Friday, January 27, 2012

Door-to-door judgment

This morning, the doorbell rang.

Sounds normal, but it's really not. Nobody just pops in around here. Every visit is scheduled, and most social activities are out. Out at a playground, out at a restaurant, out at a theme park. So, no, my doorbell doesn't ring often.

I pretty much assumed it was a book being delivered from Amazon.

Imagine my surprise when I open the door to see two middle aged men standing on my doorstep. I say hi, and they introduce themselves, Dan and Harold, or something like that. After they say their names, there is a full fifteen seconds of awkward silence while I wait for them to explain why they are on my doorstep. Eventually, the truth comes out: they are with the new ginormous Christian-non-denominational church that is being built a few blocks away and they want to meet all their neighbors.

I say, I've seen the church, it's beautiful, etc.

Then they ask the question I know that they are actually there to ask:

"Have you found the Lord?"

I almost want to chuckle at the overly-aggressive tone the man has in his voice as he asks it, because the accusation is so thick that it completely contradicts the words he is saying.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind proselytizers. I understand where they are coming from; they have something in their life that they love and they want to share it with others. My religion, in fact, is famous for its proselytizing efforts. I am not annoyed by these men on my doorstep, nor am I annoyed by the women from another sect that come by my house every three months like clockwork.

But I am firm in my faith, I am happy with my religion, and while I am not annoyed by this attempt to convert me, I am certain that nothing he says will ever take me away from my church and into his.

So, I answer, politely and honestly:

"Yes. We've found the Lord"

In response to this, his eyes narrow and he asks sharply and, again, accusingly:

"Are you Christians?"

I am almost laughing at this point, for two reasons. One, I don't see how Christianity and this angry, accusatory tone can coincide with one another. Two, based on his attitude, I know exactly how he's going to react to my answer.

"Yes. We're Christians. We're actually Mormons."

Both men widen their eyes, tighten their lips into flat little lines. One of them takes a visible step backward, as though he doesn't want to "catch" my Mormonism. At this point, it takes most of my willpower not to laugh.

But then.

Oh, there had to be a "but then..." to this story, right?

But then, the man turns to my five year old son and says, "What about you? Have you found the Lord? Do you know Jesus?"

That's right. This man is trying to convert my five year old son to a different faith, right in front of my face, in my own doorway. I think this would bring out the mama bear in just about any woman. However, my son is on the autism spectrum, and he just doesn't speak to strangers. Ever. And being spoken to directly by someone whom he has not yet warmed to is pretty much the most horrifying thing he can imagine. So my son jams his fingers in his mouth, makes a weird squeaking noise, and steps back to hide behind me.

Then the men do the unthinkable.

They give me that look.

That pitying, disgusted look. As though I'm doing something wrong and contributing to this neurological disorder. The situation has stopped being funny and has now become an unpleasant experience that I want to end as quickly as possible. The thought of shutting the door in their faces crosses my mind, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Their next statement is thick with contempt.

"If you are ever ready to follow God's plan for you, you do what is in your heart, and you will know to come find us."

And he extends a small, yellow pamphlet toward me, his face still a mask of disdain, as though we are some infestation of autistic-Mormons. And then he and his friend turn away, too quickly, without waiting for any response, without so much as a "have a nice day" or "thanks for your time" or anything.

The irony: he is an immigrant, speaking in a thick and easily recognizable accent, and of a minority race. A man who has undoubtedly dealt with the small mindedness of others for many years is here, standing on my doorstep, judging my family and looking at my child as if he's an insect.

And the circle of judgment and small-mindedness continues, just being pointed in a different direction.