The Hitchens Brothers – A Christian’s Point of View

by Miriam Cummings

article-0-00CAE8B200000578-693_468x339On Thursday, December 15th, 2011, Christopher Hitchens passed away due to pneumonia after a long battle with esophogeal cancer. Please pray for his Christian brother, Peter, and the rest of Christopher’s family members. I deeply feel their pain.

A person ought to be remembered for who he was and what he did. Last year, while battling cancer, Christopher went on record as wanting everyone to know that if he were to accept Christ before his death, it would only be because he was drugged or desperate or not in his right mind. As far as I know at this point, Christopher stuck to his promise and his convictions, which saddens me immensely.

Christopher’s death does not change my opinion about him. In fact, reading this over once again after his death has convinced me that the points made need to be stressed all the more, as Christopher has left a trail of believed lies on the path of his followers… and the mess needs cleaning up. He lived a non-repentant, reckless life of spreading his own ignorance about Christianity as truth. And for that, I resent him. If he would have sincerely changed his mind at some point, based upon the vast amount of evidence that he was exposed to over and over again during his debates and friendships with Christians along his life’s journey, my opinion of him would be the same as Peter’s: that he was courageous. But it takes no strength to stubbornly defend one’s own lies and fabrications and twists of the truth. In my humble opinion, that’s cowardly. But since that’s what he did until the very end, this page continues to reflect my original thoughts on Christopher. It also continues to express how close I feel to Peter and how I feel about having family members who, like Christopher, willfully and vainly evangelize Christopher’s lies to our children and everyone they know. Christopher is dead wrong. God IS great. He IS. And He does love us… all of us. But as God, He is not in the least obligated to promote or accept our ways or ideas. We answer to Him, not Him to us.

Politically, I should say, I don’t agree 100% with either Peter or Christopher. But I am not as passionate about politics or what people believe in as much as I am passionate about God and what He has to say. As for the things Peter has said in his eulogy about Christopher, I respect it, and it was touching, but I did not see his brother’s courage at all. I understand, however. I also have fond memories of my atheist cousin who passed away. I was so close to him as a child and thought he was brilliant. Even today, I cannot bring myself to say that he was not. And in fact, he was, but just not about religion. He was brilliant about technology and mechanics. He had a great mind and a compassionate heart and he used both to help society. So, perhaps Christopher is as courageous as Peter says, in ways that I just didn’t see.

All I knew of Christopher was the vile, cynical side of him that hated Christianity. That’s me. Christopher might disagree that he hated me if he were still alive today. But when he touted that he hated religion, that it poisons everything, and when he belittled we Christians for falling for it, it became personal. The Christopher Hitchens that I was familiar with was an intolerant bigot and a liar.

Yet…

God Himself knows that I have cared deeply and specifically about the lives and destinies of the Hitchens brothers during the years just before Christopher died, when both of them were publicly attempting to “better the world.” And to be fair, I agreed with Christopher on some of his political points and about how ugly and deceitful some of the religious practices of other religions are. But how he could simply dump Christianity into the same pile as the others, especially when his brother is a Christian, is beyond my understanding. The fact that he began with a false premise most of the time either shows his ignorance, that he is deliberately lying, or that he simply didn’t care. Regardless of which it is, he is guilty of grossly misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and misconstruing the facts about Judaism, Christianity and the God of the Bible. From watching his conversations and listening to him talk, sometimes it seems outright deliberate, and at other times, he comes across as truly ignorant.

His TV news interview about Jerry Fallwell is just one of many examples. Although I was never a fan of Fallwell in particular, it could be (and I am just guessing) that the reason Christopher thought that Fallwell deceived people knowingly and deliberately (the video is on this page) is because Christopher himself did the same. Just like thieves accuse others of stealing, murderers accuse others of killing, and cheaters accuse others of cheating, it is common for people to think that everyone else is the same as they are. But another reason he thought that Jerry Fallwell was deceiving people knowingly is perhaps because Christopher was deceived, deliberately or not, by a preacher at some point in his life. Or, he sees the headlines about Catholic priests molesting children once in a great while (he frequently brought up the immoral acts of several preachers on front page reports during his debates); thus, he was suspicious of them all. Regardless of Christopher’s reasoning, we all know that Fallwell truly believed that he was doing a good thing, not that he was deliberately deceiving people.

