Praying For Atheists


I think Andrew got it right when he defended Pastor Tom Brock. As a Christian, Tom is not a hypocrite simply because he disagrees with our lifestyle yet struggles with occasional same-sex incidents. Is not our faith something sacred and sincere? I agree with Andrew that to breach the privacy of a 12-step group like Courage is unconscionable.
Since it would make him snort in disgust to think of pointless nobodies like me making an effort to do so, I just may.
Eh. I'm sorry, but Christopher Hitchens is obnoxiously vitriolic and has, of late, set a bad example of atheists in the media. I'm not going to wish death on the man, but I'm not that concerned about his well-being, either.
Praying for an atheist, or anyone really, is stupid, but not rude. Telling an atheist that you are praying for them is just being an asshole.

Andrew Sullivan is being an asshole. But then Hitchens is an asshole too, so maybe this is what asshole friends do to each other.
Praying is a way for people to sooth their own soothe conssciences by thinking they're actually helping in some way when they're doing nothing of the sort. If people want to help or at least try and make Hitchens feel better they should actually take some sort of real action in the real world and email him words of support.
The news has got me drinking, sorry.
joking about sensitive issues can be misinterpreted... and you can't always tell if they are rude or funny. that said, "you're in my thoughts" is basically the equivalent to "you're in my prayers" -- unless thoughts have some spectacular atheistic power i am as of yet unaware of. saying your in my prayers to be a jerk, however, would not be the same thing. once again, you can't always tell which way it was meant if you are not one of the involved parties.

Amen, ma brothuh! Fuck 'im.
From the linked blog: "Ask a Christian how they’d feel if someone came up to them and said they would pray to Satan to take their soul for safekeeping."
That's really all you need to understand. The fact that someone says something meaningless (to you) while meaning well (to them) is just stupid.

It's bad for your health to have people praying for you, but only if they announce it:

"And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested."…
Hitchens, the war supporting arrogant limey bastard they bring on when ever they can't find richard dawkins?

Yeah, I'll keep him in my thoughts, long enough so he can get better so i don't have to feel guilty about punching him in the face.
If Sullivan is a Christian, there is nothing out of order about this.

Prayers of well-wishing and supplication are part of the Christian religion and have been since its founding.
Keep your prayers to yourself. I agree, it's obnoxious. I hate it as much as someone wishing me a merry christmas. Happy holiday is o.k. I'll keep you in my thoughts is o.k. Keep your religion to yourself.
gosh vince let's hope for your sake they never outlaw obnoxious
@14 I think December 25 should be Evolution Day! Then I could go around saying Happy Evolution Day! and be REALLY obnoxious!
I will accept your prayers...

But you will blow me first.
Not sure why I should have to keep Hitchens in my thoughts. Don't know him, don't particularly like him.
Frankly, I don't really give a shit if either one of them lives or dies.
Hitch is a bombastic ass far too much in love with the sound of his own voice. However he's also a terrifically intelligent man with an astounding amount of knowledge about the world. If as atheists we had legions of world-renouned intellectuals dedicated to furthering the cause of rationalism I would agree that he should be discarded (in the decidedly NOT-dying-of-cancer sense) in favor of others, but there isn't and on balance I think we would be worse off without him.

Hitch's lifestyle of constant smoking and drinking has caught up with him at last. I wish him well and hope he can recover. Knowing him, he'll probably just humiliate the cancer cells with snide remarks until they wither and die.
You know, I'm a card-carrying atheist, and the few times I've been in shit that's been out of my control (most recently, a high-risk pregnancy and no health insurance), I was touched when my best friend told me she was praying daily for me and the baby. She's a Catholic, and to her that was the biggest gesture of solidarity she could make. I didn't think it'd make a lick of difference, but I could understand the gesture was deeply meaningful to her, so what was the harm? I was honored she'd do that.

