I try to pay a little less attention to politics and the news over the holidays—I mean, I didn't even know Kim-Jong was Il. But I couldn't help noticing this piece over at Salon via the RealClearPolitics religion page. It's by a Salon staffer named Mary Elizabeth Williams and while it's silly, it's silly in kind of a fascinating way.
After Christopher Hitchens died, I noticed with satisfaction that none of the religious writers I read said anything obnoxious about him, like "Now he must face the judgement of the unbeliever!" or "What a tragedy Hitchens wasn't saved!" No, instead, again and again, I saw religious people, moved by the death of this courageous and talented atheist, offering up the hope that Hitchens was taking a good-natured ribbing in heaven for his misguided stance on earth. This struck me as an expression of Christian love, as much as to say, "Hitchens may not have believed in God, but we have faith God believed in Hitchens and will welcome him home."
And yet in this article, Miss Williams quotes some of these good wishes and finds in them something sinister and ignorant:
Within hours of the news of Hitchens’s passing at the age of 62, the Internet was hotter than an inner circle of hell with the God squad thundering its own version of vindication. Along with plenty of hope that he “made his peace with God,” there was blowhard-for-Jesus Rick Warren tweeting that “My friend Christopher Hitchens has died. I loved & prayed for him constantly & grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now,” while creepy creationist Ray Comfort declared that the now dead “Christopher Hitchens is no longer an atheist.” LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer, meanwhile, blogged that “When Christopher Hitchens died, he entered into eternity as every man does: as a beggar at the gates of the kingdom,” and Southern Baptist Seminary president Albert Mohler tweeted that “The death tonight of Christopher Hitchens is an excruciating reminder of the consequences of unbelief. We can only pray others will believe.” I’m not a brilliant debater like Hitchens, but let me field this one. Death is not a consequence of disbelief. It’s a consequence of living, you moron.
Now, with the possible exception of that last comment from the Southern Baptist—which is sort of vaguely phrased so that I'm not really sure what consequences he's referring to—I don't read any condemnation here at all, just believers reacting with charitable affection to the loss of an unbelieving friend.
Miss Williams' piece strikes me as one more example of a hate-speech spewing leftist hearing hate speech on the right where there is none. Why do they do that? Maybe because they feel bad about themselves. Fortunately, God can help with that. Oh, wait...