Should America Start Outlawing Some Religious Groups?

Should America Start Outlawing Some Religious Groups? September 28, 2021

The Religious News Service is reporting in an article yesterday that:

Russia declares groups linked to Church of Scientology as ‘undesirable’

“Undesirable.” It’s such curious word to use to describe the effects of a religion on a nation.

In a related article, the Associated Press reported a few months back that Russia also put the U.S. based media outlet Proekt on the undesirable list charging that it “poses a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.

Should America start outlawing certain religions or churches? / Image by pixel868 from Pixabay

It’s going to be a long time before America starts listing some of our own religious institutions and churches as “undesirable.” The phrase “Till hell freezes over” comes to mind. But it’s high time that we do. There are a lot of nationalist, evangelical, fundamentalist, and other cults operating in America—which similar to Russia—pose a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order and security of America.


  1. We could begin by taking a serious look at all the pseudo-religious cults that enjoy operating tax free under the guise that they represent a viable religion.
  2. Then expand the investigation into churches that may have once actually represented established religions, but which now have morphed into political lobbying organizations.
  3. But the folks we really need to take a serious look at are the Christian Nationalists. Many of its members (or sympathizers) mistakenly think they are being guided by the hand of God, and are trying to overthrow our constitutional order. Think of the January 6 insurrection.


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About Scott R Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is a former minister and now writes for Thinkadelics about the joys and benefits of living as a freethinker. He is the author of the novel Blind Guides and Picking Wings Off Butterflies. You can read more about the author here.

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14 responses to “Should America Start Outlawing Some Religious Groups?”

  1. The whole point about separation of church and state is that the state won’t do anything about religions unless what they’re doing is egregiously illegal. So the state will prosecute priests and ministers who rape children but turns a blind eye to preachers getting rich at the expense of their congregations.

    Unfortunately a group or even an individual can claim to be a religion and it’s difficult to show that they’re not. This allows many dangerous cults to flourish in the US.

  2. At the moment America is having a tough time defining what it means to be egregiously illegal. Example. A good 25% of Americans don’t think the insurrection was egregious, or the continued actions by the GOP to promote the big lie that the election was stolen. So, obviously guns in churches, or church donations being used for political purposes, is as American as apple pie.

  3. The IRS could start by enforcing the law that prohibits churches from endorsing candidates. They have been turning a blind eye to this for WAY to long.

    Hit them where it hurts, in their bank accounts. Take away the tax exemptions for the blatant scofflaws that openly BRAG they are violating the law.

    And start seriously getting them for violating covid rules.

    That would be a good start.

  4. Agreed. We’re seeing in realtime the problems with churches endorsing candidates. It’s coverts start endorsing things like the big lie, misinformation about vaccines, and a host of other conspiracy theories. Obviously, no one can police the small talk among church goers that happens in the potluck line. Nor, should we. People have the right to talk about what they want to.

    Back in the days when I stood behind the pulpit, I recall the church sanctuary being a sacred place to talk about spiritual and religious matters. I think the widespread trend in Christianity to enter the realm of politics tells us a lot about the death of religion in America. The words of Christ, his compassion, the message of his gospel etc., just don’t matter too much any more. Many Christians seem to be just looking for a fight.

  5. I so-very-much agree that churches that interfere with state (for example, politics) matters should lose their church status.

    I’m conflicted on the idea of banning religious groups. On the one hand, there are so many religious groups (fundy sects of Christianity, whatever it is the Moonies celebrate, David Koresh’s Christian cult, etc.) that are so many, many groups that offer nothing of value and everything of violence, destruction, and every other form of harm. But…if we ban one religion, where does it stop? Who decides what faith goes?

  6. Just imagine, “no religion too.” Lennon. That’s probably about as far as banning religious groups is going to go. But just imagine if everyone were clear headed rational thinkers.

    Like you I’m conflicted as well. As Cozmo pointed out, if the gov. would just enforce the laws that are already on the books this would help a lot in getting politics back out of religion. Religion is particularly damaging to children and new safeguards should be put in place where they are concerned.

  7. As we were discussing on your other post: I think some people are just born wired differently. They will not “get with the program”.

    At my house, we’ve been watching Midnight Mass, a short horror series on Netflix that deals with a small island (where? by the accents, in Kansas?) with 127 inhabitants. A new priest comes to the island after their old priest is too dementia-riddled to serve.

    Strange things start happening on the island, but the most interesting is the people. There are a few non-believers, and the rest believe with different levels of fervency. IMO, the horror is not in the threat the inhabitants face, but in themselves.

