A quick comment I left on this post:
While I agree that religions have been the source of many evil deeds over the centuries, I also think we have to be careful not to apply our contemporary values to what happened hundreds of years ago when people had a completely different outlook (especially on death and the value of human life).
On a similar point, I think, it is important to point out that sacrificial victims of the Aztec and Mayan religous systems were actually (at least most of the time) willing victims, which has very different implications to what the Inquisition, for example, did.
Having said all that, I do think that the main religions, in their most fundamental expression in any case, have become, when offset with contemporary values, all too often a source of oppression and violence which need to be fought and denounced.
I agree with you that religion tend to free individuals of responsibility and of the need to think for themselves. This is, to me, the reason why, once people are used not to questione what is said to them, that it is so easy for religions (or is it religious leaders?) to join the dark side, as it were.
Tags: religion, current affairs, fundamentalism, extremism, responsibility.