DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are your recommendations for dealing with people who go door to door, bothering neighbors with religious solicitations?
I don’t bring up religion in conversation, and it strikes me as brazen that others want to ambush me with an abrupt, prying assault on my privacy at my front door. Out of cowardice, these self-serving people often bring their children, so victims won’t say what they really feel about the intrusion. I’ve also heard that “witnessing” is actually using the unfortunate “audience” to test their own faith and ability to debate.
People know where to find a church if they want one. Please, what do I do?
GENTLE READER: Although she is not going to applaud knocking on someone’s door to make a sale, Miss Manners will not -- when the commodity is religion -- go so far as to say that the action itself is rude.
What follows, however, may be. The solicitor certainly has no right to insist on an audience, and the homeowner has a right to reject the offer, firmly and quickly. This means saying, “Thank you, we are not interested,” and closing the door -- without hesitation, but also without anger.
Think of what you want the solicitor’s child to understand: that you can behave decently even when dad is obviously making a nuisance of himself, or that maybe he has a point about the people behind closed doors being angry and lost?
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)