A study recently came out in England regarding religious belief and society. The study's conclusion- that societies are actually worse off because of religion.
I happen to agree with the article. Faith and religion are not the same thing. They are not even interchangeable. You can't have religion without faith, but you CAN have faith without religion. The latter is much more difficult to achieve.
I have always thought, and have said many times, that religion is an excuse. When you "belong" to a certain religion, it changes your attitude about everyone else, and especially their religion. So people start doing things, good or bad, because of their religion. Then you have the extremists, who wear their religion on their sleeve and use it as a free pass to do just about anything they want, all in the name of their belief.
All of the things we argue regarding our society are religion-based. Pro-life vs. choice. Evolution vs. ID. Gay marriage is even a religious issue- IN THE EYES OF THOSE WHO PRACTICE RELIGION. Religion even gets in the way of hetero marriage. If you are not the same religion, no matter how much you love each other or want to marry, it can be the only factor keeping you from doing so. How is that healthy?
Therefore you have all these people who practice their religions behaving as the biggest hypocrites of all.
Faith, on the other hand, I think is good for a society, and can bring people together.
But faith and religion are not the same. People are divided by religion. Even patriotism could be a religion, for they worship the flag as a Catholic worships the cross. When a group only believes one thing or religion, lines are drawn in the sand and people begin to segregate. You are limited by religion, because it is only one set of beliefs. If you label anyone a certain religion, you automatically set a bias.
John Lennon is right. Just imagine if there was no religion. It would be beautiful.