I was baptized a Catholic as a baby, and spent many years trying to justify and understand the things I heard and saw in Church and Sunday School. Admittedly, the Church started off at a distinct disadvantage with me, because I have always felt uncomfortable with the worship of a dead guy nailed to a cross...to this day it both freaks me out a bit, and confuses me.
I know that Jesus supposedly allowed himself to be crucified in order to cleanse mankind of his sins...but quite frankly, when a 5 year old is rational enough to question this...well...like I said...we were off to a bad start. But I was never able to shake this odd feeling that there is indeed some sort of binding, organizational force in the universe, and that all living creatures have a soul.
I eventually found a belief that felt OK to me, and made sense out of some of the more mysterious qualities of the life experience. This search of mine also lead me to the conclusion that, by and large, organized religion IS the evil the wholly speak of. It enslaves, it warps, it destroys, and perhaps most importantly, it is diametrically in opposition to nature and the human condition.
Over the last century, mankind has granted himself the ability to question...everything. We are no longer afraid to ask, "Is there a God?". Yet religions insist on using the same play-book, albeit with a much smaller stick. This, coupled with the truly gross displays of abuse and confrontation of late, and you have a formula for disaster.
Which, if you've had the where-with-all to read all this, brings us to my premise for this discussion. It is my observation that the more these religions try to hold on to their power, the more it simply slips through their fingers. Would it not be better in the long run, to just provide this spiritual service to those who want it, and quit trying to expand their spheres of influence?