Voices are on the rise today, saying religion is negative for society, judgmental, hypocritical, starts wars, etc., and so they stop attending church. They "rise above" church and become "spiritual" instead. They say churches and religion in general hurts people, that it's a negative thing. Some speak of their faith and spirituality as a separate thing. Well, Not if God really did call Prophets to lead people and established a formal a religion, its not. And Jesus did do that. He caled 12 Apostles to assist him in an organized manner and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
That's the main thing, whether or not God had anything to do with religion in the first place. Did He start one? I testify that He did. Just read the scriptures to know this. Its in there.
If one believes in Jesus Christ, it is most certain that He started a religion and didn't just preach of faith and solitude for individuals. He actually CHARGED His disciples to PREACH. That's why he was out there among so many masses of people, trying to reach them, and setting an example. He called 12 Apostles and ordained them by the laying on of hands. 12 of them. And He taught these to be leaders and fishers of men. They followed Him around, watching, learning. Jesus talked of being wise as serpents, but harmless as doves (Matt 10:16). He compared the saving of souls to fishing. Casting a net. Jesus spoke of going out to find the lost sheep, the 1 out of 99 that was lost. Leaving the 99. Why? If that sheep got lost on purpose, why wouldn't Jesus just "let them be?" Jesus was not politically correct. He cared and loved everyone so much that He would do just that. Go after the lost sheep.
In the Americas Jesus did visit the Nephite nation and it was recorded of Him:
Moroni 2:1 The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them--
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.
3 Now Christ spake these words unto them at the time of his first appearing; and the multitude heard it not, but the disciples heard it; and on as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost.
Jesus taught parables about so many of these things. The things that many seemed to be annoyed at when others try to do them. "I am not interested!" as a door slams. "I'll save you some time, I had a bad experience at church and I am not coming back." Yet we visit, and maybe even annoy, some people if we actually DO what Jesus Christ taught us to do as His disciples. Jesus wants us, even commands us, to rescue souls and to do so with charity, the pure love of Christ.
Religion organizes this and makes it more effective as more people get taught what Jesus actually taught and then try to do it. How can religion be bad when Jesus started it? Why wouldn't we read and understand what Jesus taught when it is all in the scriptures for us to learn and glean from? The Sermon on the Mount. What a great sermon, filled with challenges of how to be the Salt of the Earth. How to Let Your Light So Shine that others may see your good works and glorify your Father which art in Heaven. Some call this self-righteousness, but Jesus calls it letting your light so shine. He calls it being the salt of the earth. The leaven.
Jesus taught to keep the commandments. All of them.
He also taught how to get along with others, agreeing with your adversary, giving a cloak also to him that sues you and takes away your coat. Turn the other cheek. In other words, don't try to get even. Stop worrying about what is fair, and instead do what will save souls. To him that asks of you, give it to him, let him borrow. Turn thou not away. Love your enemy.
Religion that Jesus started tries to take a bad man and make him a good man. To take a good man and make him an even better man. Jesus did teach Be ye therefore PERFECT even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect. This is what Jesus taught, and it is the direction He is trying to take people. Upward. Better, best. Religion has Priesthood which trains a man to be a man of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ, to go and do the missionary work. Jesus taught all these things.
SO when we criticize religion, we are in danger of criticizing Jesus Christ who taught so many of the things that are taught in the Christian religions of the day today. There is nothing wrong with trying to be better, and trying to help others be better as well. It is what Jesus would have us do.