Human beings are all genetically one species, yet some seek to distinguish themselves as a separate group from other humans. They prefer to segment themselves into something called a "culture," a term that is altered in sound and meaning into "cult" when the separation becomes extreme isolation through fear and contempt for other humans.
Most cultures are separated by geography which altered the path of language development, as well as outward appearance which was likely altered by exposure to direct sunlight at various latitudes on the Earth's surface.
A culture has Groupthink. A tendency like a firing squad, to believe that responsibility for a decision rests on someone else, a sense of entitlement so extreme as to grant license for dishonesty toward others deemed outsiders, referring to them as "Infidels," "Heathen," "Gentiles," "Ghoyim," and numerous other terms intended to widen the emotional distance between one's own culture and others.
Within cultures, subculture of humanity develop who are alienated, disenfranchised, and ostracized from the dominant subculture because they are unable to or unwilling to meet arbitrary expectations set by the leadership of the prevailing subculture. Religion is born. Calling themselves orthodox, moderate, progressive, evangelical, born-again, or following some ancient rebel or philosopher, to distinguish themselves from the rest of humanity.
Herein lies the difference between Judaism and Religion. Judaism is a culture that can be genetically traced all the way back to an actual ancient tribe, religion is a subculture. Christians, Unitarians and even some Atheists believe that Judaism is a religion, just like most religious people believe that Atheism is a religions instead of a philosophy grounded in pure evidence-based scientific reasoning.
Problems arise when cultures and subcultures operate to distinguish themselves further from the rest of humanity, seeking actual physical borders and resources they wish to share only with their own members. They compete by reproducing at unsustainable rates, ethnically cleansing their neighbors, lobbing explosives, keeping certain people from getting jobs or attending schools, and maintaining a threatening environment that reinforces the aforementioned methods of competition. A vicious cycle.
Whether or not a culture is grounded in history is irrelevant because culture is completely irrelevant. The secular path of atheism is a clean break from the mental and physical anguish of cultural and sub-cultural differences.