Is religion impotent? Nobody likes the idea better than I do that belonging to a religion influences attitudes and behavior (usually for the better), but the case of the Catholic church (which I also like very much) provides little evidence for this. You would expect Catholics to oppose abortion, condom use, and capital punishment, and to have more children than other Americans. Let's compare them to Protestants:
Percent in favor of abortion on demand
Percent in favor of death penalty
Percent using condom last time one had sex
Average number of children
Evidently, all that doctrine and preaching and enculturation of the youth has precisely zero impact on adherents. You might say that we see no impact because Catholics never go to church and never learn this stuff, but according to the GSS, 36% go at least once a week. Thank God religion gives people meaning, or from a practical, earthly stance, what would be the point of it?