Religious and charity “muggers”

Anyone who’s lived in London for a while knows about “charity muggers” - people who approach you in the street to get you to sign up to make direct debit donations to their charity. They are extremely irritating, because they often take much effort to get them out of the way, and you can make sure not to look at them and they still get in your way, quite deliberately.

I haven’t had much experience of the religious variant, but one of my Muslim female friends, who lives in a provincial town, reported that she had been accosted in the street by someone trying to sign her up for their church, asking her if she believed in Jesus (peace be upon him). It tends to be evangelical Christians who do this, partly because they (unlike other branches of Christianity) regard proselytising as important, but also because other religions either don’t believe in attracting converts (eg. Hinduism) or simply because the UK is a Christian country, by heritage, and other communities don’t really feel that they have the right to spread their religion so aggressively. (Some groups do attract people of their own minority religion at home or in the street, like the Lubavitchers among Jews or the Tablighi Jamaat among Muslims, but they do not approach others, usually.) It is irritating because we should not have to justify our beliefs to a hostile, total stranger. They can also be quite intimidating and often seek out “don’t know” answers. They often promote a harsh, simplified version of the religion.

My view is that one should deal with these people by sticking your palm out towards their faces. They have no right to interrupt you as you go about your business. I particularly resent the charity representatives (mostly, I’m told, out-of-work actors) because I could not afford to sign up for a direct debit as I don’t have the income. Also, some of us have charities we donate money to or give of our time to, so nobody has the right to pressure us to sign up for theirs too; we often just can’t. Also, I don’t want to end up face-palming someone, thinking them to be a charity mugger, and discovering them to be a friend or relative. I do wish they’d find a better way of raising money.

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  • Layla

    Yes, I know what u mean. Its t same with people trying 2 sign u up 4 Sky or change ur electic company them. I manged 2 avoied those people b4 getting pounsed on by some what u call “Religious mugers”. It not t nices thing 2 do 2 people when they r trying 2 get on with there everyday lifes. If people r intreasted, they will do it in there own time, not when ur rushing from 1 place 2 another thought t town center.

  • africana

    good article, ma sha Allah.

    don’t much go to the centre of glasgow, so i don’t meet these people much, but they are annoying. definitely.

    did have a man coming round asking for money for a charity run for oxfam. i had no way of knowing that he was genuine so i sent him packing.drug addicts and others have been known to act thus.

    if people want to give, a poster or a collection box should be more than enough incentive.

  • It’s even worse when they turn up on your door step. I play a game called “I’m not in even though you just saw me through the window” with them. It is rude and often intimidating to people who may live on their own, not understand what they are signing up for etc.

  • I absolutely loathe proselytizing, especially when it’s done by someone in the majority religion. Do they think we haven’t heard the message before? It always feels like an attempt at spiritual breaking and entering.

    To the people who come to my door trying to sell religion, I say, “No, thank you. Please don’t come back,” and then I close the door. I used to think I was being hopelessly rude by doing this, but at a certain point, I just couldn’t stand the intrusion. Now I realize that the intrusion is far more rude than telling someone they’re not welcome to ring my doorbell.

    To the people on the street, I’ve always started with “no thank you.” If they don’t stop, I’ve been known to say things like “You’re being very rude. Were you born that way or did you learn it through years of study?” That will either get them all self-righteous or shut them up. Either way, I’ve interfered with their script, and I can generally go on my way.

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