While much evil has been done in the name of religion, religion has made many positive contributions to society.
First, religious institutions have done a staggering amount of charitable work. Giving to the poor is one of the five pillars of Islam, for example, and is integral to the Christian message, as it is to all the major world religions. Religious institutions are responsible for establishing hospitals, schools, orphanages, prison visitation, and soup kitchens. Before the growth of the modern welfare state, churches provided most of these humanitarian services to the poor, who otherwise would have been without a place to turn. Even today, it is religious groups who often spearhead and are at the front lines of programs to help those in need, opening homeless shelters and food banks to fill gaps in the social welfare state.
Second, religious groups have often peacefully advocated for social justice in ways that have brought needed change and protected the rights of the most vulnerable. It is difficult to fight convictions which are not motivated by personal need or greed, but by deeply held beliefs that it is wrong to treat any person in a way you would not want to be treated.
Third, even people who have not personally held deep religious beliefs, such as philosopher Thomas Hobbes, have seen the value of religion as a glue holding society together and a teacher of the positive moral and ethical values undergirding a stable culture.
Fourth, on an individual level, where much of religion has been pushed in the modern age, religious belief can have positive transformative effects on a person, leading to a richer, fuller, and more giving life. It can add vitally important meaning and purpose beyond simply fulfilling one's own physical needs and cravings. Further, some individuals, such as Francis of Assisi, have had a lasting impact on society centuries after their deaths because of the effects of their religious conversion. Such people may have given up their wealth and worldly power to follow God but have become extraordinary role models who remain deeply inspiring to others.