First, as regards the legal advantages afforded religions in many countries, the simple answer is to convince enough people of this and get the laws changed. If you can’t make that happen, despite decades of effort, then perhaps your logic is faulty - there may be something there that’s being overlooked.
Second, as many have said here, religions have much in common with cults - as does any other belief systems, indeed, and group, including political groups, environmental groups, etc., and including us skeptics. As proof of this, I offer two points. (1) To the definitions of cult listed above, I would add another - members of a cult stop listening to those who do not belong to it, and we see repeated warnings of this from other skeptics, about skeptics. (2) Biases tend to be used to reinforce cult beliefs. On this forum and in Skeptical Inquirer, I often see, among the authors, clear examples of the same biases repeatedly attributed to those with whom the authors disagree. A major failure of the skeptical movement, therefore, is its general failure to be skeptical of ourselves and our own beliefs/positions.
Many will say that I’m wrong, that we skeptics are different, we are not a cult, we do not have a cultish belief system, we base our positions on facts and logic, on proven science. While it seems to me we do generally try to base our positions on better foundations than most, we’re far from infallible, and it would do us all well to remember that. We sometimes become too focused on one aspect of a problem and miss the larger, core problems. Religion is a great example.
Religion isn’t a core problem, but merely a manifestation of a much larger one, as is every other group, past, present, and future. To be sure, religions are one of the more successful examples (which may indicate it meets more human needs than most other groups), but it is far from the only such group. Indeed, I suspect that part of the core problem is that, as social animals, humans are driven to form groups, from neighborhood associations to nations - all part of spectrum, all more or less cultish. These groups are, in reality, human tools generally formed for a common purpose. Another other part of the problem is that, like any tool, groups can be used for good or ill, sometimes simultaneously. Their purpose may morph over time, they may be misused, broken, discarded, restored, etc., just like any other tool. We see this in religions - they’ve had many purposes and uses over time, they have morphed, been used well, misused, discarded, restored, etc…
The final part of the core problem is perhaps the most important. Like any tool, what its used for and how its used depends, fundamentally, of the group leadership. Over the millennia, group leaders have used this group tool to accomplish - and destroy - much. And it is this group leadership that must be studied - how do they gain control of this wondrous human tool? How do they turn it to good, to evil? If we can’t prevent or mitigate the human need to form groups, perhaps we can find ways to minimize its leadership’s ability to use the tool for evil (assuming we can agree on what that is)?
We can complain about ills of religion all we want, but we’re missing the point in doing so. Unless we address the core problem, all we’re doing is wasting our time, and much more.