It is easy to conclude that religion divides us, but if we take a panoramic view of the world and its history it is clear that the driving force of religion is unifying. Take the three major faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Moslem. Despite the fact that countless wars have been fought in the name of these religions, still the underlying, real nature of these faiths is the pursuit of goodness. These religions, often known as Abrahamic, because they all trace their origins back to Abraham of the Old Testament, are concerned with man´s humanity, all the good things that come from having positive relationships with one another. If wars have been fought in the name of these faiths it is due to the misunderstanding of those faiths or to individual obsession with non-religious goals, whether political or monetary. But the world today, ostensibly at least, is run according to values handed down to us by the ten commandments and the rules given to the Jewish race thousands of years ago. These were then modernized by Jesus in the sermon on the mount, ancient, universal values which still apply today. This is why on the whole, in the majority of civilized countries, most of us can go about our business on a daily basis without fearing for our lives. Free speech is a corollary of Christian tolerance. Where such freedoms are not allowed, it is usually because religion has been quashed.
The opposite of religion is barbarism. When we stopped human sacrifice, it was because we had a God who did not demand it. When we abolished slavery it was under the persuasions of a Christian mindset. When we expect moral order in our streets it is because we have learnt the morality of our Bible. Even though many no longer go to church or read their Bibles, still they are governed by good religious motives. When the world moved slowly towards social justice and tolerance of other races, it was because of an innate sense of moral justice, learnt from the Bible. The opposite of these things is abhorrent. If we study ancient civilizations, before they were touched by the word of God, we find a plethora of barbaric and anti-social behavior. Men were governed by gods made in the image of man who could make whatever demands they deemed necessary, usually the will of the established political order. Without the unifying presence of an abstract religious morality, no matter how many countless denominations of that there may exist, man propels himself into a morally dubious abyss of self-seeking desires and ambitions. Religion unified the world under an umbrella of goodness.
Whether the old religions are still as relevant today in their present form as they used to be is another question. When people use religion as an excuse for violence, oppression, hatred, bigotry, they are misusing it. Perhaps we need to update the way we communicate the message of divine love, compassion, tolerance, hope, but the message is the same. Only the message of divine love can unite the world, and in its absence, division and secular strife become more widespread.