History has shown that a monopolistic religious institutionalism invariably falls into spiritual degeneracy and inevitably ends in intellectual tyranny. The setting up of autocratic government, episcopal authority, and professional clergy is sooner or later followed by a train of corruptions and abuses. Jesus denounced the religious institutions and religious hierarchy of his time, and drew his followers out of them. Yet hardly had he passed from this earth when they began, in their atavistic reversion to traditional ideas, to recreate new institutions and new hierarchy. If it be asked why the spiritual teacher who knows the harmfulness of these ideas is not heeded by those who believe in him, the answer is first, that belief may be present yet understanding may be absent and, secondly, that the innate selfishness of men finds too easy an opportunity for exploitation through such ideas to miss falling into the temptation of propagating them. Were the truth of any religion really clear to people, all the bitter controversies and bloody persecutions of history would not have happened, and all the innumerable commentaries of theology would never have been written to prove what was so plainly evident.
-- Notebooks Category 17: The Religious Urge > Chapter 4: Problems of Organized Religion > # 192