How can I convince Mormon missionaries to stop visiting my house?
February 25, 2014 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything (excepting ridiculous things like opening the door naked) that I can do to get blacklisted by Mormom missionaries?

We live in a neighborhood that is constantly being visited by Mormons. It seems like it's usually at least twice a month. Usually I just don't open the door, but lately I've been more and more irritated by their presence.

Many months back I brought our two foster children home from school and they were messing about with a kitten in the front yard while I went in to use the bathroom. When I got back outside two Mormons were chatting with them which set my teeth on edge. There was no way for them to know they were foster children and they were likely just being friendly. I know.

Then a couple times over the past few months they've caught me getting out of my car or getting the mail or walking the dog and they are a little pushy and it is off putting. I would like to not have to deal with these people any more. Is there a way to at least get them to stop coming to the house? I've asked them not to come, I've been rude, ignored etc.

Is there a magic word or something to get them to stop visiting my house? I realize them being in the neighborhood is sadly just a fact of life but I'd at least like to keep them away from my door.
posted by Saminal to Religion & Philosophy (57 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My print up and laminate a sign that says something like MISSIONARIES ARE NOT WELCOME HERE?
posted by kavasa at 4:01 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Our "No Soliciting" sign on the door works. The missionary apartment is actually just up the street and I see them all the time, but they've never come to the door.

I would guess, if they get you on the street, you might be able to tell them you're apostate and I don't think they're supposed to engage any further lest they catch it. Maybe someone more experienced can confirm if that will do it.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:07 PM on February 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I used to have the same reaction but then I got to know some Mormons and learned that these missionaries are usually young men right out of high school who go off on missions far away from home. I don't agree with their message and don't like my space being invaded, but learning that these young men, boys really, are going on missions to build character as well as to learn to interact with people tempered my annoyance. And truly they mostly are nice young men. Besides they offer their services to those that need an extra pair of hands or two around around the house, lifting boxes etc...and will even help you move for free. And usually they respond to niceness, so for me I just told them up front I wasn't interested in their message but I don't slam the door in their faces when they knock. And now I have 3 young men who come by a couple times a month to help me with yard work and the like. So if you can't prevent prevent them from avoiding your house you could reach out with kindness and it may make things better.
posted by ramix at 4:07 PM on February 25, 2014 [67 favorites]

Missionaries will be constantly rotating through your neighborhood; they are assigned by location and move zones frequently, so talking to one set is unlikely to put off another set a few months down the road. I can say that individual pairs are pretty good about not coming by again if told, "This is never going to work, I am permanently irreligious, please do not come by again." I was raised Mormon and so get visitors with reasonable frequency trying to get me to join the fold again, but I have been polite but firm and they have respected that.

I'd put a little sign on your door and doorbell that says "No religious solicitations" and see if that works.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:08 PM on February 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

Have you figured out which temple is sending them? You could contact them and let their staff know that you would prefer not to be visited.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:09 PM on February 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Having been an LDS missionary in a former life (I no longer identify as LDS now), I'd probably go with a conspicuous "No Soliciting or Proselytizing" sign, or a more ominous "No Trespassing" sign. The sort of record-keeping they have on their own is not very good for this sort of thing (e.g. they don't necessarily have a do-not-contact list), so even if you tell one pair to not visit, the next pair to replace them will have no idea that you made this request, and the missionaries assigned to your area will change every few months.

If they persist, you may be able to contact a local church leader and have them warn them off. The local leadership doesn't change as frequently and has a much better institutional memory than the missionaries themselves do. The easiest way to go about this is to use the meetinghouse locator to locate a nearby meetinghouse, click one of the "wards" on the list, click the "Leadership" button, and call one of the numbers listed there.

That, or have a very big, scary, intimidating dog in your yard.
posted by Aleyn at 4:21 PM on February 25, 2014 [4 favorites] will have a "meetinghouse locator", punch in your address, find the one that you would attend if you were a member. There will be phone numbers for "Bishop" or similar. Call them or the "ward clerk" if one is listed.

