This question was asked by Moe:
If I was born in Iraq (99% Muslim), I would be Muslim. If I was born in Italy (99% Catholic), I would be Catholic. So do we ever really have a choice? Or is religion completely based on social environment?
When it comes to religion, I cannot help but to think about the term generation. Many people have identified themselves with a religion based on upbringing and not merely based on choice.
There are expectations placed on what one should believe based on family values and traditions. However, that does not imply that one does not have the choice and freedom to break a tradition in the attempt to adopt their own path.
Our environment plays a role in our traditions which leads to the shaping of our lifestyle. But do I believe that a dominate presence of a particular belief group will automatically categorize one to be labeled with a specific genre, title, belief and more?
One can live in a predominantly Muslim believing population and identify themselves as a Christian, a Jew, atheist and more.
Society will have us to believe that we are not given a choice and what and where we are born into, is our end all be all. If one is a minority in a predominantly believing religious practice, the fear of being different or the consequences associated with it can pressure one to instantly adopt that particular practice without a choice.
Although one’s social environment can play a role in religious practice, it does NOT have to finalize one’s association.
It is fair to say that religion is influenced by culture and vice versa; and that it can play a role in why various parts of the world are dominated by specific religious groups. We must keep in mind that additional factors play a role in the geographical distribution of specific religious groups and practices.
Although we may be influenced based on our surroundings, we do not have to associate ourselves to a certain belief because of where we grew up, our culture and our tradition because we do not have to be the product of our environment.
Life is about choices and every choice has an outcome, good or bad. Sadly to say, most people make decisions based on outcomes instead of internal desires and internal peace.
I would say that society plays a role in what a person chooses to believe because every area has a “norm” that is to be “attained”. However, we should not forget that we are given a choice to choose our own path; including our belief.