Before you buy into any religion, ask yourself, are they selling you something, or are they trying to buy you?
They say that Ignorance is bliss, that a dumb person is more likely to be happy than an intelligent one. Unfortunately they also say that its easier to lead a dumb person than to influence a smart one.
Now I am not saying that people who blindly follow religion are dummies, many have been brainwashed since childhood and are too scared to look beyond what they have been taught, after all they have been schooled under the threat of hell for entertaining other thoughts and questioning what they have been told.
Religion is manipulative, and the biggest manipulation device they use is the reward of a pleasant after-life and the threat of horrid one. In Christianity these are known as heaven and hell. Most every religion has some sort of reward/threat system to control people. People are even threatened that if they explore other options they are going to suffer eternal damnation.
The second manipulation technique is forming rules. Some people find comfort within this system, just like many people born into military families find it much easier being told what to do and when to do it. Many people, after having their lives controlled, being told when to wake up, how to make their bed, and so on, find it difficult to live outside those rules, and many cannot even establish rules for themselves, or live without rules. This is exactly what happens to people within religion. They become accustomed to the control it has over their lives.
The third is offering a father figure. Even in abusive situations people often still try to find love and approval from their father. Religion is no different. Religions offer a father figure, in Christianity, God is even referred to as “the Father”, “our Father”, etc. Nobody wants to disappoint their father.
The fourth manipulation device is brainwashing. Although nobody likes to think of it as such, in most religions it is clear that this is taking place. Brainwashing is described as any effort to instill certain attitudes or beliefs into a person. In brainwashing people are broken down and then rebuilt. The same thing happens in most religions as people are told they are nothing, born into sin, and so on, BUT by accepting their religion, they can be saved. To learn more about how brainwashing takes place in religion, especially in children in the Evangelical Christian church, see the movie Jesus Camp.