My earliest memory of religion is from attending a Southern Baptist church at a young age. Around the age of 12, my family moved, and I began attending a United Methodist church. I continued attending church until around the age of 18, when I went to college. Looking back, I now realize that my young mind was more interested in the social aspect of church than the religious aspect. I was baptized and confirmed, even though I did not truly understand or believe the words and thoughts I mindlessly repeated. I read the entirety of the Bible at least once.
A few years later, my brother came out of the closet. Not only was he gay, which our former church did not accept; he was atheist. There is no possible way I could accept the values of a religion over the love of my own brother. As time progressed, I began to consider myself a theist. I still believed in a higher power — mostly due to the complexity of our world — but wholly rejected organized religion.
It was not until earlier this year that I finally read “The God Delusion”. It had exactly the kind of information I needed to seal my own identity as an atheist. With the knowledge I gained from your writing, I was confident in coming out of the closet as an atheist to my friends and my conservative Christian family, although I am still afraid of the commonplace prejudice against atheists by mainstream Christians here in the United States. I can now proudly profess that I am a de facto atheist, and that there is no proof of the existence of a higher power. I attribute this knowledge primarily to you and your writing, and I thank you for that. You are a beacon of information in an age of blissful ignorance.