Saturday, April 11, 2009

Witnessing Jehovah

It's early on Saturday morning when the doorbell rings. It's the first morning in a while when we've slept in and enjoyed the sound of a quiet house. Until now.

The dog runs to the front door, barking madly through the windows at the visiting strangers. I peek through and see a well-dressed elderly man and woman. Not the kid next door. Not the gas company warning me of imminent explosion. I open the door, if only to let the dog get his head out and scare the interlopers away. Before I get the door open, the man is shoving a copy of the Watchtower through.

Um, no thanks. I'm more a daily newspaper kind of guy, and despite my history of finding nice, polite ways to say no thank you to Jehovah's Witnesses intent on converting me, I find myself more than a little angry that they consistently fail to heed the "No Soliciting" sign on the door and the mezuzah - which indicates a Jewish home - on the door jamb.

He jokingly refers to my dog as "cross". I tell him our dog is anything but, that all he wants to do is say hello to anyone who visits, that I'm the one who's cross, because our visitors have yet again failed to read the signs on the door and have chosen to violate our privacy.
"But we're not soliciting," he says.
"You're selling something, and it's not something I wish to buy," I counter.
"We only wish to discuss Jehovah," says he.
[I point at mezuzah] "Do you understand that this means we're Jewish? That we're quite comfortable within our faith and that we have no interest in being converted?" I ask.
"Some of you people do like to speak with us," he answers.
I think this is the point where I lose it. It isn't just his "you people" choice of phrasing - it's his tone, condescending and paternalistic, as if it's his G-d-given right to redirect me onto the so-called righteous path. Sorry, but this conversation needs to end, and now. I firmly explain what "No Soliciting" means to me. I firmly ask to be removed from consideration for future visits. I firmly rebuke them both for violating my Sabbath before sending them on their way to harass my neighbors.

Later, as I head out with the now-calm dog for a walk, I see them get into their car (metallic green Ford Five Hundred, Ontario plate AMWX 956) and drive off. No conversions today. And if they return, next time I won't hold the dog back.

Your turn: Doorstep missionaries. Pro? Con? How do you get rid of 'em.

48 comments:

Thomas said...

The only polite way to get rid of them is to appear that nobody is home.

If all else fails, start swearing and then offer them a beer. Chances are, they'll go away quickly, but will return soon as in their eyes, you are in immediate need of help.

koala said...

I once accidentally let Jehovahs in my building. Noticing my mistake when they went door-to-door to my neighbors I quickly put a post-it note on my door. But instead of "No soliciting" I wrote "No converting" and they didn't bother me.

This might interest You cause it includes the two faiths you mentioned:
http://koalek.blogspot.com/2009/04/wojciech-wilczyk-photography.html

Anonymous said...

I politely ask them to explain to my bright and inquisitive 9 year old their theories on the dinosaurs and watch the hilarity ensue.

jill said...

if i open the door, I invite them in, pull out all my Bible study reference books...the big 40 lb volumes....and ask them where they want to begin. I then look up every word in their verses in the original language and act like i have all day to sit and discuss our different beliefs. I've never had the same person come to my door twice.

we have talked about placing a slot in the door that leads to a shredder with a sign asking them to please place their material there so we can read it when we get home.

i have strong religious beliefs but i don't agree with selling it door to door like avon...that's just rude.

Wordnerd said...

When I was a child, some missionaries made their way to our house, and for some reason, were invited inside. My mother politely informed them that we were a practicing Catholic family and that while she appreciated their message, we were fine-thank-you-now-go-away. When they left the house, they wiped their feet on the welcome mat. My mother asked them what that was about (I believe she asked them what-the-hell-was-that) and they informed her that they have to wipe their feet upon leaving homes of the unconverted or some such nonsense. My friends and I, playing outside, looked up to see two nicely dressed gentleman being chased down the walk by a five-foot Spanish spitfire wielding a broom and calling them every name in the book (not The Book, obviously).

sealaura said...

Dear Carmi,

I found that when I use my I am Catholic, no thanks you card, it gets me deeper in trouble and they are less likely to leave. My new tactic is not so clever, I just tell everyone in the house SHHHHH! and we don't answer the door! :)

dianne - bunny trails said...

Too bad your camera wasn't in hand. You could've taken a couple photos and tell them you'd be using these for future "No soliciting" signs, "and this mean YOU." Ha! Ha!

Regardless, that's SO inappropriate to ignore your current sign and mezuzah. And the reference to "you people"?!?!?! Holy smokes! Talk about clueless. That's just sad.

A blessed Sabbath to you and your family, Carmi.

bobbie said...

