NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Fox News contributor Brit Hume continues to face sharp criticism for remarks he made about Christianity offering Tiger Woods an opportunity for redemption, but a Southern Baptist leader has expressed support for Hume’s comments.
“In a land that supposedly cherishes freedom of speech, it is interesting to me to see how strongly persons have objected to Brit Hume’s comments regarding Tiger Woods and his faith,” Frank Page, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press.
“Not only is it ironic that those same persons who trumpet free speech are so soundly criticizing Brit Hume, I want to go on record as saying I am proud of him for speaking the truth of his heart. I am applauding him and agreeing with him,” Page, vice president of evangelization at the North American Mission Board, said.
“I am thankful he had the courage to do what he knew would be politically incorrect, but I also want to say that he spoke the truth and our prayers are with and for Tiger Woods and his family during this very difficult time. In Christ, Tiger Woods can find true redemption, forgiveness and restoration if he and his wife would seek the restoration that Christ can give.”
During a panel segment on “Fox News Sunday” Jan. 3, Hume said the extent to which Woods can recover personally from revelations of adultery largely depends 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,” Hume said, “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.'”
Various members of the mainstream media quickly rebuked Hume, with one comparing him to an Islamic extremist who violently believes everyone must convert to his specific religion.
In an appearance on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor” Jan. 4, Hume elaborated on his initial comments, saying Woods is a person he has long supported as a golfer and as a man.
“I’ve greatly admired him over the years, and I always have said to people that it was the content of his character that made him — beyond his extraordinary golf skills — so admirable. Now we know that the content of his character was not what we thought it was,” Hume said.
Though Woods has lost significant endorsement deals since the infidelity news surfaced, Hume said he suspects that pales in comparison to the price Woods has paid personally, especially in the loss of his family.
“My sense about Tiger is that he needs something that Christianity especially provides and gives and offers, and that is redemption and forgiveness. I was really meaning to say in those comments yesterday more about Christianity than anything else,” Hume said.
“I mentioned the Buddhism only because his mother is a Buddhist and he has apparently said he is a Buddhist. I’m not sure how seriously he practices that, but I think Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs.”
His point, Hume said, was that if Woods were to make a true conversion to faith in Christ, everyone would know it.
“It would show through in his being, and he would know it above all. He would feel the extraordinary blessing that that would be, and it would shine because he is so prominent,” Hume told Bill O’Reilly. “It would be a shining light, and I think it would be a magnificent thing to witness.”
In the aftermath of sharing his opinion on the Sunday talk show, Hume said he received correspondence from fellow believers who expressed support, but he also received a significant amount of criticism.
“I’ve heard a lot of unfavorable comments from people who claim that I was a pompous jerk who had no business mouthing off on this subject and that I shouldn’t have belittled the Buddhist faith and so on,” Hume said.
When O’Reilly asked why Christianity seems to draw such ire, Hume said it has always puzzled him, but “the Bible even speaks of it, that if you speak the name Jesus Christ — and I don’t mean to make a pun here — all hell breaks loose.”
“It is explosive. I didn’t even say the name in that way. I simply spoke of the Christian faith, but that was enough to trigger this reaction. It triggers a very powerful reaction in people who do not share the faith and who do not believe in it,” Hume said.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said Christianity is “the one belief the tolerant cannot tolerate.”
Hume “pointed out how Tiger Woods, whose sexual sins have damaged his marriage, family and career, can recover,” Wright said. “It is a tried-and-true method with centuries of evidence to back it up. From Saul of Tarsus, who was intent on murdering Christians, to John Newton, captain of a slave ship, to Chuck Colson, Nixon’s notorious ‘hatchet man,’ to millions of others who have committed less egregious transgressions.”
“Jesus Christ transforms people’s lives,” Wright said Jan. 5. “Saul became the Apostle Paul. John Newton became a pastor, penned the song ‘Amazing Grace’ and influenced William Wilberforce to end the slave trade. Chuck Colson went from prisoner to founder of Prison Fellowship, a ministry to the imprisoned.”
Wright surmised that Hume would not be so viciously criticized if he had claimed the benefits of any other religion or non-religion.
“It’s only when a Christian speaks of the advantages of Christianity that the modern secularist goes into orbit,” she said. “No Christian should silence himself from a truth known deep in his soul. Brit Hume is to be commended for his courage to speak up and take the heat. All for a very simple idea — that God loves us and can turn our broken lives into something better, something we could never have imagined.”
For those interested in allowing God to turn their lives around, Baptist Press provides information on receiving redemption through Jesus Christ. Just click on the icon in the top left corner of the Baptist Press homepage, bpnews.net.
Additional resources are available through the North American Mission Board’s website, namb.net, by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on “Tell Me About Jesus.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.