  8. Different thought, different post. A viral clip from a decade ago shows a woman losing her mind and making all kinds of threats in the name of religion. Would we ban her religion that causes her to act that way? It’s apparently some flavor of whackadoodle Christian fundamentalist.

    Set up: there used to be (and maybe still is?) a tv show called Wife Swap, where 2 families switch the wives for a week and film what happens. They tried to swap opposites for the most drama; e.g. a stay-at-home wife might swap with a veterinarian who’s on call at all hours.

    In this particular episode, a family of Unitarian Universalists swapped with a family of fundamentalist Christians. I went to a UU church right after college and found it to be unthreatening–typically the pastor will do a reading and then the congregation discusses it.

    The fundy wife was immediately threatened because the family welcomed her. She threw a fit because they didn’t typically say grace before meals…so they started saying grace before meals. The children (boy and girl) did equal chores, and she demanded the girl do all the chores. She just made demands and was unpleasant all week, until the family announced they were having a barbecue and inviting their friends. She demanded to know if they were good Christians…some weren’t Christian.

    That’s when she flipped her wig and started screaming that she was a prayer warrior and calling them sly-chicks (psychics?) and generally acting like someone going through a mental breakdown who might hard them and who needed psychiatric help.

    If there’s a religion that needs banning, that would be a good one to start with, no? Clearly it turns the followers into deranged lunatics who are dangerous to the public.

    But if we ban that religion, where do we stop?

  9. First off, I forgot to comment about the HermanCainAwards. I just heard about them last week in an article that mentioned that one person got the vaccine because she didn’t want to earn the reward! My two comments. Seriously funny, with an emphasis on serious. And what a sad legacy for H.C. It’s what he will likely go down in history as being remembered for. The guy who became emblematic of the thousands of people who thought the virus was a hoax then later died from it.

    My my started watching Midnight Mass last week and got hooked on it. She gave me the rundown on it last night. It sounded interesting until she started describing how all the inhabitants . . . I’ll stop there. Not sure where you are at in the series and don’t want to spoil it for you. 🙂

    I did start watching Lucifer a few weeks back. I think I’m on episode 5. It’s not as “theologically” sound as I thought it might be. Which is too bad, because the biblical fiction version is plenty entertaining!

  10. I had not heard of the show so I did a quick google / YouTube search on it. Looks interesting, somewhat staged, but still based in real-life scenarios. I briefly looked at about 3 different episodes.

    What caught my attention is how strikingly different every family is. Like folks in my own neighborhood, parents can believe and teach all sorts of things to their children. There are fundamentalist parents, parents who worship satan or who are witches, and these days parents who are conspiracy theorists. In other words, parents don’t have to be “insanely” religious to cause lasting damage to children and our world, they can also be rendered foolish and dangerous by believing in all sorts of things that don’t even have a basis in religion. So, we can’t stop with banning just religion.

    Here’s an idea. We should just start banning ideas and beliefs that are irrational and have no basis in reality. Perhaps make it illegal to say or teach kids things that cannot be proven to be true. That’s not going to happen, of course. Instead or parents teaching kids things at school or at home things that aren’t facts, we should just start teaching kids how to reason and think rationally.

  11. I watched all of Midnight Mass. Let’s see if I can recap my thoughts without spoilers…

    …religious bullies exist. I had the misfortune of living in a neighborhood with one of them, many years ago. I would not be bullied by her, so she turned the whole neighborhood against me because they were terrified of her. Bullies exist when people don’t stomp them down. Also, bullies can turn on those they’re kissing up to, the second the kissed-up-to don’t perform what the bully wants.

    …people blinded by religion can’t see what’s in front of their own eyes. If you were like me, you probably saw the threat for exactly what it was the moment you laid eyes on it, and not what it was interpreted to be.

    P.S. Saw all of Lucifer, continue to enjoy it but suspect that was the last season.

  12. Back in 2003 I lived in St. George, Utah. My family lasted 3 years there before we had to up and move for our own psychological health. I’d describe it as a Jerusalem for Pharisaic Mormons. There were bullies everywhere. Since I’ve moved I had other Mormons tell me that St. George is the Mecca for the LDS church.

    Just one example of the unethical shenanigans we encountered there . . . It took me a year to find housing for my special needs son. Nearly every place we tried to rent for him were owned by Mormons. But all the landlords required that my son have a bishop’s recommendation. In other words, his right to have housing (and he’s handicapped) had to be pre-approved by the LDS church.

