July 14th, 2010
09:39 AM ET

Atheists reject prayers for Hitchens, believers doubt he's a child of God

Christopher Hitchens (right) with author Mark Danner in 2004.

Hordes of atheists are commenting on yesterday's post from a Catholic priest who says Christians should pray for the cancer-stricken Christopher Hitchens, even if he is an enemy of religion. Far from being touched by the priest's gesture, the atheists are mostly offended:

As an atheist, I find it objectionable that anyone should feel the right to pray for me because I don't believe as they do. That's as bad as that idiot church who thinks its a good idea to baptize dead Jews or protest at military funerals. It's the worst kind of pandering.

Here's another:

There have been multiple scientific studies that show that prayer does not have any impact on whether someone is cured of a serious illness. It's time Christians just stopped worrying about people that don't believe in their sky god. Atheists don't care if you pray for them, your god does not exist.

A fair number of believers, meanwhile, challenge the author - a priest and a seminary professor - on his description of Hitchens as a "child of God":

Rev. Barron's main point is right on target. As Christians, we should, indeed, pray for and love those who oppose, ridicule and even persecute us. However, Rev. Barron states and uses as his basis for praying for Mr. Hitchens that Hitchens is "a child of God." For a reverend, a ministry founder, a host of a religious program and a religion professor, I am astounded at Rev. Barron's ignorance of the Bible. According to the Bible, as an atheist, Mr. Hitchens is NOT a "child of God." That description is reserved for only those who receive and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).

Any atheists out there who appreciate prayers for Hitchens' health? Any believers who think he's a child of God?

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Catholic Church • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (347 Responses)
  1. ramelia

    I think it's hilarious to the 9th degree that any atheist would have issue with a Christian praying for them lol. If you don't believe it's doing anything good or bad then why get up in arms??? It makes no absolutely no sense. And for people claiming to be the poster children for rationality and reason, I think that turns out to be somewhat of a contradiction don't you? BBWWWWWWWWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    April 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  2. tsactuo

    I don't understand why fellow atheists give a right damn one way or another whether or not Christians (or anyone else of any religion) prays for Hitchens (or anyone else) or not. If you truly don't believe that it means anything, then what's the problem? It's not as if anyone has to ask permission from anyone else to pray for them anyway. Besides, Hitch doesn't mind. Why should anyone else?

    August 28, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  3. SkullVodka

    I know that christians mean well when they pray, but I think some do it for selfish reasons, to make themselves feel better, even though they are accomplishing absolutely nothing. It's their way of trying to help, even though it helps nothing. 2 hands engaged in labor will accomplish more than a million hands clasped in prayer.

    August 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  4. Dave

    "God" is a virus and rational thought is the cure. I guess a lot of people here haven't been vaccinated!

    August 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  5. Dave

    Why would a non-believer appreciate something that they did not believe in? Would you appreciate it it Mormons baptized you by proxy? Would you appreciate it if Islamic clerics sacrificed goats in your honor, in remembrance of Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at God's command? Doing something for another, when you specifically do not believe what you believe, is self-righteous, deluded, and extremely objectionable. Keep your prayers and your silly superstitious beliefs to yourself, and keep your nose out of other people's business.

    August 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  6. Starr

    Like a computer disk, DNA has no intelligence. The complex, purposeful codes of this “master program” could only have originated outside itself. In the case of a computer program, the original codes were put there by an intelligent being, a programmer. Likewise, for DNA, it seems clear that intelligence must have come first, before the existence of DNA. Statistically, the odds are enormously in favor of that theory. DNA bears the marks of intelligent manufacture.
    "So if you can't see something, you don't believe it exists? Have you ever seen your brain? We believe in many things that we can't see. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you seen history? We see the effects of the wind, but the wind is invisible. We have records of history, but it is by 'faith' we believe that certain historical events happened. Television waves are invisible, but an antenna and a receiver can detect their presence. Do you know that you have a receiver?

    August 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  7. Pat

    There. Is. No. God.


    August 10, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  8. Nathan Clark

    “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” Matthew 5:44

    "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

    These two pieces of scripture tell us what to do. Jesus led by example. He said "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34. We as Chrstians need to pray most for those that do us wrong. Athiests, I know you don't believe like we do, that's your right, God gave everyone on this earth free will. We choose to believe what we believe. But we are told by our texts to pray for you, for everyone, period. Please respect out beliefs. And fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, for His sake, respect people that do not believe in Christ. Christ dined with tax collectors, prostitutes, theives, and non-believers. Blessings to believers and non-believers alike

    July 27, 2010 at 2:10 am |
    • Sonya

      The truth spoken in love. Thumbs up : )

      August 6, 2010 at 3:02 am |
    • Dave

      I call B.S. Praying for us non-believers is a self-righteous act on your part. Keep your prayers between you and your magic sky wizard.

      August 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  9. Kenneth grubbs

    Scott .... Any chance you can actually pinpoint what went so wrong that it drives you to need magic to answer your questions?

    July 23, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
  10. Kenneth grubbs

    To the final question in the post asking if there are any atheists out there who appreciate the prayers for Christopher Hitchens ... As an atheist, I can at least offer my own personal appreciation in the same sense that I would appreciate the courtesy that motivates one to allow me to go before them in grocery store line ... Kind intent certainly has value. It is of course hysterically absurd to believe there is any actual pathology that's going to accomplish anything, (except perhaps that lovely self-righteous hoot the one who's praying may feel ...... yummy inside). Were someone to dance counter-clockwise around a hardcover copy of god is Not Great three times whilst humming sacred wellness hymns because they truly believed it would help Christopher ... yes of course I would have appreciation for it .... It would remain the height of foolishness; but genuinely appreciated.

    July 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.