I agree with every single word that Bill Maher wrote. Religion, and the impulse to believe what we want, rather than what can be demonstrated to be true, is the single greatest threat to the survival of the human species.
People often say things like "But what harm is there in wanting to have a close personal relationship with God?" Ask the families of those who died on September 11, 2001. Would 19 young men have been so easily convinced to fly planes into occupied buildings if they did not have the promise of 72 virgins and the assurances of their religious and ideological leaders that the supreme ruler of the universe wants them to do so? I seriously doubt it.
Certainly a large number of religious people are not violent, aggressive, ignorant, or bigoted. The problem is that it is only to the extent that they do NOT follow the teachings of their holy books that they are decent people.
Deuteronomy 32:39-42 says: “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.”
How can anything BUT death and destruction come from this type of wickedness? Why do Christians act surprised when other Christians behave exactly like their God? Why do they think that it must be because they are not really following their faith? Why is it any surprise that the "Holy Land" has been such a hotbed of violence and oppression? The faithful who live there are just following the example set forth by the dear leader. As despicable as it may be, Christians who hate homosexuals, and treat women like cattle, and beat their children to death, are JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS. It's not an accident that this stuff happens. How can anyone read the above passage and think "I'm supposed to love my neighbors as myself and I value all people equally"? Such passages would be at home in a death metal CD, and are barely distinguishable from the behavior of Hitler.
A quick search on BibleGateway for the word "kill" produces 445 results, for "destroy" it is 504 results, and "hate" 127 results. I will freely admit that I did not personally review every single one of these results as to their context and meaning, but who would ever have the guts to say that a vast majority of these results are NOT God recommending or doing these things, and his followers making it happen? If, in the Harry Potter series, Harry killed over 2.5 million people, he would NOT be considered the good guy. Note also that Harry willingly goes to meet Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest with every expectation that he will DIE, and no expectation of reward. He does it to protect those he loves and to give them hope for a better future. This is pretty much the opposite of what Jesus does. Jesus KNOWS it's just a game, that he will not really be dead, that he will rule with limitless power forever, and torment us FOREVER if we so much as refuse to kiss his ass. In fact, according to Paul, kissing ass is the only requirement to be saved, regardless of how good of a person you were. Like I've said before, this is not surprising considering that, according to the story, pre-psychadelic revelation, Paul was a giant douche (or turd sandwich, whichever you prefer) and a godless person. OF COURSE he would say that it didn't matter what you did.
People have a right to believe whatever they want, but if what they believe is not RIGHT, why would they want to believe it, and why should we respect them for it? I don't like the fact that I will never see those whom I love again once they are dead, but that is what the external reality is. Reality really doesn't give a shit about our feelings of beliefs, because they are irrelevant to what is true.