I'm thinking that the relationship between the ideas of the devout masses to the clergy is much the same as that of the voting public to the government.
The higher echelons know it's just smoke and mirrors but realise it's their ticket onto the gravy train. Whilst the sheep in the pews / voting booth swallow the thin veneer of spin, lies & "bread & circuses" laid before them as "gospel".
You don't get to be pope or prime minister without knowing how the system works and how to play it to your advantage. This takes intelligence. A firm belief in the supernatural would seem to point to an IQ not up to the task of clambering up that greasy pole.
This raises questions about why Blair, Bush et al seem to be very religious, at least in public. I contend that they are merely reflecting the state or accepted mindset of the societies they wish to function in.
Blair turned catholic just as he leaves the quite secular UK to go work in the highly religious US. Bush, of course, can put over no other image in the US at the moment. And the pope has to appear devout as per the job description.
Seems to me religiosity amongst the intelligencia is a cloak worn to disguise plain old low, scheming, political cunning in the face of the poorly educated masses already occupied with TV, comfort food, booze, celebrity and a large dollop of bronze age superstition.
"Why did you invade Iraq / arrest Galileo / burn the outspoken wise woman at the stake? Self interest and the protection of your own status or did god tell you to do it?"
We all know it's the former, but presented to the drooling great unwashed as religious fervour. Religion is nothing but social control invented for subjugation and the protection of the top 2%...
Politics as presented on Fox, CNN, BBC is just the same. A few journalists burst the bubble once in a while but mostly they let the politicos get away with their doublespeak, lies and shameless greed for power and status.
As the US is finding out. The danger comes when the two, politics and religion, are conjoined. Hastening the rapture with a nuclear Armageddon is no longer the stuff of sci-fi.
Huckabee voters take note! If your president thinks the earth is only 6000 years old, that jesus will haul his sorry arse off to heaven if Armageddon arrives, that there is no point saving the world from global warming because the end is coming soon anyway and that he can make all this happen at the push of a big red button... has he really got your best interests at heart?