Religion as we know it today is man's invention...an interpretation of what man thinks is the way to find God. After the flood when the people built the tower of Babel that was a form of man-made religion. They thought it was a way to heaven that could avoid something like the flood in the future. They were wrong.
James 1:27 say, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (NASB). The word religion (threskeia) means religious discipline. What God desires is a relationship with us and a religious discipline to follow his will. That's why Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).
It is important to base beliefs on God's truth otherwise things can be twisted with a mixture of truth, man-made traditions, and lies. People who follow these religions can be deceived into believing good is evil and evil is good. John 5:39-40 says, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" (NASB).
With this in mind, the first part of your statement is not always true. Religion is often not the way to God.