It has been self-evident, at least since the axial age, that not all religious persons, practices and beliefs are of equal value. Indeed the great founders and reformers were all acutely dissatisfied with the state of religion around them. Their criticisms have been either metaphysical (as in the case of Gautama, who rejected the prevailing ātman doctrine) or theological (as in the case of Muhammad, who rejected the Arabian polytheism of his day) or, much more often, moral. Thus the ancient Hebrew prophets condemned in the name of God the elevation of sacrifice and ritual above the requirements of mercy and social justice:
I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings,
I will not accept them,
and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts
I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs:
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an everflowing stream.