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when receiving door to door evangelizing...how to keep a level head?

 
Judith Browning
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I have an adverse reaction to people coming to my door and trying to sell me their belief.  It brings out this person in me that I don't really like very well   

I thought I would be better at it by now but in the end, each time, I'm left with an uncomfortable feeling that I could have done more to bridge a gap rather than widen it.

A group of three (denomination doesn't really matter) came by this morning and invited us to a church function, I said thank you and all was fine until one in the group asked me 'if I went to church?' and when I said 'no', they asked if I had been 'born again' and I went off into reincarnation and yes I think I have been born many times...and then it was 'What do you believe?' so I had to tell them about the Buddhist things I am reading and that I really have found comfort in Kirpal Singh's writings lately and thoughts on karma, all true, and it got them jumping in to save me...to the point of implying that if I didn't get saved I was going to hell.  I think I did some baiting but they came to my door and asked me personal questions.........

Anyone want to share their experiences?   Ideas, other than not answering the door, for some kind of better communication?
 
Casie Becker
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Once they get to the point of asking me my religion, or similar questions I explain to them that I don't trust "organized religion" Most people don't actually need someone to explain right from wrong, I consider making those judgement calls to be a responsibility that comes with having a brain.

I'm not sure what about this explanation works so well for me, but I don't get a lot of arguments against it. It might have something to do with me honestly feeling the same combination of amusement and pity that I feel for any other person trying to sell me something I don't need. They sure seem to have a lot of energy to waste if they're spending it talking to me. 

I do make a point of encouraging them to sit for a bit when they come by. We've got nice seating in the shade of the front yard, and on the hottest days I'll even bring them something to drink. They are honestly trying to improve the world, I can commend the effort even though I don't agree with the dogmas.

edit: They're kinda like people who think everything should be blue, so they spend their own money buying paint and spreading it everywhere they can. Maybe you've got the graffiti artists while those in my locale just keep asking for permission before they paint my house
 
Tyler Ludens
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My spiritual beliefs are personal, so I don't tend to discuss them with anyone except, rarely, my husband.  So the odd person dropping by to quiz me about my personal beliefs would get a "my spiritual beliefs are personal."  My husband has in the past engaged with folks, asking them difficult conundrums relating to specific doctrine (he went to 12 years of Catholic school so he tends to know some stuff).  These questions, which they couldn't answer, eventually made them go away permanently.

If you want to communicate with them, you could ask them questions about their own beliefs.  You could even study up on their religion so you can ask more detailed questions. 
 
Rick English
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I actually enjoy this scenario, because I turn it into a little game to see how fast I can get them to leave on their own. I have no problem with somebody;s religious beliefs, but I generally don't care for them trying to convert me.

I ask them why they think that their religion is best. Then I ask them if they know which religion is oldest, maybe that one is best. Timeline of religion

I ask them which religion has the most followers, maybe that one is best. List of religious populations

I ask them if maybe they want to join my religion. Something along the lines of Flying Spaghetti Monster

They generally leave pretty quick. I am pretty sure they think I am insane. My wife does

Maybe I am a bad person...

 
John Weiland
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Just have the two photos below gracing your door and the problem should diminish to a baseline level.
stonehenge.jpg
[Thumbnail for stonehenge.jpg]
HomelandSecurity1492.jpg
[Thumbnail for HomelandSecurity1492.jpg]
 
Judith Browning
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I feel better already... love the views here at permies  

We are new to a very small town with four churches that we don't intend to go to, although we would like to get along with everyone as well as  possible. 
I think there is always some common ground without talking religion or politics, where most of us can meet when just talking on the street...but the door to door thing with intent, is harder for me, and I think it is because it feels intrusive, but then again, I don't want to appear negative towards my 'neighbors'.

Even when we lived way back in the woods up a trail with no vehicle access, we had folks determined to save us...I suppose it should make me feel special   That was back in the day where rumor had it we were devil worshipers 

 
Dan Boone
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I treat them like itinerant peddlars and give 'em the bum's rush.   To me that means one polite "No thanks, not interested" followed by (if they do not automatically leave) one polite "Please get off my property."  If they persist past that, I let my inner asshole out to play. 

