• WordNet 3.6
    • n priestcraft the skills involved in the work of a priest
    • n priestcraft a derogatory reference to priests who use their influence to control secular or political affairs
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Priestcraft Priestly policy; the policy of a priesthood; esp., in an ill sense, fraud or imposition in religious concerns; management by priests to gain wealth and power by working upon the religious motives or credulity of others. "It is better that men should be governed by priestcraft than by violence."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n priestcraft Priestly policy or system of management based on temporal or material interest; the arts practised by selfish and ambitious priests to gain wealth and power, or to impose on the credulity of others.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • ns Priestcraft priestly policy: the schemes of priests to gain wealth or power
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. preóst (O. Fr. prestre, Fr. prêtre)—L. presbyter, an elder.


In literature:

There is philosophercraft as well as priestcraft, both from one source, both of one spirit.
"A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume II (of II)" by Augustus de Morgan
Then come priestcraft, oppression, persecution.
"The New Avatar and The Destiny of the Soul" by Jirah D. Buck
Priestcraft did not end with the beginning of the reign of Protestantism.
"History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I"
Caesar himself was the high-priest, and thought much of the position, but he certainly was bound by no priestcraft.
"The Life of Cicero" by Anthony Trollope
And would you not say he who regards religion as a power, intends to abuse it as a priestcraft?
"The International Monthly, Volume 3, No. 2, May, 1851" by Various
The National Schools must, in the long run, be fatal to political priestcraft and traitorous agitation.
"Ireland as It Is" by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
The latter are based on conquest or priestcraft, and the former on reason.
"Shelley, Godwin and Their Circle" by H. N. Brailsford
Persecution is the right arm of priestcraft.
"Flowers of Freethought" by George W. Foote
Persecution is the right arm of priestcraft.
"Arrows of Freethought" by George W. Foote
I do not want to see this splendid country forced into the iron shackles of priestcraft.
"Carmen Ariza" by Charles Francis Stocking
They make a priestcraft and a ritual of artful language, and are ignorant of their own heresy.
"The Cup of Fury" by Rupert Hughes
And would you not say he who regards religion as a power, intends to abuse it as a priestcraft?
"Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 2, No. 12, May, 1851." by Various
They were engendered by ignorance, and nurtured by superstition and priestcraft.
"A Morning's Walk from London to Kew" by Richard Phillips
The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerors, and the third of reason.
"The Writings Of Thomas Paine, Complete" by Thomas Paine
Many persons also require phantoms to make them religious, and they find these succors in the dogmas of priestcraft.
"Letters to Eugenia" by Baron d'Holbach
No, Eustace, this may be priestcraft.
"The Daltons, Volume II (of II) Or,Three Roads In Life" by Charles James Lever
Were devotion, piety, and single-heartedness nothing but imposition, hypocrisy, and priestcraft?
"Sir Jasper Carew His Life and Experience" by Charles James Lever
Again you will have a Senate seated in the Capitol, for the power of priestcraft has had its day.
"Barbarossa; An Historical Novel of the XII Century." by Conrad von Bolanden
I thought, if that is the true meaning, then adieu to priestcraft, I will never be a Pfaff.
"Pictures of German Life in the XVth XVIth and XVIIth Centuries, Vol. I." by Gustav Freytag
He wrote no definite work against priestcraft or superstition, but the whole tendency of his writings is Pagan.
"A Biographical Dictionary of Freethinkers of All Ages and Nations" by Joseph Mazzini Wheeler

In poetry:

"The tree remaineth where it fell,
The pained on earth is pained in hell!"
So priestcraft from its altars cursed
The mournful doubts its falsehood nursed.
"The Chapel of the Hermits" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Wealth, well fawn'd on, and — well-hated;
Want,— with brutal malice mated;
And, to teach the twain,
Shallow priestcraft, self-inflated,
Dreary, dull, and vain!
"Country Life" by Martin Farquhar Tupper
Hands off! thou tithe-fat plunderer! play
No trick of priestcraft here!
Back, puny lordling! darest thou lay
A hand on Elliott's bier?
Alive, your rank and pomp, as dust,
Beneath his feet he trod.
"Elliott" by John Greenleaf Whittier
O! this right and this wrong , it can ne'er be ideal,
Nor fancy, nor priestcraft, as sceptics would say;
Yet whatever the case, sure the tortures are real,
Which harass the wretch who finds doubt on the way.
"The Doubt" by Charlotte Dacre
Shall we fawn round the priestcraft that glutted the shears,
And festooned the stocks with our grandfathers' ears?
Talk of Woolman's unsoundness? count Penn heterodox?
And take Cotton Mather in place of George Fox?
"The Quaker Alumni" by John Greenleaf Whittier