Theocrazy and the Separation of Church and State

A theocracy, as defined by Miriam Webster is, “government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In my world religion classes, I used the definition: where the laws of the holy writings are the laws of the land.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannic, “The Enlightenment marked the end of theocracy in most Western countries. Contemporary examples of theocracies include Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Vatican.”

I have seen recently posts on social media that express concern over the establishment of a theocracy in the U.S. It is curious to me as I have not seen a large number of people pushing for a theocracy here. (unless it refers to the bodily return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom on earth).

Since the beginning of the Christian church, there has never been a true theocracy. There have been countries with theocratic tendencies and some might even consider the Holy Roman Empire as one, but I do not; however, whether there has been a pure theocracy or not in the past or in other countries, there has never been one in this land. Sure there were some Puritans who were looking to establish a nation under God similar to what Israel had Under David and Solomon, but they were a small minority. Most people came to the new world for religious freedom – that meant living life without the government telling them what to believe and how to practice their faith. They wanted a life where the state stayed out of their religion. THAT was the original fear and concern of the founders – NOT that there would be religious influence on state matters. They assumed (since a large number of them were Christians) that Christianity would impact the society because it impacted the ideology and values of so many of its citizens. For a quick, informative and likely surprising look at how extensively religion impacted the early colonies, go to: Recent First Amendment decisions by Supreme Court have upheld this notion that the state should not infringe on citizens religious liberty.

I have seen no individuals or groups of note that are calling for the New Testament to be the Law of the land (not that there aren’t a few crazy fringe folks out there). I have seen people who have been labeled as Christian Nationalists call for a return to Christian values and morals – but that is not a call to theocracy – not even close. Would they like government officials who were Christians and who had their personal values be a part of the discussion of what is right and lawful in this country? Sure they would. Do they want this forced on the non-Christian community? No, but they would like the majority of people to either become Christian or adopt similar values and then vote people in who shared those values. THAT is not violating anything in the Constitution nor is contrary to what most of the founding fathers wanted.

The constitution is a secular document and there was a good reason for that. The state should not be in the business of religion. The founders, though, fully saw no problem with religion impacting and greatly influencing the state and its laws.


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