Dear Converts Corner,
My name is Steve Applin, I’m 27 and writing to you from Perth, Western Australia. The primary purpose of my email is to ‘out’ myself as an atheist, to the world, for the first time.
While I cannot credit Professor Dawkins for relieving me of my religious faith as the childhood indoctrination never ‘took’ to begin with, I can credit him for the God Delusion which broadened my horizons enough for me to realise that I am, and have been for the last thirteen or fourteen years, an atheist. I will be forever thankful for the inspiration from Dr Dawkins in his book the God Delusion to be intellectually honest enough to realise and accept my atheism, and to declare it to the world.
I was brought up as a Christian child in the Salvation Army, actively forced into church attendance and participation by both my parents but primarily my mother. Early on in my church attending life my mum didn’t go to church, but forced my sister and I to attend and participate in church activities. I can’t remember exactly when, maybe when I was around 8 or 9, my mother became actively involved herself in the church, and her involvement continued until my early 20’s. My dad on the other hand only rarely attended church, though I’ve never discussed his reasons why with him, nor have I discussed with my mother her reasons for discontinuing her association with the Church.
Luckily for me, for whatever reason, the religious indoctrination did not ‘take’ and I became what I now understand to be an atheist at around 12 or 13. Unfortunately by that stage my mother was increasingly devout, and standing up to her over any issue of importance was and still is a long and major battle which involves a great deal of emotional blackmail. Further, I was part of the academically talented program at high school & a poor performer in sports at a school a school obsessed with sporting achievement above all things (and academic achievement in particular). Consequently I had a tough time at school and maintaining my academic achievements was my priority and took a tremendous amount of emotional energy. Even back then I was sensible enough to realise that you could not fight a major battle on more than one front at a time and hope to win either of them, never mind both of them, so the whole religion issue was put on the back burner and stayed there until recently.
I suffered the inconvenience of regular church attendance at the behest of my mother until I moved out of home at 23, at which time her faith waned and she now no longer attends church. As with my dad, I have never discussed her reasons for her discontinued church attendance.
It seems strange, silly and particularly weak to say it now, but a very small part of my reasoning for not declaring my atheism in my early teens is that I didn’t know I could. One of the big reasons is that I had relegated religion to the status of distant memory, and thought no more of it.
This all changed a few weeks ago when I was trawling through the books in my bookshelf for a book I hadn’t read before, and picked up my girlfriends copy of the God Delusion for reading on an impending business trip (she brought a lot of books with her when she moved in, mostly ‘chick lit’ so I’ve never really had cause or interest to browse her collection). As is normal for me when reading, I got through the God Delusion very quickly and have since read it again.
The God Delusion was a tremendously enlightening & eye opening experience for me, and one I’m very glad I’ve had. It has opened my eyes to the true extent of the utter nonsense which is religion and now I find myself getting annoyed whenever I hear or read of religious types sprout their nonsense – most recently last week when a sound clip of the pope warning about the dangers of aggressive secularism (apologies if I haven’t got that quote exactly right) was played on the radio.