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Settling the Debate About Jehovah's Witnesses and Soliciting


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Settling the Debate About Jehovah's Witnesses and Soliciting


They are not governed by solicitation law, but you can get on a no call list.

By Roger Vozar | October 5, 2011


A police blotter item about Jehovah's Witnesses members going door-to-door in Mayfield Heights has generated a lot of talk, including debate about the law concerning such activity. So let's set the record straight.

First, an explanation about the police blotter itself. The source of these blotters are the call logs, which are not the same as reports, and not as detailed.

In this case, a resident complained that Jehovah's Witnesses did not honor her "no soliciting" sign and argued with her that it did not apply. Police spoke to the people who were at the woman's house and told them not to return. The point wasn't so much that they were not allowed to knock on doors with "no soliciting" signs, but that they should honor the sign in this particular case because they were clearly told they were not wanted at the house.

Melvin Walker, a spokesman for the Hillcrest Congregation, said laws governing solicitors do not apply to Jehovah's Witnesses going door-to-door.

"The key is that we're not soliciting anything," he said. "That (a 'no soliciting' sign) does not apply to us. We're not selling anything. We're trying to share some encouragement from the scriptures."

However, Mel Durchslag, an attorney representing the American Civil Liberties Union, said he's not certain that the Jehovah's Witnesses were not soliciting.

"I'm skeptical about that claim," he said. "It's probably true. They're not asking anything in return for their spiel." However, he said, you don't necessarily have to be selling something to be soliciting, you can be simply trying to present an idea.

What's clear is that they are allowed to knock on doors without a permit – the solicitation law in Mayfield Heights states that it does not apply to "a national educational, civic, religious or charitable organization" or "a local charitable, educational, civic or religious organization."

But solicitors or not, they were not welcome at this woman's house, Durchslag said.

"One can argue about the point of the word solicitor. What was clear is that this person did not want them on her premises," he said.

He added that in this case the resident and police were treating the sign as meaning "no trespassing." He said it's reasonable for a person to expect "no soliciting" to mean "no trespassing."

"Instead of hanging 'no soliciting,' if they hung a 'no trespassing' sign, there would be no argument," he said.

Durchslag said Jehovah's Witnesses have won several court cases defending their rights, but the cases dealt with laws restricting solicitation, not residences with "no soliciting" signs.

"The ACLU is normally very sympathetic to religious speech," he said. "In this case, I don't think there is a court in the world that would say their First Amendment rights have been violated."

Walker said that if a resident tells a Jehovah's Witnesses member that they don't want any more visits, the address will be recorded on a list of places not to stop.

"We'll record that info and we will honor that request," Walker said.

He added that those residences might be visited again periodically because people might have moved or a resident's situation changed and they may be more open to hearing about the word of God.

Article Source: The Hillcrest Patch

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Goodness me, reading the news article, seeing the comments and one wonders why they waste their time. We have stickers here that say " No Jehovahs'

Witnesses or Mormons need call " and they are quite often given out at random to all who take them. I still knock and ask if that is their wish as some aren't even aware that the sticker is on their door as a visitor or relative has put it there without saying anything. That actually happened to my cousin's house and she didn't know until I asked her about it as she was a return visit of another sisters'. The sticker came down. If the person says it is for us I just leave not even bothering to record it as a not to call. They haven't actually asked, over time the sticker fades, eventually it is cleaned off and sometimes it becomes a call. As for " solicitation " if they don't want us to call let them say so and then they have made a choice and not we ourselves or anyone else for them.

After all one day we won't call' the work will stop when Jehovah says so.

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I'm confused by the statement

"He said it's reasonable for a person to expect "no soliciting" to mean "no trespassing."

How can this make sense? This is like saying a "no Mormon" sign should be "understood" to mean "No Seven Day Adventists". If the sign doesn't SAY no trespassing, since the two activities are not the same, why should the above be the case?

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I'm confused by the statement

"He said it's reasonable for a person to expect "no soliciting" to mean "no trespassing."

How can this make sense? This is like saying a "no Mormon" sign should be "understood" to mean "No Seven Day Adventists". If the sign doesn't SAY no trespassing, since the two activities are not the same, why should the above be the case?

People are stupid. Some probably slap a "No solicitors" sticker on their door and think this will prevent all future appearances by strangers on their doorstep.

