One of the potential excuses which could be invoked to excuse the “geography of religion” thing is the observation that most people don’t actively ‘choose” which language(s) they’re subjected to first, either.
There’s a vast difference between the two issues, however:
Nobody claims that you’ll be sentenced to an eternity of “hellfire” for having been born into a Japanese-speaking population.
Oh, wait — some people are insane enough to battle over shit like that, too:
Time for an Ayn Rand quote:
A symptom of the tribal mentality’s self-arrested, perceptual level of development may be observed in the tribalists’ position on language.
Language is a conceptual tool—a code of visual-auditory symbols that denote concepts. To a person who understands the function of language, it makes no difference what sounds are chosen to name things, provided these sounds refer to clearly defined aspects of reality. But to a tribalist, language is a mystic heritage, a string of sounds handed down from his ancestors and memorized, not understood. To him, the importance lies in the perceptual concrete, the sound of a word, not its meaning. He would kill and die for the privilege of printing on every postage stamp the word “postage” for the English-speaking and the word “postes” for the French-speaking citizens of his bilingual Canada. Since most of the ethnic languages are not full languages, but merely dialects or local corruptions of a country’s language, the distinctions which the tribalists fight for are not even as big as that.
But, of course, it is not for their language that the tribalists are fighting: they are fighting to protect their level of awareness, their mental passivity, their obedience to the tribe, and their desire to ignore the existence of outsiders.
Probably the clearest examples of the utter correctness of Rand’s observation are the various “ethnoreligious” communities here in the U.S., and the history of the former Yugoslavia:
The only reason that the pseudo-language of “Pennsylvania Dutch” even exists at all, si because it is inextricably tied to several relatively-obscure religious sects (Amish/Mennonites/”Brethren”, etc.)
The “Hutterites” have their own absurd little “cult-speak”, as well:
The important thing to recognize about such “languages” is that they exist to prevent communication with “outsiders” – to insulate those with the bad luck to have been “born into” such communities, and prevent them from ever escaping.
Of course, the same thing can be said for Yiddish — especially among the Hasidim:
I’ve come to the conclusion that approximately 99% of humanity “learn” their religious beliefts/practices the same way they “learn” the sexism, racism, etc. which so often go right along with those “beliefs” and “practices”.