Though I have read your books, I was an atheist before I discovered them, and I mean atheist in the strictest sense of the word. Reading your books, however, was an enlightening experience nonetheless, and served to further cement my non-belief.
I was raised in foster care, in the U.S., for most of my childhood. Every foster family I've ever lived with were fundamentalist Christians. At first, I believed. I believed that there was a god who was looking down on me, who loved me, and wanted nothing but the best for me, and it was comforting, at first. But I've always been a thinker, and being a thinker, I had many questions that I wanted answered. Needless to say, these questions were regarded with distaste, and I was told that “God is mysterious,” and “God has a plan.”
I wondered why, if god was so powerful, he would allow the horrible things that happened to me throughout my childhood. I wondered why I was told that non-believers would burn in hell for eternity, even if they were decent people and did good things while on Earth. I wondered how this god could justify an eternity of hellfire and torment for such a finite amount of time on Earth. These questions were never answered, and they kept eating at me, until I was forced to come to the conclusion that this god of theirs was imaginary, and couldn't possibly exist. I realized that god is just like Santa Claus, but for adults who are too afraid to give up their security blankets.
In The God Delusion, you say that religious belief is regarded as sacred and immune to criticism, that religion has reached this untouchable status, and I completely agree, especially here in the States, where religious belief runs wildly unchecked. And though your critics say you're too scathing and rude, I say you're being too kind. I would like to see the end of ALL religion before I take my final breath.
Thank you for being a source of Truth and Reason in these dark times.
All the best,