But... that is not what "No solicitors" means.

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"I'm skeptical about that claim," he said. "It's probably true. They're not asking anything in return for their spiel." However, he said, you don't necessarily have to be selling something to be soliciting, you can be simply trying to present an idea.

This is where you need the legal definition of "soliciting." If the police and attorneys are involved, then we need to know what the law is. Not the social definition, not Webster's definition, the LEGAL definition.

But solicitors or not, they were not welcome at this woman's house, Durchslag said.

"One can argue about the point of the word solicitor. What was clear is that this person did not want them on her premises," he said.

Odds are the Witnesses kindly explained they weren't solicitors and then politely left. This still offended the householder enough she called the police. It's not like the Witnesses stayed at this woman's door the whole time. Some people just get a burr up their butt...

He added that in this case the resident and police were treating the sign as meaning "no trespassing." He said it's reasonable for a person to expect "no soliciting" to mean "no trespassing."

Nope. Not reasonable. If my car breaks down I'll approach a door with "No Soliciting" and ask for help. I will NOT approach a "No Trespassing." Legally it's not the same.

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I'm confused by the statement

"He said it's reasonable for a person to expect "no soliciting" to mean "no trespassing."

How can this make sense? This is like saying a "no Mormon" sign should be "understood" to mean "No Seven Day Adventists". If the sign doesn't SAY no trespassing, since the two activities are not the same, why should the above be the case?

People are stupid. Some probably slap a "No solicitors" sticker on their door and think this will prevent all future appearances by strangers on their doorstep.

But... that is not what "No solicitors" means.

A brother and I took a door that had a "No Solicitors" sign. The householder accepted a study and is now attending meetings somewhat regularly.

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I think people would like to be respected especially at their own home. I would get offended if some one wanted to argue with me at my own Door. We always ask if they mean for the "No Soliciting" sign to apply to us, if they bring it up or point to it. If they mean for it to apply to us we respect that and move on.

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I think people would like to be respected especially at their own home. I would get offended if some one wanted to argue with me at my own Door. We always ask if they mean for the "No Soliciting" sign to apply to us, if they bring it up or point to it. If they mean for it to apply to us we respect that and move on.

There's no way a "no soliciting" sign can apply to witnesses. It does not mean no trespassing at all.

On the other hand, if a sign said "no mormons or jehovah's witnesses" i think thats pretty clear and pointed and I'd not go to that house.

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I think people would like to be respected especially at their own home. I would get offended if some one wanted to argue with me at my own Door. We always ask if they mean for the "No Soliciting" sign to apply to us, if they bring it up or point to it. If they mean for it to apply to us we respect that and move on.

There's no way a "no soliciting" sign can apply to witnesses. It does not mean no trespassing at all.

On the other hand, if a sign said "no mormons or jehovah's witnesses" i think thats pretty clear and pointed and I'd not go to that house.

My point is not one of legality but one of showing respect. I do not believe "no soliciting" means "no trespassing" either. We do call on all homes with a "No Soliciting" sign. Our mission is to spread the Good News not argue with people about their signs, We never list a person with a no Soliciting sign as a "Do not Call" unless they request to be listed as such. Personally I don't think arguing over their sign will ever attract one to the Truth but it may harden their heart against Jehovah's Witnesses. The incident in the News item might have been avoided if the Witnesses had not argued with the lady, if that was indeed what happened, and just moved on to the next door.

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What about a mail carrier bringing junk mail which is oftentimes sales or promotional brochures to a person's home with a "No Soliciting" or "No Trespassing" sign?

A house's mailbox is actually federal property so I believe he has a right to access it. Unless you refuse mail or have a P.O. Box, but if a mailbox is there, it is the governments right to access it.

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I was working along with our Circuit Overseer recently; he was with another brother and I was on my own taking alternate doors. Anyway I came across a sign that puzzled me; it read "No visitors without appointment". I decided to take advantage of our COs experience and asked him what he thought. He said "How would you make an appointment?"

"Exactly!" I said. So he knocked on the door to 'make an appointment' :idea: Unfortunately there was nobody home.

Should have made an appointment really, I suppose! :blush:

The point is; we are knocking on their door to ask them if they are interested in a discussion on spiritual matters. So we are asking them if they want us to come back... simples! ::o

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