Religion in my experience and belief is organized spirituality.
The big problem with any group is that ego gets involved and ruins everything. Ego is selfish and separate. Ego is being a bully, but it's also being a victim. Ego is the Pharisee who obeys the law and lets everyone know they do. Ego is the little old lady who goes to church every Sunday, but despises the prostitute who sits in the back of the church. Ego is an equal opportunity destroyer. Hitler was ego. So is Obama.
Ego wants to be first, but will be last.
The core of religion is spirituality. This is all about the non-physical aspect of man -- the individual without ego or body. Atheism is not religion, because it has nothing to do with spirituality. Buddhism is a religion, because it is all about the "non-self" the "non-I" hidden behind ego.
When you have utter humility (no ego), perfect confidence (the true meaning of faith), unconditional love, and 100% responsibility (no room for victim or blame), miracles happen. The gateway to the keys of creation open up to you.