Fox News analyst Brit Hume received backlash this week over his suggestion that Tiger Woods should turn to Christianity.If Hume had recommended that Tiger Woods sacrifice a chicken or eat bats' heads, it would have engendered comparative little reaction. What does that tell us?
"Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think is a very open question," Hume said on the show Fox News Sunday. "The Tiger Woods that emerges, once the news value dies out of this scandal, the extent to which he can recover, seems to me, 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. 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."
The former news anchor says he became serious about his Christian faith about 11 years ago, when his son Sandy committed suicide at age 28. Hume spoke to Christianity Today about his faith and the criticism in response to his suggestion to Woods.
How would you respond to people to people who are criticizing you?
I certainly expected this. I'm nowhere near the first Christian to be mocked for his faith. It is simply a fact of life that the two most explosive words in the English language appear to be Jesus Christ. You don't even need to say them if you speak openly of Christianity. Faith engenders a tremendous reaction, a lot of it positive and a lot of it negative.
It seems like you've moved from anchoring news to more opinion, is that right?
I'm a senior political analyst. I do more analysis and commentary now. I do almost no anchoring anymore. I'm semi-retired. I only work 100 days a year.
Would you say you've moved out of objective journalism?
In a way, yeah. This was a panel segment where journalists give their analytical observations. We were doing predictions. We were discussing a whole range of issues including sports and entertainment. The first show of the year, we do that on Fox News Sunday. That's how the subject of Tiger Woods came up.
Were you surprised by the reaction?
I was surprised at the extent of it, but not the tone of it. I expected there to be some very strong criticism and some very strong, favorable response.
Can you tell me more about how you became a Christian?
I grew up in a Christian family and I went nine years to an Episcopal boys school. I've always been, at least on paper, a Christian. It wasn't until my son died 11 years ago that I began to get serious about it. His death was devastating. I was shattered. Yet through all of that, I had this feeling that God would save me, that he would be there for me, that I was in his hands, and that I was going to be okay. It really happened.
Fox News was not the dominant channel that it is now. It was a fledgling cable news channel with very little viewership. I had been there about a year after being a correspondent at ABC News. I was not an anchor there except on weekends. I'm better known now than I was then. The news of my son's death was a big story in Washington but it wasn't a big story around the country. Yet, in the weeks after his death, I began to receive expressions of sympathy from all over the country and other parts of the world.
My secretary and I were sending out notes to people that said, "Thank you for expressing your sympathy." We sent out 973 sympathy notes in a matter of weeks. I read them all. My mailbox would be stuffed with them night after night. I'd weep over some of them. Some of them were prayer cards, some of them would tell me a tree had been planted somewhere. I felt that I was seeing the face of God. I felt people's support and love. To me it was a miracle. I've been trying to face up to the implications of believing in Christ and believing in God ever since.
[Hat tip to J.M.]