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SuperMouse's avatar

How do you react when people try to convert you?

Asked by SuperMouse (30801points) March 27th, 2010

This evening the mom of one of my boy’s friends dropped him off for a spendy and brought a pamphlet for her church. She spent a while explaining how much I would like the pastor and how great his sermons are. I am very happy with my faith and I am done searching. I so wanted to hand her a pamphlet of my own, or tell her that I am just plain not interested in attending her church. Both of those options felt rude so I smiled and said thank you. Whether you have a faith you follow strongly or are a devout atheist, I am interested to hear how you react to attempts to convert you.

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56 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Sounds more like she was sharing an experience rather than trying to convert you. But regardless, if conversion (what is that?), but if conversion is the true intention, then I just say “I’m glad for you. I’m happy you found what you’re looking for.” And I leave it at that.

SuperMouse's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies she had actually mentioned her faith on the phone and told me she was anxious to discuss it with me. That is where I got the whole “conversion” idea.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

No one’s tried to convert me in a while. When they do come at me, I totally ignore their presence. I don’t have the time for that crap. If it’s someone I know, I let them know in no uncertain terms that I’m not buying it.

faye's avatar

It actually makes me angry. I would never try to un-religion someone.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SuperMouse Sure understood. My reply remains the same to her.

prolificus's avatar

I read somewhere once that if you’re truly firm in your beliefs (whatever they are), the biggest and best way to counteract people trying to convert you is to show kindness and to be gracious in response to whatever they say. Instead of fighting fire with fire, a simple thank you works well. It may even open the door to discussion, and allow both to find points of agreement (or space to agree to disagree). Arguing or playing tit for tat will not prove anything, other than reveal one’s need to play “whose belief is best.”

janbb's avatar

I once told some Jehovah’s Witnesses that I “was Jewish and kind of stuck on that” and they went away.

RandomMrdan's avatar

but they’re trying to “save you”

faye's avatar

@janbb I did that years ago and they must have painted my house out of the map. No one has ever been back.

poisonedantidote's avatar

its 50–50 for me, half of the time i will say “i dont believe in any of that stuff, i just try living a good life and being good to others” or something along those lines, the other half of the time ill debate them on the validity of their claims for as long as it takes.

it depends on the situation and mood im in, if they come to my door uninvited, chances are ill invite them in, get them a cup of tea and then proceed to debate them until they cant take it any longer.

if its on the street, it depends how much of a hurry im in, and if im shopping near a church or somewhere near their turf im more likely just to go with the no thanks. age is also another factor, im less likely to debate you if you are a couple of old ladies, ill just be polite and say no thanks.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Can one be a devout atheist? Maybe a devoted one. I really don’t enjoy conversion attempts. If there is a god, he hates pamphlets.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre I think you have the makings of a great pamphlet subject there, “Why God Hates Pamphlets.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Christians forget, they cannot ultimately convert or lead anyone to God. From the Christian perspective, only the Holy Spirit is capable of such a feat. Christians should read their own bible. It would make life much easier on all of us.

DarkScribe's avatar

I regard it as fun. I see how long it takes for them to give up and go for more experienced help. I love it when Seventh Day Adventurers, Mormons or Witnesses show up. It is more fun than debating religion here. If they didn’t knock on my door occasionally I would be disappointed. My wife gives a huge sigh and disappears upstairs if she see them coming down the path. My record was keeping them going for seven hours. (They did send out for reinforcements.) I find it fascinating that they are really only familiar with portions of the Bible, not the whole thing.

RocketSquid's avatar

It depends on the situation for me. At my current job, we have a girl who seems to make it her goal to “save” all of us in my department whenever she calls in. Whenever she brings it up, I just state “I’m afraid I cannot discuss that over the phone, let’s continue with the task at hand.”
A job before this, all I could do was smile, nod and accept any “gifts” I was given. Somewhere in my closet I have a box full of Chick Tracts, Cellular business cards and other pamphlets.