Explain the situation calmly, ask that the "ward mission leader" tell the current set and future sets not to come to your home. I can't say that it'll definitely work, but that way you're talking to someone who lives in the area and isn't one of the people potentially being cycled through every 6 weeks. That position can change on occasion, but not nearly as regularly, and they will keep records.

I am no longer mormon but was raised as such, and my dad was ward mission leader for quite some time.

Oh, also, it's possible that there are multiple congregations meeting at the local building, that's fine, the missionaries are probably related to multiple congregations and word can be passed as necessary. If you really want to be thorough, leave the message with any/all congregations listed at that address.
posted by HermitDog at 4:21 PM on February 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

This will not help when you are approached getting your mail, but I know a couple who stopped door solicitations with a "please don't knock or ring bell, baby is sleeping" sign. (They don't have a baby.)
posted by rip at 4:29 PM on February 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Missionaries generally only serve in a given geographic location for two to four months, and are then replaced by other missionaries. And there's no real coordination of work from the mission organization itself (missionaries are not sent by the temple or by the local congregations, but are organized into missions with a mission president over each mission made up of 150-300 missionaries in a geographic area). So there's really no reliable institutional memory at all among the missionaries.

Moreover, although there is a "Ward Mission Leader" in each congregation, that person is not actually in any sort of authoritative position over the missionaries, and their calling is basically to help the missionaries coordinate with local church members (since the missionaries are always from somewhere else).

Contacting the local Bishop or Ward Mission Leader will, at best, get you five or six months of not being visited - and that's only if the 18-year-old missionaries get it through their thick teenage skulls that you're serious, which is not always a good bet. Same deal if you were to contact their mission president's office. And forget about the Temple. It has nothing to do with missionary work, and Temple leadership barely has any connection at all to local church operations and leadership of any kind.

Your best bet is to put up a sign that specifically says "No Religious Solicitation - Mormon Or Otherwise."

You need to specify that you don't want Mormons or any other religious solicitation, because missionaries see "No Jehovah's Witnesses" signs pretty regularly and usually interpret them as not applying to Mormons.

Oh, and no, Mormon missionaries are not instructed to stay away from apostates. Tricking them into thinking you're some hostile ex-Mormon or something will at best do nothing at at worst egg on any particularly zealous missionary you happen to encounter.

As far as avoiding being approached when you go out to get the mail, the only reliable way I can think of to deter Mormon missionaries from approaching a person at all is if the person is a naked woman. So if you're really that determined, and if you're a woman, remember to always answer the door and get the mail naked. The missionaries won't know what to do and they'll bolt. You think I'm kidding, but I've seen it and it works.
posted by The World Famous at 4:32 PM on February 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

I've just told them that I've actually read the BoM, prayed about it, and I don't believe that the word of Joseph Smith is true. Which is all pretty much the truth for me; I got a BoM from a friend of mine, read it, and dismissed it as 'whoa, NOT for me'.

Then I thank them for their time, and bid them adieu. And they cease to bother me.

I think they respect that I at least evaluated their religion, instead of dismissing it outright.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:33 PM on February 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you tell them you're an apostate, they shouldn't bother you again.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 4:37 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You've done rude and it didn't work. You could try stupid, or stupid-rude, as that (albeit accidentally) worked for me...

We had some evangelicals come to the door of our previous place (in the UK) last year. Frequently. One morning they turned up early and I answered the door for a change, more asleep than awake as it was before wake-up coffee.

Leader: "Have you found Jesus?"

Me: Not comprehending who they were, and thinking they were yet another family going round properties looking for their lost cat (this happens a lot in that suburb) and putting up signs. And also, being asleep, me not registering that Jesus was an unlikely name for a cat. "Erm, no, but I could put a saucer of milk out for him if that helps?"

Cue outrage, glaring and storming off from the evangelicals. They never came back.
posted by Wordshore at 4:39 PM on February 25, 2014 [160 favorites]

My father once chased off some missionaries --- even better, neither those two nor any others ever knocked on our door again.... How, you ask? By opening the door with a bloody hand while also holding the butcher knife he'd just sliced himself with.