Next step is "Get the fuck out of my yard", repeated at increasing volumes if they continue to try to talk to me.  Men in my family have truly epic volume levels available; only once have I ever gotten to absolute top volume, and that was with a salesman, not a religionist.

Probably not a useful answer -- my head is level during this process, but nobody would know it from the noise.  I am offended at a deep level by people who think it's acceptable to invade my space and interrupt my day to sell me something without invitation, whether it's a product or a worldview.  To my way of thinking, they aren't entitled to any politeness, and the two polite responses they get from me are my concession to the fact that customs differ and they clearly must be luckless individuals of bad parenting who weren't afforded training in proper manners as children. 

Edited to add: I might ameliorate some of this if I were trying to get along in a new community.  It's a long-accepted character flaw of mine that I just don't care enough about what other people think of me.  It (like the loud voice) runs in my family as a male trait, and may well be one marker (there are others) of some sort of spectrum disorder.
 
Bill Erickson
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Judith, over the time I have been here at permies, I have gotten the "feel" for you that you are a warm, generous and caring soul. I don't think you need any help in that regard, and SkyDude meets us all in the way that is best for us.
To the folks doing the door to door proselytizing, I would just smile and say, "No thanks, have a nice day.", and close the door.
We had some rather persistent ones when we were up in Alaska. Even though I had engaged them as you had and pointed out that my faith belief and my uniformed service as a Marine were antithetical to what they believed, they wouldn't stop 'visiting' to see if we had changed our mind.
One day they showed up and I was about to go the route of Mr. Boone here, but instead I woke up my brother-in-law from his nap on the couch and told him he had visitors. "Awesome!", and out the door he went. Now the preface to that engagement was that my oldest daughter had spent some time putting make up on my brother-in-law in his sleep, he was looking good when he went out the door. The looks on their faces as they stumbled over themselves saying goodbye and trying too get back in their car were truly awesome. The Bride, my daughter and I were rolling around laughing so hard and my brother-in-law came back in the house with a hugely puzzled look on his face. It was all we could do to point at the mirror. Then the chase was on as he threatened horrible tickling to BabyGrrl. Good times.
They never came back the remaining year and half we were there. Don't know if that would work for you in small town Arkansas, but it does bring a smile to my face remembering it.
 
Judith Browning
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Bill Erickson wrote:Judith, over the time I have been here at permies, I have gotten the "feel" for you that you are a warm, generous and caring soul. I don't think you need any help in that regard, and SkyDude meets us all in the way that is best for us.
To the folks doing the door to door proselytizing, I would just smile and say, "No thanks, have a nice day.", and close the door.
We had some rather persistent ones when we were up in Alaska. Even though I had engaged them as you had and pointed out that my faith belief and my uniformed service as a Marine were antithetical to what they believed, they wouldn't stop 'visiting' to see if we had changed our mind.
One day they showed up and I was about to go the route of Mr. Boone here, but instead I woke up my brother-in-law from his nap on the couch and told him he had visitors. "Awesome!", and out the door he went. Now the preface to that engagement was that my oldest daughter had spent some time putting make up on my brother-in-law in his sleep, he was looking good when he went out the door. The looks on their faces as they stumbled over themselves saying goodbye and trying too get back in their car were truly awesome. The Bride, my daughter and I were rolling around laughing so hard and my brother-in-law came back in the house with a hugely puzzled look on his face. It was all we could do to point at the mirror. Then the chase was on as he threatened horrible tickling to BabyGrrl. Good times.
They never came back the remaining year and half we were there. Don't know if that would work for you in small town Arkansas, but it does bring a smile to my face remembering it.


thank you Bill...very good story, has me chuckling and will pass on to Steve This time there was no early opening for the 'no thanks' because they were first inviting us to an event and then offering yard work if we needed help (we don't) and then some chat, and THEN the questions, so they caught me feeling friendly and semi joking, until it turned serious on their part.

I like the view that what we are given in this lifetime is a 'curriculum' that shows us where we need to work on ourselves, that our reaction to others is all on us.....and that's how I'm trying to look at this... not quite as seriously as that sounds though

SkyDude...love that! 
 
Miles Flansburg
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I was gonna say , grab a chicken and a knife and invite them in to join in the sacrifice to the dark one. Then hand them the chicken.
 
