1. Oh, fishy, fishy, fishy, fish! says

    That was great. It would be nice to see the whole interview. Maybe it’ll get posted in some torrent site.

  2. Oh, fishy, fishy, fishy, fish! says

    That was great. It would be nice to see the whole interview. Maybe it’ll get posted in some torrent site.

  3. says

    I liked how Hitchens managed to tie in some of the living hucksters who tread in Falwell’s footsteps.

    I’m also somewhat amazed he was allowed to speak at such length. Isn’t it the usual procedure for intelligent speakers to be immediately cut off? I know it’s the wrong network, but I kept waiting for Bill O’Reilly to come flying in from off-screen and do some sort of body slam on Hitchens while screaming “SHUTUP!”

  4. Raindog says

    That’s what I’m talkin about! I am so pleased to see people like Hitchens and Dawkins getting a chance to say these things on American television. I don’t think he would have been invited on TV a year or two ago to go on an anti-religion tirade. The pendulum is swinging in this country.


  5. says

    I will endeavor to refrain from double-posting.

    I kept waiting for some atheist cheerleaders to pop in and shout “Gimme an ‘H’ Gimme an ‘I’ gimme a ‘T’ gimme a ‘C’ gimme an ‘H!’ What’s it spell? HITCH!”

    It was a great daydream for me, anyway. This was a great leap forward for American Talking Head Interviews. He said what he meant and he meant what he said and he didn’t allow Cooper to interrupt him until he had completely made his point.

    I am nearly finished with God is Not Great and my preliminary review can be summed up in one word: “Devastating.” Richard Dawkins has been relatively gentle in comparison. This interview is completely consistent with the book, as he repeatedly makes the point that Falwell was guilty of pious charlatanry.

    (Closed-circuit to scienceblog admins: I got a “submission failed” message for name and e-mail address even though I had carefully entered both. I refreshed the page and verified that the post had indeed failed before pasting the text here and starting fresh. Perhaps more repair would be in order, hmmm?)

  6. Francesco says

    Wow, that was almost moving, for Juno’s sake!! I think it needs to be set to music or something.

  7. Peter says

    “[woke up every morning] pinching his chubby little flanks” – I love it :*)

  8. Jeebus says

    He was way better here than on The Daily Show, simply because it appears he had sobered up a bit for this one. That being said, he did a wonderful job laying out the pathetic “morality” of the religious right.

  9. Jameson says

    He wasn’t allowed to speak at such great length. Hitchens talked over Cooper’s numerous attempts to cut him short. It’s a conscious effort not to have your thoughts derailed when someone tries to interject mid-sentence. Maybe the accent helps as well.

  10. Ric says

    All I have to say is it’s a good thing for Falwell that there’s no hell.

  11. Bruce says

    Just finished Dawkin’s book and wasn’t going to buy Hitchens’, thinking it would more or less be a rehash. I watched the vid, and, while I can’t buy Hitchens a drink, I will buy his book.

  12. CalGeorge says

    Yes, how dare he!

    His book is fantastic. He is not adjectivally challenged.

    He takes on the lunatics with great gusto and wit.

  13. Chuck says

    Hitchens’ perspective is valuable because it is the point of view on a non-scientist. He attacks religion not from the standpoint of the sciences, but from the humanities – and Hitchens is an eminent literary scholar. He adds a wonderful, Dr. Johnson-esque wit to his atheist tract. He brings atheism down from the heavens, and into the city.

  14. Tulse says

    While watching Hitch in high dudgeon is always entertaining, I do take issue with one claim he made, which is that Falwell and his ilk are hucksters who don’t believe what they are selling. I think there is a strong desire to think that fundamentalist leaders are hypocrites, as that makes them somehow more evil and easy to dismiss. While it may be true that some of these folks are in it for the money and power, I think that many of them are genuine — and that is all the more scary. Someone who acts out of pure self-interest is at least, in some sense, rational, and potentially can be reasoned with. Someone who acts purely out of religious fervor is far more dangerous in my view, because they are beyond reason. I’ll take a selfish hypocrite over a true ideologue any day.

  15. Caledonian says

    There’s no reason they can’t believe everything they preach AND be hypocrites as well.

  16. says

    I suspect that CNN wouldn’t have aired this interview even 2 years ago. I expected a repeat of the gushing that occurred after Reagan died, but it seems that many news outlets are writing uncomplementary obits for Falwell.

    Why now?

  17. Zbu says

    WOW. This just rocked. I think this was better than his bit on the Penn and Teller show when he took down Mother Theresa. I just loved how he was so elequent when he took down that idiot Falwell and was somewhat shocked when Cooper wasn’t going to cut him off, and then went hogwild. Beautifully done.

  18. says

    I think the most important thing that Hitchens did is that he refused to even give Falwell credit for sincerity. I am tired of seeing frauds like Falwell given “the benefit of the doubt” when they appear on TV and demonize gays, liberals, feminists, and other decent people, all under the cloak of religion. The only way to get rid of the fraudulent Christianist movement is to openly call them frauds. Sitting back and validating this hateful movement by stamping it with the legitimacy of “traditional religion” is a big mistake.

    Kudos to Hitchens, whom I hardly ever agree with.

  19. Kseniya says

    Caledonian: Right! What is more human than the dissonance between belief and behavior? There’s be no sin or guilt without it.

  20. says

    Tulse– While it may be true that some of these folks are in it for the money and power, I think that many of them are genuine

    *shakes head* No. Meet one of these guys in real life. Meet a real, professional Creationist in real life. A couple of years ago I would have agreed with you, but now? No. They know exactly what theyre doing. They repeat things theyve been corrected on, they repeat lines that bring in the cash, they know what theyre doing.

    I havent been a fan of Hitchens in the past, much. I dont know why, exactly, just put off by him a bit– but that was fantastic. Unbelievable, really, that Cooper let him speak without interrupting. Bravo to Cooper for that, too!

  21. Tulse says

    I understand the temptation to think of these people as frauds and con men, but I think that’s just too easy and comforting. At the very least, they have a huge appeal to people who are genuine in their beliefs. Dismissing the leaders as con artists doesn’t address the real problem, which is that they have an audience that eats this stuff up.

  22. CalGeorge says

    The fifth viewing is as good as the first!