Not that I'm recommending hurting yourself like that! But if all else fails, if no-trespassing signs and flat-out telling them to buzz off don't work, maybe you can scare the dickens out of them?
posted by easily confused at 4:41 PM on February 25, 2014

Then I thank them for their time, and bid them adieu.

I bet they don't even get the reference (which is a bummer, because it's a great joke).
posted by The World Famous at 4:46 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Heh, The World Famous's response rings true. And on reflection I'd agree that a sign that singles out Mormons, or at least specifies religious solicitation specifically is probably your best bet.

Unfortunately, there is no 100%-guaranteed way to keep them away; they're doing "God's Work," after all. But hopefully some of the suggestions here will help keep your interactions to a minimum.
posted by Aleyn at 4:46 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Next time they stop by. Ask to get the phone number of their Mission Headquarters. Ask to talk to the mission president. Call the president and talk to him, or maybe his underlings or secretary. Be nice but firm.

You might be able to find the local Mission headquarters by looking in the phone book or the digital equivalent.

Missionaries have a separate leadership than the locals. If you are determined, call the mission president. He's the person who is in direct charge of ALL the missionaries in your region.
posted by hot_monster at 4:52 PM on February 25, 2014

I share The World Famous' skepticism that any appeal to authority will work here. I was raised in the church and have a father who has done a lot of work for the church, including serving as a mission president. The chapel/ward/stake leaders are not the people in authority over them, the misson president- an older guy who is a full-time church worker for a three-year term- is. You can call the mission office or president for your area and ask if there is some kind of list but 1) there probably isn't 2) the people in charge of deploying and enforcing such a list would be 20 year-old guys, who would change out for new guys in a couple months, so the odds of success are limited.

So, to reiterate: put up a little sign, point out the sign if someone knocks and politely, firmly tell them you're beyond saving and ask them to never return. It will mostly work.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:52 PM on February 25, 2014

I'd hesitate to use spinifex23's method. True, there's very little they can do to argue with that because you are essentially using the technique they'd suggest to you if you did accept them into your home against them. However, some missionaries might think 'oh, here's someone we were able to get to at one point' which would obviously have the exact opposite effect.

If you do end up interacting with them, don't engage with them on a discussion of beliefs or try to argue with them, and be firm in saying that you don't want to speak with them, and that they are not welcome on your property. They should get the immediate hint, even if it doesn't necessarily prevent future encounters.
posted by Aleyn at 5:01 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ooh, I like the idea of getting them to help with chores! "Let's discuss this while moving this couch."
posted by salvia at 5:40 PM on February 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I always offer them tea or coffee, which is sort of passive/agressive, but they usually laugh and refuse. And the young women are endlessly glad to have someone who'll listen to them complain about the unfairness of men having bikes, while they don't.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:44 PM on February 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

i've heard that a statue of buddha by the door works sometimes. for the trifecta, go buddha, a rainbow flag and a mezuzah on the doorpost.
posted by bruce at 5:47 PM on February 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

What you should probably do is post a "No Religious Solicitors" sign.

However, this post gives me the perfect opportunity to tell my ex's story of how he got the missionaries to go away. Supposedly he and his friends all gathered around a giant punchbowl full of red punch, naked, and there was a giant sword. When they knocked, he answered the door naked and carrying a sword. After the missionaries left, everyone put their clothes on, put the punch and sword away and went time for when the cops came by to be all, "What are you talking about?"
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:50 PM on February 25, 2014

I accidentally discovered that if a foreign language is audibly coming from my house, the missionaries pause in consternation on the front walk and then decide to move along to the next house. So… how about a motion-activated recording of people conversing, maybe rather emotionally, in a language that Mormons aren't likely to recognize? It should be easy to get something from YouTube -- maybe an argument from a Thai or Burmese soap opera.
posted by ceiba at 5:52 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

or have a very big, scary, intimidating dog in your yard.

This. Mr. ambrosia was raised LDS and is no longer in the fold, and certain members of his family haven't accepted that yet, so not only do we get the regular random missionaries walking the neighborhood, every few months they will appear at our door asking for him by name, to invite him to an ice cream social or similar event. And every time we move his family helpfully updates the local ward, and the process repeats itself. (Even though we ask them not to.) What everyone else says about turnover and do-not-ring lists not working for long is true.

