Engaging in religion can be as sinful as maintaining a heathen or pagan lifestyle. Even in our society today, churches and mosques and synagogues are filled with people who go through the motions of religion in order to satisfy a particular longing of theirs to just do it as if it is necessary to check a mark off the list.
Hale performed the duties of his ministry with pride and thought himself to be quite the intellectual as did the people he served. However, somewhere along the line, TRUTH caught hold of him. This happens for people in many faiths. They do it in the beginning because someone else encouraged them to. But at some point, there comes a defining moment wherein the whole-heartedly choose the life of the faith, which relies more on the faith, and not the ritual of the religion.
Hale could not escape the conviction in John Proctor. This man would not lie to save his life because he was trying to do right by God. I think as Hale looked at himself, he probably would have lied in John Proctor's shoes. This moved Hale to watch a common man so set in relationship or faith as opposed to ritual.