A video at youtube shows a question and answer session with Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," after he has read excerpts from his book, at Randolph-Macon Women's College in Lynchburg VA, October 23, 2006. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR_z85O0P2M&mode=related&search=)
A young woman asks as her second question: "Is anger a common symptom of a person who is going through the deconditioning process of their parents' religion?"
Dawkins answers: "I don't know. It had never occurred to me. Mmh. Does anybody else have personal. . .mmh. . .mmh. . .
I, I, I think sort of fear is probably more common, I mean fear of what their parents are going to think rather than anger. But I could be wrong. I'm interested in that. If that question is based on personal experience, I'd be interested to hear more. Is that a common experience?"
Dawkins: "Wow. Anger on part of the person who is undergoing the deconversion process themselves?"
Dawkins: "Anger against whom or what?"
Audience, different voices call out different things; audible:
"Parents," and "All the authority figures who pushed this as the norm, which was anathema to the child's reason."
Dawkins: "Right. Well, thank you. That's extremely interesting. I've learned something this evening. Thank you."
Later, in a traveling journal, Dawkins writes:
"The most interesting question was from a young woman not from Liberty but from Randolph Macon itself, and it really startled me. She wanted to know whether people who deconverted from a religious upbringing felt "anger." In my naivety, I went blank. Why should one feel anger? Anger towards what, or whom? I asked the audience whether they understood what she meant, and there was a great chorus of "Yes." I asked them again, why anger, anger towards whom? Then they started shouting from all around the hall. It was anger towards their parents for bringing them up religious, anger towards teachers and pastors for indoctrinating them as children. One young man came up to me afterwards in the signing queue and reiterated with some passion the intense anger he felt. I gave him the url of this website and encouraged him to write in. Perhaps somebody will start a thread on the theme of anger felt by the recovered victims of childhood indoctrination.
"Also in the signing queue, the young woman who asked the original question about anger handed me a letter. I didn't have time to read it until afterwards, and when I did read it I was moved by it. I shall reply, suggesting that she might like to write a similar letter to our website, so others may read it."
(quoted from his 'tour journal' at:
Comment # 6017 by Richard White on November 12, 2006 regarding this topic posted on Richard Dawkin's website:
"In response to the anger issue discussed at this lecture . . . Anger was certainly part of the deconversion process for me. The experience, over some time, brought forth a range of emotions. But anger was probably one of the strongest. I felt somewhat cheated of a childhood and young adulthood. I was deeply devoted to the religion of my parents to the extent that I finished a Bachelor's degree in theology before dumping theism. I'd prefer to think that this is at least partly a reflection of my devotion to what I perceived to be a noble cause and of the credibility I gave to the teachings of my parents. After deconversion, I felt manipulated. It still amazes me that a young person has to be 18 to make so many important "adult" decisions but religion can begin frightening young children at any age into committing their lives to the religious cause. My emotion about the experience is now more adequately described as embarrassment. Why did I not begin questioning this ridiculous stuff at an earlier age? But, changing one's worldview is not an easy experience, especially when it involves a rejection of the cherished beliefs of one's family. I'd like to think that I'm now more deeply devoted to science and reason than I ever was to theology. Thank you, Dr. Dawkins for your courage and devotion to scientific inquiry and for a great website to rally thinking humanity to the cause of Reason."
"Pharingula: There is such a thing as righteous anger:"
"One thing not in the shorter clips that I thought was interesting was the young woman who asked Dawkins if he thought it was normal that deconversion was accompanied by anger, and he didn't know…so he asked the audience. And they roar back that yes, it is.
"I think Dawkins was being slightly disingenuous. I can believe his own loss of faith was easy and unaccompanied by stress, because my own was, as well. In my own case, my childhood belief was fairly shallow, so when I realized that I didn't believe any of that baloney in adolescence, it wasn't at all traumatic. But Dawkins knows as do I that that anger can come later, and you can sense it in Dawkins in the question about dinosaur fossils. I feel that, too. We're both people whose lives are heavily invested in a university and in teaching and in science, and when you see the kinds of vile fraud institutions of bunkum like Liberty University commit against those three values, I can't help but feel disgust and anger.
"Many people, I suspect, are hit harder with those sensations. If you start with a deeper commitment to a religion, if you've been compelled by family to invest heavily in that belief (another horror I was spared), if your deconversion is prompted by learning that you've been betrayed and lied to—then I can understand how anger is an early and strong part of the process.
"All I can say is that yes, you should be damned angry. I am glad that many people are beginning to feel that fury."
Other stories of people who escaped religion can be read at:
read the young woman's first question at "Disconnecting from a Religious Upbringing"
back to Screams from Childhood