Dear Professor Dawkins,
I found this converts’ corner on your website and I thought I would chime in with my story.
I used to belong to one of those churches where people would speak in tongues and be “slain” in the spirit. I am sure you know the type. I bought into it hook line and sinker. Ten years ago you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between me and Kirk Cameron. A lot of the sermons there were about hell and how bad a place it was. I lived in mortal fear of hell. What if I committed a sin and didn’t repent or forgot to. It really screwed me up. I wasn’t even allowed to think about something sinful. Eventually I started to question god when I couldn’t reconcile what I have been taught about god with what was happening in the world. If god really loves you then why is there hell? Why is there infinite punishment for finite sins?
After I had become apostate I became interested in paganism for a while but I quickly found that one invisible “friend” is just as good as another. I then declared myself an atheist. Now that I serve no god I do not fear hell, I can feel open about my sexuality, and I am able to accept someone regardless of their religion, sex, race or whatever. Now I am learning about the natural world via you tube, discovery channel, etc. I find things ever more beautiful and breathtaking. To me god was a weight on my shoulders that I am glad to be rid of.