Afternoon InqueeryReligion

AI: Reactions to Street Prosthelytizing

I went to the WI State Fair this past weekend, with my boyfriend, his wife, and her boyfriend. It was a lovely day out, spending time together eating fried food for which we were charged far too much, and hearing terrible covers of Nirvana songs. The cream puffs were as good as advertised, and we saw a lot of bunnies which makes me really happy.

Anyway, as we were entering the park we passed by a group of Christian evangelists passing out pamphlets. I don’t know what the pamphlets said, because I didn’t read them. I just ignored the “Is Jesus Christ your lord and savior?” question and kept walking.

As soon as we passed the first pair of evangelists I looked across the street to where we were headed. Yep, another pair, probably from the same group. So I took my boyfriend’s hand in mine, and headed across the street. Confidently, out, proud.

The pair of evangelists on the other side of the street ignored us completely. They looked, saw us, and looked away, refusing to acknowledge our existence as they continued to try to convert the other fair goers.

Honestly, it felt like a hell of a win for me. I had accomplished getting them to ignore me the same way I usually have to ignore them. It felt really good.

How do you handle street preachers and evangelical pamphleteers? Do you ignore them? Engage with them in debate or discussion? Make out with someone in front of them? What works for you?

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Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes is a queer polyamorous transman, curious skeptic, and enthusiastic seeker of knowledge. He's an undergraduate student in his 30's and loves teaching people about alternative sexuality and gender issues.


  1. August 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm —

    Nice! A group of friends and I ran into some particularly obnoxious evangelists at San Francisco Pride. Some gay making-out was clearly called for.

  2. August 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm —

    I usually ignore them as well, unless they get in my face or get pushy, then I will get feisty. I had a guy on campus handing out those little green copies of the new testament, and he kept pushing it at me and walking along side me was I was walking into a building. I finally got fed up and yelled “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!” and he stopped. =P

  3. August 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm —

    I ignore them if they’re not being any pushier than just offering the pamphlets, but if they get pushy – “No, have YOU heard about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Have you been touched by its noodly appendage?”

    I’m also fond of “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!”

  4. August 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm —

    I usually ignore them as well, but if they push a flyer on me, I will take it and throw it away so that they can’t give it to someone else.

  5. August 8, 2012 at 2:50 am —

    I once accepted a Book of Mormon since I wanted to see what was in it (I didn’t make it very far since the mythology didn’t engage me, and the writing was a bad parody of the Bible.

    My fondest memory, though, is telling a street preacher that I wasn’t interested ’cause I’d given up that drug years before.

  6. August 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm —

    If they want to speak with me I politely reply and if they should ask if I am interested I honestly declare my lack of it. So far, this has worked well for me.

    On one occasion I had a rather nice convesation with some Christians on my doorstep about materialism and love. They were impressed and gave me a copy of their magazine and I wanted to give them a copy of Erich Fromm’s “Man for Himself,” just to show that good values exist in the secular world as well. 🙂

  7. October 4, 2012 at 9:31 am —

    Usually I just ignore them, since I have got better things to do, and can’t be bothered with bigotry. It is only when I have got spare time and really nothing to do that’s on my mind to, well, use up their time for 15 minutes, and make them feel unconfortable about their questionable beliefs. For the better part, I just tell them I am an atheist, what is always more than enough a shock to them. And yes, I do have fun by times when they do come up and ask if I have got time, and me getting extravert, saying in a loud and clear voice ‘NO!, absolutely not!’ and to walk on further in merriment.

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