Due to my upbringing, and my own life experiences and sensibilities, I do believe in a higher-power, which is superior to human comprehension and out of reach for human exploration.
Various groups (of people) have been formed basis a commonly-accepted view of this power, giving it a name and some sort of form - thus giving birth to concept of religion. As a simpleton on the subject - I take the liberty of being ignorant about details in general. I think of religion as a human creation - no divine power would want human animal to segregate its society, when no other animal group does the same.
Whatever be the need in past for humans to form religions - today, role of religion has to be re-examined and redefined. It is not my intent to question religion - any one religion, or even religion as concept. I, too, am a religious person - believing in my own way. It is my intent to question how human society is using religion.
At an individual level - religion does wonders. Religion provides a moral compass, a set of guidelines to live by, at times a few laws as well - all of this giving the individual a sense of purpose of life. More importantly, religion provides the individual a sense of belonging, a sense of being rooted & centred around something greater than self. Individuals can invest more time and effort in understanding their religion better, improving their own life in the process (as they, alone, see fit). So far - religion is a greatly positive power.
At a group level - religion becomes confusing to me. Where there is a group of people, there is a need for checks & balances, for order, for hierarchy, for laws, for guidelines of moral values...and more!
Since it is humans in the group that we call religion, and each group is managed by other humans - I cannot help, but think these humans are prone to human frailties. Hunger for power being one such human frailty that I feel is one of the greatest negatives of religion at a group level. The thought that one religion is superior to others, or that one religion got it right while others got it wrong, or that the more people one religion has (as followers - not believers) the stronger that religion becomes - is all human need for power, not divine need.
The more we use religion as an exclusive club, with rigid and strict set of rules (many of which are archaic), the more segregated society becomes. This exclusivity has already resulted in power-hungry people to create factions for themselves, becoming leader to followers (of a human and not of divine).
In my view - a new born is made to understand religious values much before the child has any understanding of law of the land. This can be through the diet provided (or not provided), through the cultural aspects (mannerisms / actions), and even through language(s) taught to the child. Religion, therefore, is quite a strong concept. This only means there is an enhanced need for people to understand religion - as a concept on the whole, and not just understand more about their own religion.
With the sensitivities today, and a low threshold of being offended - I believe religion as a group function is failing the individuals. It may be time for individuals to wake up to this reality, and realise how they want to work within (and without) religion. To seek meaning and to question (not disregard) status-quo may be better for our times, than being blind believers.
Do human leaders of religions allow seeking and questioning by individuals - if not, then why: my confusion with religion!