There seem to be some inconsistencies in the Imperium's laws prior and post the Horus heresy, regarding religion:

Prior: The Emperor was opposed to religion, instead he promoted a secular society. He was especially opposed to worship of himself, as demonstrated with his reaction to the Word Bearers.

Post: The Imperium openly embraces the idea of the Emperor as a god, and the High Lords of Terra, who listen to the Emperor's psychic will, do nothing to change this belief.

If the Emperor is truly in control of the Imperium, why does he permit this? One might speculate that he is too weak to focus on trifling matters of culture in the Imperium or that the High Lords of Terra misinterpret some of his desires, but I would like to know if there is anything definitive in the lore to suggest that the Emperor is still in control and that the High Lords of Terra do not simply make up his will.

  • If I remember well old material (2nd edition), the High Lord of Terra were just corrupted, power-hungry men that were more interested in their own interest and their political struggle against the other Lords than the well-being of people in the Imperium. They didn't really care about the Emperor, and used the faith to keep their position and the Imperium stable.
    – Taladris
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


That depends how do you define "the control":

Let's start from the religion: Emperor wasn't opposed the worship by itself - he was worshipped as a various religious figures during the Earth history (he was for example Saint George), but he was forbidding it, because superstitious people could start believing in wrong things empowering Chaos Gods.

Currently he NEEDS to be worshipped - the faith of the billions gives him enough power to keep opposing the Ruinous Powers while at the same time controlling the Astronomicon and well... staying alive as a rotting corpse.

As to his control over Empire - in his current state he can't be involved much in the day-to-day functioning of the countless planets; all he can do is affect the minds of people - hence the vast number of saints, prophets, heroes etc. But it's obvious, that he is not happy with the situation of his people - there was a galaxy wide event around 500 years from "now" (so around 500.M41) where almost every people in the galaxy had a dream about Emperor crying.

If you are looking about a case when he indeed still affected the fate of the Empire, please look at the story of the Age of Apostasy:

The High Lord of Terra Goge Vandire usurped the role of the Ecclesiarch and declared that he has been blessed by Emperor himself. He gathered vast power but in his madness he was ready to torn the Empire apart. To prevent the incoming crusade of loyal forces against Terra, Adeptus Custodes (Emperor's personal bodyguards) invited five Brides of the Emperor (Vandire's personal bodyguards) to the heart of the Imperial Palace. There, they've talked with the God-Emperor himself, after which Alicia Dominica and her vengeful Sisters confronted the corrupt Vandire within his own chambers. Vadire was killed with a single stroke and his Reign of Blood ended.

  • The most recent Horus Heresy (siege of terra) book, the First Wall explains why this change was made. One of the subplots has Malcador instruct a Custode to work with Keeler to investigate warp incursions within the great palace. During the course of the investigation Malcador states that all humans are psychic to some extent (except for Pariahs) and that it might be better to direct that psychic energy and worship to the Emperor. Several times the belief in the emperor helps combat demons. At the end of the story Malcador states that until the Emperor himself decrees otherwise
    – Richard C
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 0:29
  • Then Malcador is allowing the Lectisio Devinitatus to continue to exist in the Imperium and that he personally feels that belief in the Emperor will help divert energy going to the 4 chaos gods.
    – Richard C
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 0:33

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