Today is “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day,” but Christopher Hitchens himself “shall not be participating,” he tells the AP. The well-known atheist, diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June, has already eschewed the idea of a deathbed conversion, but the prayer idea went viral anyway. “I say it's fine by me, I think of it as a nice gesture,” Hitchens says. “And it may well make them feel better, which is a good thing in itself,” even though it doesn’t make him feel better.
To those praying for him to go to hell, he says, “To hell with you.” To those praying for a last-minute conversion: “Thanks but no thanks.” But those simply praying for his healing are okay in Hitchens’ book, just like the “nonbelievers” who have sent him a “very large number of very kind, thoughtful letters … asking me to know that they are on my side,” he says. “That cheers me up, yes.” For Hitchens' own account of his entry into the world of the sick, click here.