Religion (centralized denominational systems of power and privilege and hierarchy and cronyism) is too easy exploited (and exploitative) and often winds up being just another political system with "God" being the excuse for and the weapon used to control, exclude, and punish people. But Church/Temple/Synagogue/Sangha/Coven...the LOCAL spiritual community choosing to be together, work together, pray together, play together, learn together, and make a difference...that still has meaning for me.
I like what Mark Morford recently said (MM is hardly a religion company man!), "Humanity’s intrinsic existential curiosity, that deep spiritual longing innate to every soul on the planet, is essential and beneficial, and can lead to tremendous beauty, compassion, self-exploration."
I deeply believe in spiritual community, which is freeing and empowering. But the institutions of religion hold less appeal for me than ever. We need credentialing bodies and resource clearing houses, but when "Religion" wants to offer/control more than that, it actually gets in the way of spirituality...especially when it finds itself at odds with spirituality for its own survival. I LOVE the church (coven, meditation center, etc.), I just happen to believe that the church is a relational, local experience. If "Religion" would try to exist to support the local church, then religion could be useful. Otherwise, not so much. The end.