Nor piety nor wit 3

To be a political conservative and also an atheist in America may be uncommon but it isn’t difficult.

Our conservative principles are: individual freedom, small government, strong defense, free market economics, rule of law. Belief in them doesn’t need belief in God as well.

We find it perfectly easy to agree with the political opinions of religious conservatives. We just don’t share their faith in the existence of the supernatural.

We don’t take offense when one of our fellow conservatives talks about his or her religion, though we may be embarrassed for them if they become mawkish. We are thinking of courageous, principled, competent Sarah Palin, witty Ann Coulter, vigorous defender of freedom Glenn Beck, and above all Brit Hume, whom we have long listened to on Fox News with respect and gratitude for his political knowledge, insight, and judicious wisdom.

Actually, so unmawkish is Brit Hume, so seldom does he say anything about himself, that we didn’t even know he was a devout Christian. Then, on Fox News Sunday, speaking about the disgrace of poly-adulterous Tiger Woods with kindness and sympathy, and intending only to suggest a source of comfort for the great golfer, he said:

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.

To this, we hear, the ‘secular left’ took exception. Some of them absurdly spoke of a Constitutional requirement that ‘church and state’ be kept separate as a reason why it was wrong for someone to recommend his religion when appearing on television.

Conservatives leapt to Hume’s defense, and the defense of Christianity. –

Here’s Cal Thomas:

That is a message shared for 2,000 years by those who follow Jesus of Nazareth. It apparently continues to escape the secular left that Christians feel compelled to share their faith out of gratitude for what Jesus has done for them (dying in their place on a cross and offering a new life to those who repent and receive Him as savior). In a day when some extremists employ violence to advance their religion, it is curious that many would save their criticism for a truly peace-bringing message such as the one broadcast by Brit Hume.

And here’s Ann Coulter:

Hume’s words, being 100 percent factually correct, sent liberals into a tizzy of sputtering rage, once again illustrating liberals’ copious ignorance of Christianity.

On MSNBC, David Shuster invoked the “separation of church and television” (a phrase that also doesn’t appear in the Constitution), bitterly complaining that Hume had brought up Christianity “out-of-the-blue” on “a political talk show.”

Why on earth would Hume mention religion while discussing a public figure who had fallen from grace and was in need of redemption and forgiveness? Boy, talk about coming out of left field!

What religion — what topic — induces this sort of babbling idiocy? (If liberals really want to keep people from hearing about God, they should give Him his own show on MSNBC.)

Most perplexing was columnist Dan Savage’s indignant accusation that Hume was claiming that Christianity “offers the best deal — it gives you the get-out-of-adultery-free card that other religions just can’t.”

In fact, that’s exactly what Christianity does. It’s the best deal in the universe. (I know it seems strange that a self-described atheist and “radical sex advice columnist f*****” like Savage would miss the central point of Christianity, but there it is.)

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. …

With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don’t deserve it. It’s the best deal in the universe.

We cannot understand how any intelligent person can believe in God. We are baffled that even unintelligent people can believe in the immaculate birth of Jesus, or that he came alive again after dying (what does ‘death’ mean if not the end of life, what does ‘life’ mean if not that which can die?), or that a certain Jew born in the time of Augustus Caesar was divine. We wonder at (inter alia) the way Christians can overlook inconvenient passages in their scripture, such as (Matt 10.34) ‘I come not to bring peace but to bring a sword’; ignore the fact that Christianity invented Hell (for whose eternal torment if Christ is forgiving and if his crucifixion saved mankind?); bluff themselves that you have only to believe that Christ died for you and your sins are ‘washed away’.

Whatever wrong you’ve done you’ve done, people: live with it, try to learn from it and try not to do it again. It can never be ‘washed away’ from you. Tough for Tiger, tough for all of us. But when you die you won’t go to hell, you’ll be dead.

As Omar Khayyam, an atheist apostate from Islam (or his translator Edward Fitzgerald) wrote, being, to use Ann Coulter’s words, 100 per cent correct:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

For once we dislike something Brit Hume has said, but we defend – if not quite to the death – his right to say it.

  • Bill

    This is where I break. I realized I was an atheist (age 7) before I realized I was a conservative (age 18) or at least “classical liberal,” in the Frederic Bastiat sense. A conservative atheist does not necessarily have the same ethics/morality as a religious conservative. I could be French, married, and also have a mistress, and still consider myself an atheist conservative. But that is immoral to a Christian conservative. Just want to make a point. But maybe you are assuming we are all Americans, which is historically a prudish society.

    • bill

      To clarify my post, I automatically reject Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Dave Ramsey, et al when they bring up the “imaginary friend.” I cannot sanction the stupidity of religion. And no one can convince me that religion is anything other than ignorance.

  • C. Gee

    What I enjoy about Hume's advice to Tiger Woods is that it exhibits an understanding of religion as a consumer therapy product. If, having sinned, you find yourself in need of forgiveness and redemption, then Christianity is your pill. On the other hand, if you feel you have not sinned, but still feel uncomfortable, daily topical applications of Buddhism are often effective. After forgiveness and redemption have been achieved, the maintenance regime of prayer and good works may be enhanced by Hindu supplements for vitality.

    The Soul and Spiritual Health aisle of the supermarket is very well stocked. Crystals , DIY shrines, smelly candles and tinkly meditation music are popular.