If the story of Jesus Christ isn't literally true, then Christianity is a fraud that promotes "a positively wicked doctrine," conservative writer Christopher Hitchens told Fox & Friends Monday morning.
Hitchens, an avowed atheist whose 2007 book God is Not Great attempts to divorce conservatism from religious teachings, discussed the role of religion in American society in the wake of a recent study (PDF) that shows the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has roughly doubled in the past two decades, from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008.
The study, conducted by Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, predicts that a full one-quarter of Americans will have no religious affiliation by 2028. The study notes that the number of non-believers among younger people is considerably higher than among older people, suggesting that the trend of Americans growing less religious will continue in coming years.
Those people who claim no religious affiliation are "not all atheists by any means," Hitchens told host Gretchen Carlson. "They're just people who don't attend a church, don't have a faith. I think it's fair to call them agnostics. The number of people, like myself, who think religion is false, that it's a delusion and that it's bad for you, is still pretty small."
Hitchens said Americans are increasingly turning against organized religion "because they want to push back against theocracy and the parties of God and the awful challenge they pose to us internationally."
"By the way, your side seems to be winning in public schools, at least across America," Carlson told Hitchens.
Hitchens appeared on Fox with pastor Douglas Wilson, who appeared along with Hitchens in the recent documentary Collision, which explores the battle of ideas between the religious and the non-religious.
The two came to an unexpected agreement on one issue: They both attacked the notion, popular among some secular thinkers, that Christianity is a socially positive thing even if it's not true.
"If Jesus didn't come back from the dead, then Christianity is appalling, it's an appalling fraud and delusion and every unbeliever should attack it," Wilson said. "Christianity is not good for the world because it makes people decent and sober and that sort of thing. At the end of the day, if it's not true, if it's not objectively true, then I don't have any more use for it than Christopher does."
Hitchens echoed that idea, but made it clear he does actually consider Christianity a fraud.
"They say, well the Bible story's not really true, they're morality tales. Don't listen to it, because if it's based on a fraud, if the virgin birth and the resurrection and the miracles did not occur, which they did not, then those teachings are immoral, they teach that sins can be forgiven by throwing them on to a scapegoat -- a positively wicked doctrine."
This video is from Fox News' Fox & Friends, broadcast Oct. 26, 2009.