I had gone out to my new car to experiment with its iPod interface. After a few fits and starts with the controls, I found it to work very well indeed and that the sound quality coming through the speakers, while not at the utter, premium, state of the art level, was still very enjoyable and would be a plus on an anticipated eight-hour trip to North Carolina to watch and celebrate my daughter’s graduation from college.

Stepping out of my car, I turned to discover a car parked in my driveway. Two ladies occupied the back seat, one was off to the side and a fourth was apparently trying my front door. I smiled to myself; Jehovah’s Witnesses, there could be no doubt. Ah, well, for everything, there is a first. I approached the woman in front of me.

Me: Hi, can I help you?

She: Good morning. We’re from the local Kingdom Hall and we wondered if we could talk with you for a moment.

Me: Indeed – I’m an atheist.

She: Oh, my. I don’t believe I’ve ever met an atheist before. Were you always an atheist, or did something happen to move you in that direction.

Me: Yes – common sense.

She: Have you ever studied the bible, read it?

Me: Yes, most of it, but I can’t say I find it very useful. I prefer science, logic, knowledge that is verifiable, useful, and can survive what is called a “peer review.”

She: Don’t you feel that the bible can do that for you?

Me: Not really. The bible doesn’t provide the knowledge to build my house, make your car run, extend my life or enhance the quality of my life. I prefer knowledge that is provable and useful and I don’t find that in the bible.

She: Well, I guess we’re two people of different points of view.

Me: I suppose, and I don’t see any point in banging my head against the wall as it comes to that.

She: Thank you at least for answering your door.

[The two women began to return to their car. I broke my best smile and waved.]

Me: Please have a great day in any case!

That’s a rough transcription, but pretty close to what came down. Frankly, I wanted an interaction which didn’t compromise where I stand on religion but demonstrated that an atheist can deal with this issue politely and without having to get into confrontational territory. If nothing else, I can hope that I left those women with an impression of: “What a nice young [young?!? 59 is young???] man” … and just maybe leave a positive taste in their mouths about someone whose stance on belief is so utterly diverged from their own.

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Comment by Nia on November 28, 2012 at 1:20pm
Not going to lie, you were WAY more mature than I would have been in that situation, lol. But your reasons made sense. Bravo.
Comment by Loren Miller on August 23, 2012 at 10:15pm

I've heard people joke about showing up at the door with their hands bloody, Don, or in other equally disturbing conditions!  Not my style, particularly, but regardless, the JW's don't deserve much by way of rhythm.  I'm polite with them because, to date, they've been polite with me.  If one of them wants to try to pull some kind of self-righteous shit on me, they'll wish they hadn't.

Comment by Idaho Spud on August 23, 2012 at 4:55pm

I very much like your response Loren.  I hope I can remember it the next time I meet proselytizers.

Comment by Loren Miller on May 4, 2010 at 1:46pm
I suppose my attitude about the encounter is pragmatic: I'm going to be living here a while, and I'd rather get along than NOT get along with my neighbors, though my visitors were not to my knowledge among the immediate residents of my street. I've got nothing to gain and a lot to lose by being an ass, though I have no intention whatsoever of compromising myself as an atheist for anyone, neighbors included.

That said, it's their attitude and behavior which will likely govern how things go from this point onward. I'm perfectly willing to be polite so long as they are and maybe even tolerate a slight or two ... but turning the other cheek? Nope, sorry, not happening.
Comment by Ally on May 4, 2010 at 1:38pm
Fantastic Loren!
I'm sure you shook up their world view a little!
Nice work!
Comment by Cynical Soldier on May 4, 2010 at 1:10pm
I was brought up in a Jehovah's Witness family. In fact, I used to be one. You dealt with them very well, and I'll corroborate the notion that many of them think atheists are rude, headstrong and elitist people. (They're not too fond of Catholics either, but who is?) You dealt with that in what was probably the best, most mature (albeit less fun) manner. Proves you don't have to be brutal to get the point across.
Comment by Techninja on May 3, 2010 at 12:37pm
Kudos to you!! I always find it better to be cordial in such cases. Especially since most people of faith, upon realizing they're speaking with an atheist, automatically put up their defenses, and assume we're going to be angry, and unpleasant. It's fun to see the confused look on their faces when the opposite is true.



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