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Pious fraud

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Pious fraud a term used to describe fraud in religion; for example, a pious fraud can be the act of counterfeiting a miracle or result in a sacred text falsely attributed to a biblical figure) because of a belief that the end justifies the means, in this case the end of increasing faith by whatever means available.

Use of the phrase

The Oxford English Dictionary reports the phrase was first used in English in 1678. Edward Gibbon was particularly fond of the phrase, using it often in his monumental and controversial work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in which he criticized the likelihood of some of the martyrs and miracles of the early Christian church.

William Howells wrote that shamans know that their tricks are impostures, but that all who studied them agree that they really believe in their power to deal with spirits. According to Howells, their main purpose is an honest one and they believe that this justifies the means of hoodwinking his followers in minor technical matters.[1]

Jefferson's views on Christianity

Thomas Jefferson considered much of the new testament of the Bible to be lies. He described these as "so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture". He described the "roguery of others of His disciples", and called them a "band of dupes and impostors" describing (the Apostle) Paul as the "first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus", and wrote of "palpable interpolations and falsifications". He called the concept of the Holy Trinity itself a "mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus".

He also described the Book of Revelation to be "merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams". While living in the White House, Jefferson began to make his own condensed version of the Gospels, omitting Jesus' virgin birth, miracles, divinity, and resurrection, primarily leaving only Jesus' moral philosophy, of which he approved. This compilation was published after his death and became known as the Jefferson Bible.[2]

See also

References

  1. William Howells, 1962. The Heathens: Primitive Man and his Religions New York: National Museum of American History [1]in Robert S. Ellwood Civilized Shamans: Sacred Biography and Founders of New Religious Movements, in New Religions in a Postmodern World edited by Mikael Rothstein and Reender Kranenborg (Studies in New Religions Aarhus University Press) 2003 ISBN 87-7288-748-6
  2. H. A. Washington, ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence, Reports, Messages, Addresses, and Other Writings, Official and Private, vol. VII. (Taylor Maury, Washington D.C.) 1854.


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