Dear Professor Dawkins,
I cannot encourage you enough to keep on going, and to never back down on anything. I am a 57yr old woman who has “suffered” much at the hands of Fundamental Christianity, and this in a secular country like Australia. Yes, I am an Australian resident and I have lived here all of my life, although I have moved around much in this big country of ours. Even though Australia is a secular country there is a lot of Moderates here and their apologists. With pockets of Fundamentalism. I will try to be as brief as possible.
I was raised in a “normal” home with “normal” very good parents, who had a sort of reverence for the judeo christian god but neither of them were religious, although I do remember my mother taking me to sunday school to the church of christ when I was a little girl for several months. When I was about 11 or 12 I started going to sunday school on a regular basis with my neighbours, who were very religious, to a mainstream baptist church. When I was about 13 or 14 I went to a Billy Graham crusade in Sydney, where I was caught up in the emotional blackmail and seduction of christianity. My family moved about a year later and I lost contact with everyone at the church.
I met my husband when I was 17 and married him when I was twenty. In 1987 when I was 35yrs old, myself and my husband and our two children came to Western Australia, and a couple of years later I fell prey to The Independent Fundamental Baptists. Because I was in a very vulnerable state, and the type of person that I am, I was real pickings for them. I remained there for the next 12 years, where I raised my children, who attended their little A.C.E. School.
What happened to me and my children in that cult was physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, “spiritual” abuse, total religious thuggery. I “escaped” with my children in 1999, and then I subsequently “escaped” from my abusive alcoholic husband two years later. The Independent Fundamental Baptists believe that they alone have the truth, and the particular church that I went to. the Pastor was a 6' 3″ Irish screaming yelling pulpit breaking thug, who believed that he was the only Independent Fundamental Baptist left on the planet who was preaching and doing god's work properly. Because I was a woman, with an “unsaved” husband, who was an alcoholic as well, I was a nothing and treated with contempt, along with all the brainwashing and isolation, punishment, abuse, railing, rebuke, control, threats, fear and a host of other stuff. Terrible things happened in the cult and out of it, when I 'escaped' I was terrified. These things were: terrible drug abuse (not mine but my sons and his friends), suicide, murder, disappearance, house fire, to mention major things. When I escaped with my children I had no friends, no money and no job, all because of religious indoctrination, i.e. separation and isolation and being a good and perfect little housewife (a keeper at home except for working in the a.c.e. school five days a week for 9 years without pay). I got a job doing domestic cleaning and some help from social services. I have had intense counselling on and off for almost five years. It is now eight years since I left the cult and six years since I left my abusive alcoholic husband, I still do not have any friends, not for the lack of trying, but it is exceedingly hard especially in this country as there is absolutely no support groups for people like me and I am nearly sixty years old. Now, my son who is almost 30 years of age, is almost completely free of drugs and trying to get his life on track, but it is very difficult for him, religion, drugs and a hopeless father have left terrible scars on him, and now he has his own son, two years of age, and he is trying very hard to be a good father and partner. My daughter, on the other hand, now 23years of age, years ago sought solace in academics and study and now has two degrees, Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce and has begun her career, but she bears the scars also, but in a different way.
I have tried to be as brief as possible but to still give the reader an idea of the destruction that religion imposes on its victims, and religious moderates have absolutely no idea whatsoever about the harm that they are doing, they believe in absolutely nothing and in doing so allow the fundamentalists to do their dirty work. My deconversion began in 1994, some 7 years into my brainwashing and indoctrination, as I did not find any love whatsoever in that place, or in the bible, I started cherry picking the nice bits of what Jesus Christ said and was hanging onto that, whilst I continued to question what was being done in the church and what was being done to me and mine, and what was not being done outside the church in the community, by 1999 I could stand the pain and agony no longer and “escaped under threat of death”. To be held and controlled by fear is absolutely unbelievable.
Anyway, I think I have said enough, I would just like to encourage Richard Dawkins and also Sam Harris and a huge thankyou to you both. Since the mid to late nineties I began studying and processing all my stuff and have come a long way, but when I found Richard and Sam I was jumping with joy because you guys articulate everything that I have wanted to say for so very long, I listen to all the audios and watch as many videos from all the debates, and I read all the articles and books. It reinforces everything that I now “believe” and think, and much more. I am proud to say that I am an atheist and a freethinker.
The world must evolve itself out of religioun, so it needs people like you, who are intelligent, articulate, energetic and prominent.
Yours very sincerely