Ethics is more important than religion

I have recently begun to wonder whether religion, especially institutional religion, is more of a curse for mankind than a boon. I do know that a religious belief, especially in a Universal Creator (or God), sustains millions of us through the exigencies of existence. Why then does religion cause so much harm, especially to the innocent?

Politicised religion is most definitely a curse. Is any major religion exempt from this accusation? Which are they? As well, why do the religions, even sects within a religion, compete with one another? I have read that, in historical times, Christianity challenged its mother religion, Judaism – by claiming that the Messiah had already been! Worse still, politicised Buddhism seems to have forgotten its basic tenet – compassion!

This is why the recent position taken by the Dalai Lama is so uplifting. In the July 2015 issue of the Reader’s Digest, an article by Franz Alt quotes the Dalai Lama thus:
• “Ethics is more important than religion.”
• “We do not arrive in this world as members of a particular religion. But ethics is innate.”
• “There are days when I think it would be better if there were no religions.”
• “Wars have been waged in the name of religion, ‘holy wars’ even. Religions have been and still are frequently intolerant.”
• “Far more crucial than religion is our elementary human spirituality.”
• “The aim of a secular ethic is to free us of momentary and long term suffering, and to develop the ability to support others in the pursuit of happiness. One aspect of compassion is the spontaneous willingness to act for the welfare of others.”

Is there a religious leader anywhere on this globe who would publicly deny the value of such an ethic? If not denied, would such an ethic head the pantheon of beliefs within their religion? Would that be too much to expect?

What of the role or religious leaders, in operational terms, and their value, in humanitarian terms? In the light of the current affrays all over the world, is this not a relevant question?