Christopher had no grounds for his accusations, but he did have an agenda. And it was highly inappropriate to go on national television upon hearing the news of Fallwell’s death to suggest that he was nothing better than a crook. Since the mainstream media has lost its sense of tact long ago, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that someone like Christopher was considered a worthy voice at the time. But I have always believed that respect is earned. Fallwell deserved respect. He earned it and he genuinely believed what he preached. But Christopher has always fought vehemently against people of faith. His bitter soul earned my pity, but never my respect. To me, he was a non-repentant Mr. Scrooge.

That is why I believe that the life and death of Christopher Hitchens was a tragedy, not the triumph that many atheists suggested it was upon the news of his death. He was lauded as a great, inspirational teacher of truth by his followers with tributes that openly celebrated and affirmed Christopher’s bigotry against Christianity, against people like me and against Jesus, as though it were something to be proud of. I deeply feel for Peter, who has had to watch that after watching his brother Christopher, for many years, resist everything that remotely resembled authority.

Peter, on the other hand, has earned my respect. It happened first when I discovered he had written a book about how atheism led him to faith. I have read it. Peter has lived his convictions out loud, on purpose. He told the truth. And I admire how he stood up to his brother’s public verbal bashing and bullying of Christians.

To Peter:

In case it is not already apparent, I am grateful for the example you have set. You have been fighting the good fight, leading the charge for many. Don’t stop. Christians need to hear you talk about why defending Christianity is important, even more than we need you to voice your political opinion. My prayers are with you. Many are praying for you. When you are sad, we share your tears. And when you are happy, we share your joy. Best of all, Jesus promised He will go through it with us. This is a temporary place. We’re just passing through. The sadness of living in such an imperfect world… it comes and goes. But please keep making God and your fellow Christian brothers and sisters (who need to see what it looks like to be a Christian) smile at YOUR courage!

After watching a debate between Christopher Hitchens (a renowned atheist) and a Protestant minister, I began asking questions about this man who insults God and his Christian opponents for a living as though he is at war with a frightful enemy. Does he have children? Do they know what he does for a living? Do they agree or disagree with it? I doubted that he did have children at first. For if he did, how could he, in good conscience, continue to be so calloused, targeted, and angry, especially with one specific group of people… Christians. But if he does have children, what is their relationship with their father like? I know all too well that some people are simply too self-absorbed to think about how their beliefs and behavior toward others is seen by their offspring. It could go either way, I suppose. But, curious as I am, I went looking online.

Well, not only did I find out that Christopher has children, but that my question wasn’t very important in the light of what I found out next. Christopher was beginning to undergo chemotherapy for cancer of the esophagus. Another question entered my mind at that point. I wondered if he would continue to bash religious folks even after a brush with death. Would it possibly help him to do a double take on his life and the damage he has done to the faith of many? I suppose only time will tell.

Regardless, he probably has experienced an outpouring of charitable wishes from his Christian acquaintances as well as his fellow atheist friends. And I would like to wish him well also. I wish Christopher a long life on earth, in spite of our disagreements. As a Christian, I pray for him to take a serious look at the evidence that supports Christianity and that it will lead him to believe and accept a life with God rather than without Him in the hereafter. Those reading this who believe in the power of prayer may wish to add their prayers as well.

That said, what I mean to focus on is not children or illness, but something I can relate to very well. You see, Christopher Hitchens has a younger brother named Peter, whose latest book is called The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith. Reading a bit about their relationship, I found Peter’s situation to be similar to my own. My parents were raised to believe in God, but ended up choosing not to believe in Him any longer as I was growing up. So, I grew up in a family of atheists and agnostics. And not one of them was pleased with my conversion to Christianity when I was a teenager. Peter is a former atheist turned Christian. Like me and my family, he and Christopher do not see eye to eye. In fact, my family has echoed to me many of the same ideas that Christopher Hitchens does in his recorded debates, such as insisting that all Christians and religious folks are hateful, bigoted, and the cause of all wars. Imagine being called those names by your own family members. Well, Peter, and all who suffer this kind of religious intolerance, I know how you feel.

I also know how Peter might have felt when he found out about his brother’s life-threatening illness. My own father, who has gone between atheism and agnosticism almost all his life, had cancer too. It is an extremely painful thing as a Christian to watch a close relative actively rebel and “run” fast away from God even while looking possible death square in the face. Anyone who thinks that Christians don’t feel emotional pain and sorrow are sorely mistaken. Did I stress SORELY? But the notion that Christians are calloused beings is nothing more than a wish and an ignorant rumor spread by anti-religious activists, actors, musicians, and atheists disguised as professional scholars and/or professors and/or scientists, the ignorant, and students who are gullible enough to think that all adults know what they are talking about, always tell the truth, and always have pure motives. Kind of in the same way that some people think that all doctors care about their patients. Some do, but some care quite a bit more about the money than about their patients. Some actually loathe their patients, but wouldn’t admit it. And these things I know as fact. If you need examples, I’ll be happy to provide them to you, but for the sake of space, I’ll move on.

