I am writing this letter to you as a gay man who has spent the last 16 years of his life buried under the hellish nonsense of Catholicism and its response to the homosexual lifestyle. Spending every moment of my life in fear at what God will do to me when I die, or humiliation at how “wicked” and “unnatural” I was in the eyes of God…that is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. Yet, that was the reality I faced, thanks to the intolerant views of those who shared my faith.
How refreshing, then, to come across your lectures on the internet and hear someone call it for what it was: a cruel sham run by a bunch of bullies. How wonderful to read your books, and feel as though new life were being breathed into my lungs. Here it was, at last – permission to be the person I had always wanted to be. Liberation from these stupid chains of bigotry and intolerance. Hope, that my life could finally begin…16 years after it should have.
Besides, having read some of your other books, now I have factual evidence to counter my students who try to come at me with “new-Earth” creationist lines of dogma. Now I have the tools of reason at my disposal to spark a discussion that has opened the door for many of the children I teach to likewise inspect their faiths through a new and powerful lens. Now I feel empowered to stand up and proclaim that I am an atheist indeed, and proud of it. My life is not pre-ordained to failure, not am I doomed to eternal torture as a result of who I sleep with. My life is mine, and mine alone, to make into whatever glorious thing I choose.
And it is all thanks to you. I know this may sound awfully silly, in light of what I just said, but my brain still seems to credit this phrase as one of highest praise, and so I hope that you will accept it as such. Then provide me with a more atheist-appropriate one for future use. :o)
But until that time comes….God bless you, Richard Dawkins. A million times over. For setting me free, and granting me the tools to help others do the same. Keep it coming. :o)