But for a while we lived in a house with a yard that was completely fenced, but nothing separating the front and back yard. And we had a very large black dog loose in the yard most of the time. For the entire time we lived there, not a single missionary of any stripe darkened our doorstep.
posted by ambrosia at 5:53 PM on February 25, 2014

I do not know the religion on offer in this instance, probably JW all things considered, but many years ago the doorbell rang at my mother's home on Christmas, when there was a big pile of family aka bedlam, and I said, "This is just a terrible time to come by and oh by the way we're not interested, but I'll pray for you." The leader of the small pack of religious sales folks glared at me and said, "No thanks grrrr"

I have long pondered this remark. I think it exposes this poor person's lack of faith. If his religion really is best or only, then my prayers would have no effect. If he felt threatened by my offer, then he must doubt the effectiveness of his own god. Plus I didn't say I was praying for his conversion. I actually intended it in a much friendlier way.

But they never did come back.
posted by janey47 at 6:13 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

"I've just told them that I've actually read the BoM, prayed about it, and I don't believe that the word of Joseph Smith is true. Which is all pretty much the truth for me; I got a BoM from a friend of mine, read it, and dismissed it as 'whoa, NOT for me'.

Then I thank them for their time, and bid them adieu. And they cease to bother me.

I think they respect that I at least evaluated their religion, instead of dismissing it outright.

Something similar worked for us, where I actually have a pretty big bookcase of religious books that's in view of the door, and can point to it when I say, "Thanks, already got a Book of Mormon. Come back when you've got a new one."

Back in college, there were Mormon girls that kept coming around and trying to get us to go to their prayer meetings, so we'd try to get them to come to our keg parties. A lot of, "Sure, if you come drink with us first!" meant that we didn't hear from them again in the next couple years we lived there.
posted by klangklangston at 6:15 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there a magic word or something to get them to stop visiting my house?

The magic word is "Jewish." Jews have the lowest conversion rate. It's so abysmal, the faces on the Mormons who call to my door literally collapse.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:37 PM on February 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

For the trifecta, go buddha, a rainbow flag and a mezuzah on the doorpost.

Anecdata, but I have received far more visits from LDS missionaries when I have Hanukkah decorations and/or a mezuzah up than otherwise.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:40 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

My friend has a sign like this on her door. Apparently she once heard some door-to-door proselytizers crack up about it before they left, but they've never knocked.
posted by Because at 6:45 PM on February 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nthing that overt signs of non-or-other religiousness aren't really a deterrent to Mormon missionaries. I've never heard of being Jewish being a reliable deterrent, but there weren't many Jews in the areas I served so it didn't really come up. I could see a rainbow flag potentially being one, given the strained relationship (to put it mildly) the LDS church has with the LGBT community, but again, it never really came up for me either.
posted by Aleyn at 6:51 PM on February 25, 2014

Totally came in to say the Jewish thing. Evidently once my father, a lawyer and amateur Talmudic scholar, invited some Mormons in and argued religious law with these poor unsuspecting teenage boys for a while. I do not remember this, as I was too young, but never again did we have any Mormons knocking. We always had a mezuzah on our doorway. You could get one too!
posted by Mizu at 6:58 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know a ton of Mormons who have a mezuzah on their doorway, as part of a weird Mormon cultural thing where they think they have a shared kinship of some kind with Judaism. Any 18 year old Mormon who knows what a mezuzah is is more than likely the son or daughter of one of those Mormons - and unlikely to be deterred from knocking.
posted by The World Famous at 7:02 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Amazon carries a whole lot of "No Soliciting" signs.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:15 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of getting them to help with chores! "Let's discuss this while moving this couch."

