I don't know if I've mentioned it on the blog before, but occasionally I give out Rummy Awards to people who say something perfectly reasonable that sounds kind of odd and then get unfairly lampooned for it in the media. Its original inspiration was Donald Rumsfeld's "unknown unknown" speech, which was made fun of by seemingly everyone despite conveying the sensible notion that unforseen circumstances and problems will exist. Other past winners include John Kerry (for "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it," referring to the difference between substantive procedural votes and protest votes) and Janet Napolitano ("The system worked," which referred to what happened after Captain Underpants got on the plane). Anyway, I'm mulling over giving a Rummy to Brit Hume.
Brit Hume, as you probably know by now, is the Fox News anchor who said that Tiger Woods should ditch Buddhism for Christianity so he can gain forgiveness for his adulterous behavior. The chorus of voices ripping Hume has grown since then.
Now I don't think much of Hume as a newsman, but in this case I fail to see the problem with Hume's statement. Hume is, presumably, a Christian, and Christianity states that forgiveness for sins is only possible through belief in Jesus as the Savior. To Christians, then, Buddhism doesn't offer forgiveness in the same way as Christianity because it doesn't involve Christ. So to Hume, Tiger is not just a sinner - we're all sinners, after all - but he's not forgiven for his sins because he doesn't believe in Jesus. So of course Hume would say that Buddhism doesn't offer forgiveness for Tiger's sins while Christianity does, because that's a basic tenet of Christianity.
What I think is at work here is that this particular Christian belief is an uncomfortable one for those who want to put a happy-face on all religion and pretend that it's all about everyone getting along all the time. I'll admit, too, that those people aren't all barking up the wrong tree in their desire to make religion about that. It's a noble goal. But Christianity isn't just about "be nice to one another" - it's also about salvation and the afterlife and God and Jesus and all that other stuff I just mentioned. So when someone wants to give voice to those other aspects of Christianity, it doesn't really fit into the "be nice to each other" narrative, and so those who subscribe to that narrative react viscerally and want to shut down the expression of that part of the faith.
I should know about such reactions - as Ben can attest, I've been down that road. But I don't think it's appropriate to ask a Christian like Hume to hold back on his religious views just because some people might find those views disagreeable or laughable. He has the right to voice his opinions, we non-Christians have a right to disagree, but his opinions are hardly ridiculous - rather, they're consistent with mainstream Christian belief. This doesn't mean Hume's beliefs are above criticism, just that Hume's statement is hardly the out-there crazy missive it seems to be portrayed as in the media.
Hume's Rummy for flagrant and inconvenient Christianity wouldn't be unprecedented - Rev. Jerry Falwell, for whom long-time readers know I had absolutely no love, got a belated Rummy for his statement about the anti-Christ being Jewish*. Of course, I'm not a Christian, so I might have this all wrong. That's why I'm not pulling the trigger on the Rummy yet. If any of you Christian readers care to weigh in and tell me if I've got this fouled up, let me know.
* An injudicious statement, perhaps, but one which is backed up by sound millenarian Christian theology and thus isn't really anti-Semitic at all. John from Truth Before Dishonor has a summary of the theology here.
Update: Michael Gerson has taken up residence in my head. Spend too long up there, Gerson, and you'll become a moonbat like me...
One note: Gerson attributes the criticism of Hume to intolerance of strong belief. I don't necessarily buy that - I don't think most of the people reacting negatively to Hume are intolerant of strong belief; rather, they're merely naive. That is, they simply don't understand what strong religious belief entails. I can see where Gerson would get this idea, and calling it intolerance tells part of the story, but it doesn't tell the whole story in my opinion.