The Separation of Church and State

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There are Catholic countries, for instance, which have influential religious sectors that influence public policy and the polity in general. Then, there is the theocratic form of government, found in few states that effectively combined religion with the government. This is now the focus of this paper. It is difficult to determine the extent of influence of non-theocratic countries but highly influential clerics or religious institutions because of the sheer diversity of these cases. In order to provide clear arguments, this paper will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of theocracy. What is Theocracy? Unarguably, once theocracy is mentioned, one would inevitably think about Iran and grim faced clerics issuing edicts and penalizing nonbelievers. While there is some semblance of truth to this, theocracy does not necessarily get defined according to the Iranian model. According to DeMar (2008), the Iranian form of government is considered ecclesiocracy wherein the Church is the primary and absolute governing institution of society. (p. 207) Rather, the system is a category for a kind of government that recognizes God as the government and that the family, the Church and the various levels of civil jurisdiction answers to this singular ideal government. If one turns to the 2012 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the definition states that it is: 1) government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. 2) a state governed by a theocracy. An excellent example is the state of Israel. In this case the government is not ruled by rabbis but by civil servants but that governance is strongly influenced by religion, hence, the so-called concept of divinely guided. It is not unlike saying that the government of Israel is being held by men until such time that the messiah reassume his rule. With this cleared, one could finally identify the system’s advantages and disadvantages. Advantages Fundamentally, theocracy could enforce discipline and obedience from individuals and governance would therefore be easy. Policymaking and policy implementations would be swift. There would be less dissension and polarization. The citizenry will be inclined to follow rules and would be morally upright. There are numerous other related variables but the idea is clear: the religious variable will reinforce the government’s power in the exercise of its mandate, responsibilities and objectives. Put in another way, in theocracy, governments appear to be more legitimate from the point of view of its subjects. The case of Israel is an excellent demonstration. It was created only in 1948 but it has rapidly become a developed and powerful state, starting from scratch. It has fended off a wave of attacks from many of its Arab neighbors and the sheer determination and efficiency of the Israeli in the series of conflicts demonstrated the strength of a country united by the religious element that closely resembles but more potent than ideology that drives nationalism. Indeed, Lenzi (2006) explained that theocracy is really nothing but a form of government that uses a particular religion as a political ideology. (p. 208) Disadvantages According to the definition of theocracy, it can characterize a democracy or other form