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The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified Roman emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State.

The official offer of cultus to a living emperor acknowledged his office and rule as divinely approved and constitutional: his Principate should therefore demonstrate pious respect for traditional Republican deities and mores An ecclesiocracy is a situation where the religious leaders assume a leading role in the state, but do not claim that they are instruments of divine revelation: for example, the prince-bishops of the European Middle Ages, where the bishop was also the temporal ruler.

Such a state may use the administrative hierarchy of the religion for its own administration, or it may have two 'arms'—administrators and clergy—but with the state administrative hierarchy subordinate to the religious hierarchy.

Theocracy differs from theonomy, the latter of which is government based on divine law.

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The word theocracy originates from the Greek θεοκρατία meaning "the rule of God".

Today, there is also a form of government where clerics have the power and the supreme leader could not be questioned in action.

From the perspective of the theocratic government, "God himself is recognized as the head" of the state, Taken literally or strictly, theocracy means rule by God or gods and refers primarily to an internal "rule of the heart", especially in its biblical application.

The first recorded English use was in 1622, with the meaning "sacerdotal government under divine inspiration" (as in Biblical Israel before the rise of kings); the meaning "priestly or religious body wielding political and civil power" is recorded from 1825.

In some religions, the ruler, usually a king, was regarded as the chosen favorite of God (or gods) who could not be questioned, sometimes even being the descendant of, or a god in their own right.Instead of a polity defined solely by Islam, he founded a territorial polity based on religious pluralism.