Hat tip to Crooks and Liars for bringing attention to remarks recently made by Brit Hume of Fox "News" about the Tiger Woods scandal.
“The extent to which [Woods] can recover seems to me depends on his faith," said Hume. "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, 'Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”
Hume is not alone in offering such advice to the disgraced golfer. I ended up on the e-mail address list of some right-wing Christian whack job from Washington state named Ron Boehme, and one of his recent missives was in the form of an open letter to Tiger Woods. Among the choice quotes from Boehme's appeal:
"Tiger, the only person who has the power to forgive and transform your life is Jesus Christ. Not Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha or Mother Earth."
"Tiger, Jesus died on a cross in your place to save you from the many sins you've committed. He did that for us all. Believe in God's love and forgiveness through Jesus and you will be saved, forgiven, and become a new person. It's happened to millions of us, It can happen to you."
"Want to change your present circumstances? Want to silence the tabloids and paparazzi? "If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Give them nothing to write about except a forgiven, changed, godly life."
Time will tell if Tiger Woods will take the advice offered to him by Hume and Boehme. It wouldn't surprise me all that much if he did. It has become a form of kabuki theater here in America in recent years. A politician, celebrity or other public figure commits a transgression in the eyes of the public and inevitably they try to restore their good standing by claiming to have found or rediscovered Jesus. Whether or not the conversion is sincere we rarely ever know. What does matter is that in a nation that is majority Christian, such a show is ultimately put on because it is a performance that is calculated to win the acceptance of the public.
So, for the Hume, Boehme and their ilk, Tiger Woods ultimately has to make a public show of becoming a Christian because that is the only way they can bring themselves to accept him as a person of good standing.
I find it interesting that Hume and Boehme claim that Buddhism, for example, cannot offer redemption and forgiveness. As someone who once considered embracing Buddhism years ago and who did absorb some of its teachings, I have to disagree vehemently. One of the core messages of Buddhism is that it is our attachment to material things that causes us unhappiness. Tiger Woods damaged his life because he thought sleeping with lots of women while married would bring him happiness and excitement. Buddhism teaches that he, as well as all of us, should shun such things because such activities ultimately cause us misery.
As for forgiveness, one of the most important persons we can obtain forgiveness from is not some invisible sky daddy, but rather ourselves. Forgiveness of self comes from understanding what we did wrong, why it was wrong, recognizing the mental state that drove us to commit the act, and learning that we must change our mental state to ensure that it does not happen again. Then there is the seeking of forgiveness from the person or persons that we wronged.
Being an atheist, I think I can say truthfully that I am a much more inclusive person than the likes of Hume and Boehme. Tiger Woods does not need my forgiveness. But I recognize that he does need to make some public act of contrition and to make amends to his wife and her family for the tremendous embarrasment he caused them. It doesn't matter to me whether he does it as a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or secular humanist. Then let him get back to the business of playing golf again, hopefully as a humbler and wiser man.