If You Had the Power to Abolish Freedom of Religion in America

If you had the power to abolish freedom of religion in the USA, how would you go about it?
How would you enforce it and what would you replace it with?

Since you can’t really have thought police (because you can’t read peoples minds), would a better question be about abolishing the practice of religion?

There’s only One Choice.

Religious practices can be, and often are prohibited. What you cannot do is prohibit them because they are religious practices.

Whatever. Here, have a sacramental toke and some visionary shrooms and theophanic peyote buttons.

I realize this is a hypothetical question, but I have to ask - why would you want to?

I’m an atheist and could probably discuss over a few pages the harm religion does in the world. But I can’t think of a single upside to banning freedom of religion or religious practice in general.

In the past century, some countries have banned religious practice, or at least very strongly discouraged it. Is any upside apparent?

If I had that power, I would not use it, so the question of “how” is completely irrelevant.

The answer seems pretty simple: stop the tax breaks.

Take away the tax exempt status of churches and their organizations, and don’t allow tax deductions for donations to religious organizations.

After that the free market will take care of the rest…

Or, I could make everybody worship Me. (It’s good to be the God.)

Yeah, that’s what we need - to give the Christian-right an actual reason to claim they’re being oppressed.

Well, it would help them get back to their roots. We might even feed them to lions in Madison Square Garden! :slight_smile:

Abolishing freedom of religion isn’t the same thing as abolishing the practice of religion. I’m confused as to your question.

This! The whole point of modern democratic government is to make sure that no one ever gets that kind of power. If someone came along and somehow seized that kind of power, a “Second Amendment Solution” would not be long in arising, and rightly so. Civil Wars have been fought over far less.

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

And that’s the trouble: it might not be someone like me or Chronos or even GWB. It might be Fred Phelps…


Is the right answer. If I really wanted to attack organised religion I would go for its purse, and by removing the charitable aspect you would destroy the vast majority of its income stream. Whilst the taxes levied on churches wouldn’t be particularly crippling, removing tax exempt status from donations would. I can see the rich and powerful thinking of plenty of other things to spent their money on if their accountants aren’t recommending giving it to a church for tax reasons, like another solid gold house.

I’m with others though in that I can’t see why you would particularly want to go for freedom of religion. Atheist and not-particularly-fond of religion though I may be the most I would do is go for the French style secularism where religion is allowed no place in civil society at all.

That doesn’t seem likely to do much. After all, Judaism, e.g., has survived centuries under far more adverse conditions than having to pay taxes.

Certainly not. I cannot play God by converting everyone to Christianity.

Just order the government to stop protecting the freedom of religion, and the believers will do the rest. In no time the country will be a patchwork of little theocracies, according to which religion has the most adherents in a particular region.

Of course, as others have said I’d never do so; as an atheist I’d be one of the first up against the wall.

What he said.

During most of the history of the US the states did not have to protect freedom of religion, and that did not happen at the state level.

You haven’t ever paid attention to the history of religious minorities, I take it. And America is more fervently religious than it has been through much of its history, too.