In my first game as PM of the U.K. (in which I was PM for 52 consecutive years, and was assassinated in the end after 9 nearly consecutive attempts), I successfully eliminated religion (like, completely, down to 0.00% (0 members)) pretty early in the game.
The problem was that I added and maxed out vouchers about 45 years in and that made about 70% of the U.K. go capitalist and hate me for the big redistributive (bordering on socialist) gov’t that gave them the vouchers in the first place.
Ironically, because the other party basically went away by my fourth term, I never got an election under 75% support and 90% of voters except for my first few. In one election the opposition was about 250,000 votes.
Yeah, it is kind of amazing what I could do with 36 political capital a turn, no religious voters, fanatical support from my super-effective cabinet, $600 Bn/quarter of income, (in the UK, that is), $500 Bn of reserves for dealing with the unending cycle of global market collapses (which would send my surplus/deficit to $100 Bn in either direction sometimes, thus, the $500 Bn of reserves), and guaranteed re-election no matter what I did. I could implement or cancel any policy I wanted on a whim. Every single welfare policy was in-place and maxed. Almost all transport was the same. I probably got a noble prize every couple years and a scientific discovery even more frequently. Credit rating was locked at maximum. Patriots loved me despite only sometimes having a military that could even be called well-trained. Crime? Unemployment? Poverty? Illness? Illiteracy? What are those? Everything but GDP was optimized (GDP was hovering between yellow and green thanks to my changing the various different taxes once every few terms). I’m quite sure that If I had put more stringent security and reduced the Vouchers, I could have been king of the U.K. for centuries. Of course, there were some slight downsides. I had an income tax hovering from 55-70%. A carbon tax that tended to be in the 60s of %. A small sales tax, a 1-10% flat tax… But overall, my people’s GDP was still very high, so I guess the tax worked at making money to help people.
Anyway, yeah, I think in general, the game overestimates religion outside the U.S.