I had next door neighbors who were ex-Mormon (I live a few miles from the Joseph Smith birthplace so there are a lot of Mormons nearby) and this will not really work. That is, with the Mormons who were nearby, you could definitely get them to come over to help you move your things, but that doesn't actually stop them from talking to you about their religion if that's not what you want. My neighbors were definitely on the "visit often" list and when they moved to another state, they got a whole crew of young men (and me and my boyfriend) to help them move, just on the off chance they might reconsider Mormonism. I've always found "Thanks for your interest, Jewish" to be a totally fine, polite and final thing to say to nice people at the door.
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

nthing the No soliciting sign. We used to get Mormons a lot and never got another after we put up our own personalized sign saying we weren't interested.
posted by Twain Device at 7:31 PM on February 25, 2014

IIRC, there was a former Mormon interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air 7 or 8 years ago who would respond to particularly insistent missionaries by saying he was busy but inviting them back in a few days at a specified time. He would then call the Jehovah's Witnesses and ask them if someone could come by at that time to talk to some potential converts. Then he would turn out the lights and listen to the mayhem.

I was listening to the broadcast while working out, so I might be off on some of the details.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:36 PM on February 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

Northern Sun sells a "no preaching" sign. Don't know why you couldn't put it on your door.
posted by workerant at 7:49 PM on February 25, 2014

You could ask them why they believe Joseph Smith even though he was a convicted con-man. Ask then why nobody has ever seen the golden plates. There's also the matter of the BoM quoting the King James Bible, but supposedly was written hundreds of years earlier than that translation. Or why there is absolutely no archeological evidence to support the civilizations in ancient America described by the BoM. Or the whole thing about black people not being allowed to be Mormons until "god changed his mind" in the 1970s.
I don't know if trolling them works though: the whole missionary experience seems to be designed to make them troll-proof and they may have canned answers for everything.
posted by w0mbat at 9:11 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, what worked for me was telling them that my husband had been kicked out of the Mormon church.

I have had the odd experience of them coming up to talk to me in WALMART of all places. Alont with a supermarket parking lot and my own front porch. My philosophy is, if you are there to proselytize me, I get to prozeletize back, so in two cases, I did that and in the third, I just told them the truth about my husband.

It's been at least a decade, and I have been mormonmissionary free for that amount of time.

truth is, I really really feel sorry for the poor little fellers. Really.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:14 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have this sticker on my door. One time I was working in the yard when they came to the door (they didn't see me) and I heard them chuckling as they walked away without knocking.

Only one time it didn't work - the woman said "Oh, I thought maybe that sign belonged to the former resident."

"Of course you did," I said. They did not come back.
posted by caryatid at 9:33 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

If I found missionaries (strangers of any sort) hanging out with my young kids, I'd call the police, then the nearest LDS church, and raise hell. That's just not okay. otherwise, I'm really good at saying "I absolutely do not tolerate proselytizing. Goodbye." If someone harrassed me after that, I'd call the police. Where I live, it's rare to encounter any proselytizers, and I might offer them a glass of water, then share some reasons I find their religion offensive, and ask them to work on it.
posted by theora55 at 10:51 PM on February 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

The no soliciting sign I put up on my door in IA was useless: "we're not soliciting"

A friend of the family would hand them a copy of the Origin of the Species and tell them he'd read their book AFTER they read his.
posted by brujita at 3:51 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

My mother once got into a long theology argument with some Jehovah's Witnesses who were on our front porch. That was embarrassing, both of them trying to convert the other and both of them painfully unskilled in theological debate.

I made a "No Sales" sign and it seems to work on religious types. I just wished it worked on the scrap metal guys. And the electoral roll people who don't seem to understand that I am legally not allowed to vote, so I'm not on your electoral roll, please stop bothering me for the love of democracy.

A good "No soliciting" sign should do it for the front door. Or if your front yard has a gate, stick it on there. And tell the kids that if strangers come and talk to them, to promptly yell for you so you can shoo them off like you would with strange dogs.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:19 AM on February 26, 2014

Last time Mormon missionaries showed up, I explained my usual billing structure and said I'd need a signed conflict waiver prior to listening to any story involving a paternity issue. Oddly, I haven't heard back.
posted by lalala1234 at 4:43 AM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't remember the source, but I heard once upon a time that a good way to make them "blacklist" your house is to tell them you're an ex-mormon.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:18 AM on February 26, 2014

I worked extensively with the LDS church on some telephony projects, one of which was providing phones for the missionary houses.

