Pious fraud

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(Ch. Hist.) a fraud contrived and executed to benefit the church or accomplish some good end, upon the theory that the end justified the means.
- Mozley & W.

See also: Fraud

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
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References in classic literature ?
"Do you see any particular objection to practicing a pious fraud on Mrs.
"A few minutes since," said the captain, pointing complacently to his own composition with the feather end of his pen, "I had the honor of suggesting a pious fraud on Mrs.
What do you think, my dear sir, of pious frauds in general?"
"Do you mean to invent some sort of pious fraud for your mother's sake?" I asked.
I call it a pious fraud. And I have a tender conscience, and a cultivated mind.
I could not discover whether my aunt, in her last short conversation with me, had fallen on a pious fraud, or had really mistaken the state of my mind.
By a species of pious fraud, for which no doubt the worthy priest found his absolution in the purity of his motives, he declared that, while no positive change was actually wrought in the mind of Middleton, there was every reason to hope the entering wedge of argument had been driven to its head, and that in consequence an opening was left, through which, it might rationally be hoped, the blessed seeds of a religious fructification would find their way, especially if the subject was left uninterruptedly to enjoy the advantage of catholic communion.
"Dear Miss Clack, a pious fraud which even your high moral rectitude will excuse!
There was no want of precedent for his return; it was accounted for to the father in the usual way; and the collegians, with a better comprehension of the pious fraud than Tip, supported it loyally.
This, and her husband's earnestness in explaining further to her how it had come to pass that he had been supposed to be slain, and had even been suspected of his own murder; also, how he had put a pious fraud upon her which had preyed upon his mind, as the time for its disclosure approached, lest she might not make full allowance for the object with which it had originated, and in which it had fully developed.
"Three places right under our noses, which will certainly be given to some bloated favorite, some spy, some pious fraud,--to Colleville perhaps, whose wife has ended where all pretty women end-- in piety."
On the contrary, Physicians used it routinely in their practice as for example; in 1807, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) penned a description of what he called the "pious fraud" and noted that, "one of the most successful physicians I have ever known has assured me that he used more bread pills, drops of colored water, and powders of hickory ashes, than of all other medicines put together".3