Religion is often associated with virtue, for various reasons from the incentives the former is often perceived to have for the latter, to simply the belief that virtuous minds accept religion in the first place.
In turn, this also creates an incentive, in a character who wants to be seen as more virtuous than they really are, for hiding behind religion.
Not to be confused with The Fundamentalist, who really DOES believe in said fanatically religious ideas, hiding behind religion implies some level of insincerity. One CAN be both, however; one can be a fundamentalistwhile not being QUITE as religious as one pretends to be.
Not to be confused with the Sinister Minister either, as one can hide behind religion without being a minister at all, and one can be a Sinister Minister without it being because they are hiding behind religion, such as if said Sinister Minister is a genuine fundamentalist, for instance.
A Sub-Trope of Hypocrite. A religion where this mindset is the norm rather than the exception for many of the clergy is most likely a Corrupt Church. See also Light Is Not Good, which can be this on a more fantastical level.
Sincere members of the religion (or those simply educated in the tenets of other faiths) may invoke the No True Scotsman trope when people like this are mentioned (i.e.: "No true Christian would torture nonbelievers, no true follower of Islam would kill fellow Muslims, etc.).
Note: Who may be considered to be doing this fallacy in Real Life often relies on personal interpretation which can result in heated arguments. As such, No Real Life Examples, Please!
Archbishop De Villiers of the Terraist Church in Legend of Galactic Heroes. Even though the Church was a Path of Inspiration, most of its clergy genuinely believed in their tenets of Earth being sacred and were well-known for their asceticism. De Villiers however believed nothing of that and saw the Church as simply a tool to seize power. During one episode, he was shown secretly indulging in hard liquors.
Cardinal Trebaldi from Le Scorpion. He doesn't even believe in God but plots to become Pope because the Vatican's position will give him a stranglehold on power in Europe.
Prison warden Samuel Norton from The Shawshank Redemption uses religion as a means to appear virtuous. He turns out to operate various money scams, he gets prisoners to work for him by threatening to "cast them down with the sodomites" otherwise, and he has people murdered merely for wanting to testify on behalf of innocent inmates who Norton wants to keep working at the prison.
Judge Claude Frollo from the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is initially Holier Than Thou, until his lust for Esmeralda becomes an obsession, and he decides forcing her into a "be mine or you will burn" Scarpia Ultimatum would be worth going to hell over. In public, he still maintains a Knight Templar image, and uses that to try to achieve his goals.
The self-help preachy guy from Donnie Darko who turned out to possess child porn.
Capitalism A Love Story: In it's critical observation of capitalism, the documentary argues that many crooked businessmen do this, claiming their ill-gotten gains as a gift from God, while many priests argue that capitalism is incompatible with the teachings of Christianity. To drive the point further, clips from Jesusof Nazareth with edited dialogue appear to show what Jesus would be like as a capitalist:
Rich Man: Master! What must I do to have eternal life?
Jesus: Go forth and maximize profits.
Israelite: You say the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. But when exactly will it be?
Jesus: When you deregulate the banking industry.
Man with palsy: Please help me. I've been this way for over 20 years.
Jesus: I'm sorry. I cannot heal your preexisting condition. He'll have to pay out of pocket.
Vorbis from Small Gods: justifies himself as doing the will of the Great God Om... but Om knows there's only one person left who even believes he exists, and it's not Vorbis.
Vorbis is debatable: he isn't consciously hypocritical. He truly believes, but not in Om.
The secondary antagonist of Making Money is a Con Artist who intends to blackmail Lipwig, and assumes the persona of a priest of Om while he's in town. The gods don't take kindly to this and said blackmailer has a pair of springloaded false teeth that don't fit. And the goddess of things-stuck-in-drawers owes Moist from Going Postal...
"Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
Safehold's Zhaspahr Clyntahn could be considered a case of this combined with The Fundamentalist. Since he's highly prone to believing his own lies, his Hiding Behind Religion often takes the form of deciding on a response to some threat to his personal power, using whatever logic he needs to use in order to make it appear he's acting in the name of God's Church, and proceeding to genuinely believe whatever logic he's come up with.
Isaac of Edenborn is annoyingly pious to his siblings and children. It's all concealing the fact that he's been a burnt atheist since The Reveal of the previous book. In reality, he has converted his apparent religion to a Path of Inspiration and intended to use his children as a form of Human Sacrifice. Whether he would have gone through with it or not is left unanswered.
