The Polity IV measure used here is certainly also questionable – as would every other alternative – but we chose it as my main source because based on our comparison with alternatives and the paper by Munck and Verkuilen (2002) it is the best available option, particularly if a long-run perspective is the main objective.
We also have to keep in mind that this measure cannot capture everything that matters for a political regime. For example it makes sense to measure corruption or human rights separately from the democracy concept. Not because it doesn’t matter but because all aspects matter and for different question we want to be able to differentiate between the importance of different factors.
It is painful for me also to see “our church seemingly aligned in so many ways with this mayhem, or complicit by it’s silence.” Yet strangely/wonderfully, pharisaism is no surprise to God! I am encouraged to remember that in God’s plan the Cross was necessary, so deep and pervasive is sin in the heart of man – and the Church is called and required to carry the Cross following Him – and the Catechism teaches that that very end awaits the faithful: “The Church’s ultimate trial” (CCC 675-677). As I heard one preacher preach, “It’s Friday now, but Sunday’s coming!”