Dateline: November 20, 2008.
A father in New York state is blaming controversial author, Richard Dawkins, for the apparent suicide of his 22-year old son. Of course, I came across this story in God's news site, the World Net Daily. Take this story with a grain of salt.
Jessie Kilgore, 22, was a student at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY. He was a conservative Republican and Christian, as well as a veteran. According to his father, Keith Kilgore, Jessie committed suicide after being challenged by one of his professors to read Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. Mr. Kilgore reportedly found a copy of the book under his bed with a book marker at the last page of the book.
Being a former Republican and Christian, I can empathize with Jessie. It's a rather deflating experience to realize that all you've ever been told by those you trust is a lie, from your family to your pastor, to your state representative. It's like getting kicked in the stomach. Nothing could have prepared me for what I learned. But I had to find a way. Eventually, I did. And when I did I became angry. But I was able to turn my anger into curiosity. Now all I want to do is learn and rid of myself of 20+ years of a brainwashed mind. Many of my friends and family became concerned for my well-being when they learned that I became an Independent. The concern was only compounded when I de-converted.
But, while the story of a youth taking his own life is sad, it only fans my anger toward Protestantism. Particularly Jessie's father, Keith. To lay the blame of suicide of your son at the feet of a professor or Richard Dawkins only attests to Mr. Kilgore's own ignorance, fear, and weaknesses. Keith states of his son, "I told him it was my relationship with God, not my knowledge of Him that brought me back to my faith. No one convinced me with facts. ... it was a matter of the heart."
Therein lies the reason why Jessie took his own life. No one ever gave him proper coping skills, prepared him to think critically, to question things, and think for himself. And when challenged with "facts", Jessie could find no way to reconcile his education to what his pastor/priest and father told him his whole life, realizing his very upbringing had been a lie. Another tragic end to a young life brimming with potential.
Mr. Kilgore goes on to say, "I'm all for academic freedom...What I do have a problem with is if there's going to be academic freedom, there has to be academic balance. They were undermining every moral and spiritual value for my [son]," he said. "They ought to be held accountable." The author of the article states, "He suggested the moral is for Christians simply to abandon public schools wholly."
If that's the case, then Mr. Kilgore does not believe in academic freedom, but rather indoctrination.
I'm sorry that you lost your son, Mr. Kilgore. I truly am. But don't blame the death of your son on atheism. Blame his death on yourself for not teaching him to accept reality. His blood is on your hands, not Richard Dawkins'.