Dear Mr. Dawkins,
I have read the God Delusion and many of your other books and was, and continue to be, amazed at the perfect pitching of your tone and verse and I loved that it was aimed at such a wide audience, but in no way dumbed down (something we do all too much, in my opinion).
My story is that my parents converted to Mormonism when I was 5. My father was previously an atheist looking for a father figure and for someone to love him and my mother was brought up in a very strict Polish Catholic house. My father had an ‘epiphany’ when they were visited by the Mormon missionaries, but my Mum took much longer to disappoint her parents and convert. Once she joined and was ostracised from her family, my Grandmother had a visit from some more Mormon missionaries. My family ALL took this to mean that it was a sign from God and that it was the one TRUE religion. So my Grandmother and Great Grandmother (previously strict Polish Catholics) joined. This created such a rift in my Catholic and Mormon family, not to mention the C of E on my fathers side. So, in this ridiculously religious surrounding how was an atheist meant to come forward?
My childhood was trouble free, I was loved and never oppressed by my parents, and was continually told by the women in my family that we are just as good as men and can do whatever we wish, this was in no way belittled by the men either. So, generally it was pretty good and ‘normal’.
I always had a fascination with history and anthropology and this meant that some of the Bible and Book of Mormon reading, for me, was quite interesting, I was ‘learning’ things about far off places and ancient cultures, what could be wrong with that? Well, it was not until I developed my interest in history that I became aware at how disjointed the whole fabrication was…I went to University to pursue a career in Archaeology and came out with a strong feeling that this Church cannot be right, there are so many flaws and misgivings and unexplained phenomena, that I decided to take a break from the Church.
My parents, were for the most part not worried, and told me and themselves that it was a phase and that I would find the right path. At this point I had been dating my boyfriend, now my husband, for 5 years, and was 20. I was open and honest with my parents about all but one thing, sex. They were not aware that their 20 year old daughter and boyfriend of 5 years years were ‘together’. Upon learning this, in a very irate argument with my mother, I was thrown out of the house, and verbally abused, and all of my clothes were dropped off at my boyfriends by my 2 sisters, with my Dad sitting fuming in the drivers seat!! The whole thing was exacerbated by my boyfriend and father working together, obviously this ended with my Dad almost hitting my boyfriend and my boyfriend laughing in his face and calling him some choice words!
We did not speak for 6 months during my final year of Uni, I had no job and was doing my dissertation and had absolutely no support from anyone but my boyfriend. The only reason communication was set up again was because my parents fell pregnant and didn’t want me to not see my baby brother.
So, for the next 2 years my boyfriend and I would do completely separate things for all special occasions where my parents were involved, my graduation, my 21st birthday, all events that should have been fun and joyous, instead were tainted by not mentioning the person who I was living with and only talking about superficial things.
I tell this, rather long story, to explain that religion says it is a loving, giving, caring, nurturing organisation, but in reality, it creates monsters, and people with hang ups that they really should not have. It makes taboos out of the most base human instincts, and gives all of humanities positive attributes to God and all of the negative to man.
It would be so nice to live in a world where people used voices of reason and looked for evidence and knowledge, instead of the easy option (for some) which is to just blindly believe and be ignorant to the world around you.
I applaud you for bringing the atheists voice to the fore front and for allowing it to, slowly, be a valid and acceptable view point. Although, I have to say, we still have a long way to go!
My parents still think I will, rather patronisingly, outgrow this phase!