Author Larry Taunton Talks ‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens’, Says Atheist Contemplated Conversion to Christianity Before His Death


Larry Taunton, a Christian author in Birmingham, has recently made TV appearances on the right-leaning Fox News and on the left-leaning MSNBC.

Taunton’s new book on famous atheist Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, has gotten rave reviews from prominent atheists, and prominent Christians.

It’s a hot topic among liberal and conservative intellectuals.

Taunton, founder of the Christian ministry the Fixed Point Foundation in Birmingham, became friends with Hitchens in 2008 when the bestselling atheist author of “God is Not Great” began challenging Christians to debates.

Their friendship became so close they went on two long road trips together, with Hitchens reading aloud from the Gospel of John on one of them.

As Hitchens suffered and died from esophageal cancer, Taunton believes he was giving Christianity a kind of final review. Hitchens, who was baptized as a child in the Church of England but declared himself an atheist and burned his Bible at 15, never recanted his atheism.

But Taunton believes Hitchens gained a new appreciation for evangelical Christians who actually believe the Bible. “For the first time in his life, he was engaging evangelical Christians,” Taunton said. “He found them to be different from the veneer of Christianity in Britain. When he began debating these evangelicals, he began to like them.”

Taunton finished the manuscript for “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist,” a week before a near-fatal bicycle wreck in Birmingham. Taunton was hit by a car and is still recovering.

“I’m getting better a little every day,” Taunton said in an interview with on Thursday. “They weren’t sure I would live.”

He has been well enough to make TV appearances to promote the book, which was released Tuesday. He appeared with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Monday night.

“He read the book and he loved it,” Taunton said of Matthews. “He knew Hitchens, and he liked Hitchens. He thought it was a compassionate take on friendship. I don’t know if I can write anything ever again that gets universal praise from both the left and the right. This book is getting quite a reaction. The reception has been so kind, no nice. The atheist Michael Schermer loved the book.”

As a sponsor and participant in debates between Christians and atheists, Taunton became friends with British scientist Richard Dawkins also. He recently visited Dawkins in England, since recovering from his accident. Dawkins has been recovering from a stroke.

“I could empathize with what he was feeling,” Taunton said.

The Hitchens book, published by Thomas Nelson, is already in its second press run.

“Amazon ran out two days ago,” Taunton said on Thursday. “The book has been in high demand. It’s gotten a lot of visibility.”

Hitchens did two debates in Birmingham hosted and moderated by Taunton, in 2009 and 2010. They also debated each other in Billings, Montana, then drove together to Yellowstone National Park.

“I discovered Christopher is not defined by his atheism,” Taunton said. “Atheism is a negative and you can’t build a philosophy around a negative. Christopher was searching for a unifying system of thought. They’re accusing me of saying he converted. I make no such claim. It’s not my claim that Christopher converted, it’s that Christopher was contemplating conversion. I think I substantiate it in the book.”

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Greg Garrison