Theocracies, Legacies, and Lessons

A theocracy is an unholy union between the church and the state, two notoriously incompatible bedfellows with diametrically opposed agendas.

From earliest times church-state collusions have created the destructive forces that the world is witnessing today. In 2014 President Obama drew parallels between these collusions and current Islamic State atrocities and was criticized, but the historical track record is damning.

In 1st century theocracy the Roman Emperor declared himself a Deity and beheaded, burned at the stakes, crucified, or had eaten alive thousands of Christians refusing to worship him.  For survival of the Church, the Catholic hierarchy drafted an orthodoxy of Canon Laws almost carbon copy of the pagan Roman system. Then for centuries the diabolical “marriage of convenience” between the monarchies and the Papacy unleashed Holy Inquisitions slaughtering millions of heretics and apostates across the European continent.

From the 6th century, Islamism was conquering the Middle East under the indomitable leadership of Mohammed the “Prophet” and Koran Sharia Laws ruled country after country. This theology rigidly controls every single facet of followers’ everyday life – the social, the political, and the economic – by extreme violence whenever necessary.

With Middle Age Crusades of Knight Templars, the Pope launched political and military warfare to rescue the Holy Lands of Jerusalem from Islamic captivity.

Today, radical extremist jihadists of Islamic State (ISIS) commit the most barbaric acts of savagery in a nihilistic throwback to the Dark Ages.  Its doomsday doctrine spreads “apocalyptic” terror and anarchy by ruthlessly exterminating all “infidels” in the name of Allah.  The ISIS caliphate ultimatum is absolute, uncompromising church state oneness.

Caribbean politicians often claim divine, God-ordained rule proclaiming “what God puts together no man sets asunder”. In the sixties “Papa Doc” Duvalier reigned as Supreme High Priest and “Chosen One of God” over the Haitian nation. With mass voodoo indoctrination enforced by the dreaded Tonton Macoute, the Duvalier dynasty reduced Haiti to “failed state” ignominy.
In the homeland Grenadians were bamboozled by paranormal spiritualism, mysticism, and obeah worship.  The end result was Marxist revolution, mass murder, and war in the Spice Isle.

In stark contrast, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America mandated separation of church and state in the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land.  In the First Amendment the Bill of Rights states, “Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise”.

The separation of the secular from the religious is neither an atheistic nor agnostic doctrine of America.  The United States is a Christian nation and the U.S. dollar proudly proclaims to the world “In God We Trust”.

The rationale is to encourage religious pluralism and recognise that states cannot legislate boundaries on religious freedom of conscience nor can the church put limits on political freedom.

The principle of church-state separation enshrined in the U.S. Constitution is based on John Locke’s philosophical concept of a “social contract” between government and people. Government is entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility to provide the material needs of the people and the church takes care of their spiritual needs. Thus, separation avoids the destructive conflicts of interest that historically have arisen between these two powerful social institutions.

Moreover, the Bible advises “one cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13) so “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mathew 22:21).  Even the great Pontifex Maximus of Roman Catholicism now acknowledges the wisdom of church/state separation.

In a 2008 Papal dictum Pope Benedict stated, “the distinction between church and state is a specific achievement of Christianity.” Yet, notwithstanding hypocritical Papal proclamations, the Vatican remains the all-time, quintessential epitome of Church/State collusion.

In A.D. 313 Roman Emperor Constantine appointed himself Protector of the Church and four hundred years later collusion reached its pinnacle with the infamous “Donation of Constantine”. This document (A.D. 774) granted the Pope and his successors total “dominion of the vast Roman Empire, all nations of Christendom, and all lands and territories of the New World, discovered or not yet discovered in perpetuity” (forever).

In effect, church/state collusion gave the whole planet to the Papacy.

In March 2010, this writer raised “red flags” on the clear and present dangers of creeping clericalism in the corridors of our authoritative powers, political and economic. Since then, a number of “Men of the Cloth” have joined forces on both sides of the political spectrum and opportunists practice political rhetoric from pulpits while awaiting their chance to “jump ship”.

From holy platforms they launch campaigns splitting congregations into vitriolic opposing factions.

In 21st century Grenada, flirtations with alliances of religion and politics, cloaked in whatever guise, is a dangerous game to play in these troubled times.

Wise politicians would take a page from the United States, a country we admire and try to emulate in so many ways, and put distance between the church and the state.  For it is written: “those who forget history is doomed to repeat it”.

Jay Bruno

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