I once had a discussion with a friend who insisted that 'religion is not ethnicity'. It started me wondering if that is really true. In some parts of the world, ethnic groups seem to be defined by religion as much as 'race' or language. For example, we now think of someone who is 'Greek' as speaking Greek, and as someone who is 'Turkish' as speaking Turkish. But when Greece first gained its independence, and the two populations were intermingled in both Greece and Turkey, 'Greeks' were defined as Orthodox Christians, while 'Turks' were defined as Muslims. Language was secondary; so that someone who was Christian but spoke Turkish was defined as 'Greek', while someone who was Muslim but spoke Greek was a 'Turk'. That definition still persists today, and Greece claims that Albanian-speaking Christians in southern Albania (where the majority are Muslim) are actually 'Greeks'.
More recently, in Bosnia, when the 3 main 'ethnicities' were fighting, what really distinguished them? They all spoke the same language and shared virtually the same culture, living together for centuries. But the Croats were Catholic, the Serbs were Orthodox, and the Muslims were, of course, Muslim. If a Croat converts to Orthodoxy, is he then a Serb? How about a Muslim who becomes Catholic? Is she then a Croat? In Bosnian society, religion is not a flexible thing- a mere matter of personal conscience. It is almost a betrayal of one's community. In fact, Muslim communities throughout the Balkans are often seen by the Christian majority as 'collaborators' who betrayed their compatriots and converted for personal gain. (Whether that was true or not, centuries ago, the present generation can hardly be blamed for it.)
In Iraq today, most commentators refer to Shiites and Sunnis as if they are two ethnic groups- which, in essence, they are- but defined by religion, not physical characteristics or language, as both groups are Arabs. Even where there is a conflict between two truly distinct 'ethnic' groups, religion is still, often, a factor. Armenians and Azerbis speak different languages and have very different cultural traditions, but it is the religious factor- that Armenians are Christians and Azerbis Muslim- that has made the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh so bloody. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, the Tamils and Singhalese speak different languages, but they are also of different religions: Hindu and Buddhist, respectively. Would their conflict have been so violent and unresolvable if they were of the same religion? I wonder.
The examples of religiously-defined ethnic groups are numerous: Sikhs in India, Maronites and Druze in Lebanon, Jews everywhere, and Mormons in the United States. Even in Canada, part of the 'French Canadian' identity is their Catholic heritage. The concept of religion as a matter of personal conscience, unrelated to an individual's status in his community, is historically recent, and a result of the humanism and individualism which emerged in Europe after the Reformation, and during the Enlightenment. Unfortunately, it has not been universally accepted, as we saw recently in Afghanistan, with the Muslim who converted to Christianity. In parts of the world where Christians and Muslims, or Muslims and Hindus, or Protestants and Catholics (N. Ireland) are killing each other, simply for being of a different religion, it's not exactly surprising that anyone who converts is looked at with suspicion. As long as religion continues to be used to define who is "us" and who is "them"- who is "in" the group (and can therefore be trusted) and who is "out" (and must be feared), this will continue to be the case.
'Race' is a social term, not a biological one, as most anthropologists will tell you. Race is defined by arbritrary physical criteria, such as skin colour, hair type (straight, curly, etc.), eye shape, and so on. But these differences are relatively minor, a few pairs of DNA. There is as much difference between siblings in the same family as between people of different 'races'.
But what I was talking about was not race, but ethnicity- which is commonly defined by language and culture.
Also, your statistics for each religion, Raj, are pure fiction. In fact there are as many Catholics (one sect of Christians) as Muslims, and far more Muslims than Hindus or Buddhists. One billion Animists? I don't think so.
------------------>>> German, French, Italian, English, Russian, Spanish, Other
Black Brown African
---------------->>> Nigerian, Sudanese, Bantu, Congoese, Algerian, Other
|------------>>> Yourba, Other
Brown Black White Desi
---------------->>> Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali, SriLankan, Other
|------------>>> Bengali, Bihari, Tamil, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Marati, Pashtu, Other
White Yellow Brown Oriental
---------------->>> Chiense, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Other
|------------>>> Han, Hui, Tibetian, Dorgi, Other
White Black Brown American
----------------->>> American, Canadian, Other
|------------->>> Texan, Tribal, White, Black, Hispanic, Arabic, Asian, Desi, Other
There are a lot of stats about religion on the internet- I'm not sure how reliable they are, though.
www.adherents.com has these stats:
Christianity: 2.1 billion
Islam: 1.3 billion
Secular/Atheist: 1.1 billion
Hinduism: 900 million
Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
Buddhism: 376 million
'primal-indigenous': 300 million
others: less than 200 million
Raj, the site on skin color is fascinating- I didn't realize that there were actually two kinds of melanin that affect skin colour.
I wonder if, when they discover the genes responsible for skin colour, people will be able to lighten or darken their skin with 'gene therapy'. I'm sure that will cause some controversy in the future.
The problem with the triangle graph is that 'hispanic' covers about 500 million people, with varying combinations of European-Amerindian, European-African, and even African-Amerindian genes.
WHO put Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and other English/Dutch/French speaking trash on MERCUSUR??? WE do not want that CRAP among us, you English-Speaking and French-Speaking people TAKE what is YOURS and don't push that TRASH onto us.
And yes you can take Mexico with you to Nafta too, we don't want and don't like those traitors either.
And "varying combinations of European-Amerindian, European-African, and even African-Amerindian genes" is my dick jizzing, I'm Brazilian and I AM WHITE as well 13% of Brazilians are WHITE, and I know nothing about Indians or Blacks on my bloodline. Stop writing shits about "people with varying degrees of racial mixing" when you talk about South Americans as a whole group. Why don't you KKKs talk about your Indian ancestors for a change? I bet a third of you KKK racists who slump us White South-Americans togheter with "the Latinos" might have a sitting bull or a fatass black momma in the botton of your bloodline.
PS: And I am NOT Spaniard or Portuguese, don't offend me. Those racial-mixers Spaniard and Portuguese are not worth the turd I shit on the toilet every morning.
Dear 'White Brazilian': this article is about religion and ethnicity. Unfortunately, some people posted comments which were offensive to you. I allowed your comment, since I allowed theirs.
But, just wondering, if you are 'white' and "NOT Spaniard or Portuguese", where did your ancestors come from?
What's wrong with "racial mixing" anyway? Does race really matter that much to you?
Dear Scott Tyler,
it is a great investigation. I stepped by surprise over your map, World Economic Racial Map. Unfortunately the area of the European union includes also Finnland (which is shown here as a part of the russian states).