I believe 'culture' is all human beings need to live their entire lives in all of their various dimensions, including ways to knowledge, wisdom and experience concerning what they might hold reverential or spiritual.
Such ways to knowledge, wisdom and experience (sometimes expressed by such terms as Sampradaya, Panth, Bhakti/Gyan Marg, etc.) are inherent in what we call 'culture' and not separate from it.
It's an open fraud and falsehood to posit some such thing as 'religion' as separate from and transcending 'culture'.
No such thing as separate from and transcending 'culture' has any existence except as a collective pretence or fraud, which is what the whole concept of 'religion' is.
By pretending to be separate from and transcending 'culture' even while hypocritically taking full advantage of the amazing openness (also known as ‘syncretism’) and the limitless range of knowledge, wisdom and experience of 'culture', Judeo-Christianity and Islam qualify themselves to be deemed a fraud.
This gargantuan fraud on humanity that Judeo-Christianity and Islam represent is also known by the terms 'religion', ‘empire’, 'imperialism', etc.
Judeo-Christianity and Islam constitute a fraud both (a) conceptually i.e. as a so called faith or set of prescribed ‘beliefs’ and (b) as praxis i.e. as a way of collective life based on some 'history' that itself has been woven from hearsay, myths, and plain falsehoods.
Let's examine the concept first, whereby a dubious set of prescribed 'beliefs' - based on very dubious 'histories' - have ostensibly been made the entire basis of being a 'Christian' or a 'Muslim'.
It's impossible for anyone ever to know what the other person actually believes in except by way of speculation based on the latter's behaviour.
That's because we can never see or measure 'beliefs' to confirm their existence.
'Beliefs' do not have a material form.
You and I can never know for sure what our own fathers or wives or children actually 'believe' in except what we can infer from their words and deeds.
In fact, people would be quite at sea if they were to try to examine and ascertain what they themselves believe in.
Beliefs are, in fact, ever in flux, always changing with our experience of life.
I may no longer believe what I believed last year, or last month, or last week.
It's impossible, therefore, for anyone ever to be a 'Christian' or a 'Muslim' in a way that's even remotely ascertainable by a fellow 'Christian' or a 'Muslim' whose faith or set of ‘beliefs’, in turn, is similarly unascertainable.
In other words, no supposed 'Christian' or 'Muslim' can ever be a 'Christian' or 'Muslim', based on a set of prescribed 'beliefs', except by 'professing' or 'claiming publicly' that he/she is or has become a 'Christian' or 'Muslim' OR by assuming outward signs or performing observances such as taking a Christian/Muslim name, going to churches/mosques, keeping distinct kinds of appearance, wearing crosses or distinct kinds of clothing, etc.
That's why you see use of terms like "professing" and "bearing witness" in Judeo-Christianity and Islam in regard to assumption of 'Christian' and 'Muslim' labels.
These terms simply mean a 'publicly made claim or declaration' that someone has assumed the 'Christian' or 'Muslim' label.
Except this 'publicly made claim or declaration' that one is henceforth a 'Christian' or a 'Muslim', there is absolutely no other way to 'show' (or pretend) to the world that a written line or paragraph (based on Bible or Quran) is now one's faith or 'beliefs'.
That's all becoming - or being ‘converted’ to being - a 'Christian' or a 'Muslim' means if you go by the flimsy claim that ‘Christians’ and ‘Muslims’ make up communities of ‘believers’.
That's the pretence – to something as fluid and protean as ‘belief’ in what is prescribed by the ‘religion’ – that the frightful machinery of 'conversion' or 'proselytization' wants everyone to put on.
So a Christian evangelist tacitly conveys to his prey: ‘Each of us lives this pretense that we all have a single faith or the same set of ‘beliefs’, even though we know that’s not possible. And I want you to join us in this pretense. If you decide to join us, we’ll perform a ritual on you. You will publicly declare that you have assumed the ‘Christian’ label. And you will have access to all the trappings and facilities that will mark you out as a ‘Christian.’
Let’s take at this point the possible protestation of a ‘Christian’ who might contend that becoming or being a Christian also means having ‘conversion’ of the spirit or internal transformation.
It’s easy to see here that the ‘Christian’ concept of ‘conversion’ of the spirit or internal transformation is as vague and unascertainable as the ‘beliefs’ that every ‘Christian’ supposedly holds merely by virtue of being labelled a ‘Christian’.
What is ‘conversion’ of the spirit supposed to be?
How can one ever determine whether or not somebody (or oneself) has undergone ‘conversion’ of the spirit?
Of what kind? To what degree?
Assuming for a moment that becoming or being ‘Christian’ is all about internal transformation, one may ask why bother with the ‘Christian’ label, the rituals and other outward signs?
Why not just allow people to discover and explore for themselves the ‘knowledge’ about ‘Christianity’, thus opening themselves up to the supposed internal transformation if indeed there is such a thing?
Why spend billions of dollars on organizing worldwide evangelization projects, train missionaries, collect enormous amounts of ethnological data about targeted communities, get into conflict with targeted communities and countries, accuse the same targeted communities of ‘persecution’, and abuse people and governments?
How many so called ‘Christians’ in the world could honestly claim that they are themselves internally transformed?
How could those claims be verified? Who would do that?
How would those claims be different from similar claims made by people who are not ‘Christians’?
Would non-Christians, especially the potential prey of the ‘Christian’ proselytizers, testify to any signs that ‘Christians’ are indeed ‘internally transformed’ people?
Is the deep involvement of the Christian Church in Western colonization and imperialism, which enslaved, killed, maimed and oppressed millions, an indication of the supposed internal transformation of the ‘Christians’?
Is the involvement of Christian priests in political intrigue, crime, and sexual exploitation an indication of the supposed internal transformation of the ‘Christians’?
Is Western Christendom’s involvement in the 20th century in two massive imperial wars, which killed many millions and destroyed entire countries, an indication of the supposed internal transformation of the ‘Christians’?
Is Western Christendom’s involvement over the decades up to the present time in numerous other violent conflicts, which caused widespread bloodshed and destruction, an indication of the internal transformation of the ‘Christians’?
Is the enormous military might and nuclear bombs possessed by the countries in the Christendom, which can wipe out all life on earth, an indication of the supposed internal transformation of the ‘Christians’.
Why do the ‘Christians’ have to rely on military might when they have been favoured with the blessing of internal transformation?
Why don’t they just give up their lethal weapons and rely solely on this blessing of internal transformation for changing themselves and the rest of the world?
What on earth do ‘Christian’ proselytizers have to show to their prey by way to their own ‘internal transformation’ except fancy rituals and Biblical verses?