Yes I agree with some of the posts here. I want to support the idea that "Religion" per se, in today's context, has different connotations from "Faith."
Now, I see the distinction more as today's relgion incorporating various man-made tenets, structures (not literal structures), orders, and sometimes, political leverage. Faith is predominantly what one believes, and in whom (or Whom) one believes in.
IMO, the two are not mutually exclusive. Relgion can be a huge force for good, as well as villainy and the baser aspects of human beings. Bringing communities together, reinforcing social/moral values, indentifying a set of goals, striving for noble aspirations, helping your fellow man, and clarifying one's purpose in the world, and how that purpose in turn interacts with one's envrionment...all these things relgion particularly excels at that no other insitution or organization can readily match.
On the other hand religion has been exploited as a mass political tool (in modern times, fanatic Islam purveyed by Al-Qaeda-this is not true Islam) in present as well as past (the Crusades, and the promise by the pope of absolution of one's sins if they were to take up the call to arms against the "saracens"; for the Christian, absolution of sins is only possible through Jesus Christ).
Even before all the major religions of the world, when worship of the Greek and Roman gods reigned supreme and emperors were believed as divine, was religion used as a political tool, often to morbid and barbaric results. From this particular case, Christianity is born and it is quite an astonishing tale of its rise from surpressed and fobidden cult to sole official relgion of the entire Roman Empire in relatively very short amount of time, as even then it was used as a political tool.
However, for all its ill abuses by various governments, "freedom fighters", autocratic rulers, and individuals, I do not believe religion in and of itself is a bad thing.
It has just been used as a modus operandi for the less humane aspects of people to find an outlet. I once got into a prolonged debate with someone on the nature of religion, and how ultimately, it has been the root of all major wars (this was the other person's stance). My stance, and my belief, is that religion is, by its very characteristics, the most convenient way for the typical natures of man that stimulate warefare (greed, influence, power, control, wealth, etc. etc.) to be exercised with impunity.
Remove the concept of religion entirely from the psyche of the world, and just by the nature of Man do people continue to murder, enslave, steal, control, assault, and wage war on each other. Religion is just the easiest and most justifiable pretext for people to invoke for them to rationalize terrible acts. I believe that is why religion gets a bad rep.
Basically, you fault the measuring ruler instead of the school teacher chosing to wield the ruler, as opposed to an eraser (soft, blunt object) or chalk (imprecise projectile) or textbook (potential to have all other textbooks used against the teacher lol). Ha i know its a ridiculous analogy, but logically, i think it works out.
So, my post is not as light as CM would prefer perhaps, but IMO there're fortunately enough level-headed, intelligent people on here that we can discuss the topic and not have it degenerate into a full scale argument.
For what it's worth, I believe religion is man's way of conceptualizing and "incarnating" faith, as well as a way to enable something so personal to be shared and experienced relatively publically with other people, since humans are social creatures by our nature. Faith, as well as religion, has helped me tremendously in the past, and I admit I am a bit disappointed with myself for having some internal struggles regarding both...but c'est la vie.