First Person

The religious door-knockers are back

These days I’m receiving them with a kinder heart.

I saw them the other day, walking down the road. They’d been gone so long that I almost felt glad to see them. They wore the same almost unnaturally happy-looking smiles, the kind that make me ner­vous when they visit my house. After knocking, they stand far enough away from the front door to indicate they’re there for religiously nefarious reasons and not for nefari­ously nefarious ones. I don’t know their names. In fact, they’re not even the same people as before the pandemic began—but they have returned, no doubt about it. The religious door knockers are back in force, canvassing our side of town.

I’d counted their absence as one of the few bright spots of the COVID pandemic. In the midst of crisis, our collective anxiety level through the roof, I could at least be assured that no one from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no one from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and no one even from any of Nashville’s evangelical churches would knock on my door. Last year, both the LDS Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses had made official pronouncements, encouraging their followers not to go door to door. This halting of religious door knocking felt like an unmerited blessing bestowed on my house.

I grew up as an evangelical Chris­tian, and in my own time as a proselytizer ex­traordinaire, I must have knocked on hundreds of strangers’ doors. So you might think, even with that way of life behind me, that I would welcome, with some form of spiritual simpatico, these door knockers when they come to share their good news. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a stranger comes to my door trying to convert me to some particular view of spirituality, I feel like my privacy has been invaded. I’m not unnecessarily rude to them. After all, I’m still a practicing Christian, and I can’t imagine Jesus cussing out strangers for knocking on his door, though sometimes I wish I could.