Organized religion, despite any actual benefits it might yield to society, tends to get a bad rap (even though it’s supposed to be a force for good) since many people perceive it as unduly limiting individual freedom. One rabbi, in particular, warned about what happens when it’s treated as self-centered superstition instead of a means to fulfill a divine calling, and young people often think there’s a danger in mixing it with politics. Michael Newdow, on another hand, proved that even being a professing atheist doesn’t have to prevent incorporation into the religion of some sort in that he became one of the ordained ministers at the Universal Life Church.
Ethnic Religion in Indigenous People
One thing for certain is that there’s plenty of superstition to go around in ethnic religion which is found among indigenous peoples everywhere and, by virtue of what it is, doesn’t seek converts but lets them come on their own choice.
Much the same can be said of the occult as seen in Luciferianism or Satanism, and outsiders who don’t trust them (or any new religious movement, for that matter) will perceive them as anything but a force for good even though their adherents can be extremely intelligent and contribute a lot to academia. But being smart, while not being an end in itself, can still do a lot of good if it only ever translates into doing the right thing in any situation, which is all that’s really important in the end. There’s even a parable of Jesus about a crooked manager to illustrate this.
Value a Sense of Belonging
People can value a sense of belonging in a religious community too. But one thing to anticipate is that whether they say it out loud or not, they’ll have a problem much of the time with being tied down to a bunch of oppressive rules (sometimes for fear of being excommunicated) when they’d rather any rules that apply to them be either short and sweet or nonexistent. They also may not want to be too self-conscious about their personal conduct or have to answer to a human authority figure, except in very specific situations, for not being in line. Even if believing in and praying to the God of the Bible isn’t problematic for them, they can be terrified enough at the thought of a future in which they’ll invariably have to answer to Him for their lives (see, for example, here and here). In short, they like to keep their conduct a strictly individual matter unless it’s absolutely necessary for someone else to know about it.
The Search for Truth and Meaning in Life
For people on a search for both truth and meaning in life, if organized religion is satisfactory as a path toward finding them, then it’s a force for good to them. Meanwhile, if it’s just superstition, then according to the accepted definition of that term, it requires the contradiction of natural laws and manipulation to bring about desired outcomes, all in the name of appeasing an unseen supernatural force. Basically, it can be whatever a person wants it to be unless it has to do with helping homeless and unloved people while avoiding godless corruption like the plague.