How to Destroy a Secret Religion
It is recommended you be an independent ruler to do this. It is not required, but it does make it easier.
(You will not be able to do this if you are a member of a society. You must leave any society you are a part of first).
This guide is for those who want to keep secret religions on in their games due to reoleplay, intrigue, or because you find it fun starting them yourself. I will admit, they are a bit broken right now, but with this guide, you will be able to destroy them, even in iron man, without save editing! So you can keep them on to your heart's content, so long as you are willing to do what is required of you to get rid of them.
Step #1: Join the Cult
In order to destroy the secret religion, you have to treat them like what they are. Cancer.
And cancer is not fought outside the body, but from within. To try and murder everyone within the cult without becoming part of it would be physically impossible, there would always be at least one survivor, and that is all there would need to be for a new outbreak to spread.
To join the cult, wait until a copy of their book is left for you on your bed. Rather than throw it out as any zealous person would, pick it up and read it. Later, you will get an event giving you the option to convert. Do it. You will not full-on convert, but rather start practicing the religion in secret, even if you are an independent ruler. Eventually someone will fully recruit you into the cult, and you will join their secret society.
Step #2: Kill Your Fellow Members
Now that you have been recruited, you are able to see a list of all of the members of this cult. Some faces may shock you, others may be expected. Whoever they are, they are now a target. This is because once you destroy the cult (not by killing everyone, we'll get to that in a second) all of its members will be free, and odds are they'll just restart the cult once they're out. So as many members as possible must die. Focus on higher-ranked members first, as they are the ones that recruit the most new people.
Good methods to do this:
- If you are a catholic, excommunicate as many as possible and subsequently imprison and execute them.
- If you have a high PCS, antagonize the members to rivalries and duel them all to death.
- Use good-old assassination to kill them.
Step #3: Destroying the Cult
So now that you have dwindled the cult's member base as much as you can, it is time to let the world know who these people are, in hopes of rallying more people to the cause of assassinating them. To do this, you have to become the very thing you sought to destroy.
The Cult Leader.
Once you become the leader of a secret religious cult, there will be an option in the intrigue menu to bring the cult public. Doing this will disband the cult and everyone a part of it will publicly declare their secret religion as the true one. Once this is done, simply right click your portrait and convert back to whatever religion your capital county is (hopefully the one you want to stay as).
Now the cult is kaput and you will have a heck of a lot easier time assassinating these new public heretics.
Quick Tips: Don't force these newly-non-cult members to convert, as that is how secret religions begin! Just assassinate them, don't take any risks. And do this with other religions as well if you don't want bibles or qurans showing up on your bed every day.
And there you have it! Unfortunately, destroying a cult doesn't mean more won't show up eventually, but if you do this right and get good at it, you can whittle the time down that this takes to do (I've wiped out a cult in a year once). Hopefully Paradox will eventually come up with a better method at getting rid of these things, becuase I like playing them too much to turn them completely off!