I was actually surprised to hear writer Christopher Hitchens' attitude toward Reverend Jerry Falwell's death, given the good sense this liberal has exhibited on the war issue.
As a war supporter, I have been heartened by Hitchens' fervent and eloquent support for the Iraq war. I didn't quite understand how his war support could be reconciled with his liberalism considering liberals' near-uniform opposition to the war, but I was nonetheless grateful for it.
Naively, I even speculated that Hitchens was on the verge of an ideological conversion. But after watching him on "Hannity and Colmes" about the departed Falwell, I realized his anti-Christian and anti-theistic worldview is, for now at least, an insuperable barrier to any ideological transformation.
Indeed, I now surmise that his very support for the war is rooted in his contempt for Muslim extremism, which he appears to conflate with orthodoxy of all other religions. I don't know whether Hitchens considers strong evangelical Christians, like Falwell, to be as evil as jihadists, but he made clear he has abundant contempt for them.
Some might object that Hitchens' contempt is particularly reserved for Falwell or, at most, a small group of "extremist," vocal Christian conservatives. To be sure, Hitchens made disparaging references to Falwell personally, calling him "a vulgar fraud and crook," by which Hitchens, in fairness, did not mean to indict Christians generally. But many of his other references were broadsides directed at garden-variety Christians.
Hitchens said, "Jerry Falwell made a career out of sponsoring dislike and superstition, said that people he didn't like were going to hell, said the United States deserved to be attacked by Islamic fascists, said that he believed that people would be raptured into heaven, leaving all the rest of us to wallow behind."
Leaving aside Falwell's regrettable comment about 9/11, for which he repeatedly apologized, one wonders what beliefs Hitchens is referring to as superstition. Given the subject of his recently released book, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," I think it's fair to infer he is talking about Falwell's belief in Christian doctrine, not just Falwell's occasional objectionable outburst.
Obviously, those who believe in the rapture are despicable in Hitchens' view, and, though this may stun some of you, that includes many people. Even more believe in heaven and hell -- an overwhelming majority, excepting those who subscribe to "universal salvation."
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