Today has been unofficially declared "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day" by God-fearing admirers of author and noted atheist Christopher Hitchens, who is dying from esophageal cancer. He appreciates the support, but as for a last-minute conversion? "Thanks but no thanks."

Hitchens spoke to the AP about the day set aside to pray for him, saying "I shall not be participating." In his latest Vanity Fair essay on his condition, "Unanswerable Prayers," Hitchens points out that he is truly grateful to everyone, but that his religious friends shouldn't hold their breath for a deathbed revelation:

Suppose I ditch the principles I have held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favor at the last minute? I hope and trust that no serious person would be at all impressed by such a hucksterish choice. Meanwhile, the god who would reward cowardice and dishonesty and punish irreconcilable doubt is among the many gods in which (whom?) I do not believe. I don't mean to be churlish about any kind intentions, but when September 20 comes, please do not trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries. Unless, of course, it makes you feel better.


[Image via Getty]