To Forgive Is Divine

I intentionally stayed out of the whole Tiger Woods debacle. I really couldn’t care less if he’s slept with the entire night-shift at the IHOP. I even ducked when Brit Hume opined on a Fox News panel that Tiger ought to convert to Christianity in order to put all this behind him. But Ann Coulter has now clarified Hume’s remarks in a way that seems to abuse Buddhists, Christians, and, well… sane people.

The presumably well intentioned Hume said recently:

“The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. 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. 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.”

It wasn’t clear to me that saying this on a news program was really the appropriate venue, and at the time I thought it reflected a lack of understanding of Buddhism. Buddhism does offer a strong theme of forgiveness, to the extent that it’s a pretty central tenet of their philosophy. But most westerners are pretty unfamiliar with other religions, so railing against that was probably picking nits.

But Coulter has shed a whole new light on this. She is not saying that Buddhism doesn’t offer forgiveness. Rather she’s saying that it’s just so much easier to get forgiven in Christianity. She says:

You can be washing the dishes or walking your dog or just sitting there minding your business hating Susan Sarandon and accept that God sent his only son to die for your sins and rise from the dead … and you’re in!

God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you’re in. Your sins are washed away from you — sins even worse than adultery! — because of the cross.

Really? That’s it? Commit all the sins you want, have a passing thought while walking the dog and all is better? Clearly Ms. Coulter is more ignorant about Christianity that Mr. Hume is about Buddhism. Although it does make me wonder how rampant this overly simplified view of Christian theology is. Is this why people like Coulter can exhibit such non-Christian behaviors in their life? Because they know they are just one dog-walk from forgiveness and a free ticket to heaven?

Ironically, it is people like Coulter who rail against atheists as being inherently immoral because we have no god to answer to. Apparently she and her ilk don’t have to answer either. Just make a timely and trite profession of faith. It’s people like this who give good Christians a bad reputation. And it would be nice to see some of them take her to task for this.

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