Religion has been described as a a tool whereby the ruling class exercise control over the masses.
That is absolutely correct, but it is not such a damning indictment of religion as some might think.
Ruling is what ruling classes do, and they use tools such as religion, traffic regulations, and the criminal code, to do it. Without a ruling-class-imposed social order, life would indeed, for most people, be nasty, brutal and short.
Religion is a bit different from the criminal code since it relies on the near universal human tendency to regard rules of conduct as a matter of great importance. Religious faith thus results in a form of internalized control that promotes civilized behavior in a complex society where people must continually interact on the basis of good faith with strangers of whose character they know nothing.
Religion thus eliminates the need for much external social control.
In godless places like China, and increasingly the West, brainwashing, aka education, etc., has become a substitute for religion — or rather it has created the basis for a set of deeply embedded and irrational beliefs that constitute a secular religion. To the elites, a secular moral code, whether it be Communism, or multi-culti-globo-liberalism, is preferable to religion since it can be modified at any time without supernatural intervention by means of legislation, state-mandated brainwashing, aka K-12+ education, and media and Hollywood spin.
For the people, the downside to a secular religion such as Communism or globo-liberalism is that it can readily be adapted to serve none but a tyrannical elite. Hence in the West, globo-liberalism seeks to destroy competition from God through the promotion of multi-culturalism, which ensures that religion becomes a disruptive, not a unifying and civilizing, influence, and hence something that most will come to agree should be abolished.