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Peter Hitchens: When your famous brother is an ‘atheist’ and you are not

People like me – though still allowed to speak – are allowed on to mainstream national broadcasting only under strict conditions: that we are ‘balanced’ by at least three other people who disagree with us so that our views, actually held by millions, are made to look like an eccentric minority opinion. — Peter Hitchens, May 29, 2011, The Mail on Sunday

Peter Hitchens, author and award-winning journalist, is the younger brother of Christopher Hitchens (deceased) a renown atheist.

Christopher, an American and a socialist, was a vocal opponent of Christianity till he died of cancer in 2011. For a time, Christopher was even a writer for the International Socialist. 

During his career as an author and journalist, Christopher publicly criticized Christianity in particular, but other religions as well. He wrote a book called God is not Great where he stated that religion poisons everything.

Curiously, Peter — born on Malta in 1951, son of a career naval officer — started off similar to his brother. He was an atheist, extreme socialist and for a few years was even a member of the Trotskyist International Socialists and the British Labour party.

Both Peter and Christopher came from Christian roots as their grandfather was a devout Baptist. However, their mother — along with her lover, former clergyman Timothy Bryan — committed suicide together in 1973. It was suspected she was pressured into suicide over fear of exposure of her adultery. It was Christopher who went to Athens to claim her body.

In 1983, Peter left the Labour party after he went to work as a journalist with the Daily Express. He did not feel it proper to report on politics while being a member of a political party.

But at the same time, Peter was starting to have doubts about socialism. During his involvement in the Labour party he saw the strong Marxist influences in the party.

Peter now works as a journalist for the Daily Mail. He won the esteemed Orwell prize for political journalism in 2010. He has also written a number of books, including The Rage Against God: How Atheism led me to Faith in God where  he writes of his journey from atheism to Christianity.

Peter stated of his brother, “We’re different people, we have different lives, we have entirely different pleasures, we live in different continents. If we weren’t brothers we wouldn’t even know each other.” At times the two brothers debated their views on God publicly.

Peter completed his transformation by returning to Christ and the Anglican Church.  He has been publicly scorned for his Christian views. On the BBC’s Question Time, the live audience booed Peter for stating sex education in schools has resulted in more teen pregnancies not a reduction.

Commenting on the booing, Peter said in an article in The Mail:

“Is there any point in a public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think.” (June 16, 2011)

Peter is also a strong supporter of marriage and family values. He opposes the legalization of marijuana and believes in capital punishment and presents his arguments in forceful and logical manner.

Ed West of the Daily Telegraph described Peter this way:

“I’m a great admirer of Peter, a decent, kind and deeply compassionate man with the air of the prophet about him; and like all prophets, doomed to be scorned by so many. I think a lot of people affect to despise his archaic value system while suspecting there is something in it, and would say so if only more influential people would stick their head about the parapet.” (The Telegraph, September 5, 2012)



  1. Hello… I find it interesting that you write:

    “He was an atheist, extreme socialist and for a few years was even a member of the Trotskyist International Socialists and the British Labour party”.

    As if being a member of the British Labour party were not a Christian choice. Admittedly when Tony Blair was the leader, they were more or less indistinguishable from the Conservatives (Republican equivalent). However – if you look at the policies of the Labour Party in the UK, they are far more Christian than those of the Conservatives. They are about peace and looking after one another for example. It was the Labour government who created the National Health Service – that is free healthcare for all no matter your income. I’m sure Jesus would be proud of that. The Conservatives are right now dismantling the National Health Service and selling it to private companies and as a result, the cost of bureaucracy goes up exponentially, leaving less money for actual care. These companies cut corners to make more money for their shareholders that have actually caused deaths in hospitals. For example, they cut the number of cleaners so the risk of bugs increases.
    Personally, I think there’s something quite ill about profiting from people’s ill health.
    I realise America is incredibly scared of communism and you lump socialism in with it, but it’s really not that simple. This is of course a big conversation.

    This quote of Peter’s makes a good point for both sides of most debates because people look at things through the lens of what they have been told and not using their own logic and compassion.

    “Is there any point in a public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think.”

    Anyway – it’s not what your piece was about but I believe your subtle message to be misinformed.
    Happy day.


    • Thank you very much for your comment. I agree there are some Christian practices in socialism, but the fundamental disagreement that I have with socialism is that it has replaced God with government. I guess I am not convinced that government is the answer to the world’s problems.

      You mention health care. In the country, where I live we have solely socialized medicine. The waiting list for knee surgery is years. The government calls it medicare, the people call it ration care and there is a push by taxpayers to allow private medical services to reduce the waiting times. In fact, polls show that people are so dissatisfied with government health care, the majority support allowing private medical services to operate along side the public.

      We have more administrators in the health system than doctors and health care providers. You suggest that private care is swallowed up by profit, government medical care is swallowed up by bureaucrats and administrators. We had a personal run in with bureaucrats with the care of my father. Doctors were wanting to do one thing, but the nameless and faceless bureaucrats ordered it stopped. We had to fight bureaucracy, not the doctors, to get the care he needed.

      I believe there is room for both private and government run health care. Both have their strengths and their weaknesses.


    • Teresa says

      I take issue with your claim that “Americans are scared of communism”. Communists murdered over 80 MILLION people in the last century, some of them my distant relatives in Poland. If we show rage and disgust over the arbitrary execution by communists of millions of people , it’s for a damn good reason. The fact that someone could write such a morally vacuous statement is frightening. The NHS is treated more like GOD in the UK than GOD himself, which is quite telling. What the government gives you, it can, and will, take away. Funny how the NHS says it needs more money, but manages to find it for the illegal migrants that get across your borders.


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