  13. I think it’s difficult in the US because the US myth and culture. Individualism is rampant and the degradation of the general culture by religious people, particularly conservatives, subverts many of the ideals. For me, conservatives are the mold on your food. They are the bulging can that indicates it hasn’t been properly preserved. You can’t do much because conservatives are part of humanity. They will always pop up like bad apples and ruin the bushel. This is the problem with selective religious recognition by the government, especially in the US but elsewhere.

    What happens if a Trump 2.0 – a real and likely possibility – happens? What happens if you have a generally mainline liberal run church that talks about Jesus feeding the poor and clothing the homeless and who argue that conservative republicans are doing something evil? It’s very likely that this liberal church will be outlawed because conservatives are not capable of humanity 1.0.

    Conservatives lack the ability to make ethical decisions in a society because they lack the capacity to make moral judgments. Let’s just lay out all the cards. A conservative won’t be able to reason why murder is bad. They’ll just say “It’s in the bible”, “because” or some other superficial reasoning. In contrast, a liberal will talk about society, individuals, the concept of harm, legal vs. illegal, biology and so on to make a case that murder is detrimental to a functioning society. That’s the difference.

    Liberals are far more consistent in their positions because their values drive their support. This is why many people on the left are pro-choice. Because the fundamental value is “people are people”. Liberals aren’t mentally defective enough to believe that a fetus is worthy of the same human rights as a born individual. They understand spectrum and can differentiate between a 9 month fetus (which no liberal would want harmed) vs. a 2 day fertilized embryo.

    It’s simply not possible to use the government this way. What we need is a cultural movement to diminish the harm that religion causes humanity. (Look, religion served a point when our ancestors were naked and thought that Thor was busy at the forge or Zeus was screwing with the animals again because he was a horny bugger and that’s why the platypus exists. But it should have been replaced centuries ago with better disciplines such as philosophy and science and literature and various other academic disciplines. No more magic nonsense. )

    Trump gave us a golden opportunity to reveal the truth about religion and make people ask “Why religion?” It’s hard because we were manipulated and indoctrinated into our various home religons. If you were Muslim, you were taught about Allah and Mohammed. If you were Christian, you were taught about Jehovah and Jesus. It’s hard to rip out those fundamental boards of our worldview. It’s hard to say “I’m not following society like a little sheep. I will grow up and become a real person. I will become a real boy just like Pinnochio did.”

    Our job is to normalize secularism and make it the default position. That means when a religious person talks up, say “I don’t believe in magic.” That kind of snooty paternalistic attitude is what is needed. After all, isn’t the matter settled. Can the Christian God exist as it is described in the Bible? Force the Christian to prove their case via reality. Talk about Church as “Happy time for defective humans”. Talk about churchgoers as pedos because only bad people would go to church. Isn’t that what those religious people say? That sinners are in church? Treat them as irrelevant and immature children and flip that power dynamic in how the rest of the world sees the religious. (I mean, religious people are taught implicitly that they are the adults in the room. Well, one good zinger such as “i don’t really believe in magic”, shuts them down. You don’t need to debate it with evidence. Make them prove their nonsense. Demand proof that their christian magic spells work. Or else, they can just STFU.)

    Another thing that drives them up the wall is when you start judging them by their own religion. make them go psychotic by following their absurd religious game. Tell them “Oh, I assumed you would fast just like your god did for 40 days.” “Why are so many Christians so fat. Isn’t gluttony a sin?” ‘Why do Christians lie all the time? Why can’t they just be nice?”

  14. I like your food analogy, and you’re right the conservative element in our culture will always keep popping up. But I am hopeful in the fact that as time marches on the influence of our younger folk will erode that conservative element. Liberalism is on the march, and I equate being a liberal with being an educated, open-minded, rational being whose primary concern is for the wellbeing of others and not necessarily himself.

    On a more humorous note, I had no idea that’s how the platypus came to be. I just thought God was having a bad day when he created that humble beast.

    Good point:

    “Our job is to normalize secularism and make it the default position.”

    This applies to religion, but it also applies to the way we treat conspiracy theories and the wholly unethical practices of politicians. No more rolling over and playing nice. We must challenge all the ludicrous ideas out there and the people promoting these ideas.

    And I agree with you on one other point. Which is, that there’s a positive way to view all the negativity Trump has imposed upon our culture. The golden opportunity he gave us came by the way his tenure exposed just how irrational, superstitious, selfish, and prone to violence many people in our society are. And once mainstream Christianity embraced his policies and values it offered some great insight into the values of modern Christianity.

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