In the Community episode "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism", Jeff lays this accusation on Shirley after he learns that she was his childhood bully. While the accusation isn't entirely fair — Jeff's clearly overwrought at the time (not entirely without reason) and Shirley is a genuinely religious person — it's also not entirely unjustified either; Shirley does have a tendency to use her religious beliefs as a way of feeling superior to other people, manipulating them to do what she wants through guilt and self-righteousness and avoiding having to self-examine her own faults and less savoury aspects.
Uncle Ezra from the Tales from the Crypt episode "A Fitting Punishment" is a cruel and greedy funeral director who hides behind a veneer of piousness for his clients. Most of his bibilical quotes don't even come from The Bible, which gives away that he's a phony, but what really defines his character is crippling and later murdering his orphaned nephew, simply because he didn't want the extra burden.
The song "Jesus He Knows Me" by Genesis is a Take That to people like this. Specifically, those who use religion for self-enrichment.
For the most part, averted in Warhammer 40K: horrible things done in the name of religion are done in the belief that such things are right (and given the setting, they are). If anyone is committing atrocities Hiding Behind Religion, they're usually secretly dedicated to the Chaos god they really work for, and when the Inquisition finds out...
There is the case of the genestealers, however, who infest and subvert as large a part of the population as they can to their cause in preparation for the main tyranid attack, and are often disguised as splinter Imperial cults.
Tartuffe of Moličre's homonymous play is one of the most famous example in francophone country, in which his name is a synonym for that trope; practically equivalent to being a Trope Namer.
Generally unsympathetic Mormon closet case Joe Pitt in Angels In America. Specifically, when he tries to draw attention away from his "failings" by putting the blame on his addict agoraphobic wife Harper for not being the ideal Mormon wife (i.e., he would prefer her to be a Stepford Smiler).
Grand Maestro Mohs in Tales of the Abyss uses his position in the Order of Lorelei in order to win the influence required to start a war Because Destiny Says So. It's very telling that the setting's equivalent of the Pope is willing to travel around the world to stop him. Furthermore, the founders of the religion (the God and Jesus parallels Lorelei and Yulia) are revealed to have never wanted anyone to do something just because it was foretold. Rather, they left a record of the future that they foresaw for people to avert. They wanted humanity to Screw Destiny and save the world. Given this, it's quite telling just how far Mohs has fallen from the teachings of his faith.
"His Holiness" Sanctus from Devil May Cry 4, who is anything but a devout worshipper of Sparda, and mainly wants his power. It's noted that his aim ( unleashing a plague of demons upon the world so that his forces can kill them and be seen as the bringers of a new utopia) is something Sparda would very much have opposed were he still alive.
Rodrigo Borgia (aka Alexander VI) from Assassin's Creed II is an atheist who only became Pope so he would have access to the Staff of Eden and the Vatican Vault.
However, he did incorrectly believe the vault to house a living god.
More than a few templars do this to further their goals.
Reverend Noah Howerton from the Honorable Hogwarts forum roleplaying game — an Omnicidal Maniac who is using religion to make his followers help him eliminate all other magic-users so that he's the only wizard left and no others can challenge him. He doesn't really believe in God.
Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons. When the Movementarians gain popular momentum, Lovejoy is so quick to give up on trying to promote Christianity that when Marge shows up at his church, he is soaking it in gasoline, presumably to cash in on insurance fraud. He also seems not to be that good at preaching moral decency to his own family, if his gossipy wife and manipulative daughter are anything to go by, and when the latter reminds him of past misdeeds of her own, he just plugs his ears and pretends not to hear anything. He blames it on years of having to put up with Ned Flanders, which put him off his job more than off his faith and made him, in his own words, "stop caring." His name is also doubly ironic since he's neither particularly loving nor particularly joyful.
A recurring theme about Reverend Lovejoy is that he seems to be only in it for the money. This is the reason why Lisa converted to Buddhism.
Father Donovan from American Dad! is this in trumps, as in one episode he even complains he still has to work for the church as he can't retire to a full pension yet. Additionally, he openly dislikes religion and God, and is so inappropriate for the job he doesn't ascend to heaven with the people in his church when the rapture happens:
Francine: What's happening?! Donovan: The rapture. Turns out there is a God.
Princess Clara from Drawn Together. While not a member of the clergy, she is a religious fundamentalist who uses her beliefs as an excuse to be rotten to everyone. However, the series does prove that she doesn't always follow her beliefs...
Just about the entire cast of Moral Orel, who all put up the front of being perfect Christians to hide what horrible and/or broken people they all are. Of course, the only two people who actually seem to truly care about their faith are Orel and Reverend Putty, two of the very few genuinely good people in the show(Although Putty is still sincerely trying to rid himself of old prejudice and bigotry)