I want to express my thanks to Professor Dawkins, this is melodramatic sounding even to me but reading the God Delusion stopped my nightmares.
The phrase “I used to be religious” is an understatement sometimes. I jokingly tell people I was raised a Jehovah's Catholic. Went to Catholic school and church (my father's religion) while also being taken to Jehovah's Witnesses' meetings (my mothers religion.) When I was 16 (at the behest of witnesses) I renounced Catholicism and was baptized a Jehovah's Witness much to my Father's dismay.
Neither of them knew that I was also as queer as as a nine bob note, to coin a phrase once popular in the UK.
The existential crisis when it came arrived with such ferocity it almost hospitalized me. I had a nervous breakdown of sorts. I came out to everyone and was, so predictably according to their scripts, rejected by friends and family. That's when the nightmares started. I would waken up in a cold sweat as one of Gods archangels was thrusting a golden sword into my chest. (The nightmares were very graphic but I will spare the details.) For years I was plagued by these night terrors because I sincerely believed that I had offended God. In no small part because so many supposedly intelligent adults kept telling me that I had.
I read the God Delusion and literally overnight the nightmares stopped, since then my confidence has been growing and I have discovered this amazing thing called `self belief' I honestly believe that the God Delusion has helped pull me back from the brink of mental illness.
Every-time I hear Professor Dawkins call religion `child abuse' I flinch , not because it is wrong but because I can attest to the depth and truth of the statement. It's painful in it's honesty. I still have occassional flashbacks but now I have a framework to neutralize the pain. I survived religions abuse by the skin of my teeth. I'm proud to call myself an atheist. Actually I describe myself as a queer atheist, it makes me smile. The turnaround is 180 degrees.
My education stopped when I was 12 and was replaced by religion. I read the God Delusion at 38 and my education restarted. I feel like I have a lot of lost time to make up for but I am so grateful to the Professor for helping me have the opportunity to do so.