The picture on the television screen and the audio of reporter Brit Hume’s words struck me as contradictory. Just below the image of the reporter’s face, the insignia “Fox News” appeared in three different places. Yet, the content of Mr. Hume’s comments was not that of a news reporter so much as that of a televangelist.
Speaking about Tiger Woods on “Fox News Sunday” January 3, 2010, Mr. Hume observed that Mr. Woods’ recovery “depends on his faith.” Was that a personal opinion of the reporter, a theological belief, or a “breaking news” story? After telling his audience that Mr. Woods is a Buddhist, Hume said, “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is (sic) offered by the Christian faith.” Evidently the reporter has expertise in both Buddhist and Christian thought. With such self-assumed authority, Hume addressed Woods personally, “Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”
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 have two problems with Mr. Hume’s comments.
First, a news program should deal with news, not evangelism, whatever religion is involved. Even though Mr. Hume’s remarks occurred during a portion of the program devoted to commentary, a news anchor should not assume an authority to compare “redemption” in various religions. That is a legitimate subject for inter-religious dialogue, but not for a news report. Mr. Hume was delivering an opinion, not the news regardless of how many “Fox News” insignias adorned the screen.
Second, the implication of Mr. Hume’s suggestion to Mr. Woods is utilitarian–you will get a better deal related to forgiveness in Christianity than you can get in Buddhism. Christianity is not a means to an end; it is a holistic faith to be embraced and lived. Seeking the easiest form of forgiveness–though such a description of forgiveness in Christianity is woefully inadequate and misleading–is not a reason to become a Christian. The life of a Christian involves far more than a response to wrongdoing.
I would hope that, as a reporter of the news, Mr. Hume would report truth to people of all religions with mutual respect and not use the cover of “a news cast” to engage in proselytization. Ironically, Mr. Hume is engaging in a practice that most religious leaders in the nation try to avoid.