Sam Harris puts this so well. Here's a quote for the day:
"Faith drives a wedge between ethics and suffering. Where certain activities cause no suffering at all, religious dogmatists still maintain that they are evil and worthy of punishment (sodomy, marijuana use, homosexuality, the killing of blastocysts, etc.). And yet, where suffering and death are found in abundance their causes are deemed to be good (withholding funds for family planning in the third world, prosecuting non-violent drug offenders, preventing stem-cell research, etc.). This inversion of priorities not only victimises innocent people and squanders scarce resources; it completely falsifies our ethics."
What a lovely summary of the religious morality of misery. Harris is supremely quotable on subjects like this.
To be fair, what faith can do, sometimes, is motivate people to take action that we can all applaud: I'm happy, for example, when religious institutions devote their efforts and resources to looking after the needy.
But whenever we see a specifically religious morality in action, it is likely to be doing something deplorable. The trouble is that specifically religious moralities tend to do two things that are dangerous to moral health: first, they tend to preserve the mores of less enlightened eras, and to treat these as if they were timeless truths; second, they tend to explain whatever is good about morality in general, such as its responsiveness to suffering, on a false basis. As a result, a great deal of whatever is kind and generous in the human spirit is twisted and shriveled when touched by religious faith.