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There is a prohibition to destroy a synagogue based on the verse (Deut. 12:4) לא תעשון כן לה' אלקיכם, "you shall not do so unto the Lord your God." Rambam, in the minyan hamitzvot at the beginning of Sefer Ha-Madda (negative commandment 65), records this prohibition as follows:

שלא לאבד בית המקדש, או בתי כנסייות, ובתי מדרשות; וכן אין מוחקין את השמות המקודשין, ואין מאבדין את כתבי הקודש, שנאמר אבד תאבדון . . . ואשריהם תשרפון, לא תעשון כן לה' אלוהיכם

My question is whether this prohibition applies to monotheistic places of worship that are not Jewish--for example, would it apply to a Unitarian church, a Baha'i temple, or an Islamic mosque? What about a Noahide synagogue? To be clear, my question is about the parameters of this specific prohibition, not about other reasons why one shouldn't destroy non-Jewish places of worship.

  • I assume that by "destruction" you mean totally dismantling the building, correct? There are numerous former churches, for example, that are now shuls. (One beautiful such place is in Rochester, NY.) Technically, they "destroyed" part of the church by removing the crosses, some plaques, paintings and overhauling the interior and exterior structure of the building. – DanF Aug 3 '17 at 17:04
  • @dan no that's not a good assumption. even destroying bits of the building could be problematic. but anyway why are you discussing destroying churches which are houses of avoda zara? – Double AA Aug 3 '17 at 17:09
  • @DoubleAA Why? The question seems unclear. – DanF Aug 3 '17 at 17:24
  • Somewhat related timesofisrael.com/… and jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/… – DanF Aug 3 '17 at 19:37
  • Are you asking about any monotheistic religion or only one that worships (the true) God? If the former, I don't understand why (after all, the verse refers to God); if the latter, I recommend you clarify that in the question. (Or perhaps you are of the opinion that every monotheistic religion worships God? I have no reason to think that that's the case, personally.) – msh210 Aug 3 '17 at 20:08

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