This is a very touchy topic for myself, as I'm a strong atheist.
Religion must be questioned and even satarised as ALL religions are fundamentally flawed, always in belief and often in practice. Whether Jesus or elder god Cthulhu, criticism by means of science and logic should be used in regards to religion, in the hope that one day all adherents will vacate the church, the mosque, the synagogue, as well as the battlefield and remove the bomb strapped vest - religion hurts people.
I believe it is ok to criticize religion just as I believe it is ok to criticize secular beliefs. Nothing is protected from criticism as per the 1st amendment. It's the sad reality of life. Maybe it's not so sad though, because I love criticizing secular beliefs. When you feel something is wrong, you need to speak up
People have feelings; ideas and concepts don't. Religion, is open for scrutiny, analysis, parody, and mocking, much in the same way as political parties, because it is merely a concept without feelings fragile to criticism. But its followers have feelings that deserve to be respected. Thus, it's okay to criticize religion in contexts where it's debatable, such as a debate website, but definitely not in everyday interactions with a religious person.
Why should anything not be open to scrutiny? We must look at everything objectively, and argue against and for it. I personally feel that it is okay to criticize anything. Now I do believe that certain criticisms are not okay. It is not okay to criticize something for no reason, or for racist, sexist or otherwise unfounded criticisms.
In American (and other nations), religious freedom is the norm. When you attack a religion, or a non-believer, you are basically attacking their fundamental rights. Aside from being disrespectful to the individual, it also shows an overwhelming lack of regard for the country and its founding principles. One could even argue that any individual who repeatedly engages in attacking religion has the propensity to commit a hate crime against religious individuals. Or, where attacks are focused on non-believers, the propensity to commit a hate crime against atheists. When a person criticizes religion, their actions say more about them (as an individual) and their emotional/mental state than it offends the subject matter (religion) or its members.
If we deem that it is not ok to criticize one thing, then therefore it should not be ok to criticize anything at all. It's either all or none. You can't pick and choose what is ok, or not ok. Why should one area of belief be exempt from criticism? Is it immune? No, I think not. Religion is philosophy, and philosophy is a fluid and changing entity. These changes are cause by criticism itself. If we eliminate criticism, then we basically eliminate change.
Well, without criticism, religion gets stale and boring, just keep individuals out of it and don't get personal like some other people say, remember, you want to criticise religion, not the individuals associated with it, to keep a more objective view of it in perspective. Religion, not the person is what you are going for.
...For multiple reasons.
1) Religion contains opinions, beliefs and assertions about history, medicine, psychology, economics, morality, ethics, law and geopolitics. Any time we advocate about any of these things, we have an impact on our fellow man, and so we should be accountable for what we advocate.
2) An informed decision about religion must be based on criteria and critique of different faiths. So any justification of why you're a member of one faith but not some others implicitly contains a critique of other faiths. At some point explaining or promoting your faith at all is a critique.
3) Religions are full of evil ideas the faithful are very fond of. Historically, these include support of slavery, the right to mutilate infants, the subjugation of women, capital punishment, the treatment of children as chattels, the right to invade infidels, and support for draconian Bronze Age punishments including torture, mutilation and executions. If we don't criticise evil, we condone it.
4) Religions are very adept at discouraging questions about articles of dogma. In fact, questions and disputes have traditionally been quashed with imprisonment, torture, murder and exile. If the faithful don't see challenges from outside their faith, they may never see them at all.
I hope that may be of use.
As living being with a thinking faculty, it it necessary to have a sens of critic which helps us think freely about many things concerning our civilization and more precisely something like religion which is on the basis of many events through the history and until now helps powerful or elite class people to control masses of those different to them .
Religion has been used to control and enslave people to submit the entire civilization to a group of people, it has been on the basis of wars and many disastrous events in history .
Whether someone questions Atheism, Christianity, or a new age supernatural belief should not be deemed as offensive. If a religion or ideology does not wish to have it's base beliefs questioned, it shouldn't submit them for public review. If a religious person chooses to prosthelytize, then they are in fact opening a debate by the very act.
Most people who criticize a religion are uneducated in what they are critiquing in the first place. To criticize religion is the same as criticising any person with a belief system different to your own. It is the same problem all cultures share. They do not like what is new or different from them. People have criticized for a variety of reasons (homosexuality, ethnicity, social status) and religion is just another thing to target when you don't believe in what a person is doing. Religion helps instill morals into young people. Who is anyone to judge another or criticize their beliefs as we are all individuals and deserve the right to to think and believe what we feel.