Actually DDM, your comment is more than vaguely related to the topic. Yes, the suffering of Christ has indeed been turned into a scourge with which to whip the faithful into feelings of guilt and indebtedness-- especially by the Catholics-- but the idea of bloody sacrifice as basis for religion is much older than Christianity.
As Joseph Campbell writes, there were two great families of myths associated with hunter/gatherer cultures, and these worldviews came from generations of cause-and-effect relationships which these pre-scientific peoples thought they understood based on the everyday observation of their material environment:
"The landscape of the 'Great Hunt,' typically, was of a spreading plain, cleanly bounded by a circular horizon, with the great blue dome of an exalting heaven above, where hawks and eagles hovered and the blazing sun passed daily; becoming dark by night, star-filled, and with the moon there, waning and waxing. The essential food supply was of the multitudinous grazing herds, brought in by the males of the community following dangerous physical encounters. And the ceremonial life was addressed largely to the ends of a covenant with the animals, of reconciliation, veneration, and assurance that in return for the beasts' unremitting offering of themselves as willing victims, their life-blood should be given back in a sacred way to the earth, the mother of all, for rebirth.
In contrast, the environment of the jungle tribes is of a dense and mighty foliage, the trunks and branches of prodigious trees; no horizon; no dome of the sky; but above, a ceiling of leaves populated by screeching birds, and underfoot a rough leafage, beneath which may lurk scorpions and lethal fangs. Out of the rot of fallen wood and leaves, fresh sprouts arise- from which the lesson learned appears to have been that from death springs life, out of death, new birth; and the grim conclusion drawn was that the way to increase life is to increase death. Accordingly, there has been endemic to the entire equatorial belt of this globe what can be described only as a frenzy of sacrifice, vegetable, animal, and human: from the African Guinea Coast and the Congo, across and throughout India, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, to Middle America and the jungles of Brazil.
Moreover, in variously modified forms, the influence of this order of primitive rites entered and inspired much of the mythology of the higher cultures, where it survives in myths and rituals of sacrifice and communion with which many of us, of whatever religious affiliation, have been long familiar." Joseph Campbell, Historical Atlas of World Mythology, Volume I, Part I, pp. 9-10
Now I have issues with Campbell at times, but I think he is spot on regarding these ideas. I have studied a great deal of cultural anthropology and a great deal of comparative religion, and nothing has led me to challenge his arguments. Religion evolves, just as we do, according to the environment. It is always a reflection of our material mode of production-- whether hunter/gatherer (and then, what and where we hunt and gather, and distribute), agricultural (and then, what we raise, grow, and distribute), or urban/industrial (and by whom and what system we are ruled, and distribute).
The great religions which we face in the world today are all well-evolved religions, ironically enough, formatted in their current forms by trans-imperial stage prophets like Buddha, Christ, Mohammad, etc, but still rooted for various reasons strongly in a Bronze Age container. I would love to discuss these reasons, but they take up some space. At any rate, all of our current religions have ancestral forms lurking in their theological-biochemistry and ritual-structures even older than that, but they are continually being forced to "stretch" and adapt to our evolving technology and life ways, and with the advent of science and cultural specialization-- the experiential, cultural fibers connecting us with those historical forms are becoming weaker, while unfortunately our evolved, biological, neural hard-wiring for "belief" has not-- perhaps cannot-- changed quickly enough to snap them completely.