    Off to work with a spring in my step!

  23. NickM says

    That was really good – but let’s keep the messenger and the message separate. The message was great. The messenger is one of the biggest proponents of the disastrous Iraq War and a big Bush booster. Hitchens has his own idiotic faith in things unseen – like in Bush’s competence, leadership and wisdom.

  24. shyster says

    I found an interesting quote from a very interesting source that all fundies should heed:
    “The struggle…to avoid identifying Jesus’ Kingdom with any political structure is one that has to be fought century after century. For the fusion of faith and political power always comes at a price: faith becomes the servant of power and must bend to its criteria.” Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI

  25. Gray Lensman says

    Another fine takedown of the Rev is chapter 6 of S.T. Joshi’s book “God’s Defenders”, published in 2003 by Prometheus Books. The subject is Falwell’s fundamentalist views as espoused in his book “Listen, America!”.

    There are other equally deserving victims here, including T.S. Eliot, William F. Buckley, C.S. Lewis and William James.

  26. Kseniya says

    For the fusion of faith and political power always comes at a price: faith becomes the servant of power and must bend to its criteria

    Or even worse: Power becomes the servant of faith. Isn’t that what’s happening here, as political agendas become increasingly faith-based?

  27. El Cid says

    Is Hitchens aware that his post-9/11 media exposure, granted to him in support of attacking Iraq, might be revoked if he starts attacking the religious nut right which forms such a crucial base of the Republican party?

    Surely he doesn’t think he was asked on these shows simply due to his brilliance and knack for meeting significant people in exotic locales prompting recollections of late 19th and early 20th century literature?

  28. efp says

    I’m with Tulse above… I’m rather sure Falwell and his ilk do believe what they say. They are megalomaniacs who believe they are the mouthpieces of God. They are incapable of perceiving hypocrisy, since their tiny little minds will confabulate their contradictions into the will of God. While I’m sure they do consciously manipulate, for them, the ends justify any means. That level of duplicity is only possible when driven by a fanatical purpose, and serious mental illness.

  29. umilik says

    Any day when one of these snake charmers disappears into nothingness is a good day in my book.
    And Hitchens was spot-on.

  30. Chris Bell says

    As someone else said on another thread, man that white suit must be getting smelly.

  31. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    HItch is generally a colossal wanker… but he’s not always wrong.

    At least he’s right when it comes to religion.

  32. ivodo says

    I’m NOT with Tulse above… They no more have “tiny little minds” than any con man believes his own con. Why do all the Elmer Gantrys start their hustle with “do you believe”? They need to know whether you know, that they know, that you know, that they do NOT know. Hyrocrites in a daisy chain of wolf-pack cynicism, all strolling boldly hand-in-hand through the fair. These ravenous wolves watch, wait and believe nothing but that they want another meal.

  33. Carlie says

    I’ll chime in on the side of they really, truly believe it. Sure, I think there are con men out there, but for the most part, I believe that they do believe in what they say. They’re too consistent to believe otherwise – if they were charlatans, they’d change their stripes with whatever got them the most exposure/attention/money. I know it seems too impossible to believe that people honestly buy this stuff, but they do. I think the major possible difference in leaders like this isn’t whether they believe it or not, but only whether they are obeying their idea of god out of love and devotion or out of fear.

  34. Mark says

    It’s wonderful that Hitchens believes the same things we do, but he’s still a pompous ass that I go out of my way to avoid.

  35. NickM says

    Falwell must have been at least somewhat on to his own con. As digby wrote about yesterday, Falwell in the 1990’s produced a video about Clinton in which Falwell personally suborned a person to pose as an anonymous “investigative reporter” who was “afraid” that the Clintons were trying to kill him, although the person was not a reporter, not afraid of Clinton, etc. It was out-and-out false witness, as was the whole video, and although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Falwell wasn’t well-read in the parts of the Bible he didn’t like, he certainly knew the Ten Commandments.

  36. says

    A good con is when you pull something off, and then get to go do your own thing later. A bad con is when you can’t miss a single Sunday of church for life, in fear that you’ll be outed. Freaks like Falwell legitimately believe this stuff, and in the rare cases that they don’t, they’re generally forced to live a life filled with this crap anyway, which makes the difference moot.

  37. Pi Guy says

    “…I think that many of them are genuine…”

    IMO, all believers – at the very least, all those raised and educated in 21st Century socieites – know that, deep down inside, that they’re doing some serious kabuki dancing in order to continue to really believe. I think that they tell themselves that they believe Jesus is god (Allah is great, insert fave deity here) in much the same way that a drug addict tells themselves that the only reason that they’re coping is because their drug-of-choice.

    In Hollywood, it’s known as the Suspension of Disbelief.

  38. says

    The ‘do they or don’t they believe their own BS’ thing has been one of my pet subjects for years.

    My current thinking on it may be summed up as:

    A) Ultimately, no, they don’t… insofar as the ‘beliefs’ they and religious believers of all stripes claim to have in their religions do appear for a number of reasons to be qualitatively different from the beliefs they themselves hold about other more concrete things. Among evidence for this, some of it may be found in apologetics and the bizarre round-in-circles quality you find in discussions that begin to touch in any way on why, exactly, they claim to believe what they do; you tend not to notice this sort of thing when you ask them questions on beliefs outside these areas.

    B) An excellent model for understanding this psychology is probably that of the high-pressure salesman who must repeat his own spiel regularly to sell his product, and who must learn to emphasize to himself and to others its claimed advantages while ignoring contrary evidence that might sap his own enthusiasm (and thus endanger his livelihood).

    C) While the social structure and social conventions that allow them to continue in such fraud are extremely long-established, I’m not even sure they’re that big part of the equation. The folk encouraging investment in the dot com bubble frequently got burned in it themselves; you don’t need long-term social conventions to fool yourself very, very thoroughly indeed… Just a few people moving in the same direction as yourself, and a strong enough need to believe your own claims.

