It's human nature to see patterns and to generalize, but your bias is that you see religion as nothing but a brainwashing and control mechanism for the weak-minded, and you equate all such mechanisms with religion. It's not that I disagree with your original post, but "religion" is not essence of the problem.
but your bias is that you see religion as nothing but a brainwashing and control mechanism for the weak-minded
Actually I see it as a brainwashing and control mechanism for almost everyone. If I were accusing 90% of people in all walks of life of being "weak-minded" you'd have a good point. Instead, my experience is that intelligence is almost completely orthogonal to religiosity.
It seems clear that both theistic religions and human personality cults take advantage of a bug in our mental OS that shuts down our critical faculties in the presence of authority figures who adopt a certain psycholinguistic posture.
The religion bug was undoubtedly a useful feature at one time. ("Hey, dumbass. Refrigeration won't be invented for another 2,000 years. Don't eat shrimp or pork." "Uh, why not?" "Well, because, um, because God said he will kill you if you do.") However, it now serves only as a root exploit for use by hackers with less-than-honest motivations. We still have the bug in the code base because of how important it was to our survival in the distant past. It must be 'fixed' at a conscious level, because it isn't going to be deselected by evolutionary forces anytime soon.
This all seems so obvious to me that I believe (there's that word again!) that the burden of proof lies with anyone who disagrees with me. Maybe I have a similar bug, myself. :)