The Positive Atheist Image and Religion & the Law , Good, Tue, Jan 29 2013 #(1821)

Jan 29, 2013

Dear Mr. Dawkins,

I am currently a 23 year-old first-year law student at the Oklahoma City University School of Law in Oklahoma City, OK. There were many factors contributing to my decision to attend law school immediately upon receipt of my undergraduate degree, but none more so than the unequivocal injection of religion into the North American political arena. While Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Fox News, and other rightwing Christian figures have without fail fueled my dedication to pursue a law degree and fight for the American constitutional principle of separation of church and state, a single interview of yours on CBC’s The Hour in 2007 remains my ultimate motivator.

In the interview of which I speak, George Stroumboulopoulos, the interviewer, turned the discussion to the issue of religion in politics and law, and the absence of atheist lobby groups. You said in your response that you are not /would not be an effective politician. I took this response as a personal motivator. My goal is to use my business talents and legal education to pursue the goal of creating a positive view of atheism in America, and ensure our voices are not cast aside because we do not engage in the blind faith of theism or religion.

Completing my first year of law school in the heart of the Bible Belt of America is proving to be a challenging, yet highly beneficial decision. Not only am I learning the letter of the law through reading assignments and classroom lecture, I am also learning how the Christian Fundamentalist movement markets themselves and uses the legal system to push their agenda. However, another two years of study in this region is unlikely to help establish the important connections I will need to fulfill my career goals, so I made the decision to transfer law schools, relocating to the Northeast/Midwest, where law schools offer more courses on religion and American law.

On a separate, yet equally important note, I want to thank you. The God Delusion continues to help me defend my atheism when my family, friends, or strangers challenge me. Along with Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Bertrand Russell your work has been a significant influence on the way I debate and approach numerous philosophical questions. Your other books have also helped me understand evolutionary biology enough to have intelligent discussions with my peers and adversaries.

While I have been an atheist since I was about 17 years-old, your work encouraged me to “come out” to family and friends. My family reacted as expected; hostile and disappointed. My friends, on the other hand, have actually “come out” in large numbers since I first made public my atheism. I am the proud owner of a “We Are All Africans” t-shirt and the “A” lapel pin. The Out Campaign is a brilliant initiative which I support fully.

Thank You,

G.R. Summy

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