Tobias Ber
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i d say... at first be happy that you live in a country that has religious freedom. then we should (yes, the should-thing) consider that most of these people are well-meaning, even if/when they believe strange stuff.

and then... maybe try to sell them some of your produce?
 
Nicole Alderman
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I think dissuading them gently would probably really differ on the person's/persons' personalities. Religious people really don't just fit one mold. I mean, I'm a Christian and while I've never gone door-to-door (nor desire to), I really enjoy theological and philosophical discussions. If my beliefs couldn't stand up to questioning, I wouldn't want them to be my beliefs. So, some of the ways of dissuading proselytizers (like Rick's questions) would actually make me more inclined to stay and chat. Of course, I'd never go door-to-door and would feel really awkward invading someone's home (and think that shoving religion/beliefs down someone's throat will just make them barf it up), so the situation would never occur, but that's neither here nor there.

If you have someone who's really heaven-bent on saving the lives of the unbelievers, no amount of "scaring" them (yelling at them, acting really weird, pretending to sacrifice things) will make them go away. But, questioning their faith might--it depends on the person. Figuring out how to politely get them to stop preaching their religion is going to require figuring out what type of person they are.

For some, (I would hope!) telling them you don't talk about your faith should work, since it's really cut-and-dry and there's really no way around it that's polite. But, they may not be polite, and so not care. You could also try changing the subject to something you're fascinated in--like permaculture! Like, "I don't talk about my personal beliefs, but I'd love to show you my garden!" Walk them around your garden, give them some berries, say thanks for having them stop by and being so neighborly, and say you'd love to be part of any gathering that's not spiritual (e.g. work at the food bank with them, or donating homegrown produce, or making hats/socks for the homeless, etc). This should stop them from talking about religion while still showing how neighborly and wonderful you are. They'll probably still try to convert you, because they want you to experience the love of Christ and the blessings of a relationship with Him...or whatever their beliefs hold. Like Cassie said, they're usually well-intentioned. But, they should take the "I don't talk about my faith with others" as a hint and change the subject, and try to just show you how awesome their beliefs are by how nice they are. One can only hope.  
 
David Livingston
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I tell them I'm Catholic .( i'm not ) They go away and never come back . Most groups keep records and will come back if they think there is a chance .

David
 
John Polk
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Door-to-door religious salesmen are breaking Paul's Be-Nice rule.

Trying to force their belief on me is like saying
"I have the truth, and you don't.  You should abandon your beliefs, and follow mine.  My way is correct, and your way is wrong!.  Improve your life by bringing it up to my standards."
 
Nicole Alderman
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Joseph Lofthouse
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If it's the Mormon missionaries, you might get a couple hours labor out of them. Seems to be a current dogma that doing "service projects" is one of the best proselytizing tools around.

I'm pretty heartless about missionaries, having been one myself when I was much younger, and still working within the programming of my culture. It works well to say, "I don't talk about religion with strangers.". Just shutting the door, or walking away works great. "Not Interested" was the most common response I got. I didn't stick around at the house where I was greeted with the sound of a shotgun being racked.

I salesman from a funeral home came by the other day: Wanted me to pay for my funeral at today's prices... I played unmercifully with him. "I don't have any reason to believe that your funeral home will be in business in 30 years, or however long it takes." "Hmm, so I'm paying in dollars?  The way things are looking, the dollar could be gone by next week." "I don't have any reason to believe that your industry will even be in existence in 30 years." "When I get deathly sick, my tribe has agreed to help me get out to the desert where I can crawl away and let the coyotes eat my bones." Sure a riparian area would be better, cause then I might rot instead of turning into a mummy to be discovered a few decades hence. Whatever, I was winging it!

 
nancy sutton
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Being raised Catholic and now multi-spiritual... I can 'evangelize' with the best of them ;)  I start by admiring their diligence, explaining that I'm a 'believer', and then share that I think what breaks Jesus' heart is that there are about 3,000 Christian denominations who are competing with each other for members.... aren't they supposed to be united in 'feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned ...and supporting all the suffering'... and 'judge not lest ye be judged'... etc.  ending with a scripture reference Acts 4:32 for them to look up later (which indicates Christians may have been the first communists). 

If it is a pair, the older is usually tugging at the very interested younger person's elbow before too long, to get him/her out of the way of temptation :)   I love 'proselytizing'  lol ;)

(I haven't yet, but may type up my 'spiritual notes', and offer them a copy of my 'information'....  :)   Offering a brochure on the Sacred Heart Devotion sends them right down the driveway pronto.
 
