This article by syndicated columnist Harriet Cole is in our local paper this morning.Anyone want to set her straight and respond to her call for information on beliefs and activities on the cult?
Religious advocates are persistent and harassing
Dear Harriette: Nearly every morning when I leave my apartment building, two or three people are standing at the corner, handing out religious literature and trying to stop me and others to talk. I think they're Jehovah's Witnesses.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against them. I don't even know anything about their religion. I do know I don't want to be harassed in the morning, heading out to work. Should I just ignore them? I feel bad doing that because I'm accustomed to saying something when I pass people. (I grew up in the South.) But they are persistent. Help!
— Sandra, New York
Sandra: Continue to resist the temptation to judge people based on their religion. Rather than deciding to act as if they are not there, which makes you feel bad because you were appropriately brought up to believe it is polite to acknowledge others, be gracious and welcoming and distant.
Make friendly eye contact and keep moving. Occasionally, say "Good morning." If the people are always the same individuals day after day, chances are they will appreciate the greeting and not persist. It's likely, however, that the individuals change, which is why you sometimes have people eagerly reaching out anew.
Set your focus before you leave home. Walk with intention and clarity. Be friendly and reserved. If someone tries to stop you to talk (any of these people, or others during your day), kindly say you are not interested and keep moving. I have used this approach recently with eager young people who are seeking signatures for petitions or other solicitations. They've tried to get me to stop for a moment, but I have not slowed my step. I remained friendly and focused. It works, without causing any ill will.
Dear Readers: If anyone would like to share the fundamental beliefs and activities of Jehovah's Witnesses, your comments are welcome.
Send questions to askharriette @harriettecole.com or c/o United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.