Fox's Hume slammed for telling Tiger to convert

Former Fox News anchor told beleaguered golfer, "turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery"

By Alex Koppelman
Published January 4, 2010 4:25PM (EST)

When you're a celebrity, everyone seems to know how you should best run your life -- and they're not shy about offering advice on that score, publicly. Take Tiger Woods, whose dirty laundry has been very public recently in the wake of revelations about his extramarital affairs. On Sunday, Fox News' Brit Hume decided to tell Woods how he can get things back on track:

Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think, is a very open question. And it's a tragic situation ... But 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."

The reaction to Hume's comments has been largely negative.

"I do not understand and can’t begin to comprehend the arrogance it takes to publicly anoint yourself someone’s spiritual adviser, and to then lecture them about their faith and its alleged inadequacies," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman wrote. " A person’s faith is a private matter between that person and God, and is not a matter to be judged by some pompous TV anchor."

The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan was similarly critical, writing:

The pure sectarianism of this comment -- its adoption of the once-secular stage of political journalism to insert a call for apostasy -- is striking ... But it has long been established that non-evangelical Christians have at best an auxiliary role in today's religiously defined GOP, and the slow morphing of Fox News into the 700 Club is not exactly new ... Once you have abolished the distinction between secular and religious discourse, as they routinely insist on doing, their politics is their religion and their religion is their politics. And both are corrupted.

And Steve Benen chimed in to make a few good points, "It's hard to even know where to start with something like this. How many high-profile Christians have had damaging sex scandals of late? Why is Buddhism deemed inadequate for those with family problems? Why is a senior political analyst for a so-called 'news' network proselytizing, on the air, during one of the network's 'news' programs?"

As of this post, a spokeswoman for Fox News hadn't yet responded to a voice mail Salon left seeking comment. But there were some conservatives in the blogosphere who came to Hume's defense.

"Leftists in the state-run media are lambasting Brit Hume for promoting Christianity on a Sunday morning talk show," the Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, complained, before going on to make a somewhat nonsensical argument in response to Benen: "It used to be that liberals didn’t want you to mention Christ in schools. Then they banned Christ from Christmas concerts and public squares. Now they are demanding that we not talk about Christianity in public. We should have seen this coming."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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