    D) Compartmentalization and nice, ad hoc explanations that attempt to reconcile the contradictions between their fantasies and their reality are probably a big part of it. Benny Hinn stays at luxury hotels, rakes in the cash, tells people he’s healing them, and his services have evolved remarkably consistent methods to make sure no-one with an organic, external ailment he can’t be seen to ‘heal’ ever makes it to the stage. Yet he can stare into the camera and say ‘I have never lied to you’. On a level, he probably believes that, even as the skeptical among us literally guffaw at his expression, sense his insincerity in every muscle in his face he does so. He probably tells himself: sure, my god exists and works through me, even if not a lot of people really get healed in a way their doctors recognize as useful, I give them hope, and I give so many people hope, surely that’s worth a few bucks in salary, right? All the stagecraft, that’s just to keep the show going, and what I do, it’s worth it, I’m sure.

    …and finally…

    E) Calling them frauds nonetheless is still entirely fair, whatever their actual internal cognitive state might be, insofar as selling lies is, after all, what they do. And most frauds are probably possessed of much the same mentality, anyway.

  39. socinius says

    Hitchen’s interview is an honest asessment and a great counterpoint to the following:

    It seems after death your history can easily be rewritten by exclusion of, shall we say, some less than flattering items.

    In truth, I cannot think of one positive thing to say of Jerry Falwell’s public life. It is seldom that someone seemingly lived such a hate filled and negative life. The article/letter referenced above is astonishing in what it leaves out:

    Falwell’s support for South Africa during apartheid
    Falwell’s attack on Desmond Tutu calling him a “phony”
    Falwell’s opposition to the civil rights movement of the 60s
    Falwell’s regressive stand on stem cell research, human rights (anti gay, anti feminist, and so on and so forth)
    Falwell’s highly quetionable business dealings in taking over PTL
    Falwell’s support of creationism/ID
    Falwell’s production and distribution of the thoroughly discredited “Clinton Chronicles” video
    Astonishing hypocrisy as he makes outlandish comments (cf. 9/11, desmond Tutu, stand on segregation, etc. etc.) and then backs off said comments over and over and over again.

    The list could go on and on, his remarks concerning 9/11 have already been covered.

    I don’t know, it is amazing to me that someone like Falwell could attract a moment’s notice, much less gain the influence and power to “advise” presidents, pontificate on television, and so forth.

  40. Dave C says

    As has been stated before, Atheism is NOT a church or belief. There are NO defining scriptures.
    An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in an all powerful supernatural agent. Apart from that they can be hawks/doves, gay/straight, rich/poor, arrogant/docile, any sex they are, any colour they are, any degree of wanker they appear to be with any hairstyle and whatever taste in fashion they care to have.
    It’s not a belief it’s a position nay person requiring evidence should accept as a default.
    So even if Hitchens wanted a war that really isn’t the point with this topic on which he is spot on.
    I love his directness and honesty on this matter which is one of many I care about and applaud him for forcing his points of view accross Cooper’s attempt to get him to admit that a poorly done “Summoner” had any publicly evident redeeming qualities at all.
    The guys running the world’s religions are mosquito-like scumbags who love living off of the suffering of humanity.

  41. Casey says

    Holy shit. I cannot believe that I saw that on mainstream, Prime-time American television. I kept expecting him to get censored, or the music to come on and cut to commercial break. I agreed with everything he said but I have been so trained to think that the things Hitchens was saying can’t be said on TV. Well-done, Mr Hitchens.

  42. Erik says

    Absolutely brilliant. We need to get Hitchens on more of these shows.. I think his brutal method is a good compliment to the usual bullying we always get from the religious side (see the CNN “debate” about atheism).

  43. June says

    I want to nominate the Rev. D. James Kennedy
    as another First Class Charlatan who knows he is a FCC.

  44. craig says

    As a joke some friends and I went to see Ernest Angely.
    No sincerity. NONE.
    100% con-artist. It was all about “taking the suckers for all they’ve got.”

  45. chuko says

    Now we just need some people without british accents saying this on television.

    But definitely a good showing by Hitchens.

  46. cm says

    For an hour’s worth of interview in which Hitchens is allowed copious minutes-at-a-time blocks of talking, and an eviscerating rebuttal to a pastor claiming that God healed his child of cancer, listen to this interview with Hitchens last week on On Point, a great discussion radio show out of Boston.

    The above mentioned moment between the pastor and Hitchens begins at 23:02, but the whole hour is impressive.

  47. Hank Fox says

    Incredible! And on mainstream, primetime TV — Wow!

    I notice several people seem to think it important whether or not Falwell “sincerely” believed in the Bible. That’s a complete side issue, isn’t it?

    Jim Jones (Kool-Aid in Guyana), David Koresh (Branch Davidians in Waco), Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate), and in a different way Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, and even L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith …

    Does it really matter how much or what they “believed”? In light of what they actually DID, I don’t think it does, any more than the motive or beliefs of a murderer matter to the family of the dead person. What’s important is what Falwell DID.

    In my view, if he truly believed in what he was doing, so much the worse for the rest of us that such insanity can exist and prosper among us.

    Even by the twisted standards of the godly, Falwell was not a nice man.

    He was a hate merchant who took sanctimonious joy in dividing people against each other, a smiling, smug, Christian Ebenezer Scrooge who never got his life-changing epiphany, and who goes to his grave fat and rich on other people’s pain.

    The only joy in any examination of Falwell’s life is that some people are actually willing to say what a toad he really was, and the message is credible enough that other people – even the media – are listening.

  48. Steve LaBonne says

    I’m glad to hear Hitch, at long last, reserve at least a small potshot for our most dangerous religous fanatic, the Commander Guy. But because of his pigheaded stupidity on Iraq he still has a long way to go in that department, and I’m afraid that considerably reduces my interest in listening to him, entertaining though he can be.

  49. says

    Looking over the NY Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list, I see that The God Delusion is still hanging on at #17, and Hirsi Ali’s Infidel is one notch behind.

    Damn. I need to write a book.

  50. Steven Sullivan says

    Man. I’m so used to thinking of Hitch as a colossal wanker that it’s hard to get behind the idea of him as a man worth having on your side.

