EDITORIAL: Throwing Brit Hume to the lions

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If there were doubt that much of the media is hostile to traditional faith, especially traditional Christianity, that doubt has been drowned in the wake of a vicious verbal assault on Fox News analyst Brit Hume. Histrionic fulminations against Mr. Hume’s inoffensive expression of faith expose an ugly strain of anti-religious bigotry that is spreading inside this country’s liberal establishment.

Mr. Hume’s sin against secular culture came Sunday when he offered, in humble and helpful tones, advice to golfer Tiger Woods to “turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.” The advice might have sounded a little awkward in the setting of a news-talk roundtable. But even in the context of suggesting that Mr. Woods’ apparent Buddhism doesn’t offer the same “kind of forgiveness and redemption” as Christianity, the newsman’s remarks were, at worst, harmless. Yet the reaction of critics gives the impression that Mr. Hume did something really awful like use the “N” word, or - as Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus did - push a government promotion for a girlfriend.

Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales took a pause from writing love letters to President Obama to aim nasty public hate mail at Mr. Hume, who is renowned as one of the rare true gentlemen in the nation’s capital. “Brit Hume was certainly full of something,” Mr. Shales ranted, adding that the Fox broadcast legend is “sinking into his own mouth-made mire,” and that “darts of derision should be aimed at Hume” for “one of the most ridiculous [remarks] of the year.” He instructed Mr. Hume to “first off, apologize,” with a snide admonishment that “Hume ought to know that what people are saying right now is a whole lot worse than that he’s fading.”

On MSNBC, the preternaturally truculent Keith Olbermann said Mr. Hume should “keep religious advocacy out of public life since, you know, the worst examples of that are jihadists, not to mention, you know, guys who don’t know their own religions or somebody else’s religion like Brit Hume.” His guest, homosexual activist Dan Savage, chimed in that, “American Christianity has been hijacked by the lunatics, by the Pat Robertsons … and by people like Brit Hume, and it’s an insult to Christianity, it’s an insult to Christians.” Also on MSNBC, news host David Shuster suggested that Mr. Hume somehow had “denigate* Christianity” by mentioning his faith on the air.

This is par for the course for a media in which Washington Post book reviewers suggest that the faith messages at the heart of the popular “Narnia” books amount to a “narrow Christian box,” where HBO’s Bill Maher calls the Catholic Church “the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia,” where the Nation’s Katha Pollitt accuses the religious right of showing “tolerance of wife-battering,” and where a major news magazine marvels at the supposedly “surprising unsecularity” of the American public.

Maybe these media mavens should take Mr. Hume’s advice. Their own hatefulness puts them in obvious need of the “forgiveness and redemption” Mr. Hume kindly recommended. A little charity wouldn’t hurt, either.

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