I do resent Witnesses and Mormons coming to my door. I don't feel they should invade my privacy. and I have been literally cornered by a few on a train. But where I live now, fortunately they are not at all pushy, and if I just say no thank you, they apologize for bothering me and leave. I also have a dear friend who is a Jehovah's Witness, and while she will sometimes silently hand me a pamphlet, she never intrudes. Guess I'm lucky.

Pushy ones do not deserve courtesy.

Someone tried to give me a religious tract in the super market recently, and my face must have clued her in. She asked if she had offended me. I said, not offended, but annoyed me. She apologized.

Anonymous said...

I find what works is answering the door wearing only my wife's panties, clutching a teddy bear, putting on bright red lipstick and saying, "You sure are purty!"
I then point to my nether region and say, "Come on in and meet little Jevhova."

Billy-Bob Thornton
P.S. I'm a musican not an actor!

Martha said...

I never answer the door when I see two people out there all dressed up - I know exactly who it is!

Farrago said...

I haven't been visited by any such people in a long time, but I think I know my tactic next time it does happen: "I've already been saved...FROM religion. I'm atheist. Now go away before I call my personal savior, the police.

David said...

ours are too funny - i must post about it later

marcia@joyismygoal said...

I Think if you are not open to speaking to anyone, you should not have to -- whether a sales person,-a Jehovah's Witness, or an LDS missionary (which my son is) just say 'No Thank you and kindly ask them to leave, everyone deserves respect. Thank you for good manners.

Hilary said...

The "we're Jewish" tactic has worked for me.. for at least 20 years now. I see them on the street, and they walk past my door every time, ever since I said those simple words way back when.

Katney said...

I know that it is one of the expectations of their faith that they evangelize, but I think there are other ways of sharing faith. Pushy alienates people rather than converts them.

But our doorbell doesn't work, and the houses are so far apart out here in the country that we don't get many visitors--especially door to door type. Works for me.

carli said...

My apartment gets buzzed every once in a while, and usually I just say "go away" through the intercom and they do. Once though, they just stayed at the door of my building for about 10 minutes before realizing no one was letting them in and leaving. I wonder what would happen if all of the other faiths of the world united and started visiting THEM on THEIR sabbath.

Funny thing is, the one JH I know, an IT guy where I work, happens to be a really nice guy. I don't know if he goes door-to-door; he definitely doesn't try to recruit new members in the workplace.

lissa said...

When I was doing my undergrad minor in Sociology, I took a course on Cults and Sects. For my project, I studied Jehovah Witnesses (there's actually no official "apostrophe-s"). After presenting what I had researched, my professor, an expert, stated that with the JH, you literally have to slam the door on them. They don't hear "polite" and they don't hear "no". They have to be told "thank you but no thank you" - in whatever fashion you choose to state it - and you close the door.

It isn't easy to be rude, but then again, rudeness is as rudeness does (with apologies to Mr. Gump and his creator, Winston Groom).

Carmi, you did exactly the right thing, though engaging them in conversation just doesn't work. Sad, but true.

Daryl said...

Oh dont get me started .. I have stopped stopping Husband from being outright rude to them ...

Gail said...

My mother always invited them to our church in a very firm tone.

My brother invites them in and discusses their faith. After a while they start to notice that his questions and comments are a wee bit ... odd. That he's messing with them, and taking up time that they could be using to knock on other doors. At some point they seem to start to lose their Christian ideals of charity and kindness, and demand to be allowed to leave.

He says they don't show up at his house any more.

All This Trouble... said...

This worked for us...

http://allthistroublejusttoleaveacomment.blogspot.com/2008/06/he-speaks-in-mysterious-ways.html

Sleepypete said...

Sounds like you were spared the kiddie treatment ... Most of the JW's around here tend to drag a child with them when they're on the prowl. And it's very tough to be properly impolite to rude people when they have the kiddie along.

As for keeping them away, I employ a sand beanie dragon. He lives on top of the fridge, looking scary at people standing at the door. He hasn't been doing a great job lately, I'll have to cut his wages :-)

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

My grandmother's Bible was beside the front door, as long as she lived. They didn't come by often, because word got around about the lady who knew her Bible and argued each point they tried to make.

I don't answer the door.

hahamommy said...

I'm nice, I tell them I appreciate their prayers and their hard work, and I even thank them for their literature... and say, I'm comfortable with my own faith thankyouverymuch.
The mormon boys like to do labor, at least they offered often in South Dakota, even going so far as to bring in a homeschooled missionary, as I'm one too! Two very nice young men helped me paint my aunt's entire kitchen, in exchange for some sandwiches, holiday goodies and a few exchanges of "ain't Jesus great?" Totally worth it. :D

Keith said...

Ask them if they knew that their religion has only been around since the 1850's and the guy that started it was heavily into prostitution, gambling, and drinking. Yes, it is true, and it is all in the history books!!!

