I think religion is so weird in this country. We try to act like its something we can separate. But people who are truly religious know that its a part of their culture. We say things like "I'm spiritual, not religious" because sometimes being religious is viewed as a person with unbending, conservative views who goes to church or mosque on a consistent basis. I find that people who are not American tend to view their religion as part of their culture, ethnicity or race. For example I have a Jewish friend who doesn't believe in changing his religion. He believes its not even something he has the ability to change -he is always Jewish by race/ethnicity, how can you really just "convert" or change that?
But not everyone views their religion in this way. In the US we can choose our religion. There are plenty of us who want to choose what we believe in, not follow what we were born into. We can decide to convert or just not practice what our family is practicing. And sometimes we turn something from a subculture into our religion. The Yoga we practice, the music we follow, the life style we try to live, the Martial Arts we train in. The list can go on. This can be great, we are practicing what we believe in as if its our culture, as if its something we are truly connected to. The not so great part of this is when people become evangelical about it. When people start preaching about how their Yoga is better than everyone elses. When people start putting down others for following not following a Vegan diet or training in a different kind of Martial Arts then they are. Ultimately we come to the same place...which is, to realize that we're all different, from different cultures with different stories and different body constitutions. If we were all doing the same thing, following the same religion wouldn't that make the world kind of boring?
There is something to be said about the differentiation of the world. The uniqueness of the individual. At the same time, I also believe in being able to connect to the rest of the world and relating to it -finding sameness among us. Its important to not lose sight of the world we live in. We need to find that balance in order to live peacefully in this world together.
*Disclaimer -I'm not saying being religious is negative, nor is following a certain kind of Yoga is bad. I'm also not saying all Jewish people think or should think the way my friend does. Just putting the thoughts out there for people to contemplate on.