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Ever been a victim of proselytizing?

Luckily this doesn't happen too often out of the blue, but two recent times that I can recall:

  1. While taking a bike ride with my older daughter, we happened upon an anti-abortion demonstration and we were approached by one of the demonstrators while waiting to cross a street. It was mostly a polite conversation but I made it clear immediately that we were both pro-choice and atheists.

  2. A few days after my divorce was final I decided to take an Uber to a local bar just to get out of the house. The driver started with the small talk and being a bit buzzed already I told him that I recently finalized on a divorce and just wanted to get out of the house. Immediately he asked if I have asked God for help. I let out a chuckle and somewhat sarcastically said, "No. You're talking to wrong person about that because I don't believe in God."
    Despite my efforts to drop strong hints that he wasn't going to change my mind, he kept on going on about it. The last few minutes of the ride I ended up going on a rant about people I know who have similar problems with depression and their marriages and how ultimately I took control of my own life and did what I had to do to make it better; and how these other people I know are miserable every day and every day they pray to God to help them or take away their pain and in the end not a damn thing is better for them. By this time we were at our destination and he let out a quick, "Okay." Honestly I think I may have spooked him a bit and I apologized for getting worked up but that it is a touchy subject with me. I gave him a tip but a low rating.

Why do these people insist on being so persistent? I often tell them that neither of us are going to change the others' mind so why bother. This is why I don't post political or atheistic stuff on FB. 🙂

KevinD872 5 Dec 16

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Yes, I've been targeted often. I live in the most religious state in the U.S. What it boils down to isn't whether you believe in god (as most do) but what's your flavor of belief. When they don't take the hint that I'm not interested, then I will advise them that there are over 41,000 Christian denominations and sects who have their own interpretations, that Christians have a history of not getting along with each other and aren't any more moral or ethical than those who don't believe as they do.

If they continue to proselytize, then I pull out the big guns and let them know that I have empathy for them as they are obviously uncomfortable with facing their finality and are using their belief system as a coping mechanism due to death anxiety. That usually ends the convo quickly.

You handled the situation very well.


Someone 'pesters' you - and you drop subtle hints that it's not welcome.

They persist - and the subtle hints upgrade to clear, unequivocal statements.

If they STILL persist, then sorry - they have lost all right to be treated with politeness. You tell them to SHUT THE FUCK UP.


I remember when I was younger, around my teens, the JW's and Mormons would prowl the neighborhoods in the area where I lived.
They even tried to catch us at the big park down the street from my house where my friends and I hung out. We would see them coming in their white shirts and ties and hop on our bikes and take off.
It got so bad at one point when I was a little older, that I quit slamming the door in their faces and I got a 'no soliciting' sticker to put on the front door. That worked.

@KevinD872 I grew up in Highland. 🙂

I grew up in Lansing, IL. 🙂 My parents currently live in Highland.

@KevinD872 Small world. 🙂

I have one of these signs next to my front door.



Well Kevin, I’d say you’re at that tipping point age-wise … and it gets better.. When, if only through a rear view mirror, you can look them in the eyes and they can access your experience and wisdom.. they begin to let up, some.

I now feel like ‘everyone’s dad,’ and that’s ok, cuz I’ve earned it, and ‘fatherly advice’ comes naturally. Some honestly think they’re helping, and maybe at a point in their lives that bs helped them. But there’s definitely a limit, and when you’re paying them for an unrelated service, that may constitute the limit.

Varn Level 8 Dec 16, 2017

The Uber driver was a young guy - I'd say early 20s. I could tell that he meant well but yeah, I'm paying for a service so don't go shoving your religious beliefs on me. We literally hadn't even left my driveway before he started with it. I haven't used Uber since then but if I can go back and see the driver's name, I plan on blocking him.


You can only be a victim if you see yourself as one. My answer is yes, I have and am right now, by a new and well meaning friend whom I think lives in a fantasy world. She hammers me with religious posts, so I hammer her back with secular philosophy and mythology and lots of science. If she asks me to read a particular book, I will tell her that I will and will discuss it with her, if she reads, for example, the God Delusion and discusses it with me as well. All I ask, from any friend, for that matter, that we have equal time to express ourselves and to listen to each other with respect and generosity of spirit. I put her in shock, probably as often as she puts me in shock about her strong held beliefs in invisible beings. She is a new neighbor, so it will get interesting soon enough. When someone wants to engage me and I have the time, I follow the rule of equal time. I counter anger, if it arises, with kindness and rude attacks on my character by turning them back by asking inward questions like "what makes you feel that way", etc.


I had to quit a couple of jobs because of aggressive, abusive religious people. This was back in the 70's and early 80's. Today I think they are less likely to preach to people in the workplace. Since 1990 I have worked in a government office and people are liberal. Some are members of churches, synagogues and mosques, but they are quiet about their beliefs. But oh, those bullying fundies I had to work with decades ago, they made the job very miserable for me.

SKH78 Level 8 Dec 18, 2017

I have always had a special hatred for those people that feel it necessary to come to my home and preach at me. I have found that answering the door buck naked and inviting them in usually discourages them. I did have a local group call the police,but I was wearing pants when they showed up,and since I hadn't ever gone outside,the police officer just laughed,and that was that.

Man, I just laughed my buns off - that is a GREAT way to discourage those pests. You are brilliant and brazen. That is funny that someone called the cops on your for being nekked in your own home. Maybe your response will inspire others!!!!!


It happens ALL the time here is the southeastern US! Maybe monthly or more. It happens at work, at school functions (mostly by other parents, not teachers so much), at the stores, in parking lots, at gas pumps, camp grounds, restaurants...

