Brit Hume, the Fox News commentator, went on national TV this week and publicly criticized another person’s faith as inadequate.
Facing a backlash for those remarks, Hume is now casting himself as the victim of religious intolerance.
Got that? The victim of religious bigotry and intolerance is the man who publicly condemned another’s faith as inadequate.
To review briefly, here’s Hume’s original statement on Fox News Sunday:
“… the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal — the extent to which he can recover — seems to me to depend on his faith. He’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 to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”
According to Hume and others, he has become the victim of anti-Christian bigotry for those remarks. “It is certainly true in secular America today that the most controversial two words you can ever utter in a public space are ‘Jesus Christ,’” Hume said in a later interview about the uproar.
That’s absurd. It’s not about Christianity. Among other things, it’s about poor manners. Like a lot of Americans, I was raised to respect religious belief, and I think it’s rude and crass to drag another person’s private faith into the public square for judgment and belittlement, as Hume did to Woods.
Reportedly, Hume’s longtime Christian faith deepened after the tragic suicide of his son 11 years ago. I get that and accept that, and I’m glad that Hume found solace at what must have been a very difficult time. If Hume had reached out privately to Woods to share that experience, I’d have no problem with it whatsoever, and I doubt many others would either.
In fact, if Hume had merely said on air that his own Christian faith had helped him through hard times and that Woods might benefit from it too, I’d find it hard to object much. (Such a statement would have seemed odd and out of place from a political commentator on a news show, but that’s another issue.)
However, that’s not what Hume did. He said Woods is a Buddhist and suggested that Buddhism is an inferior religion.
Thanks to an earlier post on this subject, I’m now among those being accused of being anti-Christian and intolerant. Well, let’s try a little experiment, shall we? Let’s imagine that a prominent newscaster had said the following about Hume at a difficult time in his life:
“Brit’s said to be a Christian — I don’t think that faith offers the kind of solace that is offered by the Buddhist faith — so my message to Brit would be, turn to the Buddhist faith and you can make a total recovery.”
Personally, I would find that just as objectionable as what Hume said about Woods. A person’s religion is not a topic for public judgment. But I guarantee that most of those who today rush to defend Hume’s comments in the name of tolerance would be singing quite a different tune. They would not be celebrating the airing of religious issues, they would be complaining about a lack of basic respect for faith.
And in that case, they’d be right.