Spreading the word
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to proselytize if they are physically capable, Mormons usually do it as one aspect of a missionary stint, according to Bishop Mark Dawson, who heads the Augusta ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He said most Mormons who go door-to-door are young men who are completing two-year missionary commitments, but door-to-door is not the preferred method of spreading the word.
“What they prefer to do is contact people that they already know through networking or some other way,” Dawson said. “It’s sort of like the last choice (because) it’s probably the most intrusive method. They get a lot of rejections that way.”
Mormon Elder Ryan Nicholas estimates he has knocked on at least a few thousand doors during the 23 months he has been on his mission in New England, traveling from house to house mostly either on foot or on a bicycle.
“Personally, I do it because the message that I share has brought a lot of peace and happiness to my life so I want to share that with others,” said Nicholas, who currently canvasses in Augusta.
“We don’t try to convert people; we try to help them to gain greater peace and happiness into their life.”
He said the majority of people have been polite to him.
“Most people are friendly,” he said.
“Not too many people are hostile. Most will talk to us for a little bit … I’d say even the people that already have their own religion usually will stop and take the time to listen to us. Some people just say ‘no thank you’; it varies. … Occasionally people do slam the door or yell at us.”
He said he doesn’t take rejection personally.
“I guess I feel sad for them because I wish they would take the time to listen, because I know it would help them,” he said.