    It annoys that so many on the left have bought into this ‘Hitchens as drunken wanker’ meme. While drinking just as hard, Hitchens was a hero of the secular left for a decade or two until he turned on Clinton (who, it must be recalled, always had his liberal detractors), and then came out in support of the Iraq war. Yet if you’d actually been reading him before and after, it was clear that his stances arise from moral outrage and in the case of the ‘war against terror’, a deep loathing of religion’s intrusion into politics. His ‘support’ for Bush, which made him an instant pariah among the more reflexive leftists, has always been tepid at best — in this interview it’s clear that he considers Bush an accomplice in spreading religious demagoguery of the Christian variety, even if Bush is a useful idiot in the fight against the Islamic variety.

  51. Arnosium Upinarum says

    Liars frequently come to believe their own lies, ‘sincerely’. People often come to believe their infantile fantasies, ‘sincerely’. Its less a matter of hypocrysy or consciously fraudulent behavior than it is an example of uncritical thinking bordering on mental illness on an epidemic scale. Its a disease which infests cultures.

    I agree with those who have already noted this. Its a dangerous mistake to dismiss all these people as conscious frauds who are aware that they are “getting away with it”. None of us sees any fanatics who don’t ‘SINCERELY BELIEVE’ (“Fanatic” = fervent believer). Cons are NOT sincere by definition. Fanatics are dangerously sincere.

    Don’t bet on their ability to reason or to exhibit consistent moral behavior: these people are more crazy than they are crafty, and they feed on people who are more crazy than they are merely “credulous”.

  52. sailor says

    I had always thought that these big evangelists BELIEVED the crap they spouted. Like any other reasonable person I am open to evidence and the book the convinced me they were for the most part ABSOLUTE FRAUDS was:

    The Faith healers by James Randi

    Now clearly he does not deal with every one of them, but from the evidence he presents, many are totally fraudulant, think their marks are idiots (as does Randi sometimes, but he think the laws about out-and-out cons should be enforced). I recommend it for those who still believe these guys are mistaken but GENIUNE.
    Go Hitchens!

  53. todd. says


    Yet if you’d actually been reading him before and after, it was clear that his stances arise from moral outrage and in the case of the ‘war against terror’, a deep loathing of religion’s intrusion into politics.

    Well, right, but that’s not really what I meant. Politics aside, he just seems like kind of a self-important ass. When people come to me and say, “I can’t take Dawkins because he seems so arrogant,” I say, “He’s not arrogant, he’s right.” But if Hitch becomes a new poster boy, and people come to me and say, “I can’t take Hitch because he’s a self important ass,” I can only say, “Well, duh.”

    Also I made no reference to his drinking, so I’m not really sure why that came up.

  54. Kseniya says

    Many on The Left harbor some resentment towards Hitch, for one pretty obvious reason. He left the fold because he stopped believing that the then-current incarnation of The Left was worth supporting, and he crossed over. He wrote a fascinatingly ambiguous piece about Reagan a few years ago that reveals, I think, a lot about where Hitch stands. He was no fan of Reagan and basically wrote that Reagan was an idiot, but at the same time believed that the thought of Mondale or Dukakis better representing the USA to the rest of the world, and the Soviet Union in particular, was beyond the pale.

    As for him being a drunk, well, I wouldn’t know much about that.

  55. NickM says

    Hitchens felt “moral outrage” justified invading Iraq. That clears things up for me. Obviously, anyone possessing moral outrage must have an intellectually defensible position. (I’ll have to take another look at that guy Fred Phelps – he’s got moral outrage by the bucketful).

    But wait – here’s a conundrum. I’m morally outraged that a bunch of nincompoops decided to get us into a war justified by a pack of lies; that they lied about how that war would be paid for; that they didn’t consider any worst-case scenarios when they did so; and that they harnessed the worst jingoism to steamroller intelligent discussion on the subject. And I’m also outraged that public “intellectuals” like Hitchens gave them cover to do so – never asking the tough questions that came so easy when the big issue of the day was the peregrinations of Clinton’s dick.

    So now Hitchens is morally outraged – and so am I. So now how do we decide who’s right? Measure who’s got the bigger outrage? Figure out whose outrage is more moral? One thing I do know – Phelps has got us both beat.

  56. dAVE says

    Great interview here by Hitch.

    I think he got really scared after 9/11 – fearing that his bottle of scotch would be taken away by the terrible Mohemedans.

    “From my cold, dead hands!” he cried, and fell in with Bushco for their little Iraq adventure. I would have thought that he would have been smart enough to realize that Saddam was a valuable bulwark against Iran, and was a secular, though despotic, force in the region.

  57. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    I listened to the “On Point” interview and call ins and he did quite well.

    He didn’t shrink from the preacher who claimed his daughter was cured of cancer.

    Actually he went after the guy and claimed he was just using it to sell his brand of religion and that he thought it was disgusting.

  58. Bunjo says

    Very interested in the comments about whether or not Falwell believed what he said.

    I can’t comment on him personally as he is not well known in the UK, but I have often thought that some of our UK ‘charismatic’ leaders (eg Tony Blair IMHO) actually belive what they say, rather than say what they believe. In the UK many members of parliament are trained lawyers and therefore are experienced in presenting a winning case, irrespective of the actual truth. When public opinion changes these leaders magically believe something completely different without any impact on their self belief.

    Charismatic leaders depend on massive self belief to sway their public, and have to actually believe the latest ‘truth’ to do so.

    Once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made!

  59. CalGeorge says

    It’s nice that someone famous for commentary on politics and modern history is calling the fundie bastards on their lying scams.

    Why this isn’t the norm is beyond me. It’s so refreshing.

    Screw his warmongering politics, but these anti-fundie screeds are brilliant.

    PZ, it’s your turn to join the pantheon!

  60. fred says

    The sincerity of the deeply religious is of the same variety as the sincerity of the committed NAMBLA member. Whether they truly believe or not is moot.

  61. MikeM says

    Hitchens calls Falwell a “pickpocket”, which I think is awesome.

    Watching the video, it seems Hitchens has put a very, very great distance between himself and Bush. He does take on the administration directly. It’s possible that he was taken in by Bush’s rationalizations for the war, and now sees things differently.

    I think all these preachers (Falwell, Robertson, Popoff) all understand they are pickpockets. I don’t think for a second Robertson thinks he’s had conversations with God. He’s lying. He’s cheating. He’s a fraud. They all are.

    I’ll go one step further and say I think DI realizes they’re perpetrating fraud, too. Behe does not believe in creationism. I am utterly convinced. He’s just looking for other ways to ride the gravy train, and this was his way to get on it.

