There may not be another word in the English language that carries more negative connotations than the word “religion.” When people hear the word, they immediately bristle. There have been centuries of abuse and cruelty done in the name of religion. The earliest days of human history record such atrocities as human sacrifice and mutilation all for some religious belief. Modern days have not improved on this trend very much.
Humans have a deep inner yearning for the spiritual and transcendent. This, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing, and has inspired us to reach levels of creativity, achievement, and kindness that stagger the imagination. On the other hand, this same yearning has led us, as a race, down some extremely dark corridors.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I am personally frustrated when I hear people equate everything negative about religion, with Christianity. It is as if Christianity has been, and is, responsible for all bad things associated with religion. This is not a fair assessment. People espousing to be Christians have certainly done their share of awful things. But people of other religious persuasions have done just as many bad things.
The important issue is not which specific religion should be blamed for the bad reputation that religion has. Religion is a human-made and practiced institution, and as such, is inherently flawed, regardless of what name it goes by. The only way a religion could contain perfect credos would be if God created the religion, rather than people. The only way a religion could be perfectly practiced by its adherents would be if God were its only devotee.
Jesus Christ claimed to be God in the flesh. He said he came to show us what God is really like, what God wants from us, and to create a way for us to know God personally. These are some grand claims to make! More amazing than the claims themselves is the fact that he kept his word in every detail. Jesus Christ is the God who created the perfect religion and who followed that religion perfectly. He offers us the benefit of his accomplishments by becoming his follower and trusting in his accomplishments before God, rather than our own.
Religion deserves some of its bad reputation. Rather than looking at religions, look at Jesus Christ. His credibility is firmly established and his reputation will stand up under the strictest scrutiny.