One of the things that stands out to anyone who has traveled different regions of the world is just how regional religion is. Although most of us already know this, when you actually see it over and over it rings true.
As a person of western culture, all my childhood experiences of religion were shaped and formed by Christian teaching. I never attended church much as a child, but I remember the Billy Graham crusades my mother would watch on TV. All other religions of the world seemed strange or even scary to me. I couldn't understand how people could believe differently from the Bible teachings.
But really, people are people everywhere. They have the same feelings toward Christianity as we have toward their religion. When a Buddhist reads about a Son of God who visited in the flesh on this earth they have a great deal of skepticism. They may think, "well at least Buddha was a real mortal".
Religion is actually less regional today than many years ago. With TV, Internet, and easier means of evangelizing, there are pockets of Christians throughout the world. As there are pockets of Islamic and Hindi believers here.
The reason religion is regional is obvious. It's what is handed down in that area of the world, the ancient beliefs and stories or doctrines are handed down as sacred teaching to the children. If you are indoctrinated into a way of life, it is extremely likely you will follow it.
I thought of that as I walked through an Islamic mosque and saw the children being instructed by their teacher. This is not the same mosque as I posted here:
But, if a door is left open, curious people may walk in...
What choice do children have to chose their faith when their respected teachers and elders have already chosen for them? These children are indoctrinated in Islam at an early age, much like the Sunday school teaching of many youth here.
This kid was looking at me with a stare that said, "What are you doing here?". But actually, I think they appreciated my curiosity, or at least that is what I convinced myself.
The little girl in center kept staring at me too. I waved at her at one point and she smiled and pointed at herself meaning, "are you waving at me?" I nodded in the affirmative and she felt special for a moment.
No one tried to convert me to Islam, or Hindi, or Buddhism in all my travels. Their efforts are spent locally to ensure the local doctrine, and also the local flavor of that doctrine, is passed on within their community. With each tweak of the local doctrine the flavor changes. Hence the regionality of gods throughout the world.
Even in the western world we don't agree on a single Christian doctrine. But instead have many separate denominations as a result of local tweaking of the original doctrine.
We may think we choose our faith, but from my travel experiences, for the most part, our faith is chosen for us through locality.