Little did I know when I attended church services yesterday that the minister of my Evangelical Presbyterian Church would speak out in support of Brit Hume, the longtime news anchor of the FOX NEWS NETWORK, who retired several months ago but remains as a network contributor and pundit. As many are aware, Brit was asked to comment on the dilemma facing Tiger Woods, who now rivals Jack Nicklaus as the greatest golfer to ever play the game; but who recently suffered humiliating international exposure as a serial adulterer, which resulted in serious damage to his marriage and career. In response to the questioner, Brit stunned many when he first spoke of his admiration for Tiger Woods over the years, and then stated: “[h]e’s said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn your faith – turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”
It should be noted that, according to my sources, Tiger Woods’ mother was a Buddhist, but it is unclear whether he is a practicing Buddhist. It should also be noted that Brit Hume’s son, a twenty-eight-year-old journalist, committed suicide a few years ago, and that Brit has spoken publically concerning his faith and the outpouring of love and affection he received after that tragic event.
The response of the media intelligentsia to Hume’s public advice to Tiger Woods was immediate and brutal. Although heretofore widely respected as a thoughtful and highly professional journalist, Brit was suddenly branded as a religious fanatic. Tom Shales of the WASHINGTON POST blasted Hume’s remarks as utterly inappropriate for a news show and suggested that his “dissing” of Buddhism calls for a public apology. Buddhist journalist Barbara Hoetsu O’Brien, a former Christian, admitted in her recent blog dated January 4, 2010, entitled “Let’s Forgive Brit Hume”, that Brit was in fact correct when he stated that Buddhism does not offer forgiveness and redemption the way Christianity does. She goes on to say that….”Buddhism has no concept of sin; therefore, redemption and forgiveness in the Christian sense are meaningless in Buddhism.” However, she further states that Buddhists do believe strongly in the concept of loving kindness, which should be extended to all that have wronged us. She also added that Christians should not give advice on how to deal with adultery or sexual improprieties, given their poor track record on the subject.
According to conservative columnist Ken Conner, “Buddhism is a non-theistic religion that might be better described as a school of philosophy; it does not speculate on the existence of God and certainly does not embrace the idea that man is connected to the Creator of the Universe through the person of Jesus Christ.”
Some have written that since religion is such a deeply personal issue, it was wrong for Brit Hume to publicly discuss or suggest what Tiger Woods should believe, or how he should deal with his problems from a religious standpoint. Still, given the enormous amount of publicity (world-wide) the Tiger Woods scandal has generated, it was not out of line for someone such as Brit Hume, in the editorial portion of a news program and who had experienced the power of Christ in his own life, to publicly suggest, upon being questioned on the subject, that a troubled young man facing the loss of his family and career might do the same.
While, as stated by Conner, the kind of “theological certainty” displayed by Brit Hume on national television in this era of “post-modern religious relativism” may have made some uncomfortable, he is “one of the few willing to offer the beleaguered athlete an authentic path to restoration” while “everyone else is speculating on how Tiger might strategize his way back into the nation’s good graces.”
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