Wow, this is the first time one reply of mine applies to two threads...
Simple language please, but then intellectuals and religion seldom mix well.
Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him..
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
I disagree with much of this - the well-adjusted, healthier part in particular.
Try to separate the wheat from the chaff, for a moment - despite the few positives you named, untold evils have been perpetrated on the world in the name of religion, and it continues today.
Very, very few critical thinking individuals who evaluate religion on it's logical merits will make a decision to adopt one. I can go on about this for a very long time, but in it's most simple terms, if you really make an effort to believe everything a religion tells you and accept it as fact, you have to do a lot of suspension of disbelief. This constant state of cognitive dissonance is very inhibiting.
In order for people to resolve the question "Do I really believe in this stuff, or am I being a putz?", they have to engage in two activities. First, they have to validate their beliefs by seeking out others who think similarly. Hence, churches. When LOTS of people believe the same thing, no matter how errant or fallacious, it's somehow legitimized (how can THIS many people be wrong?).
The follow-on behavior is to become incredulous or hostile toward people who do not believe as you do. When your world is filled with people who think and believe the same things, those who do not are striking at that gong of cognitive dissonance with a gigantic sledgehammer.
The discomfort comes back, and primal "fight or flight" instincts come into play. Rather than acknowledge that they may not actually believe in all of this shit, they think back to how much TIME and ENERGY they have invested in being a believer; how many people they now know as believers, and how difficult the conversations would be...answering questions like "Where have you been on Sundays?" and "What do you mean you don't believe in our religion anymore?"
And so the stupidity of all of it reinforces itself, endlessly, not because what organized religions have to offer, but because of social stigma and cowardice - fear of being an individual, fear of having beliefs that while defensible, may be unpopular, lack of self confidence.
Back to your original point, it's not a regular attendance record at church that causes people to do good things selflessly for others. Good people will do good things for the world around them with or without churches.
Take away the dogma from religion - the deplorable mindfuck that is salvation and forgiveness - and you have a totally different beast (and in fact, a situation I might allow myself to become involved with).
Religion offers a lot of things to broken people, and far too few of them are involved in religion even though they don't need anything from it. And there's nothing you can do about that. It is the very nature of religion. It speaks VOLUMES about American society that we are as religious as we are, and that we allow it to take such a prominent place in our society.
The kinder tenets of the New Testament in particular - of treating others kindly, of reserving judgement, etc. - are common sense lessons for life. You don't have a lock on being a decent person just because you go to church. To the contrary, some real bastards I've known were regular church goers; and some of the most decent and caring people I've known had the same view of religion I have.
Religion has no place in a well functioning society - it has nothing to offer to people who are well adjusted, intelligent, informed, and self-assured. It thrives on fear, uncertainty, and doubt; it is, in essence, the business of forgiveness and salvation. The more religious our citizens are, the more work we have to do evolving as a nation.
I'll close by saying this - if you think that belief in God (any diety) is the exclusive domain of religion, we have a fundamental difference in understandings that is probably irreconcilable. Just as good "works" are not the exclusive domain of religions, belief in a God is possible outside the bubble of religion.
If we CAN agree on this, then we can agree that religion is an elective engagement for people. Look around your church this weekend, and see if you can figure out what everyone is looking to get out of it for themselves vs. what they're hoping to give to others by way of their attendance.
Enough from me on this topic for now.