controlling what masses you ask? Your thinking in the small family unit. I'm rederring to much more than that.
Religion is not about freedom at all. It's an ancient and evolving understanding of the philosophy regarding human existence and the universe. There is no freedom is religion, it's a heavily controlled environment. If you think outside the box of your chosen group or religion, you are punished with cruelity such as being condemned to hell, criticized for thinking such things, or ex-communicated. You are reprimanded for asking the hard questions. So I do disagree that religion is freedom. Yes, it does give us much to ponder on, which is good.
Rome is a great example of a military power under the guise of religion.
Religion is created and instituted by the ruling forces. By creating a religious system that creates it's own fear of the unknown, the government doesn't have to exude as much physical force to get the population under their control.
Without religion, what would motivate an individual to obey the rules of society? A large army and drain on the society to keep control. Let's take modern america as an example. America is slowing becoming a nation void of a universal religion. More and more americans are not practicing any form of religion. They have no fear a god or a hell. What is the result? More and more crime. What is the result of the high crime rate? More money for rehabilitation that doesn't work, high cost of more and more social programs, more police officers to guard and protect, building more prisons, not forgetting the all the staff that needs paid to do these jobs, the slow deterioration of morality, the increase of perversion, the list can go on and on.
Who pays for the high cost of crime, you and me. If America had a strong sense of spirituality and religious expression from a healthy fear of a god, we wouldn't be seeing the crime that we see today. It will escalate eventually until military force will be needed to protect americans from eachother because people no longer fear or believe in a god.