Dear Prof. Dawkins
As a biologist, I knew your work on Evolution long ago. However I just recently came across the BBC documentary “The root of all evils” and “The god delusion” book. I was brought up VERY catholic in a small city in Colombia, in a society where unfortunately (at least back then) there was not much of a choice than being a strong and obedient believer (specially for a child). I went to a catholic (Jesuists) school and University (again not many choices to get a “good” education, which in Latin America is still quite monopolized by the Catholic church). Off course my studies in Biology (including a Master in Evolutionary Biology in the Netherlands), the opportunity to get out of my country, and my common sense allowed me to find out all the non-sense in religion and in god, and finally realize my atheist nature. However, I want to thank you for “the god delusion”. Now I am not only atheist, but a really proud one, not afraid to tell anyone, finally completely out of the closet and starting to be activist. Your book answered many still-open questions and re-assured many ideas and feelings with respect to atheism .
Although the religious environment in which I grew up was “milder” than the one many girls still grow up in the world (specially muslim societies) I want to share how this religious brought-up affected me and my friends in negative ways. The “hell” fear in our case was very strong when related to sexuality (intensified by the latin “macho” society). Any act related to sexuality (even kissing a boyfriend in high school) was felt as a sin, as something wrong, dirty. This sinful thinking I grew up with, affected the development of my sexuality to a point that it took me quite long to finally enjoy sex and get know my own body without feeling that I was doing something wrong and shameful. If this is how it feels for me, I can't really imagine how religion affects women worldwide, especially in the Islamic world. I can't imagine either the suffering that my homosexual friends had to go through (they had to leave the city and even the country to come out of the closet).
I also want to mention the bad influence that the catholic church still has in Latin America in the un-educated social classes. People are still told by the priests that using condoms or any other kind of contraceptives is a sin, as sex is just meant for reproduction. No need to mention that this argument does not stop this people from having sex, it does stop them from using contraceptives. Consequence: Low-income and uneducated people keep having children they can't feed and educate. Off course the catholic church takes no responsibility on this.
Before finish I want to share one more story that happened a few years ago in Colombia: a 12 year old girl was raped and got pregnant. A gynecologist practice her an abortion. The doctor was immediately excomulgated (probably something not very nice for him in a society almost 100% catholic), but off course the rapist was not
Again, thanks a lot for your enlighting, encouraging and relieving work.