Go Tell it on the Golf Course: The Conversion of Tiger Woods

[Amy Bass, Morphizm]
(or, How Charlie Sheen Once Shot his Fiancée and Lived to Become the Highest Paid Actor on Television)
I really felt that there was nothing left to say about Tiger Woods after Frank Rich’s brilliant piece in The New York Times several weeks ago. Apparently, Fox analyst Brit Hume disagrees. Now normally, I would simply ignore anything uttered on the Fox News Network – as someone close to me once quipped, “Watching Fox News is like living in another country.” But Hume’ s suggestion that it is only through Christianity, rather than Woods’ professed Buddhist beliefs, that will allow Tiger to make amends is so egregious that perhaps further conversation is, indeed, warranted.

Hume’s remarks came on “Fox News Sunday”: host Chris Wallace asked the gathered roundtable to predict the biggest sports story of 2010. Ignoring the impending Winter Games in Vancouver or what will undoubtedly be a smashing World Series year for the Red Sox, Hume said:

Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it’s a tragic situation for him. I think he’s lost his family, it’s not clear to me if he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal — the extent to which he can recover — seems to me to depend 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.’

Wow. If that’s true, what the hell is Charlie Sheen going to have to convert to in order to make amends for his shortcomings?

But Hume wasn’t finished. After a mild uproar over his initial remarks, he continued his mission with Bill O’Reilly, arguing that Tiger “needs something that Christianity especially provides and gives and offers, and that is redemption and forgiveness.” He was careful to point out that he not proselytizing, but did add that a conversion to Christianity by Tiger would be “a magnificent thing to witness.”

No, that’s not proselytizing. The only outright proselytizing came from Jon Stewart and company. “If Tiger [became] a Jew,” Stewart argued, “he would immediately become the best athlete we’ve ever had.” No, countered Aasif Mandvi, Tiger should convert to Islam, but he should wait to make the announcement because “he frequently has to carry luggage and bags onto airplanes.”

Regardless of how one might view Tiger’s transgressions, role model or not, the people that he has hurt most reside, or did, within the four walls of his home. Consensual sex, even the dirty and adulterous kind, is not a crime. And yet we freak out every single time someone of note engages in it. Indeed, as Chris Rock once pointed out, we actually impeached Bill Clinton because the man was “trying to get laid.”

While Tiger’s choices may be disappointing to the many who revered him and to the many who made money from him and paid money to him, it is himself, his wife, and his children that will bear the brunt of what he has done. He did not blow a .04 on a breathalyzer test on Christmas morning (Charlie Sheen), he did not allegedly hold a knife to his wife’s throat (Charlie Sheen), he did not once shoot Kelly Preston in the arm (Charlie Sheen), he did not spend thousands on prostitutes (Charlie Sheen), he was never expelled from school (Charlie Sheen), he is not an advocate for the 9/11 Truth Movement (Charlie Sheen), and he was never hospitalized for injecting cocaine (Charlie Sheen).

If you want to convert someone, Brit, perhaps change targets.

Of course, comparing the importance of Tiger Woods to that of Charlie Sheen is almost as ridiculous as comparing the redemptive values (or lack thereof) of Buddhism to Christianity. Seriously: can half a billion Buddhists all be in need of ethical exorcism? Should Brit Hume be finding other practicing Buddhists in order to set them on a proper road to redemption, too?

If so, then Jon Stewart has a lot of material for the new year.

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