(CNSNews.com) – Brit Hume said he was “not surprised” by the media backlash over his remarks to Tiger Woods on “Fox News Sunday” this week. There is a “double-standard” when it comes to speaking publicly about Christianity versus other religions, he said.
Hume, a Fox News analyst, told CNSNews.com: “There is a double standard. If I had said, for example, that what Tiger Woods needed to do was become more deeply engaged in his Buddhist faith or to adopt the ideas of Hinduism, which I think would be of great spiritual value to him, I doubt anybody would have said anything.”
Last Sunday, Hume suggested the golfer-- who has stated that he is Buddhist -- look to Christianity for help to makeover his personal life. In response to host Chris Wallace’s question asking him to predict the biggest sports story of 2010, Hume speculated that while Woods would recover professionally from his now-public admission of adultery, the comeback of his personal life is currently a question mark.
“Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer.” Hume began. “Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it’s a tragic situation for him.
“I think he’s lost his family; it’s not clear to me if he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children, 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.” Hume said.
The former newsman-turned-commentator continued: “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.’”
Hume faced severe media backlash for his Christian words to Woods.
On Tuesday, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann accused Hume of an “attempt to threaten Tiger Woods into converting to Christianity.”
MSNBC anchor David Shuster blasted Hume, saying he had no business mentioning Christianity on a political talk show.
“I do think (talking about Christianity on a political talk show) diminishes the discussion of Christianity,” Shuster said. “My Christian friends have said as much, that it diminishes the discussion of Christianity and faith when you have a conversation out-of-the-blue on a political talk show. This wasn’t the ‘700 Club,’ this wasn’t ‘Theocracy Today.’”
Tom Shales, media critic for the Washington Post , in a Tuesday column, demanded that Hume apologize and called his Christian remarks “even only a few days into January, as one of the most ridiculous of the year.”
When CNSNews.com asked Hume if the media uproar over his comments regarding Tiger Woods and a potential conversion to Christianity caught him by surprise, he replied, “No, I’m not surprised.”
When asked if he would do it again, Hume did not hesitate to respond affirmatively.
“Sure,” he said.
CNSNews.com asked Hume: “Why is Jesus Christ taboo in polite conversation or in the world of politics and media?”
“I think it’s been true for a long time in many cultures. It is certainly true in secular America today that the most controversial two words you can ever utter in a public space are ‘Jesus Christ,’” Hume said.
When asked to speculate about the reasons for the mainstream media’s vitriolic reception of Christianity, Hume initially expressed bewilderment
“I’m somewhat at a loss to explain it because so many of the people who purport to be aghast at such mentions are themselves at least nominally Christian. But there it is,” Hume said.
He added: “I think it is true that for people who are not Christian, Christianity makes a fairly extravagant claim which is that the Son of God -- God made Flesh -- came into this world, lived, suffered terribly, and died for the remission of our sins, and then rose again. This is a huge supernatural event, and a lot of people don’t—have a lot of trouble believing it. But if you do purport to believe it, the implications are pretty staggering. And the result is you may end up talking about it,” Hume said.
Hume also ventured possible practical reasons for the public’s searing distaste for Christianity.
“There is certainly a level of anti-Christian bigotry that may have something to do with the fact that on certain issues, the views of Christians are against theirs on certain matters such as abortion and others, but I can’t account for all of it. It is a striking reality, however,” Hume concluded.
The Rev. Pat Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister and executive director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., said it is important to put Hume’s words on "Fox News Sunday" into context.
“When Brit Hume made the comment, it was not as a newsperson, but it was in a commentary analyst context,” Mahoney said. “He wasn’t reporting on a hard news story. He was sharing 'opinioned' fact which many of the news programs encourage their commentators to do.”
Noting that many journalists feel “awkward” when dealing with matters of Christianity, Mahoney said: “I think really what they are denigrating . . . is (what journalists feel is) a conservative political point of view. That it isn’t so much Christianity per se, but I think it’s how they view Christians,” Mahoney said.
“I think there’s a stereotype among journalists on viewing Christians, that somehow they’re rigid, they’re bigoted, they’re harsh, they’re judgmental, they’re mean-spirited, etc., and that comes forth,” Mahoney added.
“I think (Hume) was trying to reach out to Tiger and offer him hope, and I don’t think Brit Hume should be muzzled on areas of faith when your commentators should be able to freely share [their] opinions on a host of issues,” Mahoney said.
Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in New York City, said Hume was not “imposing” anything.
“He was simply proposing something publicly, and this should be taken at face value,” Donahue said.
Donahue said the double standard reveals itself in the absence of public outrage over atheists who have become “increasingly dogmatic and aggressive and very public and vocal” in expressing their contempt for Christianity.
“That doesn’t seem to bother anybody. It’s always Christianity,” Donahue said.
At heart, the backlash of “hatred” towards Hume’s comments is a reaction against conservative sexual mores, Donahue said.
“So much of it has to do with sexuality of course, because the cultural elites in our society don’t want to be told 'no' by anyone. And when they look at Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church, they see a religion which essentially speaks to virtues of sexual restraint. And that’s really what’s undergirding this,” he told CNSNews.com.