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Thinking it might be one of my flatmate's friends, I dragged myself out of bed and opened the door. There stood a short, colourless man, backed by two equally colourless boys. They stared at me with their grey eyes, wet blonde hair plastered to their faces.
In hindsight, I probably should have politely but firmly closed the door and gone back to bed. But instead I stood there and listened to a 20-minute sermon, full of fire, brimstone and judgement. As the daughter of a pretty hard-core fundamentalist minister, I've heard it all before. But I found the presumptuous manner of the man, and his throwaway comments about how people who committed suicide go straight to hell deeply offensive.
If you have lived in any major community, you've probably encountered door-to-door proselytising in one form or another. From Jehovah's Witnesses to the Church of the Latter Day Saints, door-knockers are employed by many denominations and churches to increase awareness. But honestly, they're really annoying.
For a start, they're downright invasive. Often people feel too polite to tell the door-knocker to leave, and a certain sense of anxiety kicks in. The home is a deeply personal space, and the audacity of these people is astounding.
Secondly, New Zealand is an incredibly multicultural country. Door-to-door preaching fails to address the cultural differences and misunderstandings between people. It can cause individuals of different religions to feel judged, scrutinised or harassed.
Moreover, there's no real evidence to indicate that door-to-door preaching actually works. Faith is a personal issue for people, and door-to-door exchanges often become high-pressure situations, imparting bad press to the church in question and leaving the homeowner with a bad taste in their mouth.
No-one wants a condescending speech about how they're a liar and deserving of an eternity of agony. No one wants to be told that due to their sexuality, they're damned. Instead, they'd like to hear how their local churches are helping the community. Human connections and church communities are built on a mutual love of Christ, care and understanding, not fear and invasiveness.
So there you have it. After I admitted that my father was a Presbyterian minister and that I was ''frankly sick of religion'', the man and his two sons gave up on me, and awkwardly shuffled away. I guess there's some consolation in the fact their long exchange with me had potentially given my neighbours the chance to escape.
-Jean Balchin is an English student at the University of Otago.