Religious democracy is a form of government where the values of a particular religion affect laws and rules. The term applies to all countries in which religion is incorporated into the form of government.
Democracies are characterized as secular or religious. The definition of democracy is disputed and interpreted differently amongst politicians and scholars. It could be argued if only liberal democracy is true democracy, if religion can be incorporated into democracy, or if religion is a necessity for democracy. The religiosity of political leaders can also have an effect on the practice of democracy.
- From the secular point of view, religion is a hindrance to democracy as it enforces a set of legal and societal principles. Separation of religion and state is required to protect freedom and ensure equality. As many countries, including the United States incorporate religion into their legislation, it could be argued as to what constitutes a secular democracy.
- From the Legal point of view, democracy can never enjoy general acceptance in a religious society. Anything outside of rigid interpretation of religious texts is rejected and God rather than the people is sovereign.
Historical democracies with state sponsored religious laws:
- Athenian democracy (Ancient Greek religion)
- Roman Republic (Ancient Roman religion)
- Buddhist ganarajyas
- Icelandic Commonwealth (Norse paganism, after AD 1000 Christianity)
- Old Swiss Confederacy (Christianity)
Contemporary democracies with state religions:
Contemporary states with state religions that claim to be democratic but are not recognised as such by the international community:
- Basic Laws of Israel
- Christian democracy
- Clash of Civilizations
- Dialogue Among Civilizations
- Institute on Religion and Democracy
- Islamic democracy