Britt Hume of Fox News insults the faith of about five hundred million people by suggesting that Tiger Wood’s Buddhist faith will not be up to the job of his redemption and he needs to convert to Christianity.  The video of the Fox News anchor turning his media position into a sectarian bully pulpit is below:

The relevant quote from the video above:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,” Hume said. “He is 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. My message to Tiger would, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

The pomposity of a TV anchor (who ignores the recent rash of C Street conservatives (John Ensign, Chip Pickering and Mark Sanford) whose overt religiosity did not prevent their inclinations to adultery) is one matter.

But this is yet another example of how the right wing cannot resist injecting religion into debate.  Hume is hardly alone on Fox News.  Bill O’Reilly is on record bemoaning attempts to weaken the “White, Christian, male power structure” in this country.  Fox News regularly features Ann Coulter who infamously in the aftermath of 9/11 said we should “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  Shortly before Christmas the otherwise highly regarded Indiana governor Mitch Daniels went off on an amazingly ignorant screed about the evils of secularism.

This is not new.  But coupled with the attacks on Barack Obama allegedly being a Muslim (not helped by Obama’s politically calculated response to treat the accusation as if it were a slur – previous blog here) they seem to be rising to a crescendo.

There used to be a religious left in this country that publicly backed the Civil Rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam war.  The first “born-again” President elected was a Democrat Jimmy Carter.  But Roe vs. Wade and the ensuing culture wars saw evangelicals start aligning behind the Republican Party and enter politics with a vengeance in the Reagan years.

In the 2000 Republican primaries all Republican candidates other than John McCain (who named Teddy Roosevelt) named Jesus Christ as their favorite political philosopher (ignoring the irony that the most political pronouncement of Jesus supports the principle of separation of Church and State).

A few years ago Andrew Sullivan termed the Republican Party and the right-wing Christianists who by co-opting the gospels for their political message are surprisingly akin to the Islamist political forces they condemn.  With the emergence of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and their ilk it is very hard to dispute that claim.

There was a time where American politicians took pains to assure voters that their faith would not interfere with their governmental obligations.  In the 1960 Presidential Campaign John F. Kennedy took pains to assure voters that he would not take orders from Rome.  Today Congress asks the Conference of Catholic Bishops to sign off on health care reform.  In one sense, it shows the integration of Catholics into American society.  But it also is an example of elected politicians kowtowing to the clergy in a manner that would be unthinkable a few decades back.

The excess religiosity caused other countries to question American motives in the Bush years.  The wave shows no signs of ebbing.  Which brings up the question raised above.  The answer a few decades back was an emphatic yes.  Today with the Republican party in the thrall of the religious right (as poor Mitt Romney found out) it is very difficult to be a non-religious American conservative in the corridors of power.

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