I told the last ones that came by that I didn't believe in fairy tales. They started to questioned me about what I meant and I told them I wasn't interested in their solicitation and they needed to get off my property. They always seem to show up when I'm farthest from the gun cabinet (live in country and it would be just for the visual effect).
I have found that the easiest way to get them to leave, and see the best faces of pure astonsihment and fear, is to directly tell them "I am an atheist and there is no god". Works everytime. If they try to question me, I ask if they believe in Zeus or any other off the wall deity. This will get them packing!
Dad was a Jehovah's Witness at one time. The Kingdom Hall was really big on helping out the brothers of the church. My father dutifly went about helping the brothers. Just after I was born, our garage burned down. My father went to the church for help, and was told that everyone was too busy to help him.
Well....Dad never lacked for audacity....
He wound up standing up at the altar in the Kingdom Hall and telling the Elders and Brothers that they were a bunch fo hypocrites and if they darkened his door, he'd knock them right back out of it. Now Dad was about 6'2" and 250 lbs, and, when he was the age I am now, his biceps measured 24" around. Guy was freakishly strong, so the threat had some meaning. Dad never did trust another preacher, and I never went to church. Lord be praised!!
Fast foward nine years. We're living in a house that is 5 miles outside a town of 900 people. 'Rural' is a generous term. We started getting the damned Witnesses out there again. Mom, being a kinder soul, would take their literature and tell them she wasn't interested. Well, Dad started seeing WatchTower magazines and was pissed. I remember they had a few arguments about it.
"I was being NICE!"
"You don't need to be nice to those (I don't know what the censorship policies are here)."
So About a week later, I'm at home with my father, and we're watching TV. A car pulls into the drive. I hear him utter a curse..and then he kicked off his shorts. Shorts were all he had on at the time. I REALLY didn't need to see this at nine years old...but life happens. He grabs the twelve gauge out of the closet...yeah..no gun cabinet. We kids knew the guns were in there, and loaded. We touched them not, and not for fear of the weapons....but for fear of what Dad would do when he found out!
Anyway, so he grabs the twelve guage and answers the door stark naked with a shotgun, looks at them, and says 'C'mon in!'.
Well, it was a family...and the little girl they had with them was about eye level. They grabbed her and RAN for the car. They never did come back. I have no idea what possessed them to take a child with them.
I have answered the door to a trio of very pretty young ladies from a baptist church, so they got a more respectful reply than I might have given. Yeah, I'm biased..I have a definite preference for women. If you're selling me something, work the tits.
Most of the time I tell people 'no thanks'. I, myself, am about 6'7" and about 300lbs, so I guess they figure they don't want to antagonize me, because I rarely have repeat customers. I dunno.
If I do, I may have to figure something out. Maybe I'll just tell everyone that I'm a Voodoo priest or something.
On some rare occasions they show up at my house with their pamphlets and such. While it can be annoying I try to be mostly nice to them; even if their beliefs are totally illogical you have to respect the dedication. However, I'm quite certain that if they were showing up at my house every week my feelings about them would be very different.
Also, what do they expect to achieve by bothering you with this garbage? How many people actually come to church after these people invade their neighborhoods? I don't remember who said it or where, but I remember someone summing it up pretty nicely.
"After being pestered for years by theists I'm not going to be swayed by a three-page pamphlet with smiling children and friendly lions."
The following applies to visits from Jehovah's Witnesses. I'll let the ex-Mormons here address Mormon activity. I know that there may be some other religious groups that go from door to door, but it seems that JW's and Mormons are the two most well-known.
I've been reading this discussion with great interest, as I was once a door-knocking JW. Many responses have been humorous, some clever, some insightful, many revealing misconceptions. For what it's worth, I'd like to offer some thoughts as to why they do what they do and what you could say or do to encourage them to, if even for a moment, stop suspending their disbelief.
1. Persecution complex: If you think rudeness or scare tactics are effective to keeping them away or waking them up to their delusions, think again. Such an approach will only feed their persecution complex. Where did the complex come from to begin with? Not from the rank and file. It's fed to them in the literature they're given to study and it's based upon certain scriptures. Jesus said that his followers would be hated, as he was hated. They've been conditioned to believe that when people slam a door in their face, spit on them, or attempt to scandalize them, it's evidence that they're doing the right thing- following in Jesus' footsteps. In fact, there are many JW's that are pretty apathetic to the whole belief system, participating only because of the intense pressure of the group, that could rattled by such a dramatic experience to take it all more seriously. So you've sent them back into the arms of an organization they may have been subconsciously exiting. You may get some instant gratification from giving them a piece of your mind, but it's going to be counterproductive to putting them on the path to reason.
