In praise of religion in the sense of it being a relationship with God, however one sees that relationship, it “generally” has a positive relationship to the estate of all members of a society. This “general” trend is seen as early as in the Codes of Hamurabbi, whom claimed much like Moses did in the same era, to have received them from God.
Most religions that form the basis of a civilization have the tendancy of providing redress to wrongs done to the more vulnerable members of that society. Within the United States, a religious context has often in its best moments provided relief to those most opressed. However, the tradition of the US is to mention God in the abstract, and to utilize the moral codes found within the Judeo-Christian ethic, also found within most of the world’s major religions as a framework for law and social policy.
Religion in this sense does add to our Republic in a positive light, and typically has:
1- served a secular purpose
2- neither advanced nor inhibited a particular religion.
3- does not excessively tangle government with religion.
This does not mean that politicians will not make use of religion and any views attached with it to their advantage. However, the opposite can be said to be true. Consider the shameful treatment of Governor Al Smith when he ran for President in 1928. It was alleged that his Catholicism would ruin the nation. Hence, the politician who designed most of the better policies of The New Deal, prior to FDR, was destroyed by Hoover.
Religious bigotry and bias are unwelcome in a free society. However, bias against religion, and the refusal to recognize the social benefit it typically serves society is also bigotry.