Christopher Hitchens – “I propose a pact with the faithful”

Here is a nice quote that I’ve lifted directly from the transcript of his debate with Tony Blair …

The way I phrase it in my book, available at fine bookstores everywhere, is that I propose a pact with the faith, the faithful, I’ll take it again, quoting from the great Thomas Jefferson, I don’t mind if my neighbour believes in 15 gods or in none, he neither by that breaks my leg or picks my pocket. I would echo that, and say that as long as you don’t want your religion taught to my children in school, given a government subsidy, imposed on me by violence, any of these things, you are fine by me. I would prefer … (Applause) … I would prefer not even to know what it is that you do in that church of yours, in fact, if you force it on my attention, I will consider it a breach of that pact. Have your own bloody Christmas, and so on. Do your slaughtering, if possible, in an abattoir. And don’t mutilate the genitals of your children! Because then I’m afraid it gets within the ambit of law.
All right, don’t you think that’s reasonably pluralistic and communitarian of me? I think it is. Why is it a vain hope on my part? Has this pact ever been honoured by the other side? Of course not. It’s a mystery to me, and I’ll share it with you. If I believed that there was a saviour who had been appointed or sent, or a prophet, appointed or sent by a God who bore me in mind, and loved me, and wanted the best for me, if I believed that, and that I possessed the means of grace and the hope of glory, to phrase it like that, I think, I don’t know, I think I might be happy. They say it’s the way to happiness. Why doesn’t it make them happy? Don’t you think it’s a perfectly decent question? Because they won’t be happy until you believe it too, because that’s what their holy books tell them.
Now I’m sorry, it’s enough with saying in the name of religion; do these texts say that until every knee bows in the name of Jesus, there will be no happiness? Of course it is what they say. It isn’t just a private belief. It is rather, and I think always has been, and that’s why I’m here, actually a threat to the idea of a peaceable community, and very often, as now, and frequently, a very palpable one.

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