In Reference to: How Pope Benedict XVI views Animals
"You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from
wrong then you lack empathy, not religion."
This is where my definition of religion differs from many if not most people.
Morality can be a part of, or side result of religion, but is not the goal of religion in itself.
Being kind to all creatures is very admirable, and I hold in high esteem
those who do so, but being kind and moral is not necessarily religion.
I often hear people saying "you can also be good without believing in God".
Fully agree, meaning that you can also be a kind and highly moral person
without believing in God.
"Religare" is Latin for "connecting" (in Sanskrit: "yoga") with God.
If one is TRULY connected with God, one will naturally be kind to all of Gods creatures and creation.
Warmongers, terrorists, gay-bashers, misogynists and the like may enthusiastically use (read: "misuse") the name of God, but factually they could not be further removed from God.
A truly religious person, factually connected with God, will naturally be
kind to everyone and everything.
This does not mean that it is the religionists' first concern to do all kinds of philantropic works related to this ephemeral world.
Coming back to "you can also be good without believing in God", I boldly
and oppositely claim "you can also believe in God without being good".
Please note that "good" in this case refers to being philantropic in the worldly sense.
Taking care of people's bodily needs (food, clothing, etc.) can be taken care of even by a properly organised secular government, it is not the first duty of temples or churches.
Religion concerns the relation of the jivatma (individual spirit soul)
with bhagavan (God), it concerns a different realm and reality.
Sri Radha Vallabha.