Dear Dr. Dawkins,
First allow me to begin this letter with a word of thanks. Men like you and Dan Barker, who have had the courage to stand against those who hide behind their bible and ruthless god, inspired me to make an open declaration of my atheism.
I have been reading some of the letters people have sent to you and I am shocked, well I shouldn’t be, but it shows the desperation of those who are faced with the realization that their god is a false god. But, on to my own story. I was born in the Bible Belt, South Carolina, to a family of hard core believers. My family have roots as far back the age of slavery and during one of my family reunions I had a cousin who actually made this statement, “Yes, our family owned slaves, but we were good to them. We didn’t beat them, much, and we gave them a place to live.” I was shocked, especially because this cousin owns a Christian bookstore.
Since childhood, I have questioned everything, religion was not exempt from my inquisititve mind, and it made my parents crazy. From as far back as I can remember, I challenged the foolishness of the bible the amazing stories, and even asked my pastor when I was just seven years old, “Why hasn’t god spoken to anyone for the past 2000 years?” Needless to say, some of my childhood was painful, but I know my parents loved me and my Mother even began to accept that I wasn’t going to change. She never gave up hope that I would “go back to the church” but she accepted my beliefs as I accepted hers.
Well, to make a LONG story short enough as not to bore you completely, I recently “came out” as an Atheist on my Facebook page and to those who are my “friends”. Well, you can imagine the responses were at both ends of the spectrum, but the most surprising of all was the reaction from my family. They simply stopped communication with me, completely. I am now a man without morals to my family, and some of my friends whom I thought would certainly react in a negative way, have actually accepted me for who I am.
One of my first cousins, who herself is a bit of an outcast and a non-believer, wrote me an e-mail to congratulate me and to support me, which I found to be very emotionally satisfying. My wife, who is my ROCK, is also an atheist, but it was the reaction from my son and his wife that shocked me the most. Now, you have to realize that I reared my two sons in a freethinker’s world. I allowed them to experience religion, we talked about it, and my oldest married a very devout woman. He and she have made some hurtful comments to me and now they have stopped talking to me. Now, I am torn by this reaction and my own feelings about them. In short, I am not all that upset about the reactions. I suppose I have made a decision that I have ONE life to live and this is it. I am not going to allow anyone to ruin my happiness, so my wife, Ann, and I are living the dream, HEAVEN ON EARTH!
Thanks again for sharing the truth we me and everyone else. I know your position is unpopular, but necessary, trust me.
Martin T. Kinard, Ph.D.