Friday, September 3, 2010

William Cavanaugh on Hitchens

Whew, what a devastating critique of Christopher Hitchens this is. In politics, this kind of writing would be called a 'gotcha'. Cavanaugh (St. Thomas Univ., Minneapolis) takes apart Hitchens' argument that religion is inherently violent- in an Australian Broadcasting essay. Completely demolishes the argument that is.

Totalitarianism aims at human perfection, which is essentially a religious impulse, according to Hitchens. Religion poisons everything because everything poisonous gets identified as religion.
At the same time, everything good ends up on the other side of the religious/secular divide. Hitchens says of Martin Luther King Jr., "In no real as opposed to nominal sense, then, was he a Christian." Hitchens bases this remarkable conclusion on the fact that King was nonviolent, and the Bible preaches violence from cover to cover.
What is not violent cannot possibly be religious, because religion is defined as violent. So Stalin is religious but Martin Luther King is not.

HT: faith and theology

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