prevent unwanted pregnancies; prevents young, poor girls from having safe abortions, while not lifting a finger to protect their children once they are born; spends huge sums to keep a braindead zombie on artificial life support; and does almost nothing to save the thousands of children who die of starvation as a direct consequence of the Republicanazi support for the insane taboos of the theofascist Fuhrer in Rome (p.
This institutionalized intolerance is known as theocracy; we see its effects in countries where radical Islamists enforce Shariah law on all citizens, including Christians.
Father Nizar Semaan of the diocese of Nineveh sees in these events a sign that Iraqis may wish to adopt Shiite theocracy, on the model of neighbouring Iran.
The paradigm of "good" primal religious consciousness of God which is later "corrupted" by statism and theocracy may apply to Protestant historiography but should not cloud biblical studies.
The ascension of the current Saudi monarchy shows how economic interests and racial paradigms of the West have combined with the domestic pursuit of right-wing theocracy to produce a volatile mix that cannot be undone easily.
He fears we are moving to a war between theocracy and democracy, and is worried we have a Prime Minister who openly believes in God.
I was disappointed with Stephanie Mencimer's article criticizing the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah ("Theocracy in America," April 2000).
A MIX of Civilization II and Age Of Empires II, Theocracy attempts to take the best from both games and, for the most part, succeeds.