There is a knock on the door, I answer it to find a missionary who wants to teach me about the "one true religion".

It is obvious very early that we have differing views about what the real "one true religion" is.

I don't want to get into a debate, I just want them to go away. What should I say and/or do?

  • This question is of a kind I am calling "asserting your boundaries". Please edit this question to add details about the specific problem you are facing beyond learning to be assertive while polite. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 6:43
  • What country do you live in? The answers will depend on your cultural context
    – user288
    Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 16:38
  • Why can't you just say "thank you but I'm not interested"? Why do you think this won't answer your problem?
    – Ael
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 21:05

7 Answers 7


I have found that unwelcome solicitors -- religious, political, or otherwise -- usually take a polite "no thank you" and leave. For a religious solicitor who doesn't take the hint immediately, you can add "I'm comfortable in my religion", which sends a message of "yes I've thought about this and your pitch isn't going to work".

I've found that it is usually best to not engage with the content of their pitch. If you debate their claims they'll want to correct your errors, which is going to consume more of your time. Vehement disagreement can engage them, while clear disinterest sends them away more quickly without being rude.


Have a no cold caller sign. While yes it might irritate them, as long as you're not there for them to express their irritation on, you should be fine.

If you know it's them you can simply ignore the door, and not open it, you can burn* (or recycle) anything they put through your door.

Finally, if they still don't get the message, write a note on the door, or perhaps even leave a polite letter for them, informing them that you do not appreciate what they do and have no interest in following their religion, however should you have a change of heart you know where to go.

If they end up being a large nuisance, simply call the police to remove them from your property for trespassing.

*By "Burn" I don't mean in a mocking or simple common way, I'm implying that you use the paper given to you as a form of fuel for solid fuel based heating systems (like open fires).

  • A lot of modern papers can produce toxic gases when burned. I'd be careful.
    – forest
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 3:41

The "No Cold Callers" sign is an excellent starting point. It gives you the way out of having politely informed already that their visit was unwanted. If they have nonetheless knocked anyway, then you can call their attention to the notice.

If the door has already been answered, as your post suggests, then without entering into any debate, say politely that you are not interested. This can be strengthened by an appeal to their own missionary zeal, by noting that you are not the best target for their resources or time, that their efforts will perhaps be more profitably applied elsewhere. This shows your respect to their efforts, and avoids any theological debate.


Make sure you want them to go away first. I actually started chatting with a couple of young men one day because I had time & they were nice. They then started dropping by about twice a week, as I would be outside with the kids. They never did convert me, they were willing to hear about my beliefs & they ended up doing some work for me that I was in need of for absolutely free. Not only that, I sent them over to an elderly neighbors house to do a few things for him & they were lovely the whole time.

So I do get it that pushy non-relenting religious door knockers can be people you would rather avoid, but not all who come knocking are like that. To the rest, I simply say that I am happy to hear them out for up to 5 mins at a time, if then we have 5 mins where I can talk & tell them what I believe & rotate. Many have no clue what to do with that. If they do not respect it, then they can leave. If I don't have time, I simply say that.

I would never go door to door talking about such things, but I guess deep down I think that they think they are trying to help me, so I can't be too awfully annoyed with them about it, even if I disagree about being in need of any spiritual helping.


Inform them in great detail about why they're going to hell.

I used to work near the Mormon HQ in London and none of them ever approached me again after that day.

Or you can just wave them away and close the door, it's pretty much what they're expecting 99% of the time, there's no real need to break away from that.


Personally, I find it rude for people to try to convert me, regardless of my (non-) religious affiliation. But if you want to be polite, a "no, thank you, I'm not interested" should suffice.

If they continue past that, they are being rude. Feel free to close the door on them.

Debating them does not work unless you're a really good debater — they're trained. So do not engage them, but keep telling them you're not interested. Should they refuse to leave, they would be trespassing. Don't be afraid to call the police on them if they do that.


Reading the answers from other users, I see that the "No Cold Callers" sign is the equivalent of what I had once in my door, which basically said:

In this house, we love the Lord, we are catholics.

Unfortunaltely, this sign was removed from our door "it was a sticker, though".

I'm catholic, but not fanatic or devoted.

From my point of view, if you're religious (or have religious/spiritual beliefs), I think that when these situation happen again, you can stand in front of your window or door and reply:

Sorry, I'm not interested and I'm busy right now. Have a nice day (or any similar in those lines).

if s/he keeps talking you, you have no need to pay attention and just close the door and continue with your business.

Sometimes to my home, Jehová's Witnesses knock the door very early at morning, I usually know they're, so, they keep knock the door twice, but as nobody approach to the door, they leave shortly.

When I (for any reason) open the window and in fact there's Jehová's Witnesses, they usually say if I'm interested in the Bible; I cut inmediateley replying that in fact, I have read the Bible.

Replying that helped me to Jehová's Witnesses stop asking me questions and we mutually say: have a nice day.

If you're not religious (or have religious/spiritual beliefs), reply:

I'm not interested and I'm busy right now (plain and simple).

  • I don't understand why you'd suggest leaving off the "have a nice day" if you're not religious...
    – Erik
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 8:43
  • @Erik that's my way of say goodbye - also, I'm catholic but I don't consider myself (in a very religious way) - the "have a nice day" is independent of religious beliefs (it's about I consider "how I apply my manners in practice") :) Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 11:57

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