The following was cross-posted at Mississippi Atheists.
I don't remember a time when I did not despise proselytizing. Growing up in the Western United States, the door-to-door peddling of superstition was restricted to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. We simply did not have anything like the evangelical Christians which now surround me. Since moving to Mississippi, I have become accustomed to frequent visits by evangelicals. It seems to irritate me more each time it happens, mostly because they keep coming no matter what I do.
When I added a large "No Soliciting" sign to my front yard, positioned so that most people would be able to see it before getting out of their cars, I expected it to help a little. I knew that the most rabid Christians would not see it as applying to them. They were their to convert me and not to sell me anything. Still, I figured the sign might have some impact. While it effectively ended most non-religious door-to-door sales, it had no measurable effect on proselytizing.
I decided that it was time to be even clearer with the would-be converters. I added a symbol which I thought would be difficult for anyone to mistake. It helped tremendously, and I thought I might finally see the end of door-to-door proselytizing. Close, but no cigar.
I was in the midst of an important phone call last weekend when my dog started barking like crazy, making it impossible to hear the person on the other end of the call. I looked out the window to see a car parked in front of my house with four well-dressed people dispersing around the neighborhood. Baptists!
I was surprised when the doorbell rang because I figured they'd see my signs and move on. I tried in vain to continue the call, but the dog was really going nuts now. When the doorbell rang again, I threw the phone down and ran for the door. I could hear the person on the other side messing with the handle as if they were trying to force their way in.
Not thinking clearly through the rage, I flung open the door and asked, "What the hell do you think you're doing?" I was too mad to worry about being polite even as my brain finally realized that the man on my porch had been attempting to tie a plastic bag filled with church propaganda to the handle of my front door. "I don't want your church crap on my door! Can't you read these signs and realize they are meant for you?" He muttered something, took his litter, and left quickly.
And you know what? I felt guilty almost immediately afterward. I played right into the "angry atheist" stereotype. It was obvious that I scared this guy, and I have to admit that was precisely my intent. Yes, I realize that he was the one intruding, that he interrupted me, and that he was planning to leave his mind-rot for me to dispose of, but none of this stopped me from regretting my outburst.
Tags: proselytizing, Baptists, Mississippi, atheism, evangelical Christians, no soliciting, stereotype, atheist