Peter Hitchens: Keep fighting the good fight

Not many hard-nosed journalists would start a talk with a Collect from the Book of Common Prayer.

But Peter Hitchens isn’t like most journalists. Once an ardent Marxist-Leninist and atheist, Hitchens is now open about his belief in God and regularly speaks out against the secular direction of the West.

Meeting staff at The Christian Institute this week, he shared his concerns for the future of the UK – but also of the need to keep fighting.

‘Marshmallow totalitarianism’

Hitchens, who has worked in his field for 40 years, warned that an “established atheism” is creeping up on Britain, and said citizens are becoming the subjects of what he called a “soft, marshmallow, totalitarianism”.

This does not involve dawn raids by secret police but instead subtle threats to employment and livelihood. It is “made clear in the lives of particularly those who work in the public sector that there is no job security and there is no advancement if you will not conform, especially with the enormously significant Equality Act”.

The Equality Act, passed in 2010, imposes a legal duty on public bodies, like schools and the police to have due regard to characteristics covered by the Act. These include sexual orientation, religion and gender reassignment.

Importance of marriage

Hitchens spoke most passionately about the institution of marriage particularly, and of the negative impact of the rules on divorce in the UK.

“They weren’t merely a moderation of marriage so that it was perhaps slightly easier to get out of it if you wanted to, they were a huge accretion of the power of the state and the destruction of private life and of the power of the family”, he said.

He also warned that while the freedom to hold certain opinions may be receding, it is nevertheless vital to stay involved.

The alternative, he said, to continuing the struggle was to live as a monk or a nun – cut off from those who wish to “overcome the goodness of God”.

“While we are alive, we must swim against the stream – only dead fish swim with the stream”.

Cosmic car crash?

And in words that may have been anathema to his former atheist self, Hitchens said people have a choice to believe either in a cosmos with purpose and justice, or a “cosmic car crash” with no meaning.

Why would someone want to live in a world like that? Hitchens said it is because humanity is afraid of God and the reality of what could happen after death.

In contrast, the prayer that Hitchens began with rings loud and true:

O LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Book of Common Prayer