Dear Mr. Dawkins,
I was raised in the baptist church. My mother was and still is very religious (herself raised in the church of the Nazarene) My father was an usher and collection counter every Sunday. (a job which, ironically meant he didn't have to actually sit in on the services. He just sat people and counted the churches money.) We attended church twice on Sunday. Our Sunday began with breakfast at the table (not a bad thing) while watching the likes of Robert Shueller and Billy Ghraham. This was followed by “Sunday School” starting at 9:30 then the regular service at 11:00. We would then go home until the evening service at 6:00. Through the week we attend several other functions of the church which included, a Wednesday youth group, bible studies, and the Saturday evening service. (just to make sure you were ready for Sunday).
It seems that my parents did every thing in their power to raise a good christian, and their efforts were paying off. Even though I always had questions I was totally sold on the idea of god, jesus, heaven, and “h e double hockey sticks”. I think my questions were logical ones. Why didn't the bible say any thing about dinosaurs? Where did fossils come from? (I was told that fossils were just creative rock carvings. Or Satan put them there to confuse us). Why was god so mean to some people and so nice to others?
As I grew up I was beginning to notice contradictions and ignorance all around me. I played the electric bass in high school jazz band and I wanted to play in a church band that the youth group was forming. I was told by the music director that I could not play because electric instruments were “of the devil”. He told me this with a straight face while wearing a microphone pinned on the lapel of his suit. I am certain, to this day, that he had no idea how ridiculous he sounded.
Fast forward through a life of questions, doubt, guilt, and education ( institutional as well as self prescribed) I married a catholic girl and had two children which we (she) agreed would be raised catholic. I just really didn't care either way. I was already an atheist, I just didn't speak up about it. I was allowing the lie to continue. I was surrounded by religion and to be honest I felt very alone. My oldest child died when he was six years old. I must shamefully admit that I had moments of doubt regarding my position on religion. Most of this had to do with guilt. (maybe god was punishing me for not believing), and the constant barrage of religious sentiment. The christian based condolences that I received from people actually helped me regain my senses. Although I smiled and said thank you for their words. “God works in mysterious ways” or “I'm sure that it all fits into gods plan”. Fuck you!!!!!!!! What possible good could come out of god killing a little boy. I had to remind myself that they were just regurgitating the same crap that I was fed when I was young. No god killed my son. A VIRUS killed my son. Thats it. Thats all.
In the months and years that passed I began to see that my wife (soon to be ex-wife) was becoming more and more engrossed in religion and even started going to “spiritualist” for guidance. She was spending money on Silvia Brown and her crap slinging live shows, books, and video tapes. All this, at a time when we were already broke and worried about making our house payment. I do not reflect on this to point a finger at her. I am, however, tying to illustrate how futile and wasteful, both emotionally and financially, religion can be. This was definitely a factor in our divorce.
Even now, I am surrounded by christians (at this point my spell checker is pissing me off because I refuse to capitalize the word christian). I am no longer afraid to tell people, when I am asked, that I am an atheist. My girl friend has kept an open mind and I am very proud of her. However, her entire family is constantly trying to save me. I , at the same time, am trying to convince them that their god is not going to fix their messed up lives. they are the only ones that can do that.
These days, this is not what bothers me the most about religion. What really SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME is that it seems that everyone that gets elected to public office has to profess there resounding faith in god. How can we sleep at night while our leaders have one hand on the bible and the other on the launch codes. The world is full of people willing to kill you, me, themselves, and anyone who doesn't think like themselves, and I'm not exclusively talking about radical islamist. I am also talking about “god fearing” people right here in our own bible belt and little towns all over this land. People who are willing to kill a Jew (capitalized because it also denotes ethnicity), bomb an abortion clinic, or go to war.
I am out, I am loud, and I am pissed off. I no longer make excuses for my beliefs and I welcome debate. This is the only way to change the world. I want to do more. I want to make a difference in a logical, moral, and peaceful way.
Peace, Love, and reason