Ignorance or Arrogance?

Published: January 6, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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On Fox News Sunday (Jan. 3) former anchor, current pundit, Brit Hume made the following statement regarding Tiger Woods:

“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.’”

That statement must come as a surprise to the almost 400 million Buddhists around the world.  More surprising is the fact that Hume, someone I have long respected as a news professional, has not only moved into the pundit seat but would assume the role of authority on “forgiveness and redemption” regarding other religions.  Even more startling is his jump to proselytization; telling Woods, in essence, “Come over to our side and receive ‘the kind of forgiveness and redemption… offered by the Christian faith.’”

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message,” Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama has said in speeches, “- that is love, compassion and forgiveness – the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”

Welton Gaddy leader of the Interfaith Alliance wrote, “Having served as a Christian minister for 50 years, I am delighted to see my faith discussed in public. However, I am not pleased to see my faith used in a utilitarian manner whether the issue is personal forgiveness or national politics. Unfortunately, the manipulation of faith has become so common that to many it now seems acceptable.”

I am surprised and disappointed by Hume’s statement because it appears to show either an ignorance of Buddhism or an arrogance regarding his own path towards forgiveness.  The true rewards of forgiveness and redemption in the Christian faith cannot be denied, but it is neither fair nor respectful to claim that one path is better than another.  The intolerance reflected in a statement like that creates more discord than harmony among people of different faiths.

In a 1985 address at Westminster Abbey, the Dalai Lama said, “The world’s religions can contribute to world peace if there is peace and growing harmony between the different faiths.  It would be tragic if inter-religious rivalry and conflict undermines world peace in the twenty-first century.  In this regard, I have always encouraged and supported efforts towards better understanding among our different faiths.

“It is my firm belief that this better understanding will enhance the ability of different faiths to make positive contributions to world peace… Religious and spiritual leaders can play a pivotal role by making a sustained effort to explain to their respective followers the importance of respecting the beliefs and traditions of other faiths.”


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