Ooh, I'm so excited! It's just what we needed to spice up the New Year -- a new front in the religious wars.
Brit Hume of Fox News has dissed the 350 to 500 million Buddhists in the world by saying Tiger Woods needs to ditch Buddhism and embrace Christianity in order to recover from his infidelity scandal and be a great example to the world.
Not surprisingly, this has irked Buddhists, who usually are pretty darn mild-mannered. I'm not sure what a Buddhist "jihad" or "crusade" would be called, but the Progressive Buddhism blog has started one against Brit Hume.
Could Hume get away with saying something like this about Jewish people or Black People or the Muslim Faith? You betcha he couldn't. Why should he be able to skate away scott free when speaking about Buddhists? Because we are only 3 or 4% of the population in the US? Hell NO! Sometimes we do have to speak up, sometimes right speech is getting in someone's face saying, "hey you can't say that about us...you know nothing at all about us!"
Responding to the call to arms, I wasted a few minutes of my life and sent off an email to Fox News expressing my indignation and asking for an apology from Hume -- as if anyone there cares about what agnostic/ atheist/ churchless/ Buddhist types think.
It turns out that Brit Hume isn't apologizing, but rather is repeating and amplifying his praise of Christianity and disdain for Buddhism.
Tonight, in an interview with WTOP News radio in Washington, D.C., Hume did more than shrug off critics. He ramped up his pitch of the superiority of Christianity, a religion he says is "uniquely and especially about redemption and forgiveness," as the one right choice for Woods.
Hume went on to testify on Christ's sacrificial death and how his "deepest hope" is for Tiger to accept this gift and "be transformed."
Theologically and practically, Hume is skating on thin ice. Christianity clearly is a religion, while Buddhism arguably isn't.
Societies that are the most religious also are the most dysfunctional. So this is one reason Christianity is so big on forgiveness: people in devoutly Christian nations are much more prone to screwing up than people in secular countries.
The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.
“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
If we step back and consider Hume's remarks as an anthropologist would, someone observing the beliefs of a primitive tribe, they're simply freaking weird.
Devout Christian that Brit Hume is, he thinks that Tiger Woods doesn't need to be forgiven by his wife, but rather by some imaginary being. Woods is being advised to bow down to the gods, who will reward him by absolving his calendar-filling conduct.
Most people would ridicule such notions if they came from ancient Babylonia, but somehow they're accepted as, well, gospel in twenty-first century America, even though they're as ridiculous now as they were back then.
Tiger Woods is an on-again, off-again quasi-Buddhist. He'll go through plenty of changes during the rest of his life, as everyone does. Woods might even decide to embrace Jesus and be "born again."
But he apparently believes he's already on that track, so why take a different route?
Missing from Woods's description of his daily routine is meditation - learnt from his Buddhist mother and one element of a religion that clearly shapes much of his attitude to life.
"I practice meditation -- that is something that I do, that my mum taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together," he said.
"In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it."