Breeze said...

I am steadfast in my beliefs and they aren't particularly any religious denomination and my solution is to be kind, and to express respect for their religion while teaching them about mine(I ask for equal time) and the last time they were here with a trainee and she got a little too interested in my beliefs, nodding her head at my truths, and the elder had her out the door likity slit...I miss them, they haven't come back. Haha...anonymous has the best idea though rofl.

I'm not big on doomsday religious teachings that's for sure but I try to be respectful while being clear I will just never believe what they teach. It is unfortunate that their church doesn't encourage the same sort of behaviour while they are out.

I'm going to Christian church with my inlaws tomorrow..if you hear of a church/lightening event in SW Ontario, tell 'em I'm sorry lol.

Breeze

NJ said...

Once I told a young woman who came knocking at my door that I was not interested and she replied "not interested in the lord" like she was absolutely flabbergasted. Religion really hasn't been a big part of my life. I didn't like the way she made me feel. I also remember my Mother in Law telling me that one day they showed up on Christmas day which made her mad. I wish we could just all respect each other's religions and beliefs.

Meredith said...

I bought a sign with : "Pas de Témoins de Jéovah". No problem since... ;)

Beth@Pages of Our Life said...

We never open the door or I sic my hubby on them.

Hate that you had to wake up to that!

I dislike anyone trying to sell me something. What is worse is getting caught out in your yard while you are doing yard work.

ciara said...

luckily there hasn't been too much of that here where i live. but when we lived in our old house in the city 20 mins west of here, we had the watchtower group come up to me & my son who was probably about 19 at the time, maybe 20. they started to speak just a little when my son says, 'i already belong to a church. the church of satan.' he said this with the straightest face and seriousness. they told him that no one in his right mind would be associated w satan. he said, 'it's a real church, you want to look it up?' i did all i could not to laugh, but a little escaped. after he said that to them, they left. no one ever came back to that house lol

when i was still living w my parents my mom had nailed a cross to our front door after she got tired of mormons & jehovahs showing up. they never came back after that.

Irene said...

I have a dog that barks, A LOT, she's big and intimidating looking, but she's afraid of the the cat. When they come to the door, she stands between me and them and barks. They usually leave.

I like what Koala said about putting up an "No Converting" sign up.

koala said...

Reading these comments I'm surprised that they seem more aggressive in their mission in the US. Here a simple 'thanks but no thanks' works.
There's only one rule - don't engage in the conversation cause then your lost, ie. discuss Bible, point the ridicules in their beliefs or show the blessings of yours... Once you do that your on the 'potentials' list and they'll keep coming.

kenju said...

Carmi, as you know, I am a Christian, but when the Jehovah's Witnesses come calling - I get mad. We have no soliciting signs in our neighborhood, but that doesn't stop them. I really don't like people who proselytize!

Thumper said...

It looks like I'm the odd person out on this. I am as polite as I can be to missionaries, and I never had trouble getting them to turn away fairly quickly. If it's a pair of JW missionaries, a "Thank you for your offer, but I'm not interested" always works. If it's Mormon missionaries, I typically explain that I am formerly LDS, and I would deeply appreciate it if they did not return; not because I reject what they're saying, but because I refuse to be the one to make them question their faith. They don't--not until they've rotated through a few newbies.

Why am I polite? Because I understand that they believe they are there to offer this amazing gift, and they are typically very young and still flush with the excitement of hoping to save the world. In nearly 30 years I have only had to step back from being polite to stating tersely that I was not interested and it was time for them to leave. Usually it's very simple; be nice, say no, and then close the door.

Those kids really don't see what they're doing as soliciting. They're not trying to get something from you, they're trying to give something to you...and they will ALWAYS remember those who treated them kindly. They're remember the guys who turn hoses on them, too, but the impact of being kind never becomes that funny story about the idiot with the hose...

Valerie said...

I don't answer my door for anyone I'm not expecting. Doesn't matter who it is. If I didn't invite someone over and someone shows up on my porch, as far as they're concerned, I'm not home. There are times and places when I have no choice but to interact with people. My home isn't one of those places. I choose who gets to interrupt my personal time.

That being said, during the warmer months, it isn't uncommon for solicitors of all sorts to show up on my porch. What gets me is that they see me sitting in my living room and start speaking to me before they even knock. Since they begin with rudeness (my mother taught me it was impolite to peer into someone's home before you've been invited in), they receive rudeness in return. I don't get up. I tell them I'm not interested. I interrupt them if they try to proceed with the conversation. If they still don't get it, I get up and close the door.

To be fair, the worst individuals I've ever dealt with have been door to door "roofing contractors." I'm not polite to them on the phone, either. :)

(I'm really a very nice person, though. I swear!)