If it’s not at work, I usually open it up with “If you’re the type of person who has to ask, you probably won’t like the answer.” usually a little forcefully on the last part. I’m a polite guy, so usually I change the subject right after that.

ChaosCross's avatar

Never happened to me really, I’m usually the one doing it actually.

Futhermucker's avatar

I react by counter converting them. Then we hug and sing kumbaya.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I put my tin foil space helmet on and command them to SILENCE! while I tune in for Zorkoll, Supreme Master of the Universe universe universe

nicobanks's avatar

I don’t think it’s rude to say you’re not interested. That’s what I do. I let them get through their opening spiel, and then I smile and say “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” Then I smile again, bid them a good day, and close the door. I’m talking strangers, here. I guess your situation is a little different. I’ve never really encountered your situation before, but I think I would initially respond by trying to “share,” while making it clear that I have my own thing going on. Look for common ground, something you can agree with, but in the terms of your own faith. If that doesn’t work, say something like “I’m sorry to interrupt you,” (even if you’re not interrupting – it will make it more clear that you’re trying to put a stop to the conversation), “but I am actually very satisfied with my religion/faith/community/service/church/etc. Thank you for sharing with me about [insert her faith here], but I’m not interested in converting.” Something like that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I just keep repeating…

“god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs. god is dog spelled backwards. i like dogs.”

Futhermucker's avatar

Two Mormons knocked on my door a few years ago. Their attempts to convert me were unsuccessful. Instead they walked away with an armful of vedantic philosophy literature and a head full of questions and doubts about their beliefs. Never heard from them after that…

escapedone7's avatar

Since I’m a walking piece of shit I’m pretty sure if there is a hell, I’m going to it. I think I smell something burning. Is that flesh or burned sneakers I’m smelling? I’d like something to believe in. I’d like to be a better person, be it for good karma, heaven, or just to make this planet a better place for other people to live on. I envy people that have a solid belief system that can’t be shaken.

Overall I view it like I view race, sexual preferences, cultural differences, just a part of human diversity. I wouldn’t want to rob or strip anyone of their freedom to feel and believe what they want. I just think all the various ways of looking at things are plain interesting. I’m pretty open to letting people share with me as long as I don’t have a horrible migraine or something. I have to say I’ve talked to a Mormon that was delightful and a Jehova Witness that was a lovely woman. I can’t really seem to fully bite onto any particular thing though. I can appreciate them as human beings though, and find their points of view interesting. I kind of want to believe in something more. I feel kind of lost actually.

Futhermucker's avatar

@escapedone7.. is a step in the right direction, in my humble opinion.

LostInParadise's avatar

I used to love it when the Jehova’s Witnesses came by. I don’t know if they stopped coming to my neighborhood or just gave up on me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@escapedone7 My dear friend, my friend who calls herself “a walking piece of shit”. My special friend that feels, “kind of lost”. My friend who kind of wants “to believe in something”. May I suggest to my friend that she consider believing in herself?

I certainly do.

escapedone7's avatar

Gives @RealEyesRealizeRealLies big squishy hugs. Thank you.

oreo45's avatar

I live out in the country, and they still find me. I just say no thanks, but my 14 year old son says I should try to convert them to Islam.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It helped when there was a Mezuzah nailed to our threshold between the locked outer screen door and the main wooden one so I could just point and say “thank you anyway” but my mother’s house (our house) is godless and we choose not to answer the weekly squad of Mormons dispatched from minivans and suvs all up and down the neighborhood.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I enjoy the challenge of trying to destroy their faith. If they’re putting their faith out there like that I figure it is up for debate, so I engage them in a friendly discussion about how religion is superfluous and potentially dangerous. I once had Mormons visit twice in one week, because I asked questions and they wanted to return to answer them properly.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@janbb “Jesus Saves. Moses Invests.”

janbb's avatar

So they say.

kheredia's avatar

I’m usually pretty blunt.. there’s no use in beating around the bush.. then they’ll never leave you alone.. I just say “I’m sorry but there’s no use in you wasting your breath on me because I’m really not interested in hearing anything about your religion”.

