Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince”
The rulers of republics or kingdoms must therefore seek to preserve the principles of their religion. Having done this, they will find it an easy matter to keep the state devout, obedient, and united. They should seek to favor and strengthen every circumstance that tends to enhance religion, even if they themselves judge it to be false. The wiser they are about natural reality, the more they should do this.
A pretty remarkable statement from a guy living 500-odd years ago in Italy.