Out of all the correspondence I get, occasionally there’s a letter which repays, many times over, all the effort I’ve put into writing for my websites. This is one of them, which I’m sharing with the author’s permission:
I wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much your writing has influenced me. I left the church I had been raised in about four years ago and spent about a year studying various religions before looking into atheism. It was very difficult for me to be asked to defend my atheism to friends and family (who had spent decades studying their own faith) when I was still trying to figure out exactly what it was myself.
I found your website about a year ago through a link to “How to Convert an Atheist.” I read your essays and have begun working my way through the “Must Read” posts on your blog. Your writing has helped me so much. I can coherently explain and adequately defend many of the ideas that were so new to me so recently because of you. I wanted to thank you for posting such wonderful thoughts on such a wide variety of topics relevant to atheism.Thank you so much,
From a follow-up letter, Jessa adds:
I was raised Mormon. My family has been in the church for generations (seven on my mother’s side), my father is a bishop, I spent most of my childhood in Utah, attended four years of early-morning seminary in high school and went to BYU. So, yeah, I was very Mormon.
As frustrating as it is to debate true believers, as much of an uphill struggle as it seems to be at times, our efforts do make a difference. There are people who can be reached, and who will be better off for it. Don’t ever doubt that!