Likewise, now that she's dealing with the death of her grandmother, all I can do is tell her she's "in my thoughts." She knows that's the most meaningful gesture I can make, and accepts it with grace and aplomb.
@20 -- Good for you all round.
@9, your analogy only makes sense if you DO believe in God, but believe him to be your enemy. Only an idiot could get upset about a Christian praying for them. The proselytizing attitude here is coming from the atheists, not the Christians. Only someone who was literally unaware that Christianity exists could be upset. If you don't believe, it doesn't affect you. Right?
Dan, I heard your speech in This American Life a few months ago, as I was just first getting into the program. I thought it was very touching, and very moving and gave me a new perspective on religion and religious people.
@19, funny.

Hitchens is a brilliant man. The people who think he just likes to hear himself talk probably can't understand him. Watching him dismantle Mos Def on Real Time last year was painfully awesome.
The kindhearted praying-for-the-atheist in the sense @20 describes it isn't so bad, it's the dickish, passive-agressive "Let's pray for Mr. Hitchens that God will use this providence to bring to his mind the many, many times he has heard the truth." (apparently said by Dr. James White, who was to debate Hitchens) that I can't stand.

Although that is often how the more benign offers of prayer read to me as well, but maybe it's one of my residual hangups as an atheist raised uber-catholic.
@24, I've watched him a lot over the years, and despite agreeing with him far more than I disagree, especially on matters of religion, he really grates on my nerves sometimes. Did you see the Four Horsemen? He was constantly interrupting and trying to dominate all conversation from the likes of Dennett, Dawkins and Harris, whose words are worth listening to as well.

For my money the absolute greatest Pwnage in which Hitch has ever been involved was when he tag-teamed with Stephen Fry to mercilessly crush John Onaiyekan (who I felt sorry for) and Ann Widdecomb (who I did not feel sorry for) in the Intelligence Squared debate (The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world) . YouTube it if you haven't had a chance.
Dan, that was lovely. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman.

*sniffle* I gotta go call my mom now.
@ 20 - Couldn't have said it better myself. It's not proselytizing, it's an expression of affection. Seriously.

"May the God he believes poisons everything be with him" sounds kind of obnoxious...until you read the whole post. Out of context, it sounds like an I-told-you-so; in the context of the post, though, sounds to me like Sullivan was being a bit tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing. Must as Hitchens was being more than a little tongue-in-cheek about his diagnosis.
When I was an 18 year-old university student (in New Zealand), I was stalked by an evangelical christain group who had come over from the US to preach the word. Whenever I sat down on a bench in the quad to eat my lunch, I'd suddenly see a shoadow fall across my book, look up, and find myself hedged in by two or three believers. If I walked down a corridor without my friends, I'd hear "Hi Ann, we're praying for yoooooou" in a hiss, turn around, and there would either be no one there, or a phalanx of tall male believers with shiny white teeth. It went on for months, to the point where I would only walk around campus with an escort of my tallest and scariest-looking goth-punk friends.

These days, hearing somebody tell me that they are praying for me just invokes terror, and takes me back 10 years to the feeling that I was being watched and followed everywhere, by people who said they meant me well, but made me feel under a constant threat. So I will politely ask people not to tell me if they decide to pray for me, because it just brings up too many bad memories.
I don't understand why people who truly want to pray for someone have to make a huge public fuss about it. Shouldn't it be more of a private thing that they just do if they're concerned about the person?

But no, they have to make grand announcements to the person involved, or to the world, that they're praying for the person, like they need credit and recognition for doing it. Annoying.
@25 - The great Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, actually addressed this sort of behavior in "The Screwtape Letters," wherein one devil was advising another to always make sure the "patient" (victim) was more interested in praying for the state of his mother's soul instead of the state of her rheumatism. This was taught among demons to be an excellent way of nurturing spiritual pride and animosity between people.
@20 This is the most thoughtful answer, I am like you friend and i usually do not advertise "loudly " you are in my prayers( except to very close persons and irrespective of their religious inclination). I always believe in discretion in these cases.
I'm late to the party, having been off in the wilds of Alaska. Poor Mr. Hitchens, indeed, my thoughts are with him.