This was an illegal practice punishable by torture and death.
Yes, but that never stopped anything worthwhile. Thus the long history of secret societies.
I don’t think people choose religion. It’s a form of brain-washing.
Religion is a very complicated question. Yes, in some cases there is clear brain-washing involved. That’s about the only way to explain “Trump Evangelicals.” But that’s not by a longshot all that religion is or has been in human history. I’ve chosen several religions in the course of my life, and chosen to walk away from them as well. A lot of people these days want to reduce religion to the organized public practices of Christians, Hindus, etc. But those are only external forms. Religion as a way of being in the world is as old as Humanity. Those paintings on cave walls, long before organized religions existed, are expressions of religiosity. So, really, it all depends on what you (or anybody) mean by the word “religion…”