This is an intriguing post to me, thank you for sharing. I'd just like to point to the fact that there are many words which at one time meant something positive, and even still do to one group of people, but take on a negative meaning in the minds of another group over time. "Religion" is one such word.
I try to assign a neutral meaning to words like this when I hear them, because I do not wish to be blindly perpetrating a negative thought. The trouble is when I run into someone who takes an irrationally positive view, it feels like I'm being negative towards their beliefs. That's usually a good time to change the subject to something I can be agreeable on.
There was a time when the thought of being considered a fundamentalist was very pleasing to me. I thought, well if the "liberals" and "atheists" hate this word so much it must really be positive! That was before I started to think of liberals and atheists in a more neutral manner (people!) I don't believe in bad-mouthing any large group of people anymore, because I think even bad groups have good people who will be hurt by negative words I throw their way.
The terms "fundamentalist" or "religion" are not inherently bad. I think it is the tendancy of many to go along with their group unthinkingly that harms these words. We should also recognise not everyone is a genius and it's not completely their fault if their leaders make mistakes.
Now I use words like rational, open-minded, fair, pure-intentioned, and kind-hearted to describe myself as I'd like to be. It's not like I can always be these things 100% of the time, but they can certainly be the goals I am trying for. As to a label, I am human and I like to call myself a Christian.
Before you go saying religion is the cause of wars and brutality in times past, ask yourself if it was not in fact the demonization of groups of people that was the real cause of this.