I agree that we need to respect other people's religious beliefs. However a popular "religious belief" among hippies is that a person's religion is a very personal affair, that is, no one can tell another what to believe, your belief system should be something you "discover" for yourself either through personal revelation or study of existing religions.
There is a big difference between following an enlightened teacher, be that Christ, Buddha, Lao Tzu or the guru down the block, and joining an institution that has deified someone, set down a lot of rules and rituals, expects money from you, has a closed internal hierarchy, decides who can and can't be a member, has penalties for failing to follow the rules, etc.
The most enlightened teachers don't organize their followers and setup churches, etc. This is because, like hippies, they know that the truth lies within. Something always gets lost in the translation from person to person. And when you have an institution, it has it's own priorities, personalities, power games, etc. that have nothing to do with bringing their followers closer to the truth.
Again, the best teachers help you find the truth within yourself, asking nothing in return. Also the best teachers teach by example, living lives that are impeccable. "The truth shall set you free"
The whole planet is our TEMPLE. If we respected it like we do these so called "holy" places, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in (in case you haven't noticed).
Helping others is exactly what Christ did. Why save your piety for a couple of hours on Sunday. LIVE IT!
Check out this next prophetic section! Remember this was written in 1998!
Religions and governments thrive off people's fears. Fear of death, fear of invasion, fear of those other religions and governments. They're self-perpetuating, and enslaving. Yes they are the major cause of all wars and violence today.
Look at India/Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Kosovo/Serbia, you name it. All in the name of religion or National pride. All deceptions to enrich and empower a few people. For this thousands, no millions must die.
And the worst is yet to come! It won't be communism vs capitalism (although with China who knows?). It'll be Islam vs Christianity (Kosovo was just a warm up). It'll be Islam vs Hinduism (Fire up those nukes Pakistan & India). It'll be little terrorist bands (representing the dispossesed and impoverished) with nukes that'll make a bang. It'll be ruthless dictators with chemical and biological weapons seeking to enslave their neighbors (Iraq, Iran, Korea).
We are indeed on the brink of something far more hideous than we've seen since WWII. Yet we cling to false notions and institutions that have their own agenda and see human life as dispensible to their "higher causes".
You are absolutely right that the Truth lies within, and we have no need for institutionalized religion to discover our own "godliness". In fact they serve but to keep us from realizing our true nature. Those qualities we ascribe to God, are within us all. Love, forgiveness, healing, miracles are all in our power to realize. Yet we chose to ascribe these powers to a "higher" being, thereby denying our own power. What Christ did was what any can do if he/she achieves this realization.
We are only limited by our awareness, and guess what? It's expandable! FREE YOUR MIND, FREE YOUR SOUL, THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!