This is Class Warfare: "Religions are institutions designed to control people. This may be for good or ill but that is their purpose, and when viewed in such a way, make lots more sense. Thus it will always be that someone who wishes to control a population of people will try to use religion as their tool. I see no way around this, as long as religions continue to exist people will try to use them as political weapons. You need only take a broad view of current world events to see this in action. I find it ironic that in Iraq we hope that secularism wins out over fundamentalism while at the same time we see the ascendancy of religious fundamentalism in American politics. "
Bruce has put together an essay that does a good job covering some rather daunting ground.
Along these lines, I think there should be much more discussion and examination of the ways religion is designed to manage people. The religions of the Levant seem to be particularly prone to this tendency to conflate spirituality and government. In fact, I would argue that this is precisely the definition of religion: the conflating of spirituality and government. Could there be a separate category? Take for example the work of Alcholics Anonymous. This is a spiritual organization, but it is certainly not religion. Something to think about.