Indoctrination is a big part of the appeal of religion. Although not as overt as it once was, the promise of an eternity of fire and brimstone for the unsaved remains inherently woven into the Christian faith. We expect to be faced with the prospect of eternal suffering when we attend church. But we may be faced with eternal damnation outside the church walls as well. So how do we politely refuse indoctrination?
This is not to downplay the importance of religion, but to simply convey that many express their faith in a deeply personal way. They may not seek to gather together, but follow their own path in search for a higher power. It is not rude to simply convey that you follow a different path. If the hellfire card is pulled in response, then it is not rude to remind the other that it is their right to believe as they wish. It is also your right to believe as you wish.
It is not recommended that you argue doctrine, or question the other’s beliefs. You will only get drawn into a discussion about religion which is what you had hoped to avoid in the first place. Also, the approach may have been made in a public place by a stranger or even in the workplace by a coworker. By remaining polite, you keep the context in perspective. Typically, the other is aware of the policies of the public places in which they do this sort of thing, as well as the workplace nondiscrimination policies in their code of conduct regarding religion.
There is a proper way to share your convictions with others. It begins by living as an example of your faith. If you are where you feel you should be in your own faith, others will see it. If you are still struggling in your faith you have no business witnessing to others. It is that simple. Being strong in your faith is not a personal observation, but something others see in you. Without saying a word your convictions will be apparent. If you are the type that continually shouts praises yet fails as an example, others will see that as well. When others come to you for spiritual guidance is the appropriate time to witness.
Full disclosure is the best policy when approached by someone seeking spiritual guidance. If you are a responsible person of faith, then you know if you are qualified to witness to others or not. Let them know up front you are a person of faith, but still growing spiritually yourself. Your goal in witnessing to others should be in genuinely helping the other with the issue they are facing. Simply handing out fliers to fill seats in your church should never be your goal in witnessing to others.