I am an atheist, but I have close relatives who belong to religious communities, include a couple of catholic cousins. I don't think that religious people are inherently bad or evil. I do, however, think they have been systematically brainwashed. Oh, btw my standpoint on Islam is the exact opposite of yours, I have very much against Islam, but we have many nice Muslims here in Denmark, and I don't have any problems with them.
Maybe you are right: organized religion doesn't cause suffering. However, there is strong evidence that religious organizations constitute a framework that allows suffering to happen on a large scale: the most recent example being the Ryan report in Ireland.
And to add insult to injury - literally - a Spanish cardinal Canizares has tried to trivialize the abuse by saying that abortion is worse.
Now, I am no expect on the catholic church and its hierarchy, but I think a cardinal is a rather high-placed figure. So the catholic church - as a religious organization - seems to be trying to sweep a lot of stuff under the carpet. I realise it may not be the catholic religion as such, that causes the suffering. If religious people decide voluntarily not to fuck before some other religious person of the same creed - who has voluntarily decided not to fuck at all ever - has performed some weird ritual, fine by me.
However, it seems there are no organized religions that do not have some sort of religious organization in some kind of control, and those organizations are - to me anyway - obviously corrupt, hypocritical, and downright evil. And as organized religion apparantly doesn't make sense without a religious organization, the organized religion becomes guilty by direct association.
Now, it would seem that if righteous believers recognized that the organization controlling their religion was corrupt and evil, they could rebel against it and try to change the organization. And indeed this has happened: a case in point could be the Lutheran reformation. However, the new organization, while perhaps not *quite* as evil as the old one, still seems to have problems. Therefore I am compelled to think that the cause of evil is not the organization, but the religion itself.
As it happens, I consider myself a religious person, even though I am an atheist. I even believe in Jesus. I do not believe in any form of miracle, but I do adhere to many of the teachings that are attributed to Jesus in the bible. Christianity as a philosophy is not inherently bad, and a historical Jesus, who made company with people outcast from society, is a person I can admire to some extent, even if I may not agree with all the ideas that are attributed to him. Just as I can admire Gautama Buddha, Confucius or Lao-Tzu. I do, however, prefer to decide for myself, which of their ideas I find agreeable, and I am perfectly capable of separating them and their ideas from the organized religions their "successors" have created. Even the allegedly most "peaceful" of all organized religions, Buddhism, has aspects that are absolutely appalling to me. Aspects, that I do not consider compatible with their origins - but who am I to tell a religious organization that their rules are obviously opposite to what their founder taught, according to my interpretation? I doubt that Gautama had any intentions that people should make statues of him to be revered religiously. And I doubt that he would condone a massacre of 20000 hindu tamils. (For some reason, though, I find it likely that Mohammed would have had fewer problems with such a massacre.)
Thus, I believe that people who submit themselves to organized religion are forced to do so, either through their upbringing, or through brainwash later in life, often facilitated by a personal crisis, making them easy victims. Ignorance also helps. /Lasse