As for Christianity or other religions being responsible for war, perhaps an extremely dedicated Muslim might be dedicated to Jihad, but true Christianity, the way that Jesus has taught it — is loving, kind, gentle, generous, thoughtful, honest, and the list goes on. And while most Christians don’t associate with the occasional loopy character who kills and manipulates for personal gain in the name of Christ, you can be sure that many atheists like Christopher Hitchens and my family will single out the wackos as representative of the majority of we Christians — we who completely denounce them as having anything to do with Orthodox Christianity. We certainly don’t mutilate anyone or anything, as Christopher purports. Yet, he throws all religions into the same bucket and equates excising 8-year-old Muslim girls who have been brought up under the Islamic religion (a violent one) with the Jewish religious practice of circumcision at eight days old. My atheist relatives circumcise their children, mainly for the sake of cleanliness and tradition, as one side of my family is Jewish. But the practice no longer belongs solely to the Jews.

The difference between the two practices Christopher describes are this: an eight-year-old Muslim girl who has just been excised is without pain relief and experiences horrific torture and humiliation for weeks and even months following the procedure. It is often performed by the local Imam or family members, and only sometimes by a physician, because the practice has been outlawed in all but a few places. It is an ancient (and dying) Muslim custom. Whereas, an eight day old baby cries for approximately five minutes after the procedure and perhaps for a single diaper change afterward. The baby does not carry the memory into adulthood like a Muslim excised girl does. And the modern procedure is safely performed by a licensed physician, at least in the United States and Europe. I cannot vouch for any other country. It is not performed by the boy’s parents, a Rabbi, or a minister here. Sorry to be graphic, but Christopher seems to be obsessed with calling all religions, including Christianity, false and/or wrong using the topic of genital mutilation, and it needs to be put to rest for good. The topic is obviously used as an appeal to emotion and creates shock and awe the way he tells it, and if the audience is gullible and ignorant enough about the topic. Christopher’s reasons for doing these things seems more politically or monetarily motivated than morally, as he seems to imply. I liken his ploys to the old 19th century “medicine man” who claims that his colored water vials are filled with remedies for every ailment known to man, only Christopher’s vials are words filled with anti-God remedies that will end all wars and create peace and harmony in the world.

I understand Christopher’s desire to be a hero and make a difference in the world. We all want to do that in one way or another. But the way he goes about it, excluding vital information, is cowardly, not heroic. He is simply not being completely honest with his audience or himself. Credibility begs Christopher to be serious about owning the burden of proof that should support his outrageous claims. But, because they are not completely true, he can’t. He can only fool a few for a little while. Think about this: if you are familiar with his debating style, have you ever known Christopher to answer a question without criticizing his opponents and what they believe in? Has he ever provided proof for his red herring arguments? Of course not. He hopes that he gets your emotions to cloud your judgment enough to cause you to forget the original question. The result: He is rewarded monetarily and perhaps his ego is inflated by his faithful followers just a bit more each time he speaks… all for expressing bigotry and hatred toward religious folks and for making disciples of a few young and gullible listeners. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if in some parts of the world many of his comments would be considered a hate crime.

But he gets away with it. Why? Because Christians are not sue-happy over personal and religious insults and blasphemy. Unlike some, we don’t wish to destroy anyone’s life. We love, pray for and do good to those who make themselves our enemies. That fact completely contradicts what Christopher tells the world about Christianity. But then, Christopher simply isn’t being honest about Christianity, what it is, and what it is not. He uses all other religions to erase the distinction between teachings, adds emotional words like “ridiculous” and “idiotic,” throws in a few truthful facts and few twisted ones too, and before you know it… a new kind of stone soup has been served to the entire world.

My point is this…

Hitch1MOS0504_468x400If atheists didn’t allow their own biases to stifle their ability to honestly research the differences between Christianity and other religions and to dig deeper into the archaeology, science, history, Biblical texts, and Biblical manuscript evidence that supports Christianity, they would know that there is way more evidence that supports Christianity as true than that which supports atheism ( basically nothing). And I would hope that, at the very least, they could bring themselves to be honest and admit that love, not hate, is the foundation of Christ’s message. After all, the one command that he leaves for his followers is to “love one another” the way He has loved us. Shame on those who already know this, but turn a dishonest blind eye to it.