Zster Level 8 Dec 16, 2017

Damn, Zster, I’m new to SW VA, and yes, it appears to be a constant… An Oregonian by birth, once ‘the least churched of states,’ I hope I find a way of coping with the constant assaults you describe. And should I ever check out Georgia..?

Sure. For all that, folks are pretty decent. Of course, I don't wear my disbelief real openly, which might help. I don't lie, but manage to divert the question for the most part.

Diversion is good, when it works. When it does not work, then honesty is maybe necessary.


Many year ago when in holiday in the USA ,i was at a party and a very charming lad got chatting to me. He was funny and charasmatic but quite religious. We ahad a good debate and ithink he saw apotential convert. He kept saying I was curious and that I was asking for religion in my life. I laughed it off and said I liked debating it but did.n't feel the need for religion it in my life.He was very confident but not too pushy about it,so we left on good terms...not normal I would say as these kind of situations can easliy go bad.
That was unusual as it was in a social situation,I do get those knocking on my door ,Jehovas Witnesses are rife here in UK,but Always talk to them too..I can't resist it lol

I actually enjoy it. I had some Mormons come for a visit, and I kept them for hours. I'll admit they were tough. I gave them all my reasons for not believing ridiculous Mormon claims, and they would just smile and ask me if I had prayerfully read the Book of Mormon. I had them back for a second and third time, but they finally stopped coming around.

Same experience in the deep woods of Oregon - the last place you’d expect to find ‘door knockers.’ I’d talk till they’d drop, too 😉 Felt so sorry one hot afternoon that I had to finally ‘run them off,’ as they had wives and children sweltering in the car while debating with me. Unreal, less concern than me for their obviously suffering family…


Many times have I been victim to this. Not just from Christians.

I have gotten this from Christians a lot. Not so much anymore - people have given up. I am 63 and people have finally gotten a clue that I will not become religious. On occasion Muslims have dropped hints that they would be happy if I embraced Islam. But they don't preach to me, just very subtle hints.


Victim of? No, but I've left several of my proselytizers feeling victimized.


I grew up in SLC. It was a part of life.


Yes, many times.
But this one was the worst. I'm at a hospital in Tennessee filling out paperwork for a up coming surgery. The receptionist as me " how are you liking Tennessee" I replied.. not so much, I'm not making friends very easy. I don't work, have children, or go anywhere.. she immediately invites me to her church.. No thank you, I reply. She's assures me they are very friendly and I would have lots of new friends. No thanks.. I say again!
She insists that I take the phone number and call them.. By this point I'm frustrated..No thanks ..
I don't want to go to your church!!
Why?? She asks. Because I say .. I'm an atheist!
Ohhh she mummers..I go back to my twenty pages of medical questions....
Fifteen minutes later, we are finally done.
So I think.. she's says I have just one more question for you.. I look up .. waiting..
" How does it feel to NOT be saved"??
I was floored!! I asked for her supervisors name and number and registered a complaint..
I'm not sure what happened.. judging from my experience in Tennessee, I'm sure it was swept under the table and forgotten.

Leah Level 5 Jan 4, 2018

The most memorable event I remember was in the late 80s - early 90s when I was volunteering at my local AIDS Resource Center. I was the only person that was HIV+ and willing to speak at a church. I was asked to speak at a chruch on the "Republican" part of town. As soon as I arrived, the minister started on me. I quickly advised him that I wasn't there for that. I had a job to do. Fortunately, they brought the high school Sunday school class into the room and seated them up front. I spoke mostly to them and started by telling them that four students at their high school had tested HIV+ at a recent blood drive. At this time HIV was still a "death sentence" so I educated them about safer sex practices. At one point I looked up at the older folks in the room and told them that abstinence only, isn't "education" and doesn't work. I told them that hormones tend to win out, and reminded them about the things that most likely went on in the back seats of their cars when they were teenagers.

After years of internalized shame and self-loathing imposed on me in large part due to religion, I reached a turning point and decided that I was going to love myself, be strong and loud, and not care what people think of me. I'm not sure if they were sorry I came, but I did my job, and hopefully prevented some teenager from being infected with HIV.


Sadly, I have been the person who did the proselytizing.


Do dolphins live in water? Is rain wet?

I have learned how to shut them down in a hurry, but I have to admit I get a certain perverse pleasure out of playing with them a bit before throwing them away.


Well, Jehovah's Witnesses have come to my door. Having been a cashier for seven years at a supermarket, I had my fair share of extremely religious people come through my line and hand me religious pamphlets for this or that church.


I don't care for the label "victim," because I don't feel the slightest bit incapable of defending my perspective and highlighting the foolishness of the proselytizer. But "target," yes, absolutely. Not long ago my own 80 year old father was the culprit. He means well, but oh, is he ever dense and dogged in his fixation. I spell out mountains of factual errors in his scriptures that he reads--I kid you not, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. He has no idea what to think of my homosexuality and thinks fawning over Jesus is the answer to every challenge in life. Most recently he couldn't help himself and just had to let me know he was worried for my eternal soul and that I "accept Jesus as my personal Lord and savior." Same old childish crap. Nothing will ever get through to him.


I was proselytized by the church of Amway 40 years ago. In my teens a guy I went to High School started working for my Dad-a nice Jewish boy-who tried to get me into Jews forJesus.


Yes. I’ve been my Muslims, Mormons, and Christians.


Unfortunately there are some religious people, particularly Christians, who believe their religion is the so called "Truth". And they think they need to convince you of "The Truth" but sadly they are not aware that what they view as the truth is simply a religious belief. As I have talked to some religious people, I don't have a problem if they choose to believe in a religion. To me, problems arise when these people go out of their way to push their religion on me, especially when I have made it obvious I am not interested in their beliefs. But I know how you feel. You would be astounded at some the strange things that have happened to me in Albuquerque, New Mexico with regards to proselytizing.

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