This question may be raised especially when you start knowing or researching in Buddhism – Is Buddhism really a religion? Well, let me ask you this. Does that really a matter to you? Isn’t all that based on your definition of “religion”?
Alright it does matter to you and you insist want to you know the answer, then let me ask you this question.
Is freethinking a religion?
If your answer is yes, then Buddhism is a religion. If your answer is no, then Buddhism is NOT a religion. This is only true if you 100% understand what Buddhism is all about.
Human has already defined Buddhism is a religion and freethinking or freethought is NOT a religion. You can just check it out the definition of religion and freethinking by wikipedia. Let’s set this as baseline of our discussion. The confusion happens when you start getting closer to understand the Buddhism, then you soon realize that Buddhism in fact is a free thinking philosophy.
Can you see the contradiction here? Buddhism is a religion but it is also a freethinking philosophy (after you fully understand what Buddhism is about). However, freethinking is NOT a religion. So, what is Buddhism now?
Well, this goes back to the people who define Buddhism as religion because they do NOT think Buddhism is a freethinking philosophy but it is. This is due to lack of understanding about Buddhism concept when this definition is defined.
"No, Buddhism is not a religion"
P/S: This is only assuming freethinking or freethought is not a religion which is the common understanding. :D
[Update: June 16, 2012]: What is Buddhism?