when i get someone approaching me, depending on available time and my mood at the time, i either tell them no thanks, i'm not interested or i engage them in mental and verbal chess and refute everything they say until they get frustrated and go away of their own accord.
Personally, I feel like, "I'm not interested" is sufficient and implies "please leave me alone" without actually having to state it. If a person persists after you tell them you're not interested, THAT is rude... and asking them to leave you alone, at that point, corresponds to their belligerent disrespect of your obvious attempt to avoid the discussion.
Well, the sad fact is, there's no right way to go about this. My family is persistent, too. I come from a very religious background and, when I visited them a couple weeks ago, I had to bite my tongue the whole time. They're constantly voicing their ridiculous opinions and I eventually caved in and got into a debate with them, which led to a novel-like email from my mother telling me, basically, to stop thinking about it and just accept God.
They're going to push and they're going to back you into a corner. Avoid it as long as you can, but be prepared for the conversation: it will happen... and probably more than once. You can be as polite as you wanna be, depending on your endurance.This has more to do with how YOU want to handle it.
Fortunately I come from a family of atheists, so it was never a problem for me at home. But I do have several friends who are Christians who get really taken aback when they find out I don't subscribe to their religious pap. I set them right pretty quickly. You have to learn to accept each other.
I've wondered about this myself. I've been approached by leaflet packing proselytizers on a few occasions. They always gang up on you and if you say your atheist, you never know for sure that they won't try to excise demons from you on the spot. Last one I can remember, I lied and said I was Buddhist & exploring all the options and politely made it clear that their holy text wasn't very compelling to me.
I was shaky afterwards in part because I wasn't quite sure how I should handle them as I was dealing with them & moreso for them imposing on me in the first place. I think I'm more inclined now to advocate the mental & verbal chess match approach, as Nelson put it. Try to maintain a cordial demeanor, as the second you acknowledge you're an atheist (weigh the probability of being burned on a cross in your particular local before doing so), they envision devil horns & wings sprouting from your body. You don't want to feed into that programmed reaction.
Atheists may not be the majority but we are a significant minority at least & like Dawkins, I think it's high time we start to come out of the closet.
Isn't it amazing how they will accept the most outrageous crap as the truth, but won't accept the most simple truth as fact?
Once I got accosted by a couple of Baby Mormons coming out of a shopping centre. I had just been buying some science fiction. One of them greeted me and said..."I see you have been buying books, can I interest you in another good book?" and held out his Bible. I looked at the bible, smiled sweetly at him and said...
I think that it is a reminder to us that, religion is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just not something for us. The argument which is made in one of the replies is that "more debate why they think it is ok to preach to me or anyone rather than respect my un-belief or others belief in something else".
Man, the best Mormon-be-gone spray story I have is actually true.
I used to bartend and my boyfriend worked nights, too.
Usually I'd get home at about five or six am, make us a nice breakfast/dinner and then we'd stay up for a few hours before going to bed.
Well, we also used to have this cat named Malice. That cat shed more hair than anything nature ever intended. She was a short-hair, too. I used to put duct tape over her and peel it off because it would take all the loose hair off of her. She actually liked this.
So one day I get home from work, I've got tape on the cat and I'm just wearing a towel because once I get done de-hairing her I'm going to jump in the shower. Guess who knocks at the door?
Yeah, I assumed my boyfriend had forgot his key again.
I yank the door wide open with a tapped up cat under one arm, wearing nothing but a towel and looking irritated as all hell.
The Mormons didn't visit after that.
While the logistics of this might be a bit too complex to set up, (and it probably would only cause further angst with your family) I hope the story at least amused you.