Wonderful post Mary. From Andre Noquet's essay in Aikido Journal: http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=405
O-Sensei On Religion
[One day] I said to Ueshiba Sensei, “You are always praying, Ueshiba Sensei. Then aikido is a religion.”
“No, that’s not true. Aikido is never a religion, but if you are a Christian, you will be a better Christian because of aikido. If you are a Buddhist, you will be a better Buddhist.”
I thought it was an amazing response. I really liked his answer. Since he was a Japanese I was afraid he would say that Christianity was nothing. Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect.
I asked him one day if there wasn’t a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, “Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn’t. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian.”
Then I asked, “Sensei should I remain a Christian?” He replied, “Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian.” If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost. My heart was full of Ueshiba Sensei because he had a vision of the entire world and that we were all his children. He called me his son.
I'd like to think that settles the issue but I know better.