As H.L. Mencken stated, I respect all religions, but to the extent that I feel compelled to say a man's wife is beautiful or his children are smart.
We just finished two terms of a President of the United States who paraded his religion, broadcast its merits, and generally acted as a concerned, devout Christian. So much for honesty. But George W. Bush had a habit of telling lies. So it is somewhat understandable that he would invade another country with another religious heritage without the approval of the international community ...and lie about it. The Middle East is full of lies and wars. The Middle East is also the home to religious sites, religious leaders, religious foundings, religious artifacts, religious myths, religious obedience, etc. In other words, the Middle East is a mess. Can anyone deny religion is a big part of the cause of this mess?
The over-reaction in Gaza by Israel, preceded by rockets fired into that nation by religious zealots, are but a manifestation of the destructive power of organized religion. The Israeli-Arab ongoing confrontation is the result of both sides claiming divine specialness. How can you negotiate with both sides claiming God/Allah is on their side? What can you do with such irrationality? How can you possibly put an end to the hatred and violence when this sort of caveman thinking prevails?
It is time for a little maturity and common sense in matters of religion. Most of the religious zealotry should have been abandoned when we got out of our caves. But no, religion won't have that. Religion preys on irrationality...and prays on it as well. No matter how much charlatanism surrounds religion, it bounces back from stealing, bigotry, rape, homosexual hiddeness, violating men and women and children, lying, selfishness, over-adornment, dramatization of religious mythology, pomposity, judmentalism, violence, materialism by its leaders, historical deception, mixed and missed translations, political aspirations, wickedness, ad infinitum. Religious defenders will point to all the good done by religion. As a historian, allow me to observe that the bad far, far outweighs the good. Christianity, for example, has evolved into something the Nazarene would never recognize, and we are flabberghasted when we see a Christ-like behavior in the world. Similar statements could be made for all religions.
The time has come --it is actually far past-- for us to come to grips with organized religion and treat it for what it is: mythology. Civilization and enlightenment should have little room for organized religion, let alone tolerate its relentless cause of violence and war. Moral people without religion can handle compassion, empathy, and service far better than religious judgments.