Thank you for the extensive description of "performative piety." I've had direct experience with this, as regards my super-catholic mother, who was emotionally, verbally, religiously, and linguistically abusive to me, for as long as I can remember, until she thankfully kicked the bucket in 2009. Her performative piety was so effective that, despite her years of abuse, she received a "Woman of the Year" award from her catholic diocese. I'm 68 now, and am still trying to come to terms with the wreck she made of my life.
I've seen some businesses that have that little jesus-fish logo on the door or window, but not many. I just assume it's a business to avoid.
Who was it who said that the road to atheism is strewn with bibles that have been read cover to cover? It certainly worked that way for me. At age 9, I started asking uncomfortable questions. By a year later I'd read my family's big catholic Douay bible, and the King James version. In college, I read the New Revised Standard and the OT in the original Hebrew. All those college readings just confirmed my atheism. My favorite verses were the ones on kosher laws. They categorize insects as four-legged creatures. (Of course, any first-grader with a fly swatter could disprove this assertion.) The interesting part about studying both the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Bible is that I got insight into what it was like to live in a theocracy. Not my cup of tea, thanks. I've got the Skeptic's Annotated Bible on my bookshelf.
At best, for me, I think that it'd be difficult to even *start* a friendship with someone who believed I was bound to hell. It always reminds me of whoever-that-saint-was who said that one of the pleasures of heaven was sitting around and watching people being tortured in hell. What a creep! I don't worry that a friend or relative believes something--but telling me or implying that I was on my way to be tortured for eternity would be beyond the pale. Besides, Xtians I've met are using a friendship to get me to convert--which is not going to happen. I don't like associating with someone who wants to change me til I'm "perfect" in their view. Which is why people I've dated were non-religious or Jewish.
I started my deconversion at about age 9, and finished it at about age 11-12. My parents brought all 6 of us up with two "don'ts": Don't lie, and don't cross picket lines. I think they were more important than the whole catholicism thing. When I realized that I was lying in confession, and that the church was lying to *me*, that's when the deconversion started. I never did get back to "They are telling the truth" or "It's good for you." So, no. I've got no wish to go back--ever. Even when I'm going thru hard times or when I'm dying. The RCC can go tell its lies somewhere else. (P.S. all 6 of us kids deconverted at age 11 or 12. So I wasn't alone.)
This is the hill they've decided to die on, at least this time. Back in the 50s and 60s, it was civil rights and racism. That worked--but only to a point. I remember there was a member of the School Board in the 1960s in my city in California who thought disabled people were "icky" (he actually used that word). My parents and I had to petition the School Board every year, so that I could attend regular school. This was long before mainstreaming. He was the only person on the Board to vote against me (I have an orthopoedic disability). He said, and I quote. "I don't want my kids to have to see those icky crips." I suspect the right wing Xtians feel the same way about LGBT+ kids and adults. So, if they want to die on this hill--let them.
Notice that we're told only that the missionaries went to a "village in Africa." Africa is a continent, not a country. We are not told the name of the country. Nor are we told the language the local people speak. It's likely not English. We are not told if any of the missionaries spoke the local language--in all probability not. Nor are we told what belief system local people had. (I know that you were just quoting from the story, and the missionaries might have actually spoken the local language. But I doubt it.) Did people understand what the missionaries were saying, or was it just another case of "the white people are imposing another scam on us." Side note: The local people may have been Muslims. Depends on where you go on that continent. This story reads like it was written in the 17th century when missionaries came to America to convert the local people here, and we all know how *that* went. I guess the only positive comment to be made is that the local people there are immune to smallpox.
Andrew Seidel's (of FFRF) new book "The founding Myth: Why Christian nationalism is un-American" is a wonderful read. I read widely, but I am especially impressed by this book. Seidel takes on Christian extremists in a way I've rarely seen. Definitely worth reading.
Even when we were on vacation my parents and I went to church unless they and/or one of the kids were sick. We had all been indoctrinated that missing church was a 'mortal sin" (i.e. if you committed one you'd die and go to hell.) We were catholics, so mom always checked to see where the nearest one was. I think my parents always believed that, if anything happened (like my dad losing his job and us not being able to buy food for example) we would get help from the people they knew at church. So my dad did lose his job--repeatedly--and not one of our church friends, including godparents, did anything to help. Nobody. The people who *did* help us were our non-religious next door neighbors. I remember that, the day before Thanksgiving one year, we were slowly starving. The guy next door came up our stairs with boxes of food--including a turkey. Even my younger brother--age 3--knew what desperate straits we were in. When the guys put down the boxes of food in our livingroom, my brother ran over, started pulling one of the boxes of food toward the kitchen, and started crying. He yelled, "Groceries mama groceries! Grab 'em and hide 'em!" That's how much the church people cared about us. I think it was in 1965, a few years later, that mom applied for the (then new) food stamps. Turned out that my dad made *one dollar per month* too much to get food stamps for a family of nine. I've thought about that time a lot. The people at church, smug in their holiness, did absolutely nothing. It was left for the non-religious neighbors to help us. I think I was the only kid in our family who was old enough to remember those times.
In 1972-73, I worked in a doctors' office. One of the doctors was young, the other two almost retired. The young doctor did California-legal abortions. (At that time, if you wanted to get an abortion, you had to go to a 3-doctor panel and convince them that your life was at risk, or that you had gotten pregnant through rape. "Incest" was barely spoken about.) Every hospital had a large ward, where huge numbers of women were dying from septic abortions. Our young doctor also cared for women in the "abortion ward" at the hospital down the block. One day, I had to take a message to him and I saw the abortion ward, where he was seeing his patients. Later, he told me that he'd sometimes done hysterectomies, even on young women, to save their lives. He always looked stressed out. At the office, we got county-issued death certificates, mostly for the women in that ward. Most were so young: 13 years old, 17, 20. One of my jobs was to file those certificates. I had friends, one in 8th grade, who had died of botched abortions, so I knew what would have happened to those women and girls. In January 1973, our young doctor came into the office with tears in his eyes. He hugged all of us, even the nurses. He knew then that the carnage would stop--and it did. Within two weeks the hospital near us had closed their "abortion ward." A few weeks later, a mother and daughter came to see our doctor. The daughter was 13, and she was chubby like a little kid. Someone in her neighborhood had raped her and she'd gotten pregnant. Our young doctor did the abortion for this girl. At the first appointment, both the mom and daughter looked stressed, but once that abortion was done, the girl gave us a tiny smile. Our doctor gave the girl a referral to a gynecologist and to a counselor. The Dying Times (as I call it) had ended. In today's country, that little girl would have to become a mother, well before she was ready, in some states. The men in women's lives who supported their decision to have abortions, and the doctors (mostly male--few women doctors then) who did the abortions, are probably in their 60s or 80s now, were heroic. So were the women who learned to do abortions. I've been thinking about those times. In 1972, I was 20 years old, and the Dying Times affected me profoundly. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, when Roe turned our world upside down. I do not want the Dying Times to come again. NEVER!