If you're in the south, the phones are listed under the name A. Moroni. So, you could call the missionary house directly, explain that because of your work with foster children (if you can discuss even that much) that you need to keep your home relatively free of folks just coming up uninvited.

If you can't call the missionaries directly, call the Ward Clerk. Don't be put off if you get an answering machine, the services are lay-lead and there's only someone at the meeting house if there's something going on there.

I worked with one missionary extensively, and although we had discussed the fact that I was Jewish and that I was not going to convert, he asked if he could send me the Book of Mormon. I said "sure!"

You should read the inscription. It is so heartbreakingly earnest. I honestly tried to read it, but MAN is that thing poorly written.

In the end, they mean you no harm. When I'd get visited, I'd explain right off, "I'm Jewish, and I'm not going to convert. It's a hot day, would you like to come in for some water?"

Oddly enough, they couldn't get out of there fast enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:24 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Answer the door enthusiastically and let them know that the local Amway meeting is just about ready to get started and invite them in. That should keep them away for a while.
posted by dgran at 7:34 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

My parents live in a neighborhood that has a lot of Mormon foot traffic through it, and got a lot of knocks at the door. Apparently I solved that by putting them to work, and (I assume) they spread the word on their own that the house was not worth the effort.

I'd been washing my car in the driveway, and when they came up and asked, "Have you got a minute to hear the good word about Jesus?" I jokingly said, "Sure do, grab a sponge!" Did not expect them to actually do it, but they did! And yeah, I had to listen to their talk, but we had a good back-and-forth, and those guys did do a great job on washing my car. When they'd finished, we were having a glass of lemonade and I said, "Listen guys, I'm still an atheist. Maybe helping me clean the second-story windows of the house will convince me to convert." They made some excuses and left, but forever after that whenever I saw the Mormons out in the neighborhood, they'd point to the house and say something but continue on, never a knock or a word again. Still haven't figured out a way to deter the Jehovah's Witnesses, though.
posted by sephira at 8:50 AM on February 26, 2014

In my neighborhood, they are looking for the Spanish-speaking folk. Sometimes they even ask me what blocks to go to instead of trying to Morm on me.

I sic them on my Spanish-speaking neighbors. (Sorry neighbors. )
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:19 AM on February 26, 2014

Still bugged on your behalf since last nite. I've too many times washed up from cooking, finished in the restroom, etc., to answer the door for this kind of invasion of time, purpose, and property.

I don't care if it's religion or an alternate gas/electric company the person is trying to sell me, I simply don't want to be bothered, and OMG, I would be mortified to find someone talking to my kid. (Agree that in that situ, you should probably at least threaten to call authorities--that is so far from okay.)

I've chastised people pretty harshly saying I had a sick baby and this was a major intrusion (my "baby" is about 10, but whatever).

The trouble with the "do not ring bell--baby is sleeping" is that you might miss a package you ordered, etc. So I'm afraid a sign is the only way to go. You probably do need to create your own that says something to the effect of, "NO TRESPASSING; RING BELL ONLY IF YOU ARE ABLE TO NAME THE PERSON WITH WHICH YOU HOPE TO SPEAK."

There are some really funny and clever and kind responses mentioned upthread, but I'm with you, OP, in just wanting to make it stop.
posted by whoiam at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2014

I love this.
posted by michellenoel at 9:49 AM on February 26, 2014

It's the Jehovah's Witnesses that aren't allowed to speak to apostates. Telling them you're apostates does work to keep them away.

I've had good luck with, "Sorry, I'm Jewish," in the past, but that might not be a guaranteed success.
posted by daisyk at 10:09 AM on February 26, 2014

Oh, and no, Mormon missionaries are not instructed to stay away from apostates. Tricking them into thinking you're some hostile ex-Mormon or something will at best do nothing at at worst egg on any particularly zealous missionary you happen to encounter.