    Some probably believe what they’re saying, but in general, I think those who accept creationism are members of the flock, not the leaders. The leaders themselves? They understand what they’re doing, which is committing fraud.

    Hitchens was awesome here. I think we need to start working on the flocks, not the leaders. The leaders will continue to hold on to the fraudulent stories their leaders tell them, and we need to tell the flock why their leaders are lying to them: Money.

    Save 10% on Sundays, folks. If you want family time on Sunday mornings, go for a walk. While you’re out there, you may pass a very large business that pays no taxes, in spite of its income. It’s called “Your old church.”

    The truth will set you free, in more ways than one.

    Evangelize for rational thought.

  62. Mooser says

    I feel you should have looked elsewhere for this particular bit of polemics.
    Atheism without a corresponding humanism is almost more terrifying them religious fanaticism.

  63. Mooser says

    I feel you should have looked elsewhere for this particular bit of polemics.
    Atheism without a corresponding humanism is almost more terrifying them religious fanaticism.

  64. bernarda says

    “Atheism without a corresponding humanism is almost more terrifying them religious fanaticism.”

    Thank you Mooser for a statement that means exactly nothing. How long did it take you find this vacant formula?

  65. cm says

    “Almost more terrifying” means “less or equally terrifying”.
    Hitchens has humanism, btw.

  66. Mazarin says

    If you look at the views of Chaucer’s Pardoner in the text you will see that fraud and “belief”are two sides of the same coin. It’s a brilliant bit of religious psychology. It also shews the psychology of believers who are told they are being taken for a ride and their incapacity to let that inhibit their lust to believe. Do read it.

  67. CalGeorge says

    The HuffPo anti-Hitchens reaction has begun.

    But as Hitchens imagines it, we sit docilely to even the most inane homilies from our religious leaders, listening and absorbing. Then we go off, clutching our sacred texts, to abuse, oppress, and murder. […] But as an observant Jew myself, who also happens to be involved in the movement for women’s meaningful participation and leadership in Orthodox Judaism, I read this book feeling as if I were watching the local news with its endless worst-case scenarios and hyperreal depiction of daily life.

    In short, this book by Hitchens is disappointingly lazy. If I had my druthers, I would much prefer the nuance from someone like Freud, who almost a century ago chronicled how religious ideology was a human projection, how it functioned as an infantile neurosis, and how it stifled our psychological and moral development. Even with all that, Freud reminds us in The Future of an Illusion that religion is not all bad: “Religion has clearly performed great services for human civilization. It has contributed much towards the taming of the asocial instincts. But not enough.” It is precisely this honest critical assessment in contrast to Hitchens’ bombast that we need today.

    No doubt Dumbfuck Chopra will be chiming in soon.

  68. dude says

    “A good con is when you pull something off, and then get to go do your own thing later. A bad con is when you can’t miss a single Sunday of church for life, in fear that you’ll be outed.”

    No. Its all about finding a con that continues to pay without the need to change up. He went to church every sunday, went on his TV and radio programs regularly, because he was getting paid! His personal “ministry”, not counting the extra stuff like the moral majority, was a $200M a year business!

    These guys are the greatest con men in the history of the grift. They know damn well what they are saying is utter BS, but as long as they keep saying it people keep the cash flowing.

  69. MikeM says

    By the way, James Comey’s testimony yesterday is pretty much the last piece of evidence I needed to push me entirely off the “impeach/don’t impeach” fence.

    We need to fire the fraud in charge. I sincerely believe that the fate of our democracy is in the balance.

    Accepting fraud has led us to this point. Time to stop.

  70. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    Taming of asocial instincts?? What the fuck?

    If anything religion FEEDS supposedly asocial insticts.

  71. Arnosium Upinarum says

    sailor: “I recommend [Randi’s “The Faith Healers”] for those who still believe these guys are mistaken but GENIUNE.”

    You are talking about “big evangelists” and “faith-healers”, whose success may well be directly correlated with their insincerity. This is understandable since these are easy targets to focus on, especially because of the current news. What about the many many others who aren’t engaged in fraudulent activity but act out of a sincerity of belief?

    That’s why I don’t say “genuine”. Its all obviously “mistaken”. What could be genuine about their belief except the possibility of sincerity? I said “sincere in their belief”. You know, like FANATICS: popes, preachers, suicide bombers, hijackers, and legions of blind followers, etc., of whatever ill-conceived faith.

    There’s an awful lot of dangerous sincerity in all of that. As a culture I would not be at all surprised to find that they cultivate a disproportionate share of the kind of insincerity we see in the con-artists who so frequently prey (and ‘pray’) upon their own. We’ve lately seen lots of politicians from this very population, which exhibits a capacity for credulity that would make their GOD blush, appear to have gained the knack, probably using them as a training ground before taking advantage of people on the national scene. Where else would they get the idea from? Its a perfect breeding-ground for perpetrator and victim alike. (Naturally, they are apt to whine incessantly at the greater secular resistance they encounter on the national scene, and so they do).

    I maintain it: most believers or ‘people of faith’ are dangerously sincere. Never mind the con-artists who are RELATIVELY few. Anybody who has a modestly operational skepticism can avoid being victimized by those swine…of course, those who have had their critical-thinking skills systematically quenched by religious instruction are vulnerable. No one can think any of these people insincere for their gullibility.

    Those swine can be working anything, and religion is not exempt, but it is foolish to identify these fraudsters or a peculiar class of them (like ‘faith-healers’) as representing the foundation of religion.

    Religion (‘mainstream’ or ‘orthodox’ or whatever) is FAR more insidious in its effect on culture and civilization, precisely because it is so sincerely offered: it removes rationality from people’s minds, their ability to think critically, and thus basically robs them of their humanity. It’s the ultimate con BECAUSE IT IS UNCONSCIOUSLY SELF-INFLICTED. Sincerly.

    I do not doubt for a moment that faith healers are frauds. I do not doubt that many in their audiences are in on the con. I’ve seen it personally myself. (And BTW, I much enjoyed Randi’s “The Faith Healers” when it came out).

