Jehovah’s Witnesses: yet another bit of confirmation that I am in England

If you don’t live in the UK, or the US, or Brazil or another “Western” nation, you’re likely unfamiliar with the concept of door-to-door evangelisation. This is when people go from house to house trying to strike up religious discussions, hopefully to attract new converts to their religious group. Sometimes the evangelisers also stop passersby on the street. A few religious traditions are particularly famous for doing this: Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably the most notorious, but Mormans and other varieties of “Christian” also take hold of the tradition.

If you do live in a country that has door-to-door evangelisation, I hope you feel gratitude for the religious freedom that this represents. This is a phenomenon found in certain places only. I don’t know exactly which countries have it and which countries don’t, but I know that for the last decade that I’ve lived in a dozen different countries, I have not experienced this phenomenon. And, for what it’s worth, I’ve spent most of these years in places where citizens do not have freedom to talk openly about religious conversion. I think there may be a connection: I don’t even want to think what certain governments would do if someone started knocking on doors talking about Jesus!

So, when two women and a girl rang the doorbell and asked me if I have hope for the future, I realised a few things about myself: I am back in the so-called “West” indeed, and living in a house. And, I work from home. (The second observation is salient because I suppose it’s possible that I may have lived in places with door-to-door evangelisation but always been at work when they rang my doorbell.)

The pamphlet given to me by the Jehovah's Witnesses Women

The pamphlet given to me by the Jehovah's Witnesses Women

As a Christian sociologist, I’m afraid I had very little interest in what they were saying. In fact, I found it a bit amusing when I told them that I’m a Christian recently moved to town and am looking for a good church, and they didn’t seem to think that was good news. Nor did it deter them from their message.

As a Christian sociologist, though, I was fascinated by the experience itself. It all felt very stereotypically British, as the women apologised repeatedly for ringing my doorbell, and asked my permission half a dozen times before pointing to a verse in their pamphlet about the End Times. I think I probably came across as remotely interested in the conversation, and likely significantly more interested than most of their subjects. But instead of capitalising on that and pushing the message, it seems they did not believe I could possibly be interested and instead asked me, again, to “just think about it.”

Yup, I’m in England. England the country with religious freedom, where women can go door-to-door talking about their religion. England the country where no one actually wants women to go door-to-door talking about their religion. England the country where the women are too polite to actually say much about their religion.

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