John Weiland
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Joseph L.:"Wanted me to pay for my funeral at today's prices... I played unmercifully with him."

If he or others return, you might also say that you are a "permie", part of a growing movement of health-conscious, like-minded individuals moving the human condition towards immortality......an outcome that could serious impact his business model.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John Weiland wrote: If he or others return, you might also say that you are a "permie", part of a growing movement of health-conscious, like-minded individuals moving the human condition towards immortality.....


Immortality? Is that one of the teachings of the higher orders of the permie movement that I haven't been initiated into yet?

 
John Saltveit
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Salesmen and Religious Proselytizers are the same to me.

We have a no soliciting sign on our door.

When I open the door, I don't say anything to them.

When they say how are you, I say what do you want?

I usually point to the no soliciting sign and close the door on them within 30 seconds, usually without saying anything.

It works.

Like Nicole, I have a relationship with Jesus Christ that tells me to treat others as you would have them treat you. I am pro all other religions too and use some of their ideas, but I don't push any of them on anyone else.  As St. Francis said, "Go out and preach the gospel, and if it's absolutely necessary, use words."



John S
PDX OR
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Even if you think they are irritating, (and some of them are really irritating!) it helps to remember that they think they have the truth. It is sort of like this; if you thought you had the cure for cancer, wouldn't you be running around trying to give it out? They are spending quite a bit of their time doing something they think is helping the world out.

Personally, I think a better way to evangelize is to spend time helping others and generally being a good neighbor, and then discussing things if questions are asked or topics come up and the other person is interested. Or setting up a booth in a public place where interested people (and hecklers!) can stop by. Knocking on the doors of people's houses is usually seen as an unwanted invasion.

Probably just another symptom of the breakdown of traditional society; in a traditional village, nobody would go door to door, they would already all know one another and have plenty of shared events at which to spread their ideas and opinions, or they would stop by the local bar to argue with all the other folks. 
 
nancy sutton
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I've never found them 'irritating', just terribly, and lovingly, worried about their god sending you to eternal torture... just as the Inquisitors were worried about the souls of the 'heretics', as they tortured them.  That's what so sad, really. 
 
Bethany Dutch
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I think, for me, there are two important things to keep in mind:

1. discontinuing and/or heading off a conversation that is going in a direction you are not interested in, is completely okay.

2. it is not necessarily rude to do the above.

For a long time I struggled with stuff like this, and I'm just now kinda learning ho to get past it. For example, feeling obligated somehow to answer people's questions regarding _____ because I'd feel rude if I didn't, or to go along with discussions because I just didn't like the confrontation, even as small as "no thank you, I'm not interested."

But in truth, it ISN'T rude to just tell someone "I'm not interested in discussing my beliefs, thanks." and close the door.

Really - it ISN'T!

When someone wants something from you, whether it's you converting totheir religion or to buy their product or WHATEVER - remember, THEY are infringing on your territory, not vice versa. There is absolutely nothing wrong with abruptly cutting someone off and telling them you are not interested. If you are put in a situation where they keep pushing and prying, remember THEY are in the wrong for doing so, not you. A rational human being would read body language and not push for their agenda.

That isn't rude!  Rude is telling people to fuck off (and, like Dan mentioned above, is unfortunately necessary) but don't ever feel obligated to continue a conversation like this. I had a very real awakening the other day when someone came into my place of work and did this. I kept thinking that I could not believe she would come into a place of business and start her spiel with someone who is getting paid to do a job who then cannot do said job and I realized... it was RUDE of her to come into my workplace and try to sermonize and sell me things. It was NOT rude of me to firmly (but politely) tell her I was not interested.
 
Nancy Troutman
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Our road has completely abolished door knockers.   When they knock at the first door, that person says they are not interested and that they are calling their neighbors to warn about their presence.   They then, via the computer, text message everyone on the road warning of the door knocker, his description, and whether they are religious or salesmen door knockers.   A lot of us wave off the door knocker before they even get out of the car.   In my case, I close the gate to my driveway.   Those that speak to them limit it to "You are not welcome on this road, please leave".  

I haven't had a door knocker in 16 years as a result.
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