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Christopher Hitchens on Religion

by Richard Poe
Sunday, August 10, 2003

1:00 pm Eastern Time
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5 Comments

“I don’t trust anyone who believes in religion,” declares author and journalist Christopher Hitchens in an April 14, 2002 interview with The Observer by Lynn Barber. Here’s the complete quote, in context:

[Hitchens] rarely sees his younger brother Peter… Peter is a Christian reactionary and advocate of “family values,” who fulminates in the Mail on Sunday about homosexuality, divorce, single mothers, sexual permissiveness, pornography – all the usual targets.


Peter seems fonder of Christopher than Christopher of him. Christopher told me that if he and his wife Carol were killed, he knows that Peter would look after their daughter, Antonia – whereas he would not do the same for Peter’s children. “I can’t be a hypocrite about it. I’m sure he would, but I wouldn’t.” And anyway, Peter would want his children to be brought up as Christians. This, Christopher claims, is the really important difference between them – “Politically, the differences are trivial, but I have a bigger difference between myself and anyone who believes in any religion than I do on any other subject. I don’t trust anyone who believes in religion. So we don’t agree.”

I am sure many Christians harbor feelings just as uncharitable as those to which Hitchens confesses in this interview. But only an atheist would boast of them as if they were virtues.

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  1. Unadorned says:

    The Observer writes of Christopher Hitchens:

    Peter seems fonder of Christopher than Christopher of him. Christopher told me that if he and his wife Carol were killed, he knows that Peter would look after their daughter, Antonia – whereas he would not do the same for Peter’s children. “I can’t be a hypocrite about it. I’m sure he would, but I wouldn’t.”

    What respect I had for Hitchens just plummeted through the floor.

    Hitchens says:

    ” … I have a bigger difference between myself and anyone who believes in any religion than I do on any other subject. I don’t trust anyone who believes in religion.”

    I find that I like pious people — maybe even prefer them, all other things being equal, to atheists, agnostics, and “religion-lite” types such as myself — and I’d bet they’re at least as trustworthy as others, if not more so. I cannot fathom what Hitchens means in saying that he doesn’t “trust” people who believe in religion. (Does that include Marxism, Christopher? If it does, then I can certainly see where you got burned!)

    Based on this tiny glimpse, together with all else I know of him, I think this man must have grave character flaws, indeed. We all have plenty of flaws, of course — but this guy looks like he’s REALLY in bad shape, character-wise.

  2. Rightminded says:

    “It is a strong argument for a state of retribution hereafter, that in this world virtuous persons are very often unfortunate, and vicious persons prosperous.” –Addison

    Only a complete idiot would trust an atheist more than a “qualified by practise believer.”

    It is all about that belief in a Divine Retribution, that belief in the old Maude saying, “God will get you for that,” that fetters the Dark Side of human nature.

    NEVER, EVER, TRUST A PERSON WHO TRULY BELIEVES THIS LIFE IS BUT A DEAD END!

  3. Rightminded says:

    Atheists do not even trust atheists as much as they trust believers!

    Remember — or ever heard of — Madalyn Murray O’Hare? She was that foul-mouthed slob of an atheist who successfully managed to eliminate the use of Bible Reading from public schools.

    She also founded The American Atheist, Inc, located in Austin, Texas.

    Upon searching for a new office manager for her organization, she chose one David Waters, a dyed-in-the-wool atheist.

    It turns out, the slob’s own board of directors warned her and advised her to hire a believer, because of the money handling the job entailed.

    Madalyn lost her head figuratively upon hearing of her board’s advise, and then literally by ignoring it. In January of 2001, her, her son Jon’s, and her granddaughter Robin’s severed bones and charred clothing were found on a remote Texas ranch outside San Antonio.

    It turns out David Waters embezzled American Atheist Inc. funds and was fired by Madalyn. Then, David Waters got wind of Madalyn’s embezzlement of a half-million-dollars of American Atheist Inc. funds and proceeded to do a “Texas Chain Saw Murder” deal on her, and her family, for the money.

  4. duende says:

    Well, I am a Catholic, mildly but sincerely devout. To be fair, some Christians DO talk about their hatred for atheists.

    “How can there be peace when drunkards, drug dealers, communists, atheists, New Age worshipers of Satan, secular humanists, oppressive dictators, greedy money changers, revolutionary assassins, adulterers, and homosexuals are on top?”

    –Pat Robertson
    The New World Order, p.227

  5. Richard Poe says:

    Dear Duende:

    Christopher Hitchens did not actually say that he “hated” religious believers. He said that he did not trust them. Yet, the difference in character between Hitchens and his brother Peter — from what little Hitchens revealed of it in this interview — suggests that Peter, not Christopher, is the one I’d want standing at my back in a fight.

    By the way, I know Christopher Hitchens and like him very much. My judgment of his comments has nothing to do with “hatred” or any other sort of intemperate emotion.

    As for Pat Robertson, he likewise did not say that he “hated” atheists. Like Hitchens, he focused on the issue of trust. Robertson distrusts atheists. He does not believe they have the moral backbone to lead our country.

    I read Robertson’s book The New World Order. He does not shoot from the hip. He has done his homework, and makes his case well.



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