This question is inspired by What were Hitler's religious beliefs?

So they have well documented records on how Hitler actually tried to change/replace christianity.

What other similar records that are like that but for other leaders or other religions?

Basically records where:

  1. The religious leaders pretend to have one position
  2. His position is actually significantly different
  3. He wanted to change things not based on actual metaphysical belief (Hitler seems to be an atheist) but based on political consideration

I think I've heard that King of England established Anglican church so he can divorce his wife. I've heard filiolog is added to justify attacking constantinople. Then Shiah develops out of hatred of Yazid that slaughtered Muhammad's decendants. The last one was at least partially honest. So what's the rest? And how well documented the records are?


Some people believe that the Great Mughal ruler Akbar tried creating a new religion called Dīn-i Ilāhī, even though it has been refuted by many others. His idea was to instill in people of all religions a tolerance for each other, but it was not successful and had less of a following, even though it had the doctrines of all the religions.

Some say that this was probably his administrative policy for religious tolerance.

  • one good answer. I wonder if all religions are just like that. Made up by people that want to do something like all atheists say.
    – user4951
    Feb 10 '12 at 6:44
  • 1
    Here is the wiki link for the same.Wiki
    – kartshan
    Feb 10 '12 at 6:46
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    +1. Actually it doesn't have to be the creation of a new religion. It can be a severe interpretation or misinterpretation of religion in favor of the interest of ruling classes.
    – user4951
    Feb 10 '12 at 6:52
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    Or perhaps all religions are really like this? Then we forget what all this about?
    – user4951
    May 28 '12 at 8:36

First, a caveat; religion isn't like Height or Eye Color - you can't measure it. And "religious leaders" don't have a position, they have a constellation of positions. Criteria #3 is, in my opinion, useless; any discussion of #3 is purely about opinion; there is no way to determine what an individual's metaphysical belief might be at any given moment. Religious belief isn't quantitative. I would argue that every single leader (religious or political) in history has religious beliefs and preferences that society does not share (that's why they call them "leaders" - because they differ from the herd; if you believe exactly the same as society, then there is no need for change).

Second this is an "example question" - which are generally bad fits for H:SE. Pretty much every political ruler during the reformation is an example, as is every political figure from approximately 100 to 300. You are ignoring the impact of the state church.

Having said that, you've alluded to some examples:

  • Henry VIII is both "Defensor Fidelis" and anathema; he broke from the Roman Church to establish a state church. His religious position obviously changed.

  • Elizabeth I is probably even a better example; her political solution was clearly distinct from her personal religious practice.

  • Constantine converted the Empire to Christianity, but continued to practice paganism until his death. Different people interpret that in different ways.

  • Henry IV "Paris is worth a mass" sums it up.

  • Almost every religious and/or political figure during the Cathar Inquisition, and quite probably during the other inquisitions.

  • Every American political figure during the American Revolution; they all shifted from membership in the state church (Anglican) to some other church or to Deism. Particular emphasis on Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry (who publicly debated the role of religion in public life) and George Washington (people are still writing books about his religious beliefs).


Gustav I of Sweden switched from Catholicism to Protestantism. Initially it was a conflict over the arch bishop Gustav Trolle who Gustav exiled from Sweden as Trolle took sides for the king of Denmark and was regarded as a traitor to the Swedish people. At the Council of Västerås in 1527, the monarch was given the right to confiscate property donated to the church, including the Suppression of Monasteries. This raised extra money for the government at a time when it was sorely needed.

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