I appreciate your thoughtful response and am also thankful for you taking the time to read my article. A lot of this is certainly painted from my own experience. I was also limited in time with what religions to focus on, so I did focus on more immediately available examples in the Abrahamic faiths, primarily Christianity.
What it comes down to for me is that religion is based on faith in something for which there is no evidence. Call it god, call it some other element. it cannot be weighed, calculated, or observed.
While persecution is not exclusively a quality of religion, it provides justification that the cause is divine. It can be used to justify evil in a way that not only makes it ok, but makes it the will of god, which is especially heinous when less learned populations follow "god's will."
I will not discount that there are positive qualities of religion. But, I firmly believe that secular values have as much, if not more validity as religious ones. Even taking something like selfishness. I selfishly want to improve my own life. Well, improving my family's life improves my own life as well, so I will act in a way that makes life better for my whole family. If we all steal from each other and kill each other, our community will lack trust and be incredibly dangerous. So, I selfishly want to act in a way to improve my community.
I do not see the value that religion offers other than anti-anxiety. I do see a lot of harm though.