I’m sure that most people have experienced the polite insistences of religious doorknockers at least once in their lives. You may know the drill: Saturday morning; you’re eating breakfast or enjoying a cup of coffee … you hear a knock at the door! You answer said knock to find a pair of well-dressed young gentlemen on your doorstep, who then go on to suggest (in the most tactful way conceivable) that what you believe in is getting you nowhere. They come prepared with an alternative, too, and are the furthest thing from afraid when it comes to telling you all about it. It can be very difficult indeed to tell them “no, thank you” and send them on their ever-cheerful way. The question I was left mulling over after my last doorknocker encounter, though, is whether or not ‘spreading the good word’ is that much of a positive experience for everyone involved. It’s considered an important method of evangelism (teaching/preaching) for numerous Christian groups and I can see why this would be the case; however, I know I certainly didn’t enjoy being told that I was doing some serious straying from the ‘right’ path. The question, then, is this: to doorknock or not to doorknock (and who’s to blame for all the tension)?
For thought-provoking purposes, let us all imagine that we really feel the need to tell others about what we believe. How would we best go about it – a blog site, perhaps, or a witty Facebook status update? Do you think we would knock on our neighbours’ front door and simply tell them? I’m not sure that we all would. Belief can be a very personal thing and not everyone is comfortable with shouting their closely-held values to the heavens. Similarly, very few people appreciate being told that their beliefs are wrong or immoral. Australian filmmaker John Safran was so unappreciative, in fact, that he decided to travel to the United States and doorknock – preaching atheism – in a neighbourhood with a religious majority. Needless to say, the local residents were less than impressed. Take a look at some footage and a cranky rant from Safran if you’re feeling brave. Although I feel his approach was a little extreme, I think John made a valid point in demonstrating that nobody likes to be confronted about what they sincerely believe in.
On the other hand, who’s to say that hearing a new perspective is a bad thing? The ways of the world are indeed mysterious; there is every chance that some of us could benefit from looking at things through a different lens (even if we aren’t all intending to change our world view). Hearing a fresh take on things can often be refreshing and offer some much-needed perspective – not unlike Hello Noise posts, really! Belief is a bottomless mixing pot of stories, history, opinions, and people and it has been around for as long as people have. Everybody has beliefs, whether they are rooted in religion or not; it only makes sense that they’re shared and exchanged from time to time. It certainly isn’t as if the reverent gentlemen at your door mean you any harm, either: they are simply sharing their good news with the people around them (as you would, if you had yourself some seriously good news!).
I don’t think that it’s fair to blame anyone in particular for the issues surrounding religious doorknocking. Nobody means any harm in their intentions or reactions (most of the time) and even though you may not want to hear about how doomed you probably are, the smiling people at your door are only doing what they feel is right. Granted, rocking up on strangers’ doorsteps on a Saturday morning may not be the most respectful way to go about it, but that’s not to say it isn’t impactful or effective. What do you think?
Read more by Morgan
Read more by Morgan