For a religion that so frequently touts its life-changing powers, it seems Christianity has more than its fair share of frauds who gleefully engage in the private acts that they loudly condemn in public. And this hypocrisy occurs not just in lay believers, but among the very leaders of the church: the ones who were believed to be godly and virtuous by millions of followers, the ones who had by far the most to lose if they were caught. If Christianity can't change the hearts of these people, shouldn't we take that as an indication of how well it will work for the rest of us?

Hypocrisy is found everywhere, it's human to pretend you are better than you are, as atheists we need to guard ourselves against hypocrisy too. [2]


Self-deception is sometimes involved in hypocrisy, people manage to convince themselves that they are better than they are. Wishful thinking is a common human weakness. [3]

Religious hypocrisy[]

Hypocrisy is often connected with religion because religions frequently demand very high moral standards, even unrealistic moral standards.

Collective hypocrisy[]

Organised hypocrisy happens throughout Christianity when Christians follow those Old Testament and New Testament teachings which they personally find convenient or which the leaders of their church find convenient. Meanwhile inconvenient parts of the Bible are ignored. [4]

Individual hypocrisy[]

Christians imagine Jesus transforms people's lives, and demand high moral standards, but miracle transformation doesn't happen. Indeed in one experiment students claiming religion plays an important role their lives were more likely to lie for financial gain. Naughty! [5]

Those who can't or won't meet those religious standards often become hypocrites rather than face the low status or social exclusion that sinners face in religious communities.

  1. Some religious people genuinely believe the rigid sexual rules and other rigid rules that they preach but can't resist temptation. When they cover up their own indiscretions that's one type of hypocrisy.
  2. Other people just want the status, perhaps also income if for example they're televangelists that they get from appearing good. When they think no one's watching they don't care what they do, that's a worse type of hypocrisy.


  1. On Christian Hypocrites
  2. Advocating higher moral standards than we ourselves can reach isn't always hypocrisy. Some people genuinely believe certain standards are good and try, not always successfully to reach those standards also encourage others to reach high standards. Hypocrisy is when a person pretends actually to reach higher standards than what that person can manage.
  3. The Psychology of Hypocrisy
  4. Christians are hypocrites
  5. Study: Religious more likely to lie for financial gain