I grew up in a society where "religious" was always a praise word.
Going to church a lot, being a pal of the vicar's, helping to run some militaristic church youth group- these were all, in and of themselves, things worthy of praise. They were moral. They were good.
Morality and religion were all scrambled together. You could be sour, nasty, intolerant, ignorant, snobbish, small-minded, cruel, power-mad, not to be trusted round children, but if you were also "religious" you were automatically on the side of the angels.
It has taken me most of my life to undo this early conditioning.
And to realise that "being religious" is just a compulsion, taste or hobby like any other- and that "religious" people are no more to be counted on for moral behaviour than football supporters or stamp collectors or any other gang or group.