I'm with Ser Scott on this. What I object to here is not so much religion, but utilizing disingenuity in furthering an agenda. Furthermore, considering the number of 1) these vocal creationists and religious figures who are slammed for tax evasion and 2) number of media persona (the Limbaughs and O'Reilly's) the amount of audience derived from advocating certain viewpoints appealing to a select demographic, and 3) the politicians dependent upon their constituency for re-election - considering this, it's hardly a shot in the dark to guess that the agenda of the vast majority of these visual figures is not religion, but $$$.
To go about cherry picking and misrepresenting an exhaustively researched and demonstrable scientific theory is the only way that creationism subsists, and all of these figures have heard them time and again, ignore them, and proceed with the same tangent, with the same deliberate misinformation.
These tactics of delivering an agenda through means of deception are not limited to creationists, but can be seen in all manner of activities, from business, politics, to every basic human interaction (all of which has the gullible group who eagerly digest what they want to hear, over what available information debunks each respective fantasy).
This agenda happens to be pernicious to a particular scientific advancement, a behavior which many here on this board (myself included) view as bad, but then we've witnessed areas where such bungles have occurred without the power of religion, or at least with its influence comparatively suppressed (*cough* the invasion of Iraq *cough* ).
I don't think religion should be exterminated though, whatever that religion may be. I do think the supernatural should be discounted as having any relevance on social policy, although I think social policy should accommodate supernatural belief to the extent that people are allowed to practice, as long as its hold is limited to that (in other words, church and state as separate - very swell dream that). It is, after all, outside nature, being supernatural and all, and so attempts to qualify it with nature are, inevitably, irreconcilably disputable. You can claim all you want that God/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Jahbulon are fiction or non-fiction, but within the natural world as we know it, it won't go beyond that. Anyone could be right with any claim that exceeds the measurements of nature, so to prohibit one group from their beliefs would be just as prejudiced a position as the creationists' present behavior.
As for the flock, whose reasons for persisting in unfounded belief and demonstrably erroneous belief, it is ignorance, whether willful or otherwise. This has already been addressed. But again, eliminating religion would not eliminate ignorance (you would be hacking at the branch instead of removing the root). Education is the only real remedy, I think. And if education will not suffice for certain people, you have to sigh at losing the battle, but muster on for the war. There will always be that one chick who cries over the boyfriend who cheated on her, after he promised to stop his ways when he started a relationship with her during his marriage. Some people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge what's in front of them. This isn't an issue of religion; religion is merely one venue for the problem.
In summation, religion: a forum for the real problem, not the problem itself; eliminating religion: not solving the problem for the aforementioned reason, or rather open up for new problems to arise, or the same problems for different reasons, while simultaneously participating in an act of equivalent prejudice and ignorance that the creationists are herein accused of.
As a postscript, I think the influence of religion has visibly waned. Sure, its advocates shout with just as much ardor as they always have, but while religion does have a habit of intruding and reshaping social policy, I think more often than not it's the other way around, and with each successive generation since the Age of Enlightenment it has mutated to something that is conducive to secular mores (that is, liberation from edicts that are grounded simply on the basis of "God said so"). I don't think it will fade anytime soon, but it's certainly changing to something more palatable (though it is a rocky journey).
Edited by The Humble Asskicker, 02 May 2009 - 07:12 PM.