I'm 18 years old and was raised catholic. I used to attend a catholic elementary/middle school and go to church every Sunday. I never really gave my religion much thought until recently. I never really believed literally in Adam and Even or Noah's arc. They directly contradicted with all of the science programs I watched since I was a kid. But it didn't much matter, because I concluded to myself early on that I believed in evolution, but that God must have created the universe and the first single-celled organism.
I'm not sure how I rationalized it. It was strange. I remember the kids in my catholic school to be no more well-behaved than the kids I saw in the public schools. We swore just as much, and we laughed just as hard at crude jokes. I even distinctly remember one of my teachers commenting that gay people aren't bad people and that we should be tolerant of them. I think this environment made God seem more agreeable to me than he would normally have been, if say I had gone to a more conservative catholic school.
It was then, when I was around 8-10 years old, that I discovered I was gay. I never felt guilt about it at all then, because nobody was there to tell me that homosexuality was a sin in the eyes of God. I still believed in God and prayed to him. After a few years, I finally did read the passages in the Bible concerning the 'abominable sin' of homosexuality, and my faith was, to say the least, a bit shaken. But not much soon after, I attended church and heard a rather liberal priest's sermon on tolerance, and how it should extend to all human beings, including gay people. God created me, I rationalized, and he certainly couldn't hate something he created.
For a while I had believed in this 'your-buddy-in-heaven' idea of God - a guy up there who loves you and would only condemn you to hell if you did really bad things, but not for something as trivial as sexual orientation. See, I had this amazing notion that if my two catholic parents ever found out about my sexuality, they would somehow be fine with it. Well, they did find out one day, and their reaction wasn't what I had hoped.
They gave me a long lecture about how evil and perverted homosexuality was etc. etc. I could not understand how my parents, who were logical and rational in all other respects - believing, like I did, that the creation story should not be taken literally - would be so irrationally intolerant about homosexuality.
This event set me off on my inevitable journey to atheism. I found videos about atheism and rational thinking on the ever-wonderful youtube.com. The arguments for atheism were always more thought-out and consistent than those of the believers. This was where I first came across your name and the title of your book, The God Delusion. Once I got to actually read your book, I didn't really need much more convincing. It was simply the last nail on the proverbial coffin.
I once saw this gay couple attending my church. Before I became an atheist, I had admired them for keeping their faith despite of how much easier it would have been to simply abandon it. But now, I find the phrase 'gay Christian' to be terribly oxymoronic. Like I said, I'm still not sure how I rationalized it to myself when I used to believe in God. It just doesn't make sense.
With that said, I have met more than a few gay people that call themselves Christian. One more memorable example is this Mormon teenager that I met who believes that God gave him sexual feelings for other men to test his ability to resist temptation. Yet somehow he still fervently believes in a loving, merciful God. I nearly tear my hair out trying to explain to him how ridiculous and self-destructive his ideas are, but he just doesn't get it.
On a more personal note, my own mother tells me that she prays for me every night. She prays that I do 'the right thing and not embrace the sin of homosexuality'. This distresses me very much because, as much as I want to believe in the truth, I love my parents and I don't ever want to worry or hurt them. But it seems now that worry and hurt are unavoidable. If ever there was a God, how cruel he is to be playing such horrible tricks.
Thank you, Dr. Dawkins, for being such an inspiration. I see now why this battle against religion is so crucial to all of us.
- Yet Another Convert