Mojo said...

I haven't been set upon like this in so long that I'm having trouble remembering the last time. And I try not to be rude, but I have to say I'd have considered "you people" a license to kill. Metaphorically of course. At that point they would get the "death stare" I use on unruly dogs and a very quiet, very even toned invitation to get off my stoop. With piercing and unflinching eye contact.

And Tonka would probably put them off pretty well too. He doesn't much care for his space being invaded and doesn't have a problem letting that be known. I doubt he'd do any damage to anybody, but I haven't met too many people willing to test the theory either.

Hope you've managed to have a good holiday in spite of this. And here's a bit of color -- of a healthier variety to help that along.
Thematic Photographic 44: "Edible" v.4.0: Health Food Break

MorahMommy said...

It's interesting reading everyone's take on what happened this morning.

I do have to qualify and let everyone know that Carmi is usually very polite, but these are the same people who have been here before. Not only that, they woke us up from a sound sleep. The last thing is that they referred to us as "Some of you people" meaning Jewish people.

Everyone has the right to their own beliefs, everyone needs to be comfortable in what they believe in. Nobody should try to bring you over "to the right side". (Yes, we have heard this before)We should not have to defend what we believe in, nor do we have to be subjected to someone's reasons as to what we should believe in.

Sorry for the rant.

It's a good thing Carmi went to the door instead of me! :D

Cloudia said...

""Some of you people do like to speak with us," he answers."
OY!
I wish I could say Hawaii was free of such, but the Pacific is full of these guys. In fact they try to impose their morality on our pluralistic islands in a way that I find profoundly UN-Godly!

Grrrrrrr. Go gettum, doggie!!
Aloha ;-)

torontopearl said...

I haven't seen a Jehovah Witness on my doorstep in quite a number of years, but I recall that, as a kid, when I first saw one come to our house, I asked her, "Are you the Avon Lady?" (see how affected I was by TV commercials in the sixties)

kcinnova said...

I'm so sorry your Sabbath was violated.

"you people"?!?!?! That alone grants you the use of all the rudeness you can possibly muster.

I treat my front door like I treat my phone: it is a portal to my home, and I don't have to let anyone in.
I confess: I often hide, because if they see you, they will keep knocking. I've instructed my children to do the same. (Of course, they aren't allowed to open the door to a stranger anyway.) If we do answer the door, they get a polite but firm, "We are already members of a church and we are happy there. Goodbye." And then we shut the door, regardless of any protests.

momemts in time said...

Difficult isn't it?

We had some about 2 weeks ago, early (we were not dressed) on a Saturday morning. Hold the dog back so his face is peering out of the door and say 'stay' loudly (he would only want to greet / lick them to death but they don't know that') but this time their tack was different as they asked if we went to church and when I said yes they took it and left. Normally they want you to see the errror of your ways and join their church but get a bit lost when you ask them if they already have 144000 members...

The problem is they have a formula and if you have any knowledge that may upset or challenge it they will call in their leaders for the next visit.

When we rented a vicarage, in the church grounds we still used to have them there.

If you have time you can be kind to your neighbours and invite them in for coffee and a long debate, as has already been suggested, while your wife warns nips out or phones warn them.

Tanya (aka NetChick) said...

That is so wrong on so many levels. First, you've made it clear that you don't want unsolicited visitors, and second, it isn't their right to invade someone's home to push their views on you.

Thanks for joining in the fun at the MEET n' GREET Carmi! Always great to have you there!

anita said...

simply arrive at your front door naked!

anita said...

simply arrive at your front door naked...

Lulda Casadaga said...

I live on a cul-de-sac and if my dogs are peeking out the front window and barking I sneak to the bedroom window and check out who is invading my space! Then I ignore any knocking and let my dogs bark away until the unwanted leave. LOL

The last interlopers were 2 young Mormans...which, I gladly ignored.
My husband makes fun of me for peeking out the window doing the nosey old lady thing but, I rather be nosey than have to listen to those religous salesmen.

Maybe, I'll put up a cross, a mezzuzah and a pentagram on my front door! And that rotten/moldy cheese hunk you have... You think they would get it then?? :D

spiritualbrother said...

Put a sign that says no door to door proselyting.

Awareness said...

wow....you hit a nerve here didn't you?

arriving to the front door naked's a good plan....


You know what i was thinking while I read your story.....I kept thinking.....boy....I don't thinking i'd want to be the receiver of your anger because i don't think that happens very often and when it does? Kaploooey!

hahamommy said...

Every time I see this title, I think "Towing Jehovah" - a hilarious book you might want to read, just to keep in mind the next time they come a'witnessing ;)

AStronomer said...

Carmi, you need one of these for the door: http://evolvefish.com/fish/nothump.html