Friday, May 06, 2005


I suppose many people will be replying to the Hitchens diatribe about Christian conservatives in the WSJ. But since Hitchens ventures into both history and New Testament exegesis -- topics that I presume to think I know a bit about -- I am inclined to make a few observations.

His NT quotation is one of the allegedly "Leftist" quotations from Jesus and I have already dealt with them on my Scripture Blog -- see here and here. Briefly though, what Hitchens and the Left get wrong is mistaking Jesus's spiritual guidance for guidance about how to run this world -- an elementary mistake. Jesus was interested in the next world, not this one. As he said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

The rest of what Hitchens says is also just standard Leftist stuff so its only real novelty is its appearance in the WSJ. His argument simply is that the religious Right is tyrannical and that secularism is needed to avoid tyranny. That is absolute rubbish. For centuries -- including the early 20th century -- Britain was both an almost universally Christian country and also a great beacon of individual liberty and tolerance. Britons in fact had more rights 100 years ago than they do now -- the right to own a firearm for personal protection, for instance. There were of course some restrictions flowing from Britain's Christian assumptions at that time -- such as Jews being barred from Parliament -- but so tyrannous were those restrictions that Britain's Conservatives at that time actually made a Jew (Disraeli) their Prime Minister! He had to profess Anglicanism to observe proper form but he at no time made any secret of his Jewishness and in fact flaunted it repeatedly and floridly! Those nasty old intolerant Christians! The secularist Hitler sent millions of Jews to the gas ovens. The nasty intolerant Christian Conservatives made a Jew their Prime Minister! Which would you prefer if you were a Jew?

And the U.S.A. too has always been a great beacon of liberty and tolerance by world standards and it too was created by men who overwhelmingly were devout Christians. Like the Leftist he once was, Hitchens doesn't let the facts get in the way of a simplistic theory. And is the theory simplistic! In accord with Leftist custom, Hitchens equates Christian fundamentalists with Muslim fundamentalists -- quite ignoring what the two groups are being fundamentalist about. I suppose that to Hitchens Satanic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalist would be the same too. Christian fundamentalists want to bar homosexuals from marrying. Muslim fundamentalists want to stone homosexuals to death. No difference, Mr Hitchens?

Christians have certainly not always in their history been perfectly tolerant but the God of Love they follow has certainly made them more tolerant than any other major group in the Western world that I can think of. I certainly prefer their record to the record of atheistic Communism.

(A shorter version of this post appeared on Blogger News yesterday)


I have just posted on my Scripture Blog an excellent Catholic commentary on the scripture that Hitchens quotes.



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