See below for my letter this morning (5/22/2011) to the Editor of Vanity Fair, where Christopher Hitchens is an editor and regular columnist.
Editors: Even if you don't print this email, will you please forward it to Christopher Hitchens?
From what I've read, Christopher Hitchens' take on the massive campaign to pray for his conversion seems to be that those who are praying for him expect that the prospect of death might drive him to accepting Christianity out of a craven fear of hell.
He seems to believe that to face death without capitulating to Christianity would a heroic act. In that, he echoes Jean Paul Satre's existentialist stance, that the atheist has to be brave enough to accept the doctrine that the universe and his own life within it is meaningless. First comes Being, and then comes Nothingness.
I am one of those who pray for Hitchens from time to time.
I want to explain that our prayers are not that he fold out of fear. But that he be given the gift of faith. And that he comes to what St. Paul wrote is the "surpassing knowledge" of God's love for him.
I was converted at 18 to the religion of atheism from Catholicism, convinced by the dynamic duo Satre and Simone de Beauvoir and by other atheists that religion was a crutch.
Then in my mid-30s, I was given the gift of faith, which led me back eventually to the Catholic Church. Somebody prayed for me, I could feel the prayers, and I am grateful for the effects. And so I want to pass it on, to Hitchens and anyone else who hasn't received such a priceless gift.
True religion is not a crutch, even though it is a comfort. I believe in Catholic doctrine because I tried on just about everything else there was to try, and the alternative belief systems are seriously flawed. For one example, it surely is illogical (and self-evidently ridiculous) to hold as an article of faith (as atheists do) that this universe that works according to marvelous laws and is filled with awesome wonders came into being somehow without any cause out of nothing.
As a parting thought, I wonder if Christopher knows that there is a Catholic holy card you can buy for 25 cents at this web site. A jpeg of the holy card back and front is attached to this email.
The Christopher means "Christ Bearer." I pray that with the love and prayers of many people who pray for him as one who despitefully uses us, may it be so.