    But they obviously can’t ALL be cons. What would be the point of the con then? To exploit themselves??? I said they were more CRAZY then they are crafty, not STUPID. You have to have at least that much awareness (an extremely cynical kind of intelligence, to be sure) in order to pull off a con.

    Frauds and hucksters who rob vulnerable, yet innocent, folks of their money are swine. They are bad. What is incomparably worse is a belief system that robs people of their ability to think. One has to be a pretty sincere and genuine fanatic in order to accept stupidity as a lifestyle. That’s what we’re facing. The con-gamesters are just a symptomatic consequence of a culture full of dangerously-sincere people busy cultivating an environment in which stupidity can thrive unchallenged.

  72. Arnosium Upinarum says

    Fred said: “The sincerity of the deeply religious is of the same variety as the sincerity of the committed NAMBLA member. Whether they truly believe or not is moot.”

    Quite so.

  73. rob says

    Is it just me, or does it bring any one else to tears of laughter when he says “….from a CUP!” Not sure what it is.

    And he cracks me up the way he just won’t let Cooper get a word in. “Do you get an idea now of what I’m meaning to say?” “Oh yeah you are making yourself very clear. Wh….” “How DARE he blah blah blah”


  74. Keanus says

    Whether Falwell believed or didn’t believe what he said is almost irrelevant, but whichever it was, the result was the same–more money in his coffers and endless adulation from the faithful.

    Falwell may have started as a con man–I suspect most evangelical preachers do–but when he discovered his messianic power to draw in money, especially with well-embroidered tales, he couldn’t stop it. It was an addiction. Politicians and marketing types frequently succumb to the same failing–finding success with a line and then believing it until reality intrudes, if ever.

    In the end only Falwell knew for sure whether he believed in what he did and he’s not telling us now. But one things for sure, he’ll shortly be six feet under and has missed the rapture. What a pity!

  75. Daniel Hansen says

    Still not a big fan of ol’ Hitch in general, but very nice job here. Kudo’s to CNN for airing it.

  76. frog says

    On hypocrisy: the best salesman believe what they say, while they are saying it. They may know the next moment that it’s all BS, and the moment before they open their mouth. But self-delusion is a requirement for good salesmanship.

    That’s why the best salesmen are often the biggest suckers as well.

  77. Christian Burnham says

    Aaarrrghh! I really don’t want to like Hitchens anymore. How can he talk such sense and do it so brilliantly in this interview and be such a tool the rest of the time?

  78. frog says

    Jason Spaceman! Great video. Best part is when Hitchens agrees that calling religion irrational is “intellectual snobbery”. What a better compliment than to be called an intellectual snob! His smirk while he agrees is priceless, you can see him thinking “Yes, we can both agree that I’m smarter than you.” Hannity just blows past it – do you think it hit him later?

  79. says

    On the topic of Hitch’s book – if you haven’t read his book on Mother Teresa (“The Missionary Position”) it’s equally devastating and brilliant.

    I would give my left arm (seriously) to have a president who was as articulate and well-read as Hitch. Whether you agree with him or not, that guy says what he believes and says it well, and can back it up.


  80. Odonata says

    What a fantastic interview! I’m quite pleased CNN would air it.

    Now I’m going to buy his latest book.

  81. says

    How many of the fraudsters set out to defraud, and how many started out with the sincerest of intentions only to realize somewhere along the way that they were perpetuating a line of utter crap?

    For every top-of-the-heap Falwell or Swaggart or Popoff, there are thousands of obedient sheep saving their pennies, sending in their money, perhaps hoping one day to reap a little of that spiritual power for themselves. When the Demon of Doubt perches on their shoulders and whispers, they only need reach for the nearest Bible to swat it off… and perhaps clutch that bottle of anointed spiritual miracle water a little closer. And the harder and more frequently they swat their doubts away, the more convinced they become that soldiering on despite them is the Christian thing to do.

    (I’m saving my pennies, too–for the Dawkins/Hitchens Good Cop/Bad Cop Pay-Per-View Atheist Extravaganza. I can only hope there will be chair-flinging, and perhaps a cage fight.)

  82. Cayce says

    I wasn’t going to buy his book after his Daily Show appearance, but this clip totally changed my mind. Bravo, Hitchens.

  83. TomK says

    You don’t want to buy hitchens a drink. Once he’s on your tab, you’re out 50 to a hundred bucks, depending on if it’s lunch or dinner.

    Drinking makes for some great calling out of bullshit though. It’s worth it.

  84. speedwell says

    I got a hundred bucks. I’d love to have dinner with that man. When he gets up on his high horse, I’ll be the first to hand him his lance and my scarf. Whoo!

  85. Kelli says

    Woo hoo! We need to have Hitchens on television to talk about religion more often. He was awesome.

  86. JohnW says

    “… selling pencils…… from a CUP!”

    As quotable as a good Monty Python sketch. Lovely.

  87. says

    On the question of Falwell’s sincerity:

    He preached hatred while claiming to follow in the footsteps of a man who preached love. He aligned himself with the powerful and amassed a fortune while claiming to follow a religion sympathetic to the poor and oppressed. I have no idea what was going on in Falwell’s head, but his actions were clear.

    It’s been many years since I read Vonnegut’s Mother Night, but some of the recent articles written in appreciation of his work reminded me of it and its central moral:

    We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

    “Pretend” is perhaps too loaded a word. I would say we are how we act, so we must be careful how we act. Falwell’s actions were obviously that of a huckster, a fraud, a charlatan. So that’s what he was.

  88. Scott Hatfield, OM says

    I’m afraid, my secular brothers, that many of you deeply underestimate the capacity for self-deception among people like Falwell. Yes, he was a charlatan, a liar, a manipulator, and perhaps it would make it easier to hate the man for all that. The most sinister aspect of all this, however, is the very real possibility that he thought he was lying and manipulating for Jesus. As do many sincere Christians still among us, I’m afraid.

  89. JohnnieCanuck says

    ‘Liar for Jesus’


    What a different world it will be when these people are routinely recognised for what they are.

  90. bernarda says

    In his appearance on inHannity, Hitchens used the word “invigilation”, which seemed, not surprisingly, to go completely past inHannity. Of course you wouldn’t expect the regular swamp dwellers who watch the show to understand either.

