Like many others, I dislike the intrusion of door-to-door canvassing, be it politics, market research, or some sales exec with their latest cool duel-fuel deal.
In particular, I find those that are soliciting for religious purposes particularly abhorrent. No ‘religion’ should either have a need to go door-to-door or, actually be allowed to peddle their faith on your doorstep.
Just like the chuggers, who engage with you with dogged verbal tenacity during street fundraising activities, many religious door-knockers have a financial driver. Either that or because of their inherent fear about their their precious beliefs becoming less popular or worse, not acknowledged or believed.
Many Religions, irrespective of their doctrine and tenets, seem to require increased levels of evangelism and evangelical fervour today. Something I suspect will continue in the increasingly secular society. But never forget that Latin term qui bonno, to who’s benefit? Irrespective of any passionate beliefs these people may hold, and many do, I’d be tempted to follow and ask about the money trail. Especially given the fact religious organisations are often amongst the most wealthy business entities in the world, despite pleading poverty.
It’s also worth remembering; “Fundraising is no different from sales, and the financial rewards can be huge.” There is “tacit acceptance of bad practice” – according to The secret life of a chugger – “most are motivated by money, not charity.” My cynical and predominantly Atheist head says to me – why would religion be any different?
So there I am, mid work-flow when there’s a genteel and polite rat-tat-tap at the front door. Expecting an important delivery any time soon, I race downstairs from the home office to my door, tripping over a strategically abandoned slipper en route. I fly headlong into the door handle and open the door.
And there they are… I’m confronted by the floral pin striped gang of two. A pair of apparently pleasant and conservatively dressed middle-aged females, clutching bunches of innocuous and inoffensive drab looking leaflets… “Good afternoon, how are you today?”
Catching a glimpse of initials ‘JW’ and the word ‘kingdom’ on one of their pristine and clinically folded leaflets, I’m immediately on guard. But, how do you talk to a Jehovah’s Witness team when they come knocking (assuming you might actually want to)?
Many of us don’t want to communicate with them, but they don’t mind. We also find it difficult to tell them to get lost… without being (or perceived as being) offensive. This usually comes from the fact, most of us are inherently polite, tolerant and well-mannered. We don’t want to appear rude or pushy as we try to to tell them that we’re not interested. Thanks to their training no doubt, they usually take that first knock-back as a challenge, and unfortunately, an open invitation to continue with their inane dialogue.
Did you know that Jehovah’s Witnesses are actually trained how to talk to you? No, I didn’t either but that said, with the level of negative responses they clearly receive, I suppose it makes perfect sense. JW Chuggers have classes in their meetings, designed to develop their communication skills, and to deal with our reluctance to engage with them. And most of them are usually far better at effective communication than their chosen ‘victims’ (read more).
Religions & Cults
When does a cult transform from its former cult status to become a more accepted mainstream religious belief? What is a cult if not a form of religion… still in its early days? As with many words, cult is subjective and open to interpretation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are well-known for their enthusiastic evangelism. But ‘evangelical’ religious belief for many, even more so in a religiously conservative nation like the UK, is still a relatively new concept. Some older members of our communities may also find this type of belief both an uncomfortable and distasteful phenomenon.
Now I have no particular desire to undermine anyone’s personal religious beliefs however; I do find it concerning when I hear of anyone who has ‘feared for their life’ because they tried to escape from that particular brand of religious doctrine.
Despite any past or current familiarity, little is known about Jehovah’s Witness movement, or their doctrine and practices. In his remarkably candid part-memoir, part-history guide, former Witness Lloyd Evans – The Reluctant Apostate, – comprehensively explored the religion of his upbringing.
In addition to charting the JW metamorphosis, from unassuming 19th Century brethren to a global brand in the modern age, Lloyd also created the jwurvey.org website. A resource that helps to; “give voice to millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world who would not normally have the opportunity to say what they really think about the Watch Tower Society.”
Religion – Interesting But No Thanks!
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not anti-religion per se, just so long as you keep your religion to yourself.
Today, all be it belatedly within an increasingly secular society, more people tend to shun ‘strange’ religious sects and cults, especially those based on dogma and overbearing spiritual doctrine. Just like the use of leeches as a medical intervention in the past, or the burning of women because they had some strange pagan beliefs; some religious beliefs appear to be fizzling away, thankfully (in my opinion).
But much like the Moonies of the Unification Church, who were extensively criticised, many ‘New-Wave’ Religions tend to attract condemnation, or at least some derogatory comment. Verbal, and sadly physical attacks sometimes, come from mistrust, misunderstanding and fear. The Mormons from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the oldest ‘new boys’ on the bloc, who possibly spawned the term ‘new’ in respect of religious denominations, are not immune to derision (see here), and that’s despite their extensive ‘celebrity’ membership.
Although I’m predominantly an atheist (for many reasons), I do find the anthropology of religion and its concepts and etymology an interesting subject. There are specific religious practices and beliefs that form varied tenets in diverse religions. The descriptions ‘old’ or ‘new’ [Religion] are subjective and relative in the sociology of religion. As with the testaments of the Christian Bible, even beliefs can (should) evolve, to some extent, over time. And long may that continue.
I can accept the concept of religion and people holding beliefs that tend to provide support for their hopes. Religion (in the main) is good… until humans start to interpret how it must be applied. This has been the cause of so much sectarian violence, bigotry and hatred over the centuries.
So, don’t you dare come bashing on my door trying to sell me your particular brand of illogical fairy-tales and ghost story ideology. I’m polite enough not to tell you that your religion is crap, so don’t hope for one minute that you will get me to believe in the same tosh that you do… whatever it may be.
Have a Nice Day!