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This element of folk culture  persists alongside popular or  commodity culture when other  elements of folk culture have been  abandoned "Religion" comes from religare   (Latin) meaning to fasten or  connect loose parts into a whole Formal regions defined by religion  are noticeably different from each  other (e.g. the contrast between  Catholic and Protestant regions in  the Americas and in Europe)--why?  Ritual bathing in the Ganges  River (Varanasi, India)
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As religion connects it also divides Inclusion and exclusion “Identity” is the glue that holds groups  together Personal (who am I?) Geographical (where do I belong?) Prohibitions that non-believers do not  observe act as barriers to diffusion Reduce and change interactions with persons  who are not co-religionists.  In addition, labels like "infidel," "heathen,"  and "gentile" promote the idea that those  with different cultural traditions are bad,  evil, or misguided worshipers at a mosque in Pakistan
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The existing pattern of religions is the result of centuries of diffusion. o Religion defines "Us" and "Them" which shapes diffusion of other traits o Proselytizing (or proselytic) religions promote diffusion outside their cultural region (Christianity) or inside that region (Islam), while ethnic religions do not
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Major religions correspond to large regions: Christianity : Europe, Americas, Oceania Islam : North Africa, Middle East, parts of S. Asia & S.E. Asia Hinduism : India and part of Sri Lanka Buddhism : parts of S. Asia, much of S.E. Asia, much of E. Asia The boundaries between religious culture regions are like plate  boundaries in the earth's crust: lots of shaking and frequent eruptions. No rule is hard and fast in geography, however The contact zone between Islam and Hinduism also led to the  emergence of the Sikh religion, which reconciles conflicting elements  of Hinduism and Islam  Various beliefs coexist alongside each other in North America with  relatively little conflict
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahglidden/127900107/
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Whether intentionally or not, dietary prohibitions tend to  reduce casual interaction between non-coreligionists, and  therefore inhibit diffusion across religious lines Commensalism  (eating together) symbolizes togetherness Sociofacts associated with religion tend to both group and  divide people, including dietary prohibitions (proscriptions) Hinduism and   beef avoidance   Jainism, Buddhism, and  vegetarianism Ahimsa  and karma Kashrut and Dhabiha Halaal  Pork avoidance  and more
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Kashrut  (Jewish dietary  restrictions)
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