Accordording to Revelation, the Beast doesn't have any attributes that can be attributed to organised religion. The attributes linked with the Beast in Revelation are definitely political... The symbols associated with religion in Revelation are the Harlot and Babylon the Great. Both these symbols are the same, just different methods of description.
Also, the Beast can't refer to Rome because John said there would be seven empires, he wrote five had been, one was (the Roman empire of John's day) and from his perspective, one was yet to come, which obviously tells us that it couldn't have been Rome because, in his day, Rome was already in existence. This Beast that was yet to come is described, as I stated above, as having politcal qualities, not religious.
The prophet Daniel also had visions which featured future political empires and these correspond with Revelation. The two books are very closely related.