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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Advice to Missionaries

Now that my daughter (Bas-Shifra) is eleven I allow her to bike around the neighborhood with her friends. We always coordinate a time that she needs to be home and my husband and I recently purchased a pre-paid cellphone which we allow our kids to take with them when they are out alone or with friends. I find it very sad that kids have so little freedom today so I try to let her have her independence in small ways when I can (I know I rode my bike ALL over the place all day as a kid and my parents were QUITE overprotective.)

When my daughter and her friend returned to our house yesterday afternoon after a bike ride I noticed her friend had a "Why Islam" pamphlet in the basket of her bike. When I asked her about it a whole story came flooding out of both girls at once.

"There was this weird man..."
"He was wearing a white dress!"
"and he said hi to us so we didn't want to be rude"
"He asked us if we thought about why we were here in this world"
"and he kept talking about the afterlife"
"it was CREEPY!"
"and he gave us these pamphlets but Bas-Shifra threw hers in the trash right away!"
"He really freaked us out."
"He was just handing things out to people but when he saw us he started that whole conversation."

I was really upset.
If you want to missionize on the street that's bad enough but do NOT approach CHILDREN.

In a very uncharacteristic move I called the police. We live in a small town, I thought they should know. Bas-Shifra of course was SO embarrassed.
Apparently unless the man was "being inappropriate" he's within his rights to preach to children on the street.

Both the policeman and I reminded Bas-Shifra that she is not required to be "polite" to strangers who want to talk to her on the street and should just keep on moving when called to by someone she does know.

My daughter and I talked about it later - she apparently thought he was Jewish since he had set himself up outside a kosher eatery on the main street and had his head covered. "I didn't know he was another RELIGION" she said "he just seemed weird." When I explained to her about how missionaries operate she said "Wow, he was pretty subtle I had no idea I was being converted!" I almost laughed then, but honestly this whole thing has me a bit freaked out.


At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most ironic thing of all is that you're going to spend a bloody fortune on missionarizing your kids (a.k.a. Jewish education).

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I dunno, I used to enjoy it when the Southern Baptists used to come around when I was a kid. They were so nice and polite, and I knew to say, "Hi! No thank you. My parents aren't interested either." But they were so friendly! :)

[Ok, so missionaries targeting kids is really scary... though it makes me wonder how some irreligious parents view kiruv people.]

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Jack Steiner said...

I have always been irritated by missionaries who target children. It is just not right.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger projgen said...

I've always been irritated by missionaries, period. However, to target children is vile. That's not an honest desire to "save" anyone, or turn them on the "right path," that is merely a numbers game. Go after children who don't know better and get them on "your side" because you can.

And I completely disagree with the police - I think approaching children under the guise of missionizing IS inappropriate. "Come with me to Allah/Jesus/Buddha, little girl..." is no different than, "come with me and I'll give you a lollipop, little girl..." Feh.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

"The most ironic thing of all is that you're going to spend a bloody fortune on missionarizing your kids (a.k.a. Jewish education)."

I'm wondering if you own a dictionary.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

Both the policeman and I reminded Bas-Shifra that she is not required to be "polite" to strangers who want to talk to her on the street and should just keep on moving when called to by someone she doesN'T know.

What about being missionized BY kids?
I was walking down the street when this little girl asked me one of those "do you think about the afterlife" type questions. It was sort of cute, so i just smiled and told her "no thanks" to her pamphlet.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Andrew McAllister said...

You're right. It was quite different when I was young. I had so much more freedom than my kids have today and I was probably still safer.

To Love, Honor and Dismay

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Kate (pereka) said...

Was surfing on JRants and your post title struck a chord...

When I was twelve, my Christian friend invited me to a get-together her youth group was having. Interested, I decided to tag along, but not before grabbing my bat mitzvah material to take with (I was dangerously behind in my studies). We all played some games at the church, won some prizes, ate some food-- a good time had by all. When it came time for the kids to pray, however, I politely sat in the back, quietly studying my Torah portion. An adult beckoned me out into the hallway and handed me a colorful packet, asking me to give it to my parents when I got home. It was not until I turned the papers over to my father (and witnessed the paternal explosion of rage afterwards) that realized what had happened. Luring a kid into your lair via her friends to try and convert her with Christian literature? Kind of underhanded and dishonest, if you ask me.

I don't know what is worse, what happened to me or that my friend later confessed that she had no idea something like that would occur!

Thanks for letting me vent. :)


At 10:10 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

Thank G-d, the most I've ever had to do with missionaries is taking pamphlets from the "Jews for J" people in the subway and tearing them up right away. We did have an anti-missionary program at camp one year, though, that showed us a lot of the risks and tactics. Missionizing kids is even more disgusting than usual, though.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

While still living overseas I just loved the fresh-faced Mormom missionaries. They were so desperate to speak real English that they'd put the propaganda on the back-burner. And patiently endure the cigar smoke while chatting in English.

Unfortunately missionaries in this country are not nearly so tolerable. Or maybe I have lost patience.
I'm convinced that teaching your kids how to deal with missionaries should be part of every parents programme.

Most missionaries veer towards easy marks - children, elderly women, unhappy people, simple minds. It's much more likely to pay off than approaching bikers or streetcorner gangsters, less likely to result in unfortunate incidents.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Usually when they come to my house I yell out,

"No thanks, I already got one," and then when they have this puzzled look I continue, "Oh, yes, it's very nice."

On a serious note, you did right to call the Police, and they were very wrong to brush you off. This guy is a real creep, and he's obviously targeting Jews. Pamphlets may be the most inocuous thing he's carrying.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Thanks for your support PT - when missionaries approach me I always say "I've got all the religion I need today but thank you!"

Similar approach - but effective!

At 1:26 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Yes, but mine references Monty Python.


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