As we all (should) know, religion is a mere skeleton of what it used to be. People are leaving Churches in droves and most of those who call themselves Christians give no more than lip service to their faith.
For example, a recent census in Australia showed that less than 14% of Catholics regularly attend Church. There is a notable increase in followers of Islam which is set to be the predominant religion worldwide very soon. Like Christianity however, Islam is doomed to failure and decline as more people in developing countries (predominantly Muslim) become better educated and have more freedoms.
So, where does that leave religion now? A utility, rather than a code of life. If one wants to follow a pre-structured lifestyle we have better options such as Buddhism for example, (which, strictly speaking, is not a religion anyway).
Given that religion has gained an unenviable reputation for human rights violations and corruption over the centuries, we can pretty well guess how religious users usurp such a utility. Let's unpack this scintillating concept and look at some examples of the utilitarian nature that is now religion.
* Religious Preachers: The want of power has always been a great motivator for mankind. Those who preach religion are usually well educated and know very well that what they dictate to their followers is a load of unmitigated, speculative crap. But these people know, like all others who crave power, that their easiest path is to tread over the weak, i.e. those who are naive and gullible enough to believe the lies that they preach.
* Phobias: Those with psychological weaknesses such as phobias are drawn to the sympathy that religious institutions appear to show to such victims. Instead of dealing with their fears, of course, Churches make these people feel at home with their phobias and exploit that for all its worth. For example, we have discussed homophobia in this forum ad finitum to realise that one of the big problems with religious institutions is that they harbour anti-social behaviour.
* Bigotry: This ugly facet of religion, of course, stems from phobias and other negative social behaviours and attitudes held by followers. Here we see religion being fully utilised. Not only can bigots feel free to exercise their "right to faith" in devious ways but also incite hatred against others all in the name of God and of their Church. Take a look at some of the unsavoury comments by theists in this forum and we see gratuitous hatred hurled at gays, abortionists, right to die advocates, other religions, in fact, any group in society that doesn't comply with their own devious standards.
* Status: This utilisation of religion is wearing rather thin by now since Churches, for example, have well and truly lost all of the sheen they used to project on society. This could be that the upper classes in society nowadays look towards money as a status since religious institutions have lost a good deal of their influence and power. Still, for the common folk I suppose there are some who fall for the old line, "Oh look, there go the Jones's. They are such wholesome, honest, good people and go to Church every week you know...they are good Christians".
Well, I'm afraid that those last two words now contradict each other and hardly cut the mustard in the credibility stakes nowadays. It's more the case now if you are a confessed Christian, that, as you walk past the water cooler at work, your fellow colleagues gathered around it suddenly fall silent and stare at the ceiling.