All religions come down to the same thing. This is a statement I hear quite often and always disagree with. Yes, I know, the more you abstract different religions the more they will look alike. But then again, the same goes for everything else.
There are many similarities between religions. For example common moral values or similar rituals. Even similar images of a transcendent being. As said, if we make the abstraction great enough, religion is just another life philosophy. This is true, but the distinction between life philosophies and religions is mostly that a religion depends on tradition. In this tradition and the vision of the transcendent in this tradition lies the difference between religions. The difference lies in the way a religion views an individual in the generations past her or him and the generations after her or him. Besides that the difference in traditions also lies in the way an individual is related to the transcendent.
These two relations, depending on religious tradition, of the individual to a greater whole are the differences between religions. These relations cannot be abstracted without losing an important uniqueness of a religion. If these traditions are left out in a comparison, the comparison is based on research that lack in dept or it is based on opinions without depth.
I wonder why the emphasis is mostly on similarities. Of course, if two people from different religions or denominations want to work together it's a good thing. On the other hand I believe differences will lead to better understanding of each other and a better position on your own ideas.