Indoctrination can happen at any level, but when you centralize it you eliminate the dissenting viewpoints. I don't see why the US should repeat mistakes of the Ming dynasty with an effort to avoid regional problems as the goal. Mostly agreed, but I would like to point out that the laws created via religious backings in practice are not arbitrary. They tend to have a very real and targeted purpose. It's not a purpose you want to see from people who run a country, but unlike some of the justifications within the religious texts themselves the laws are quite powerfully focused. It would probably be easier to deal with that garbage if it WAS arbitrary. No need to bring in hindsight bias. Were any of the northern states seriously considering abolishing slavery at the time? I don't think this was credibly on the southern states' threat radar in 1776, but maybe there is evidence of that I missed. Massachusetts doesn't look a whole lot better than the others in the examples you've given.