  91. dude says

    Hitchens is never going to sell to the faux-news crowd (he is educated and literate), except when he is cheerleading for Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He did take some shots at W in that interview though…

  92. CalGeorge says

    Luckily we don’t have to judge Falwell, or any other Christian, on his/her sincerity.

    The stupidity of their Christian beliefs is sufficient.

    I think of Christianity as the perfect extortion system.

    An “infallible” god (wouldn’t lie to you, would he?) offers a reward. Getting it requires only that you form into devoted groups of worshippers, fork over the cash, and spout the b.s. being spouted by the rest of the “in” crowd. The more people you can get to do it, the more legit it seems. “Look, Joe’s doing it, there must be something to it. How could all those people be wrong?”

    The end of the rainbow – a big invisble reward. That’s the genius of it. You give them money, they give you a bullshit immaterial reward! Fork over the cash, lady, and I will give you this little piece of pretend.

    No even necessary to offer a guarantee: money back if not completely satisfied? Hey, the dead tell no tales. What a great scam!

  93. xebecs says

    You know, each time I see the first line of PZ’s original post (above the video), I read it as “Man, what a beautiful bum.”

    I think I must be developing dyslexia as I age, rather than Alzheimer’s…

  94. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    The comments over at are pretty funny.

    The kooks have been dispatched from Drudge…

  95. says

    Holy Heavens (literally)! He went WAY farther than I did in my post. I feel like a wimp!

    It’s fantastic to hear someone going no-holds-barred on a station like CNN about a topic so sensitive to the public. We get that in the bloggosphere, but even still, we’re a small-ish community in comparison to the audience of those programs.

  96. Rey Fox says

    I had to Google What are they saying about Falwell and/or Hitchens? I’m rather loathe to click on that myself, especially at work.

  97. Austin says

    In a move that threatens to deplete America’s already low irony reserves, Fred Phelps has announced that he’s going to be protesting at Falwell’s funeral.

    I don’t think there’s anything you can say to make this funnier than it already is.

  98. says

    I haven’t read all 126 comments, so apologies if I’m repeating something already said. A plain reading of the new testament tells us that Jesus taught his followers to disdain riches and to help those less fortunate. Anyone who uses the pulpit to amass riches is not a christian. I hope Falwell’s last thoughts were about camel’s eyes and needles.

  99. says

    I think I’ll let Tinky Winky have a say…

    Oh, he already had that at great length over at Salon

    Tinky Winky says bye-bye to Jerry Falwell

    It’s a priceless piece. For example, I love this part

    The star never has clarified his sexual orientation, insisting on his privacy and denying rumors over the years that he had affairs with two of his costars on the 1997-2001 show, the male Dipsy and the female Po.

    “We love each other very much,” he says. “Big hug. But it’s not like that. It was a kids show, know what I mean? And this Falwell guy and his followers wanted to turn us into something else. We weren’t modeling a gay lifestyle and we weren’t trying to corrupt anyone’s kids. We were just kids ourselves, really. Give us a little Tubby toast or custard and a film of some kids washing clothes or something, that’s all we needed. We didn’t give a shit about modeling a lifestyle.”

    Tinky Winky sounds angry. The wounds are still raw.

  100. Coragyps says

    Dang, kids! Does the Rude Pundit write that well habitually? ‘Cause if so, there goes another chunk of my workday spent on the net….

  101. kaisercrack says

    if you guys like this, you should check out his fascinating interview on Charlie Rose a couple of weeks ago.

    mesmerizing, jaw-dropping stuff.

    Hitch was right about the invasion of Iraq, btw.

  102. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    Be a little more precise on your Iraq statement.

    I want to give you a chance beore I jump down your throat.

    The only people that have been right have been the ones that said it would be a mistake.

  103. kaisercrack says

    jump down my throat, i’ll spit you right out.

    don’t have time to go point by point on all of Hitch’s pro-war arguments, but they’re easy to find on the internets. only pseudointellects, isolationists, and ostriches were against the invasion.

  104. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    Keep smoking the crack.

    Three more months and it’ll all work out right?

  105. dude says

    “Dang, kids! Does the Rude Pundit write that well habitually? ‘Cause if so, there goes another chunk of my workday spent on the net….”

    Yes. The Rude One always writes atleast that well.

    Sometimes better.

  106. kaisercrack says

    if you say so. stop smoking the stuff that turns you cerebral cortex into an 8th grade cliched taunt-generator. if you were born that way and can’t blame the drugs, my apologies. and condolences.

  107. says

    As with others (commenting here) I’m a little surprised as well at the apparent fact that CNN/FOX/Etc have not canonized Falwell. I guess the media’s quickness to quote him and to some extent court him may in the end be chalked up to the fact that he was a psychotic neuropathic clown, which is always good for some air time, and not so much that he was some kind of “leader.”

  108. CalGeorge says

    The parting shot from Hitchens:

    If you gave Falwell an enema, he’d be buried in a matchbox.

    Gotta love it.

  109. Andy Axel says

    I might almost respect him now, but too bad Snitchens was a Clinton witch-hunter and an Iraq fanboy.

  110. myra says

    What this fat git is doing is trying to recover some credibility with thinking people – but it’s a bit late for that.

  111. Karl Rove II says

    only pseudointellects, isolationists, and ostriches were against the invasion.

    Posted by: kaisercrack | May 17, 2007 06:50 PM

    You forgot all us sane people, including the President’s father.

    See ya later troll…

  112. kaisercrack says

    “…including the President’s father”. oh, i forgot- the irrelevant, also, would be a part of that silly group. sorry. you must have all of those qualities in spades. sorry again!

  113. Caledonian says

    I was in favor of the invasion of Afganistan. (Well, not favor exactly, but it thought it was right and necessary.) I thought the invasion of Iraq was madness founded upon obvious lies, motivated by self-delusion, and doomed to horrible failure.

    So I was once again shown to be correct. Would you characterize me as an ostrich, isolationist, or pseudointellectual? (I’ll give you a hint: my IQ is higher than yours.)

  114. Steve_C says

    Three more months and Iraq will be fine right? RIght?

    I supported the invasion of Afghanistan.

    Actually I supported the invasion of Iraq too. I didn’t think there was any possible way they could go in if they didn’t have solid intelligence of WMDs. I thought they would have to be insane to be just using it as an excuse for some other purpose.