2. The power of kindness: As the typical JW is fully expecting the person behind the door to 1) treat them like shit 2) be entirely dismissive and apathetic 3) hide, it's going to be very confusing for them if you treat them with kindness and recognize your shared humanity. If you engage them, on your terms, you may have an interesting conversation that plants a seed of doubt in their minds or waters the many that are probably already there. Some are intelligent and well-read and would welcome some stimulating conversation while others can barely read and may even be following a written script pasted in their bible to get out their presentation. In any case, if you steer the conversation away from their canned sales pitch to getting them to talk to you as individuals and not just cogs in the JW machine, you can very positively initiate a break in their cult-dominated thinking. Some suggested talking points, best asked in friend-to-friend style, not "I'm going to prove to you what a fucking moron you are!" style:
1. Do you really personally believe that Jehovah is going to kill everyone that doesn't go to the Kingdom Hall?
Most will probably deny that that's what they officially teach. They'll say that's it up to God to judge the heart.
You reply that that seems more reasonable, but(maintaining control of the conversation) don't they teach that only dedicated baptized Witnesses will survive Armageddon? Tell them that they, of course, don't believe that because they're a kind-hearted person. But how do they reconcile their personal love for humanity with such a teaching?
If it ends there, you've forced them to stare in the face of their cognitive dissonance.
2. It must be hard to do this, knock on the doors of strangers. Is it really effective anyway? Do you ever feel like you're wasting your life? Do you ever wonder if there really is a God? Wasn't the end supposed to come in 1914, then 1925, then WWII, then 1975? Doesn't it ever cross your mind that you're dedicating your life to something that isn't real. That's very sad.
3. Ask them what Jehovah's thinking or doing when he watches children being raped or abused? If you had the opportunity and the power to prevent something like that, wouldn't you?
4. Tell them that you've heard that JW's don't believe in a fiery Hell because they can't reconcile such a belief with the idea that God is love. Commend them for that. But then ask if it isn't equally terrifying to threaten people with execution in Armageddon?
These are just some samples. But if you can appeal to them as individuals, you may get them to think and you'll not reinforce their persecution complex.
I'm sure that these visits are irritating and unwelcome. But if we as freethinking individuals can react to them rationally and not emotionally, what we accuse religionsts of, we can do much to help some very misguided men, women and children to question the validity of the dogma they've been indoctrinated with.
To those that work nights and are awakened by them: please accept this apology, from an ex-JW. Officially, a great deal of attention is given to avoiding this. There is a protocol in place to prevent it from happening. But when you have a bunch of unpaid sheep as your workforce, things tend to slip through the cracks.
To the guy that thinks that he'll awaken to burnt crosses on his lawn for running off the JW's: wrong group. JW's don't use crosses and are pretty peaceful. The Cross-burners don't go from door to door, that I'm aware of.
To the poster(Johnsky) that described his father as asking them to leave their literature at the door and invited them in and spoke to them about their lives: good job.
Brandon Benkosky also had a useful approach. The doubts he raised in those kids will be with them for a long time.
Thanks for reading this. If you've found it as annoying as a visit from a JW, please forgive me. My intentions are good. :)
I didn't find it annoying for a second, on the contrary I think we need perspectives like yours.
In fact, there are many JW's that are pretty apathetic to the whole belief system, participating only because of the intense pressure of the group,
Any tip to spot those? I don't know if it's customary, but I've noticed that JW visitors always come in pairs, most often a seasoned proselyte (argumentative) and a "student" (silent and listening to their comrade).
I guess body language reveals something. Can't you just tell when someone doesn't want to be where they are? This reminds me, it's not at all uncommon for young JW's, and maybe the not-so-young, to fake pressing door bells. It's easier to do if your partner is in on it, but the especially skilled become adept at it even in the presence of hardliners. Some JW's are as unhappy to see you as you are to see them. :)
I don't know if it's customary, but I've noticed that JW visitors always come in pairs, most often a seasoned proselyte (argumentative) and a "student" (silent and listening to their comrade).
That does happen in some cases and is perhaps considered the ideal for the pupose of training. It's not always practical, however, depending on the mix of people that show up to the Hall to organize for the day's activity. On the subject of going in pairs, it does have biblical basis. Jesus sent his disciples out on preaching campaigns, two-by-two. It's also said to be out of consideration for safety.
My comments are in the context of the U.S. It's been noted that JW's in other areas are much more dedicated and zealous. Apathy is overcoming the religion in more secularized nations and their youth retention record has never been lower.
I know it's a long time since this discussion was held but, if you're still interested, I'd like to relate my story.
As Nate said, it's the body language that gives the clues as to who is open (relatively) to an alternative view. I once had two JWs, both young women, come to my back steps on a sunny day. I sat as they stood in front of me and, as they began to develop their pitch, I interjected, respectfully, at times to give my counter view as a taoist. The more senior looking one was dedicated to her pitch but she still showed a respectful acknowledgement of what I said. The younger and less authoritive looking woman was obviously more interested in what was behind my reasoning and was intently listening to my ideas.
We spend about 20 minutes in the sun exchanging ideas pleasantly and they both agreed to consider what I'd said, when they left. I think I really sowed some seeds in the younger one and possibly even got the older one thinking too. I enjoyed it immensely and have looked forward to a similar occasion. Unfortunately I haven't been visited again since and thay was nearly 10 years ago.