Posted on Wed, Jun. 08, 2005
A guest column by Elizabeth Markley
Leave my child out of your evangelism
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. The fact that we are free to say what we wish without facing criminal charges shows true democracy in action. But at what point does freedom of speech become harassment?
There are individuals who go door-to-door in a desperate attempt to convert others to their faith. Those of us who are not interested in this face-to-face equivalent of spam either refuse to answer the door or blindly take the pamphlet that is handed to us, knowing that we will be throwing it in the trash.
I am a Pagan, so their conversion attempts are annoying, to say the least. Luckily for me, because of my honesty and courtesy toward them, there is usually no problem.
Then they decided to prey upon my child. Now I realize that all they were doing was simply sharing their faith with my child, but the fact is that she is a minor, and children do not realize that they can tell such individuals to leave them alone. So out of social fear, my daughter complied with every request they made. She was next door at her friendís house when they not only pressured her to join in on a prayer, but also told her to fill out a form that they handed to her.
That is when I stepped outside to see why my daughter had not come home yet. When I saw that she was filling out some form I told her to stop writing and asked her what she was filling out.
She said that she did not know, but that this man (pointing to him) told her to fill it out. That is when I asked the man what he had given to my child.
He insisted that it was simply a statement of faith and nothing to worry about. I informed him that since I am her mother, he had no right to ask my child to provide personal information. He said that she could just put down her name, if thatís all she wanted to do. Didnít I make it clear that without my consent he could not ask her to fill out anything?
While I support their freedom of speech and their right to practice their religion, how do those rights extend to a right to pry private information out of a minor?
I canít help but wonder how the neighborhood would react if I were a Satanist and went around telling children about the joys of worshipping Satan. Surely I would be put in jail. So tell me, why is it that they can get away with it day after day? When are these people going to realize that what they believe does not void all laws that pertain to minors?