Many religions such as Jainism or Jehovah's Witnesses can hardly be described as crutches.  It tends to be something associated with mainstream Christianity. 


Using religion as a crutch or seeing it as a crutch leads to a form of intellectual dishonesty popularly called cherry-picking. You see it all the time. When bad things happen to a holy person of prayer, the people will ignore the bad and consider anything good to be proof that God is with the person and answering the prayers. Or they will say the bad happens for a reason so it should be welcomed. It is certainly welcomed as a rationalisation! It is looking at the good and being unable to face or look at or acknowledge the failures. They do not worry that it is mercenary to condone what they see as a supernatural being doing what he is doing. It is bad enough to condone a God hurting you in your life but off the scale bad and fairly callous to judge that he is good to another when he clearly is not.
A cherry-picker of the Bible or their religion cannot complain if another cherry-picker decides to prefer the nasty bits of the religion and the Bible to the kinder bits. A Catholic who does not believe the pope is the head of the Church cannot complain if a Catholic decides that God still wants us to stone heretics to death. The benevolent cherry-picker enables the violent one by simply proving to him that she does not know what she is talking about and is a hypocrite anyway. The cherry-picker is definitely using religion as a crutch. The "good" cherry-picker and the "bad" one have the one attitude in common. It is just down to luck that one's selectiveness results in good and the other's in bad.
Another form of cherry-picking is when the Catholic claims to adore God and does not take God's ban on divorce and heresy (two examples out of thousands) seriously. Cherry-picking is saying that you want to be part and considered part of the religion but you don't want to accept all its teaching. You admit that you consider it bad to follow the religion properly. Then do the decent thing and get a better religion instead of this dishonesty and this pretence that your religion is not a standard but about you. Cherry-pickers on the bright side tend to be as critical of their religion as atheists are.
It is a kind of compliment to atheists when believers themselves call their religion a crutch. It is confessing that atheism is right to be suspicious of religion. It follows that the believers must think that the happy atheist is strong enough to give up the comforts and conveniences of faith and following religion. And they are agreeing with atheists who say religion has the same function as an imaginary playmate does. Illogically, they deny that religion is not to be taken seriously if that is what it is! Hypocrisy at large again!
If faith is your crutch, it is only faith and could be misplaced or wrong. Therefore you have to expect and welcome the knowledge that it can be challenged even if you don't know what the challenges are or want to know.
If the crutch matters, religion in a sense does not. It would follow that the argument, "Don't criticise her religion for she needs to believe" is wrong as debunking her faith would be fine if you have a better one for her.
The perception that people are in their religion not because of sincere faith but because they use it as a crutch accuses them of dishonesty and leads only to one religion being suspicious of and untrusting towards other religions. If your faith is a crutch or if you are conditioned to believe, the end result may be called faith but it is not faith. It is habit. Arguments that faith should be left unchallenged then do not even apply to it.


As women are more active in mainstream Christianity than men and it is usually women who insist on indoctrinating children saying faith is a crutch and should be respected as such is patronising sexism.

Religion is a crutch for it is full of protective thinking and is based on protective thinking. Needing the crutch is a symptom of fear and fear leads to more fear and hate. It leads to psychological disorders. There will be a lot of denial in the persons meaning that if they know there is something wrong with them they risk never getting to the bottom cause.
When we talk about negative thinking, we must realise that our thinking is never negative. It is protective. Protective thinking, as Tony Humphreys puts it, is about guarding yourself against the pain of failure and rejection.
For example,
#"I am never going to be right with God." That looks very negative.
But it seeks to protect you from erroneously thinking you are right with God when you are not.
But it tells you that you at least know there is such a thing as being right with God though it will never happen to you.
But you are trying to get God to reduce his expectations of you. You feel the standard as it is, is too high.
But you are trying to see that he can cut the standard down a bit for you and should. You love yourself in the sense that you want God to help you that way.
But you are trying to blame God and God's standards if he rejects you. This protects you from feeling more hurt by the rejection than you are or could be.
You are emotionally unable to follow God's standards as he wants so you project your inability to God. You blind yourself to the disappointment in your inability by blaming God. You are protecting yourself from that pain.
So it is not so negative after all. It is positive in the sense that it is a strategy to protect yourself.
Protecting yourself is more important to you than God could ever be.
There is enough to worry about in life without caring about God.
#Here is another, "All I can do to help this dying person is to pray".
This is protecting yourself from the feeling of helplessness.
You do not have much faith in yourself when you are so sure you will feel helpless and can't deal with it.