But the atheist must become blind to what he sees in order to validate his own beliefs. Granted, not all Christians have mastered the art of loving as Christ loves us. But, if you think about it, no one, not even God, can measure up to the atheist’s standards for Christians, unless they renounce God altogether. And that is precisely the devilish nature and goal of an atheist… to rid the need for listening to what’s left of our God-sensitive conscience and to confuse our ability to comprehend God altogether.

One thing is true: God’s love is especially unattractive to the atheist, who cannot fathom that it includes punishment for sin. The fact is that God’s discipline proves his love. If not for the love, discipline, and punishment of sin that God metes toward those who trespass against the spiritual and natural laws that God set up in the universe, we would have destroyed ourselves completely by now.

Hebrews 12:1-7 (NLT) says…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

398303-christopher-hitchensEven some Christians forget this. How many parents wish for their children to clean their rooms, for example? How many actually do it FOR them instead of making them do the work? I’ve seen Moms who do this, and they are teaching their children with their example that if they don’t listen, Mom will clean up the mess. So, the words, “Clean up your room,” fall on deaf ears. Again… if my son steals something from someone else, would I be a good parent by shielding him from the consequences? Not at all. He will become a regular thief if I pay his restitution for him, because he knows he can get away with it. Perhaps that is a subject for my next book. But, no doubt, Christopher would twist and confuse what I just said, accusing the Bible of containing contradictions, because he rejects the concepts of authority and discipline, and because he refuses to understand that forgiveness is not a Christian cure-all, but meant to restore our relationship with God and begin to trust Him completely to the end of our natural lives. Christopher Hitchens creates an infantile and ugly picture of what God looks like. Then he argues that IF God exists, He is not relational at all. Christopher simply assumes that he knows what Christianity is and what it means. Then he conveniently throws Christianity into a pot with the separate religious and legalistic practices of Judaism and Islam. Stirring it all together, he claims that what he has just concocted in the pot of his imagination… is evil. At which point, I could ask him how an atheist explains the existence of evil, but I have an idea how he might answer… with pure emotion rather than logic.

I should finish the point. Listen to what Christopher said to Peter and his audience during the Hitchens vs. Hitchens debate (below), “I will not have my beliefs trivialized!” Well, I couldn’t have said it better. Christopher’s atheistic claims are a set of personal beliefs. But a statement is not true simply because Christopher Hitchens believes it is true, nor I, nor any other human being. It must be supported with evidence, and it must come from someone greater than us all, as we are much too pitiful in every way to have that kind of arrogance and to take on that kind of task. There should be simply an agreement between atheists and religious folks that we are all searching for where we came from and where we are going and what will happen to us when we die. I’m not sure why it has to be a fight. Christopher Hitchens might not realize that he is fighting himself. We are more the same than different. Our beliefs vary, but we all have way too much in common to be fighting such a vain battle against one another, regardless of the fact that the battle he is fighting is not done with physical weapons, but with thoughts that have the potential to repair, cripple, or kill the soul for life. In my opinion, that is why the Bible puts a higher standard of accountability on teachers. Each of us is a teacher to some degree, whether by word, action, or both. And Christopher is a teacher too, especially since he debates with a purpose and with passion using words and ideas. I exaggerate not… Christopher’s disciples are following his example. I’ve seen what it creates. All I can say for now is that I have never seen a generation of college students as stupid, narcissistic, and hostile, with a few exceptions of course, as it is presently. I believe it has a lot to do with the attitude that is being promoted by people like Christopher: the dismissal of God and those of us who are mindful of God.

In the first interview below, brother Peter Hitchens talks about his return to Christianity, his relationship with his brother, and his occupation as a journalist. The HItchens brothers sound and look similar, but their messages are quite different. While vile, cynical, angry, arrogant, offensive, defensive, and intentionally insulting comments to religious folks continually pour from Christopher’s mouth during his debates, Peter’s words are not vile at all. There is a caring tone and an alarm that he is sounding. He is truly concerned about his brother.

Well, you decide. Let’s meet Peter…

Miriam Cummings is a writer of the weekly journal Good Samaritan. Before becoming a full-time journalist, she also worked as an editor.

History Christopher Hitchens / Hitchens Brothers / Peter Hitchens /

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