Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Brit Hume and Tiger Woods
By now, I'm sure everyone not living on Mars has heard that Fox News anchor Brit Hume said in an interview that he thought Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity. Predictably, a media firestorm erupted over a major network news anchor making such a statement- how exclusivist, narrow-minded...you can fill the rest. Anyway, here's a couple random thoughts on this. First, let me give props to Brit for boldness. I have no idea what flavor of spirituality Mr. Hume claims, if any. His statement seems to imply a preference for Christian faith which may reflect his own heart's commitments, but I don't know. Regardless, it is too often that case that our Constitutional separation of Church and State is used as a reason to separate the church from all of life except for what occurs within the church. But why should we allow speech from every perspective except a religious one? I admire Mr. Hume's willingness to offer a point of view which he had to know would get him scorned. Second, recommending conversion to Christianity is bigoted only if Christianity is not true. Follow my logic here. Our current cultural consensus treats all religious claims as matters of preference, all equally valid and acceptable. Thus, forcefully claiming superiority for one religion over another is viewed as akin to rabidly arguing for the superiority of orange Tic-Tacs over the mint ones-weird, rude, and since we're talking people instead of food, a bit bigoted. On the other hand, suppose that a man is having a heart attack. If one group argues "Take an orange Tic-Tac and then call 911", another says "No, take a mint Tic-Tac, then call 911", and a third says, "No, take an aspirin, then call 911." In this situation, what the third speaker is advocating is true. It really is the only one of the options which will help save the man's life. Thus, though it claims superiority over the other belief systems, it does so in an un-bigoted way. Going back to Mr. Hume's statement then, if it is true that conversion to Christianity will result in a moral reordering of Mr. Wood's life which is better than his current Buddhism, it isn't narrow, bigoted, or triumphalistic to state that fact, any more than it is narrow or bigoted to recommend aspirin instead of Tic-Tacs during a heart attack.