I knew when Brit Hume made his innocuous (to me) comments that a strong backlash would develop… I knew because I know the leftist mind and particularly the mind of those who find bigotry in any exclusive claim and yet thankfully, there are those who see through the charge of intolerance and in fact see it for what it is.
After urging Tiger Woods to accept the “forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith” — and comparing Buddhism unfavorably to that hope — journalist Brit Hume insisted he was not proselytizing. In this, he is wrong. His words exemplify proselytization.
For this, Hume has been savaged. Post media critic Tom Shales put him in the category of a “sanctimonious busybody” engaged in “telling people what religious beliefs they ought to have.” Blogger Andrew Sullivan criticized Hume’s “pure sectarianism,” which helps abolish “the distinction between secular and religious discourse.” MSNBC’s David Shuster called Hume’s religious advice “truly embarrassing.”
Hume’s critics hold a strange view of pluralism. For religion to be tolerated, it must be privatized — not, apparently, just in governmental settings but also on television networks. We must have not only a secular state but also a secular public discourse. And so tolerance, conveniently, is defined as shutting up people with whom secularists disagree. Many commentators have been offering Woods advice in his travails. But religious advice, apparently and uniquely, should be forbidden. In a discussion of sex, morality and betrayed vows, wouldn’t religious issues naturally arise? How is our public discourse improved by narrowing it — removing references to the most essential element in countless lives?
True tolerance consists in engaging deep disagreements respectfully — through persuasion — not in banning certain categories of argument and belief from public debate.
In this controversy, we are presented with two models of discourse. Hume, in an angry sea of loss and tragedy — his son’s death in 1998 — found a life preserver in faith. He offered that life preserver to another drowning man. Whatever your view of Hume’s beliefs, he could have no motive other than concern for Woods himself.
The other model has come from critics such as Shales, in a spittle-flinging rage at the mention of religion in public, comparing Hume to “Mary Poppins on the joys of a tidy room, or Ron Popeil on the glories of some amazing potato peeler.” Shales, of course, is engaged in proselytism of his own — for a secular fundamentalism that trivializes and banishes all other faiths. He distributes the sacrament of the sneer.
Who in this picture is more intolerant?
It is the left that are the intolerant ones… it is the left that are filled most with hate… it is the left that are the most judgmental and narrow-minded… it is the left whose ranks are stock full of bigots, racists and dogmatists…
Remember this the next time you hear them make their claims against people like you and me, people with traditional values, people who do nothing more than attempt to make sense of their Christian faith and who attempt, in fits, starts, and at times failure, to live that faith out.
And thank God for a faith that offers forgiveness and redemption, uniquely, necessarily and yes, exclusively.