I just thought of a time that they came to my door to give me one of those magazines (I don’t even remember what religion they were) but can you believe they tried to charge me 50 cents for their magazine?!! Are you serious?? I totally gave it back to them and told them to sell it to someone who would actually read it.. the nerve of those people.

neverawake's avatar

I’d tell them to back off.

augustlan's avatar

In your specific case, I’d have said “Thank you for sharing your faith, but I am very happy with my own.”

j0ey's avatar

I know it is a pain the the ass when people push their beliefs on you, BUT you have to remember one thing:

Most people that try and convert you (lets take Christians for example), usually COMPLETELY and utterly believe that there is a hell, and if you don’t know Jesus, you will definitely end up there.

Therefore, them trying to convert you is their way of trying to save you, most of the time they care about you enormously.

I remind myself of this every time my grandmother rambles on to my brother and I….she is only doing it because I think she wants to die knowing that we will not end up in the most horrible place imaginable.

So basically, I just smile and nod, and know that the person must really care.

MrsDufresne's avatar

I smile lovingly and say “Tootles!” and then I go do something else.

jerv's avatar

It depends on their approach. I am firm in my beliefs already, but if they are courteous and respectful towards my position then I will listen and then politely decline while wishing them well along their chosen path.

If they get uppity, I happen to know quite a bit of theology and can make them cry. It’s happened before ;)

ubersiren's avatar

We actually have a regular Jehovah’s witness that comes to our door. He is a nice older man and we have indulged him so far. We will take his booklets and answer his questions. He knows that we are agnostic. We don’t let him come inside the house. We do a short polite volley on the front porch. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but he hasn’t asked us to do anything so far. He’s super friendly and thoughtful, so we’ll make light conversation for now while maintaining our honesty.

thriftymaid's avatar

I understand your need to share, but I have already found my life philosophy.

loser's avatar

I twitch.

faye's avatar

I like your avatar @loser

liminal's avatar

Part of me wants to play along, win their confidence, and then drink their milkshake, drink it up!.

Rarebear's avatar

I say thanks, but I’m an atheist Jew. That usually stumps them.

Siren's avatar

I try to convert them back.

jerv's avatar

@Rarebear I find that “Devout Agnostic” gets the same results.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@jerv I tell them that I am a ‘new atheist’, so they still think they have a chance. That’s when we get into the discussions. Last time the Mormons came round, my brother thought I almost made them cry.

Berserker's avatar

I usually tell em to fuck off, if I percieve the evident intent at conversion…I’ll be a little more polite if I’m in a good mood or if I’m not entirely sure of their intent, but I’ve no patience, generally, for people trying to convert me.
Just thinking about why people even do this makes me sick.

charlie_salazar's avatar

@Symbeline, Totally agree, happy to discuss but if all they are interested in is upping the numbers, it resorts to telling them to get lost!

Cupcake's avatar

@SuperMouse – tell her that Jesus has returned and has abolished proselytizing.

I don’t think either of your options were rude.

charlie_salazar's avatar

How funny, after leaving my reply last night, a Jehovas Witnesses came to my door this morning. First time in 4 years!
My answer was ‘Im gay so I dont think were compatible’! He politely left a pamphlet about a rally in my local area. My Labrador happily recylced it for me!

NRO's avatar

I would say “I do not find this an appropriate subject for conversation” or “Whatever happened to the etiquette rule banning social discussions of politics and religion?”

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Too bad this site doesn’t allow us to create polls. I’d love to find out how many people have changed their religious views based upon someone’s attempt to convert them. The results might save a lot of wasted time and energy.

NRO's avatar

I might try “I’m a Moonie” or “I’m a Hare Krishna”

Pachy's avatar

With, in a word, repulsion.

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