I've heard it recited over and over again "religion has been used to justify all kinds of atrocities and corruption". But what people fail to understand is that you can't judge the content of a religion by its followers. If we did that, none of us would have any beliefs at all. The problem we often face is that people make religion in the respects that they bend it to their own views with exegesis and distortions rather than taking a candid stance on what is. In other words, instead of calling a spade a spade, people will change the entire landscape of a doctrine just to ease their own minds.
One particular example that comes to mind is rather historical, but take King Henry the VIII of England. After his wife, Catherine of Aragon, failed to bear him a son to continue his legacy, King Henry wished to annul his marriage to the Pope's disapproval. As such, he just up and created his own Church, known as the Church of England, where all of the same traditions were kept, but the criterion for divorce wasn't as strict.
This outlines my earlier point where people make a religion. But, in all actuality, your religion should make you. And I don't mean that you should holy dive, but if you genuinely believe something, warping its nature to fit your lifestyle is ugly. And it's ugly because it distorts the perception of what it means to be in that circle to outsiders.
It is, of course, ignorant for anyone to look at anyone else and say "this is what it means to follow this religion", but when you undermine the ideals of something while professing to believe it, you perpetuate untruths.
It's for this reason that when I conduct my research on a topic, I empty my mind of preconceived notions and call a spade a spade. No matter what your beliefs are, this should be your mindset when reviewing politics, religion or even what kind of sauce to use with your pasta.
Some cite that Christianity is evil because it's been used to advocate for slavery (undermining the fact that the opposite is also true; see William Lloyd Garrison) and a plethora of immoral things. But I believe this audio file, a unique version of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World", illustrates my view on this matter.
People like to blame everything, but themselves. In all actuality, neither atheism nor theism are responsible for death, war, destruction, slavery, et cetera. It may be a tool to achieve those ends, but they are not the reason for them. Much likes guns are a tool for homicide that people use to achieve their ends, the same thing can be said about religion. Without people consciously deciding to commit these atrocities, there are no crises. It's nonsensical to deduce that a tool is the perpetrator of a misdeed, when it invokes no force of its own free will.
If guns were to disappear tomorrow, do you think murder, wars and everything blamed on guns would just go away? If religion were to disappear tomorrow, do you think wars, discrimination, persecution, violence and everything blamed on religion will just go away? No matter what you give or take away to human beings, they will always find something to fight about. If it's not religion, it's race. If it's not race, it's philosophy. If it's not philosophy, it's wealth. If it's not wealth, it's visage. If it's not visage, it's whatever difference they can find. If they don't have a difference, they'll make one.
Fact: People are the makers of their own misery.
If you'd like further reading, 10 Things Christians and Atheists Can (And Must) Agree On is a good place to start. Now, I understand that this is not going to prevent us from debating and I certainly hope it doesn't. I, for one, won't stop. But maybe we can stop demonizing one another, so that our debates actually have merit.