Many have asked me over the years why I have little use for religion. It basically congeals into one primary point, and once that point is understood, all the rest makes perfect sense.
I'm not going to get into a treatise on the existence of a 'god' or even a great 'Cosmic StarGoat' for that matter, although the latter does go a long way in explaining my particular position.
That position is that religion is the creation of man, not the creation of any higher being. This being the case, religion is subject to all the whims, fallacies, faults, and maladies that afflict humanity as a whole. Humanity can't create miracles, and hence, neither can religion.
Let us presume for the moment that there is a greater entity out there... a creator if you will. Depending upon the religion you wish to subscribe to, the genesis of all that is differs greatly from religion to religion. They all can't be right. There is a simple reason for this... that being that even if there is/was some form of creator, it created the raw materials of the universe, but the organized worship (ie. religion) was not a construct included. That was a creation of mankind looking to pay homage to said creator.
We can use Christianity as an example, here. The issue of the actual functionality of the church isn't addressed until the book of Acts. Acts itself isn't really a blueprint for a religion, either, it's a collection of early 'ministries' conducted by the faithful. A ministry need not be a religion... in fact, really all a ministry is is a travelling oratory campaign, to 'spread the word.'
The further presumption that a creator and/or supreme deity is omnipotent would seem to further preclude the necessity for religion. Religion essentially serves one major end: worship of the given god. Is it beyond the means of the individual to be able to relate to that which is omnipotent on their own personal terms and revelations? Of course not. It is certainly possible for the individual to have their own relationship with the deity-figure of their choice without having to attend human-created ritualism. Any religion which tells the individual that they cannot have such a relationship (without doing so in church-context) is engaging in either a profound doubt of the ability of their deity or a profound doubt in the ability of the individual. Each case, as is evident, is tantamount to extreme philosophical elitism.
So why do so many rush to their churches on given holy days and so forth? Why the obligatory tithes and 'burnt offerings' if you will? One possible reason is that the organized religions of the world have perhaps gauged themselves accordingly on the herd mentality of the people. That the people, in an effort to want to belong, wish to roll themselves up in these human/arbitrary concepts and feel accepted. Is this acceptance from the deity or acceptance from the religion, however? Since, as has been discussed, the concept of religion is entirely a human fabrication it is relatively safe to say that this is a peer-to-peer acceptance between the devotee and the priesthood. It is not, however, a method of any greater connectivity to the chosen deity.
So, does religion have any intrinsic value in society? Certainly. Religions all have behavioral templates which can be applied to the devotees who wish to partake of them. Many (if not all) of these templates contain generally sound advice on codes of conduct and relationships with one's fellow man. The larger issue is, however, whether these templates go to any great length to improve the standing of the follower in the eyes of a god. To that end, while they may not explicitly be a hindrance, they certainly aren't overtly necessary. Religion may help to connect the like-thinking to each other, but anything else is subject to skepticism.
If you are seeking to make a covenant with a deity, the best covenant there can be is the one you make with yourself to that end. For there you are alone in the eyes of what you have opted for and in that solitude, you have no crutch and no one to blame when things go wrong except for yourself.