    I was wrong. They completely fucked it up. It was a mistake from the beginning. And they continue to fuck it up.

  115. chuko says

    Has it occurred to you that christianity is awfully good at producing people like this? You still have plenty of em left.

  116. Kseniya says

    Kaiserkrack is a good example of one of those head-in-the-sand jingoists who projects all his own illogic on everyone else. Let’s consider a couple of simple facts:

    Who opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

    1. Somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of the American public. Even if you discount the fact that those numbers were artificially depressed by the impressive campaign of disinformation and fear-mongering conducted by the Bush Administration, that’s quite a few people.

    2. Virtually the entire free world with the notable exception of Great Britain.

    Of course, to a Kaiserkrok, anyone and everyone who disagrees with his worldview is “irrelevant” so…

  117. Evan says

    I agree with the fraud part. I’m a Christian “fundamentalist” I guess you could say, meaning I believe what the bible teaches, but I totally agree with you guys about Falwell being a fraud.

    The bible says “faith without deeds is dead” James 2:17. Meaning, if you SAY you believe, but don’t accompany that stance with good works, you are a liar. Because if you believe the bible, you will do what it says.

    The first and greatest commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God’, and the second is like it; ‘love your neighbor as your self’ (from Matthew 22). So if was hating people, he intentionally not following scripture, deceiving himself and others, and therefore dead to the faith: a fraud.

    One last proof: …You cannot serve both God and Money. Luke 16:13

    It makes me sad that many Christians can call themselves Christians and/or fundamentalists without cross-referencing the “fundamentals”.

  118. Evan says

    “So if was hating people, he intentionally not following scripture, deceiving himself and others, and therefore dead to the faith: a fraud.”

    Edit: So if [Falwell] was hating people, he [was] intentionally not following scripture, deceiving himself and others, and therefore dead to the faith: a fraud.

    I guess that’s why it’s not good to post at 3 a.m. neh?

  119. Caledonian says

    Actually I supported the invasion of Iraq too. I didn’t think there was any possible way they could go in if they didn’t have solid intelligence of WMDs.

    Constant skepticism is quite difficult, isn’t it. Yet it’s necessary.

    The more unusual a claim is, the higher the standard it must be held to before being even provisionally accepted. The evidence they offered was pathetic, and they actually used that to convince people to permit them to do as they pleased because too few people were willing to call their bluff, to openly state that the Emperor’s wardrobe was usually scanty.

    To those of you who complain that I’m an arrogant, correct-ness focused obsessive, take a look at what happens when standards of correctness are ignored. Take a good long look.

  120. kaisercrack says

    cal, you’re a pseudointellect of the highest order, and i suspect you know this. your comical insecurity is hardly concealed by your prissy, schoolyard bleat “my iq is bigger than yours”- you might want to work on that.

  121. Caledonian says

    My IQ is higher than yours, not ‘bigger’. As I think you’ve just demonstrated.

  122. MJKelleher says

    Coming in late, but the transcript of the full interview is on here.

    I’ll be glad when my schedule lets me read on a daily basis again!


  123. kaisercrack says

    “My IQ is higher than yours, not ‘bigger’. As I think you’ve just demonstrated.”

    yeah, dumbshit, i was making fun of you. looks like the demonstration was at your expense.

  124. Arnosium Upinarum says

    “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy

  125. Arnosium Upinarum says

    For those who feel so certain and self-assured that conscious dishonesty and/or hucksterism accurately characterizes most folks who profess a ‘religious faith’ or who promote it, as if there wasn’t any strong cultural incentive to do so, check out (or reacquaint yourselves with) Karla Mclaren’s 2004 article in the Skeptical Inquirer:

    Then take a good long look over at the brothers Hoofnagle’s Denialism Blog on ‘About Denialism’:

    Take a good LONG AND HARD look. Check out that figure 2 and consider the implications.

    Anyone who thinks themselves possessing fair rational or critical thinking skills should be able to conclude that they may not be nearly as effective at persuading those most in need of it as they like to imagine, if they condemn most all of these people as conscious liars and con-artists. Being correct has nothing whatsoever to do with efficacy in persuasion.

    We are all trying to introduce rational and skeptical and critical thinking to our neighbors whom we have to share this tiny world with, yes? What’s the point of it otherwise?Exercise? Amusement?

    If, on the other hand, all you really want to do is get that ‘good feeling’ preaching to your own choir, by all means, carry on.

    Just so you know: you won’t solve shit.

    Minds desperately need changing. Its a desperate matter of EDUCATION. Easy ridicule or political denouncing doesn’t cut it. Look HARD AGAIN at that figure 2 in the Hoofnagle essay: it may very well ALSO imply that nearly 2/3 of people overestimate the correctness of their culturally-inspired belief systems. It may be a coincidence, but in this country that proportion seems just about right.

    While the Hoofnagles explicitly point out the futility of debating folks who harbor such strongly held beliefs, that should not suggest that a vitriolic approach that brands those of ‘faith’ as being somehow ‘dishonest’ or even intellectually inferior helps matters. All that does is egg them on and solidifies their delusions in their own minds. (This is strongly implied in both the Hoofnagle and Mclaren essays).

    If we do not fully appreciate the potential stranglehold power of culture, we will never make any meaningful progress against the overpowering influence of culturally-inspired superstition before its too late. Never mind the minority of Falwell’s ilk. There’s always a bozo in the soup. The bozo’s are poor targets: while they target legions, many of us stupidly focus the aim of our message at the minority bozos, the genuinely dishonest. The legions see that and think we are rude to attack their ‘leaders’. It makes matters WORSE!!!!!

    We should restrict our attacks to false conceptions, not people. You know, like scientists supposedly treat each other. A far more proper and effective approach would employ a ‘Christian tenet’ that most ‘conservative fundamentalists’ themselves (judging from their long historical behavior) far too often appear to forget or ignore: respect for and love of one’s neighbor. UNCONDITIONALLY. These folks are still our sisters and brothers with which we share this small planet with, however deluded they may be. They are inflicted by a cultural disease. They are victims. Its in our collective interest to supply the medicine of EDUCATION. We need to HELP them, not villify them, goddammit.