As a member of organized religion, I must say that there is a world of good different churches and religious organizations have done. And this extends outside of the mostly Christian bubble Americans live under. Each of the religions of the world (the major ones anyway) have contributed to society in positive ways. I don't think that point can be argued. I also don't think there is anything inherently wrong with organized religion. But like anything created by man, it has its flaws and bad apples. It has those people involved that others in the group would like to see disappear. Unfortunately, they usually get the most press. And Elton John is on to them.
In probably the biggest statement of the obvious made by a human in recent history, Elton John told Music Monthly Magazine, "I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people...Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays." Oh really, Elton? Are you just figuring this out? Yes, organized religion (especially Christianity) has breed many a hate monger in its flocks. And something should be done to curve such hatred brewing in religious establishments. But really what can you do.
By professing their disapproval of different things (homosexuality, stem cell research, abortion, etc.) religious leaders are leaving the door open for those "bad apples" to do whatever they want. They allow them to preach whatever they want. They allow the "God-hates-fags.com" crowd to exist. And there is really nothing they can do about it.
religious leaders, the good ones anyway, often preach tolerance of differing views. It is a key part of the Christian faith. Any true Christian would know this and not spread hate. There is a difference in hate and disapproval. One is done with words. The other is done with action. And when that action filters into the government, then the problems start.
While we may not be able to control what people say (and we shouldn't). We can control what they do by passing laws. Hate laws are in place to prevent people from committing acts of hate against all sorts of people. It is up to the government to make sure these rules remain strict and are enforced. If they are not, statements like those of Elton John will continue to arise. They will blame the religion, when really the problem rest squarely on the shoulders of certain people.
Elton said we should ban religion. Or more correctly, he said he would ban religion. I wouldn't. I would ban stupidity. That is the biggest problem facing the human race. When it is removed, we will all live better and hate will no longer be a problem. Until that happens, we should try and point the finger at those actually responsibly, not those that are a convenient target.