Democratic Republic of the Congo, of course!

My daughter, Clara, is a bit of a geography nut. At the tender age of eight, I would venture to suggest that she knows more about world geography than most human beings.

And it has nothing to do with her intelligence or our attempt to instill a love of geography in her. She simply became curious about the topic and was handled the tools to pursue that curiosity. 

Books. Maps. Websites. 

The desire to learn is so powerful. 

In a recent competition to name countries beginning with certain letters, Clara included these three in countries beginning with the letter S:

  • Sudan
  • South Sudan, "which isn't the same as Sudan!"
  • Singapore, which she informs me is both a city and a country. "Just like Vatican City, Daddy!"

When we reached the countries beginning with D, she opened with Denmark.

I countered with the Dominican Republic and suggested that there might only be two. 

"I can think of another one," she said.

After thinking about it for a minute, I finally surrendered. "I give up. What?"

"The Democratic Republic of Congo, of course!"  

Of course. 

For the record, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Djibouti also start with D. Clara didn't know North Korea's official name (nor did I) but she knew about Djibouti and quickly showed it to me on a map.

A simple geographic reminder to those overly insistent, overly-aggressive people of faith

When someone becomes overly insistent and overly aggressive about the truth behind their deeply held religious beliefs, I like to remind them that their deeply held religious beliefs are almost certainly predicated upon geography.

For the vast majority of people, religious belief simply correlates to where they spent most of their childhood. It is not a found or discovered belief but an inherited one. In the United States, for example, 56% of people affiliated with organized religion were born into that religion, and another 20% have merely changed church affiliation within the Christian or Jewish faith.

As a result, more than three-quarters of Americans espouse a religious belief because they were born in the United States to parents who had the same belief. 

But let's be honest: 

If these same people were born in Saudi Arabia, they would almost certainly be Islamic.

If they were born in Tibet, they would almost certainly be Buddhist. 

If they were born in India, they would likely be Hindu.

Considering that 23% of Americans are nonbelievers, this means that less than 3% of Americans are currently affiliated with a religious belief that they did not inherit upon birth and is not based upon their childhood mailing address. 

So relax, you overly aggressive religious interlopers. 

I'm not saying that your geographically inherited religious belief is any less important, meaningful, valid, or spiritually satisfying as a belief (or absence of belief) that is realized only after careful study and introspection.

I'm only saying that this is true if you are attempting to impose your geographically-based beliefs upon others through some political, legal, or economic means.

Your religious belief may be true to you, but just remember why you probably think it's true and let the rest of us believe what we want, absent of any judgment or persecution.