Democracy is a political method, that is to say, a certain type of institutional arrangement for arriving at political -- legislative and administrative -- decisions and hence incapable of being an end in itself.
It is not true that democracy will always safeguard freedom of conscience better than autocracy. Witness the most famous of all trials. Pilate was, from the standpoint of the Jews, certainly the representative of autocracy. Yet he tried to protect freedom. And he yielded to a democracy.