Hume: Right To Discuss Freely, Wrong On Buddhism

Nothing like a good religious debate to get the new year off to a lively start. On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume said this:

Whether he can recover as a person 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."

This launched an inevitable kerfuffle. I wrote Fox News about it, and I'm sure that Brit will get some interesting and amusing hate mail. But Brit didn't say anything hateful, or even ill-intentioned -- just something not very knowledgeable.

I'll grant that Buddhism doesn't offer a transcendental superior being who can forgive sin and redeem someone. The thing is, Buddhism doesn't actually provide the concept of "sin," either, not even original sin. All Buddhism teaches is that there is ignorance of the way things work, and suffering that is a consequence of that ignorance. There are some things which lead to greater peace of mind, and others which lead to less peace of mind. Practicing the things which lead to peace of mind really only does one thing: it gives you greater peace of mind.

Right up there on the list of things that lead to losing peace of mind is illicit wick-dipping, which is why one of the Buddhist precepts is "avoid sexual misconduct." This isn't necessarily a demand for celibacy -- where would little Buddhists come from? -- but it is a suggestion that there are times when it's important to know when to keep it zipped.