Maybe we should define religion as a prayer group of a certain kind.  Catholics pray to saints and use Bibles to guide worship and in worship.  Muslims pray to Allah and regard Muhammad as the one who transmitted the book Allah composed.  That is an over-simplification but it helps.  The value is that it gets around the problem of what religion is.  Most people and society use bad definitions.  But a group dedicated to a form of prayer is better than religion. It is more clarifying.

It has been noticed that the human being creates patterns where there are no patterns and sees goals where there are no goals. This can mean that if persons see society as falling apart that they must defend themselves by striking first. They think there is a pattern.  Seeing that is going to make them react.  Prayer is a symptom of seeking patterns and trying to see them which is dangerous if the pattern is being imagined.  Prayer makes it worse.  Pattern seeking leads many countries into war.

People pray to God for benefits and health but these things only get to you by being "taken" away from somebody else.  People pray to God to be more compassionate and good.  But these things are no good if you think there is a huge evil looming and you need to start hurting people for its the only way to avert or limit it.  Prayer then is impossible without making some kind of deal with evil.  Necessary evil is what we are talking about.  It may be necessary but real people suffer.  It is still evil.  If you are wrong you are just evil.  Thinking your evil is necessary does not prove you are not being a force for evil.

Prayer kills.  Let us look at it in relation to war.

Religion talks about the just war.  Some may prefer to refer to it as war that is unavoidable for they feel that calling it just hides how bad and regrettable it is.  But its just words.

A just war is about self-defence and there being no other option.

A just war can't be decided easily. And one can be sure one is in the right and be wrong. So the wagers of war pray about it. Even a just war has to expect the totally unexpected so they simply cannot be sure if it is wise. So they feel if they are not sure that God is working to bring out the best result and make it a just war. Thus prayer opens the door to war and has as good as declared war. In some cases, the leader may feel sure through prayer that he is guided to do the right thing.  Other leaders take a leap and hope for the best and feel that prayer helped them take that leap.

This tells us a number of things:

Religion and prayer are two different but related things. Opposing prayer comes before opposing religion. Religion will then disappear as an indirect result.

The good done by prayer is nothing if it leads to one child dead by soothing warmongering and armies. And it has.

The declaration of war needs more praying than anything else.

On balance, prayer is evil. The looking good it does makes it more evil not less. We must firmly tell people not to pray for us and why.

Objection: "You blame prayer for leaders proclaiming war and correctly state that it is hard to be sure there is a right to declare war.  But what about the wars that prayer averted?  Surely prayer saved the world from being destroyed in nuclear war during the Cuban Crisis?"

Witches cast spells for peace during that time!  You have no right to say that if something magical helped during that time that it was necessarily prayer.  That is just using potential tragedy and the potential death of billions to drive home a religious point.  You don't know if a anything was at work but just chance.  It is best to see it as the luck of having the right people in the right place.