As the spouse of a unrepentant apostate, I can *assure* you this is true. My wife gives them a polite but firm "apostate, not interested", but they're back in a month or two, in person or by phone, trying once again to get her to drop by the temple for some function or another. She's even been "assigned" two ladies who's job it seems is to make sure she gets a periodic call.
posted by kjs3 at 11:29 AM on February 26, 2014

Answering the door with a full load of laundry and inviting them to help me with the chore worked for me. Actually, I thought I was giving them a good deal: take the laundry to the apartment complex laundry room, start the load, and I will listen to you talk about the Book of Mormon for 15 minutes. But they wouldn't take me up on it. I was even willing to hand them my roll of quarters for the coin-op machine!
posted by bbq_ribs at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2014

It's interesting seeing all the weird misconceptions about Mormonism in this thread. But I guess it makes sense, given the context.

Here's the deal: If you want the missionaries to never approach your children (which I think is a totally reasonable request, and I think what you described is super creepy), you should contact their mission office, ask to speak with the Mission President, and really lay into him about it - give him a piece of your mind and ask him directly to instruct all the missionaries in the mission that that conduct is totally unacceptable. That will be the best way to have a chance of getting a message out to all the current missionaries in your area that that is totally inappropriate. Nothing short of that will do the trick. I'd be more than happy to help you get the contact information for the Mission President where you live. I've dealt with stuff like that (and worse) before and I know how they operate and how to talk to them to get results. I'm happy to help.

For generally making sure Mormon missionaries will leave you alone, I've developed a new suggestion as I've thought about it - but it will only work if you're cool with being dishonest (lots of suggestions above include dishonesty, so why not, right?): Be super friendly and tell them you're members of the Church and now is really a bad time, but that you'll see them in church on Sunday and talk then.

Here's why I suggest that: I and my family are Mormon. We live in an area where I see missionaries out and about on a pretty regular basis. In our Ward, the missionaries get swapped out quite often, so I almost never recognize them, and they almost never recognize me - particularly when I'm not wearing my Sunday clothes. And they never, ever knock on my door. Never. If I'm outside and see them, I wave and say hello and I say now's not a good time, but I'll see them on Sunday. And I usually tell them how I've been meaning to get on the sign-up sheet to feed them dinner one of these weeks. And I'm never interrupted by a knock on the door, ever.

Jehovah's Witnesses knock on our door a couple times a year. I'm super friendly with them and I thank them for coming by. I tell them that I know how it feels to be out there doing what they're doing, since I was a Mormon missionary for two years in a country that was generally hostile to us, and that I really appreciate seeing their dedication. I tell them thanks, but I'm not interested in any literature or discussing religion with them, and send them on their way. It works great.
posted by The World Famous at 12:36 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

In my neighborhood, they are looking for the Spanish-speaking folk. Sometimes they even ask me what blocks to go to instead of trying to Morm on me. I sic them on my Spanish-speaking neighbors. (Sorry neighbors. )

posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:19 PM on February 26

Oh that was you? Please don't do this anymore. It makes it all the more annoying, somehow.

I don't really mind missionaries, although I am not religious (anymore) I try to see the situation from an empathetic point of view. I mean, these people are risking scorn and rejection because they, for the most part, are true believers and just want to, like, help you out man.

Although, when we asked the mormon people who came by last time and who addressed us off-the-bat in Spanish how they knew we spoke Spanish, they said they got our info from the library (?!). I found that so odd that I could not think of a proper reaction and just bid them on their way. I'm pretty sure our library doesn't even know what language we speak at home, and I'd be shocked if they shared our info with churches. So they either lied, or our library is shady as fuck. I was too lazy to ask my librarian about it though.
posted by papafrita at 1:01 PM on February 26, 2014

It's disheartening to see answers that involve banter or "putting them to work," as the question is how to keep them away. You can't keep them away and engage.

A note that says "No proselytizers" is more direct than "No solicitors," and has a success record of exactly 1 that I know of (I happened to see a group coming up the street, slapped it on the door and watched through the peephole as they turned away dejectedly).

But I don't like having a note up all the time, so these days, I just close the door without comment or walk away silently. It still interrupts me, but it's the best I can do, because no amount of talking, no matter what the tone, helps. I hate it.
posted by sageleaf at 1:06 PM on February 26, 2014

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