[A response to Don Geddis]:
I certainly agree with you that Salman Taseer's murder and the resulting response is dismaying on many levels. It is also true that, as you say, "separating belief from truth" is a contributing factor to the madness. But I stand by my position that it is not religion per se that merits our concern. The population of the United States is overwhelmingly religious, and has been for all of its history. By way of rather stark contrast, Nazi Germany was, at least in its doctrine, purely secular. (Sadly, it still is.) Those examples alone are enough IMO to conclusively refute the proposition that "It's only a matter of luck if some of the faithful happen to wind up in a positive place for society rather than a negative one." There are horror stories aplenty -- and inspirational tales too of course -- on both sides of the divide.
The problem is not religion, the problem is fundamentalism, and secular fundamentalism is no better than religious fundamentalism. When doctrine trumps facts civilization loses, whether that doctrine is Allah or the Dear Leader.
Now, it is true that Islam does seem to lend itself more to fundamentalism than other belief systems, but it's far from clear whether fundamentalism is an inherent feature of Islam, or just something that happens to be brought to the fore by contemporary geopolitics. The protests of Taseer's murder from the Muslim world are certainly not as loud and numerous as one would hope, but neither are they non-existent. One must wonder, too, how many muslims condemn the murder in their hearts, and would like to condemn it openly but choose not to out of understandable fear for their safety and that of their loved ones. There is also a question of whether the press coverage of this event has been, to coin a phrase, fair and balanced. The most populous Muslim country in the world is Indonesia, and I can't find a single story about what Indonesians have to say about any of this.
My basic position is unchanged by the response to Salman Taseer's tragic death. Religion is a drug. Literally. Belief exerts physical influences on the body and brain by way of the placebo effect. Like any drug, it comes in forms of varying potency and effectiveness. You can get addicted. It can be abused. Myth is the stuff from which the drug is made. If recent history teaches us anything it is that you can't deal effectively with a drug addiction problem by getting up on a soap box and proclaiming that drugs are evil and people should just say no.
It's really important that we get this right because the problem is very real and very serious, and we're not going to solve it if we start with a false premise about what the problem actually is.