Institutional religion is a game. It has rules and punishments, but it has NOTHING to do with the human heart.
The human heart doesn't need institutional religion. Jesus wasn't a "cleric" and neither was Mohammed or the Hebrew Prophets. These men didn't have "institutional back up", such as gargantuan buildings and game rules written by men in dress-like institutional uniforms.
These last eight years have put religion under a spiritual microscope and what we have seen is beyond loathsome. Mostly, we have seen religious fanatics who justify murder in the name of God. Indeed, God, for them, is virtually a synonym of murder.
We also shouldn't forget such IQ refuse as those who actually believe the world is going to go boom in next week or two (Armageddon). Such thinking (and similar nonsense’s) is grounded is abyssal stupidity and is more dead weight of institutional religion.
Is the human race ready yet to face the fact that most of what passes for "religion" is moral trash and criminal stupidity? It's time for this meaningless free ride to end. It's time for civilization to transcend religion.
"Religion" is a tricky word because some of us can play the religion game in a tongue in cheek manner, while remaining committed to the transcendence of spirituality and morality. This is probably harmless enough since the individuals who do this know full well the human heart is all, and such religious peripheral game playing can have a certain pragmatic value.
But this is light years away from the Homo sapien morons and cowards who have handed over their lives to cult leaders and Pope types. The first step of spirituality is realizing that TRUTH HAS NO AUTHORITY and when it comes to transcendence or "God" (if that word works for you), you are 100% on your own. Indeed, the more you depend on the cult "leaders" is the more you kill your own soul.
George Bush is an archetypal boot licker of religious masters. So is John McCain. These two spiritual vacuums are the essence of what spirituality ISN'T.
However, this isn't so much a spiritual critique of certain individuals (however evil); it is rather a critique of institutional religion, or just religion itself for that matter.
To say it point blank, religion is mostly a lethal virus in civilization, but we keep looking the other way and acting as if religion is kind and helpful. Yes, about as kind and helpful as eating ground glass.
Religion is now the enemy of civilization. How can we think otherwise? Has it come to the aid of bleeding human beings during these last Bush/neocon/Nazi-like eight years?
Has it heroically stood up and pointed out that Bush's neocon cabal answers ONLY to the Israeli lunatic fringe right wing, and that this "ally" (what a laugh!) has been wagging America's foreign policy nonstop for the last eight years (actually much longer)?
Has it DEMANDED that we put 9/11 under a microscope, since hundreds of internet sites are overflowing with evidence that the Bush/Republicans didn't just "screw up" with 9/11, rather they played a dramatics role in ENGINEERING it.
Has it come to the aid of the American people to protect us from being driven bankrupt (along with the country at large) because of the manipulations of Texas energy corporations and such monsters of greed as Cheney/Halliburton? More specifically, where has religion been while the gap between the increasingly non existent lower and middle classes and the vampire rich is greater than it has ever been in American history. Jesus' heart went out to the victims of elite greed, but the American pulpits are occupied only with immoral, Bush-validating wimps.
Show me a clergyman, and I'll show you someone who can’t even spell the word morality and compassion.
We could go on and on, but the moral is simplicity itself. Religion has now bonded itself with political evil and has become in every respect like the spiritual filth Jesus whipped out of the "temple".
The human race is doomed unless and until it wakes up to the reality of dead weight religious evil, since, to use our children's language, it as gone over to the dark side.
Please do not read this as hyperbole or jive. The churches have abandoned us. Period. And a few token remarks by Pope X, Y, or Z mean nothing. Judge them by their fruits indeed. Most Americans in one way or another are dying in a ditch, but the institutional priests (of all religions) keep averting their gaze.
The moral, social power of religion could (and should) be awesome. It should be in the face of the evil which is murdering America. But, to borrow a phrase of T. S. Elliot, religion isn't even letting us die with a bang, but with a whimper and we should NEVER FORGET IT.