To Stay or To Leave

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:37 PM

Mark asks an interesting question in one of his recent posts. If the U.S. government made Christianity illegal, would you leave the country? Where would you go?

At first, it seems like a no-brainer, but would any place else be freer if that dreadful time should come? As I wrote in a comment on Mark's site:
I'd leave if I had to, but I'm not sure where I'd go. My guess would be that if the U.S. outlawed Christianity, countries such as Canada, the U.K. and Australia would already have done so as well.

Presuming South America didn't follow suit, I guess I would go there as well [as Mark says he would]. Perhaps Eastern Europe [I'm thinking Romania or Poland, perhaps] might be a good choice as well… If I found a country with a good Calvinist-Reformed Church tradition, so much the better, but I'd live with whatever I had to, so long as there was some kind of Christian church there that would either agree with my views or be willing to allow me to dissent on non-essentials.

It is interesting (and disturbing) to think about this. Where would I go? I could just stay here and practice faith in private and that might be almost a better option. If the U.S. ever outlawed Christianity or religion in general, I just can't imagine it being before many other countries (particularly the ones I might fit into the best). If I was a Catholic, it'd probably be a bit easier too — there's a whole lot more Catholics internationally than Protestants…

Update (2005.03.23): Mark pointed out to me that he said Portugal. For some reason I read Paraguay. Don't ask me why, I'm not sure, but clearly I had a Freudian slip. :-)

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8 comments posted so far.

Re: To Stay or To Leave

Just after Jesus’ death, but before the ascencion, he made himself known to a number of his disciples. He met a few of them on a road. They were scared of the persecution in Jerusalem and were leaving to take their faith to a more hospitable location. But, Jesus told them to stay where they were and build the church in Jerusalem.

Both the Jews and the Romans were against them, yet the church grew. If (when) the christian religion is made illegal in the US, I don’t see myself leaving. They can make it illegal for me to pray or gather with others, but they can’t stop me from living out my faith.

Posted by kevin - Mar 23, 2005 | 1:05 AM- Location: Milwaukie, OR

Re: To Stay or To Leave

I’d take whichever path seemed my calling at the time. A part of me is already prepared to leave the US for a number of other sins. You mention South America, and the real advantage there is the ease of traveling there without significant expense. Central America is on the way, and many US expats hang out there now.

My own take on Jesus’ command to stay in Jerusalem was a matter of giving the folks in Jerusalem first shot at repenting, before taking it elsewhere. Humans being what they are, no amount of oppression technology would be foolproof. If I needed to stay, I would. If not, I’m ready to move right now.

Posted by Ed Hurst - Mar 23, 2005 | 2:08 AM- Location: Rural SE Texas

Re: To Stay or To Leave

Ummmmm, Tim, here is what I said.

“My wife’s family still has very strong ties to Portugal, which has a very large Catholic population, so I think it would be an easy transition.”

Portugal is not in South America. Its ah, sorta connected to Spain.

Sorry. ;-)

Posted by Mark - Mar 23, 2005 | 3:15 AM- Location: MA

Re: To Stay or To Leave

I’d find a place where there is a population of little to none such as North or South Pole. I know I know, there’s no way it’s possible to live there, but hey am I still allowed to dream in the US or is that becoming unconstitutional too?

Posted by David M. - Mar 23, 2005 | 12:26 PM- Location:

Re: To Stay or To Leave

Well, David, I have visited some places inside the US that come awful close to vacant. There are places in Alaska that may well have never seen human tread. So long as your presence requires little infrastructure, there’s good reason to believe you’d remain unmolested. Lots of places in Canada are like that, too. It would just not be worth it to corral everyone out there in the Arctic. Same goes for certain stretches of the Desert Southwest.

Posted by Ed Hurst - Mar 23, 2005 | 10:22 PM- Location: Rural SE Texas

Re: To Stay or To Leave

Interesting thoughts everyone!

Mark: I don’t know where I got that, I read Paraguay when you said Portugal. :-)

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Mar 24, 2005 | 1:55 AM- Location: MO

Re: To Stay or To Leave

I hope you take this the right way, but on the contrary to what you say, I think that if the US ever prohibited Christianity it would be among the first to do so. Mainly because there are more and stronger extremes in the US than in any other nation I can think of (for better or worse).

Posted by Flip - Mar 24, 2005 | 12:00 PM- Location: Sweden

Re: To Stay or To Leave

Hmm, that’s interesting Flip. We do have a lot of extremes… I mostly was figuring on two elements: (1) the general theory (though now being trashed) that the U.S. government was suppose to stay out of religion for the reason of protecting it from the government (rather than vise versa), and (2) a lot of polls seem to indicate that the U.S. is usually close to the top (or is the top) on religiosity in the Western World.

But I suppose the extremes could bring everything down…

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Mar 25, 2005 | 4:08 AM- Location: MO

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