Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(583)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Prof. Richard Dawkins,

I would like to thankyou for your help in guiding me away from guilt, despair and fear – basically religion. Religion has had such a devistating effect on my life and when I saw the channel 4 programme 'The problem with Atheism' I immediately felt like writing into channel 4 to promote a programme 'The problem with Theism'.

I was brought up as a Catholic and believed that I was going to go to purgatory for many years to make up for my sins – I am 23 by the way and purgatory is not a thing of the past, it is very much alive in the Catholic tradition. I could say the rosary at the age of 4 and the Hail Mary would frighten me because of its emphasis on sin and death.

The reason I became atheist is quite simply that my faith caused me to develop obsessive compulsive personality disorder becuase I alsways wanted to be free from sin and had to go to confession regularly and say the perfect penance to cancel out my sins. This perfectionism and scrupulosity spilt out into all other areas of my life, my school work, social life and violin playing. Everything had to be perfect.

My A levels were affected by the interfeerence of my perfectionism becuase if something was not perfect then I would spend whole months worrying about it. Especially over things I had said or did. I got my A levels and my grade 8 and a place to study History and Religious Studies at Lancaster University.

However, my religiosity increased and subsequently my perfectionism increased. I ended up not completing my degree. How do I know religion is responsible for my failure? I mean a lot of people would say that I am not taking responsibility and am blaming religion and I have looked into this and can honestly say that that could not be further from the truth. I already got grade 8 on the violin and know that I am not lazy and am capable of great things. I also know that my perfectionism is rooted in my genes becuase I have relatives who also suffered from perfectionism but the Catholic focuss on the individual to perform works to become perfect aggravated the problem to such a dgree that it became unmanageable.

And since ditching religion I have been able to embrace my 'sins' as part of my human make up:)

Matthew Le-mage
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