Dear Professor Dawkins,
My name is Beatriz and I am a 25-year-old architect from Brazil. My country is so proud to be the largest catholic country in the world. As you know, Brazil is a third world country and poverty is a very fertile field for religion due to its ability to feed on ignorance. There is so much I could tell you about religion here and how I became an atheist (The God Delusion had a big part on it), but what I really want to share with you is one particularly sad story that happened to me regarding religion.
When I was growing up, I had two cousins, Henrique, 5 years older than me, and Luciana, 3 years younger. They were like brothers to me as we used to spend every weekend together. Their mother, my aunt, attended to a budist church called Messianic (I’m not sure if that’s the name in English); it is a very popular church here, despite the catholic majority. One of the Messianic religion’s dogmas says that it is bad for you to take conventional medicines, you should heal yourself from the "blessed energy from God" that reaches you through the Johrei, have you heard of this? Surprisingly, my family is not poor, we are middle class and my aunt and my cousins have had proper education, so I never understood why they were caught up in this.
My cousin, Henrique, had asthma. No problem! Johrei on him! They did it every time he felt sick. It was all very well until my aunt called us one day crying that my cousin turned pale and couldn’t breathe. We rushed to their house and took him to the hospital, but it was too late, his organs had already started to fail. He died that night. He was 20 years old.
I was young at that time and was not an atheist yet, but even then I knew what had happened. My cousin had died because of that religion. I do realize my aunt’s responsibility, but I refuse to ignore the role that religion played on this case. Nobody would ever say this in my family but I think that my aunt and the Messianic church should have been criminally indicted for what happened. But, of course, they were not. Religion got away again and our family was devastated.
So I want to thank you for your magnificent work in revealing the truth, freeing the world from obscure nonsense, speaking your mind and trying to change the world into a more illuminated place, where sad stories like this will never happen again.