I thought "No, I'm Jewish" in Finnish would be a good phrase to get rid of various Christian proselytizers when I learned it a few years ago. The first time I tried it, it worked
, I think perhaps mainly for shock value - they'd probably never encountered a real Jewish person and hadn't considered what their stance should be.
But last Monday I was in the mall and a lady came up to me and said something in Finnish that I didn't catch all of. [Actually, I thought she said "jacket", which was why I said "What?" in reflexive confusion, which was all the encouragement she wanted.]
Anyway, when I realized she was trying to talk to me about Jesus I instantly interrupted, holding up my hand palm out in the recognizable gesture for STOP, and said clearly,
"Ah! No, I'm Jewish. Thanks," and with that turned on my heel and walked away from her without making eye contact or waiting for a response. I thought I did a good job of adopting a firm and final tone.
I didn't leave the store, because I still needed to find a present for my wife there. I was a few displays away from her seething when like 20 seconds later she popped up again like a whack-a-mole and said,
"But can't I ask" (no pause to find out if she could ask)
"What does that mean to you?"
What the - I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?
I was so offended on so many different fronts that I just kind of opened and closed my mouth, blinking, and automatically tried to answer the question. (When I'm angry my language skills deteriorate, so don't straight-up judge me on this!)
"Uhhh, it means that I AM JEWISH! ...And Christi-something... thingy... doesn't... listen" [I meant to say 'apply to', kuuluu, but I accidentally said kuule, which is the command 'listen [to this]']
"...to me... uh."
So then the bitch was like "DO you really speak Finnish?" and although I generally try to speak Finnish, and can manage conversations on most subjects as long as I am allowed plenty of grammatical errors, I happily took the out with
"Yeah, probably not sufficiently" and then I walked away again even more briskly and hid on the other side of the store until I thought she was gone before venturing back into the teacup section.
And okay, I know that being nosy is the essence of proselytization, but I'm pretty sure that "What does your religion mean to you" is a personal question that most people whose religion DOES mean something to them could be quite easily offended by, since by definition those are people who value
their religion. (In fact, Jewishness does mean a lot to me, so the question is still rather offensive there; it just has only a secondary relationship to the reasons that I detest Christian proselytization, the most salient being my supernatural-free worldview.)
In fact, after someone gives a firm "NO", they have no obligation to explain themselves whatever. But trying to argue is even MORE offensive when the firm 'no' is connected to explicitly laying claim to a different, MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE religion. It's pretty self-evident that someone who does have a real attachment to one is not going to be open to you
, no matter how superior YOU think yours is.
I kind of feel that a non-Christian religion is both a stronger 'no' and a case where it's even more offensive to try to press forward, because the philosophical divisions are greater in the first case, and because of Christianity's >millenium of oft-violent oppression and discrimination on the other.
Anyway, if it's not going to work anyway, there's no reason to give an off-point defense like "I'm Jewish"; and most Finnish people won't really catch the layers of implication because, as I have discovered, they tend to be under-informed about Judaism and its history, unaware of modern Jews, and actively misinformed in state-sponsored Bible school
So maybe I should go back to Atheism. I obviously need a more strongly formulated response than just "I'm Atheist", though. (My BIL's "I worship Satan" would probably work better actually, but... I don't. The Spaghetti Monster would only work if the person knows what it is; otherwise they'd probably think they'd misheard.)
Basically I'm just trying to think of true or true-ish statements that are likely to successfully get them to leave me alone instantaneously without saying "Fuck you", because even though proselytization DOES piss me off enough that I could really mean it, it's not really their fault and they generally mean well.
- No, I'm a Jewish Atheist lesbian. - This one might confuse them enough to make them stop where the individual labels wouldn't. But it seems iffy, it might just encourage them?
- No, I only believe in things with scientific proof / No, I only believe in science and reason - Maybe?
- Did you know that the more intelligent a person is, the less likely they are to believe in the supernatural? - Probably no more effective than basic claims of Atheism on reflection. But when I'm angry responses that involve calling people stupid appeal to me.
- To a Jew, Christianity is just fanfic of Judaism. - Alas, this only makes sense if you know what fanfic is.
- My beliefs are none of your business / I believe people's beliefs are their own business and proselytizing is futile and rude.
On the bus on the way home, though, I was really regretful that I didn't know how to say "How fucking dare you ask me that?" in Finnish, which was the response I wanted to produce immediately upon being asked what Judaism 'means' to me.