There is a way to do this using the free 'Confluence Source Editor' add-on:
Once installed and activated, you have to (carefully!!) remove all the tags pertaining to the layout macro (<ac:layout...>) including their respective closing tags by hand.
It's not a pretty solution, but it has worked for me several times. And using the built-in Search & Replace function of the add-on, it's not that hard to do, either.
But it would sure be nice if Atlassian added a possibility to remove section/layout macros without deleting all the content that's in them without hacking the source code!
Thanks everyone for answering last week’s question. The winner of the random drawing from those who commented is: @LarryBrock I’ll contact you separately with your prize details. This wee...
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