I got mail

I received this letter from a fan of the show, and I thought I might post it up. If you haven’t listened to Episode 53 of the podcast, please do so before reading (if you’ve never listened before, you should know it’s actually the crown jewel of the site).

Hey Jake and Ryan,

I am writing you this email to give you a personal perspective of one of the topics you discussed in episode 53 about mental illness. A short description of my self: I am a 24 year old male atheist, and I happen to live in Denmark which is luckily one of the most secular country’s in the world(43% are atheists and at least 80% are agnostic according to this site) but I find my self in a difficult situation. A long time friend of mine has a mental illness. He is diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. But medication usually keeps it at bay and he is actually a pretty cool guy, but on top of the schizophrenic part, he has a rare physical disease that has scarred his body which has caused him to have serious issues with dating, sex and girls and stuff like that which is pretty understandable considering those medical issues. The problem is that during the last 6-7 months or so, he has become extremely religious (he decided to become a Catholic) and he practically cut all ties to me and our common friends because he is constantly offended by our “immoral actions”, like talking about sex, having science magazines in the house…You get the picture…..

The friendship ended permanently last week when a group of 5-6 friends sat and enjoyed the sunshine one afternoon. We were both present. We talked about all things of topics like friends usually do and i can’t remember what the topic was but I mention something in passing about evolution and my friend started getting upset and saying that Darwin’s theory didn’t make sense, and saying creationist bullshit like “Where is the half human-half ape then” which just proves that they don’t study anything but the bible….Which they actually don’t study that close anyway. At some point the discution he claimed that I couldn’t understand because i was never touched by the holy spirit and it kinda slipped my lips that such a feeling was make belief and he ofcourse stormed out and we haven’t seen him sinse.

But the really worrying part about all this religion bullshit is that he has stopped taking his medicine, and has declared himself to be healthy and that religion cured him.

This leaves me with a mix of emotions ranging from sadness because of the loss of a friend, anger towards his church for encouraging him even though its very obious that he is deeply unstable and at times psychotic, and lastly a fear of what he might do.

I’m not writing you guys in hope of a solution because there is not much to be done, but simply to tell you about how religion combined with mental illness made me lose a dear friend.

It’s a painful reminder that religion can often mask mental illness. These poor deluded people actually think their respective religions can cure them of their mental disorder, and because the subject of religion is often too tabboo to talk about, many people aren’t given the treatment they need.

Comments (3)

  • avatar


    A very upsetting account!

    I used to be good friends with a guy who had muscular dystrophy who ended up believing the Catholic Church would cure him as he entered the stage where he was being permanently wheelchair bound. Sadly he did at 24 with very few friends because he has alienated us all in a similar way to described above. I remember some very happy times with him and he will always be thought of fondly but I can only wonder if he felt happy with his decision in the end.

  • avatar

    Miles Jordan

    My father had pretty severe schizophrenia and Christianity was one of his obsessions, particularly focussing on the concept of Hell and damnation. As a child I used to be pretty disturbed when he would read the words to a Christmas hymn and then break down crying.
    For whatever reason my father hanged himself after being booked into a psychiatric hospital. That was ten years ago now. I tend to think that he might have been less inclined to do it if he hadn’t believed in an afterlife and if the repugnant aspects of Christian mythology hadn’t fueled his depression.

  • avatar

    Casper Larsen

    I would like to thank the crew at good atheist for reading and posting my mail. In some ways it was nice to put everything down into writing(even with the numerous misspellings):P

    This would be a great topic for an entire show some time.

    Miles – You have my deepest sympathies….I can’t imagine a situation like that…..

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