On the subject of Brit Hume’s on-air proselytizing of Tiger Woods, Our Favorite Anti-Gay Activist had this to say:

How often these days do you see a bold affirmation of Christianity on TV like FOX News’ veteran Brit Hume has given twice in the last few days? I almost fell off the sofa last night watching the video below of Hume’ appearance on the O’Reilly Factor, which dealt with his godly on-air counsel to Tiger Woods a day earlier on Fox News Sunday.

Predictably, Wayne Besen ‚Äî our odds-on favorite for Gay Grinch 2009 (announcement coming soon) ‚Äî had an ugly and bigoted response to Hume’ affirmation of Christ’ forgiveness. The Christ0-phobic Besen mocks the Christian rebirth (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) with his frothing-at-the-mouth hit-piece HERE. Of course, Besen is on a bizarre quest to prove that “ex-gays” don’t exist, so he is literally at war with God ‚Äî who has changed thousands of former “gay” men (like Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries) and ex-”lesbians” (like Lisa Miller) and Who can radically change a repentant Tiger Woods.

Hmmmm.

This is the offending piece. That Wayne Besen really is mean, isn’t he? I mean wow, simmer down, Wayne! Wait…wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute — Wayne didn’t write that.

I did.

What’s funny about this, though, is that Peter claims that I “mocked the Christian rebirth.” Perhaps he’s talking about this passage:

Hume’ quote also references the obsession that many American Conservatives have with “the redemption story.” I’m all for changing course and righting past wrongs, but with these people it goes much further. Ted Haggard says he’ “redeemed” from Teh Gay? Well, praises be! Let’ not look at any of the science/question whether his claim is even valid. Nope, it’ a redemption story! Slurp, slurp, slurp. Convicted Watergate criminal Chuck Colson is one of the luminaries of the Religious Right. It’ a redemption story! Slurp. And again, since it’ a thread running through so many of our conversations these days: Lisa Miller. She can do no wrong because She Hath Been Redeemeth-ed!

Here’s the thing, though. Two paragraphs above that passage (way to skim, Pete), I wrote this:

[P]eople who convert to Christianity never ever EVER run around on their wives, no NEVER.

So, was I “mocking the Christian rebirth”? Or was I instead pointing out the glaring cognitive dissonance that exists when one tries to square claims of a supposed, magical “Christian rebirth” with the fact that all too often, there is nothing that differentiates born-again Christians from the rest of the population when it comes to matters of morality? The links in that quote are the first four born-again public figures that came into my head (in a space of about 15 seconds) when I heard Brit Hume’s absurd claim that somehow becoming a Christian would magically stop Tiger Woods’s apparent womanizing. If I had had thirty seconds, I could have had fifteen more examples, because these things work like snowballs.

Peter quotes II Corinthians 5:17, which says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” That was, of course, written by Paul, and it’s an interesting claim. If it were true, one would think that it should be obvious to the rest of us that Christians, indeed, are “new creations.”

Let’s ask Jesus, since the religion is, after all, named after the guy, and since Christians favor answering scriptural questions with scripture. Everyone turn in your Bibles to Matthew 7:15-23, and follow along:

15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’ clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Ah, the famous passage about fruit. So, if we look at the fruit borne by so many born-again Christian leaders on the subject of infidelity, what we find is that we’re in quite a smelly orchard. Now, the Evangelical Christian stock response tends to be, “Well, their conversions must not be real!” How utterly convenient. The point is that born-again Christians don’t have any better track records on such matters than any of the rest of the population. Barna Research Group (a very Evangelical-friendly source) studied divorce rates and found that, indeed, conservative Christians have a far higher divorce rate than liberal Christians, atheists and agnostics. What, what, what, you say? Let’s hear it from George Barna himself:

While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages.

Ouch. I’d hate to hear how a godless liberal like Wayne Besen would phrase it.

So, the contention of the original piece, that the on-air proselytizing of Tiger Woods by Brit Hume toward Christianity is absurd, stands. The data is in, and it shows that, for situations like that of Tiger Woods, a change in religious affiliation wouldn’t be likely to have any appreciable effect on his skirt-chasing behavior. The only thing it might do is give him an air of superiority and a more sharpened ability to pretend he didn’t just bed that pretty lady he met last night.

P.S. The second part, about those who prophesy in Jesus’ name, yet bear bad fruit, and the beginning of the chapter, where Jesus says “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “Why don’t you clean up your own backyard before you go complaining about everyone else’s?” (I may be paraphrasing) and “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” (Man, Jesus was on a roll in Matthew 7!), might be, um, pertinent reading material for the one complaining about the piece I wrote.

Just a thought.

P.P.S. The claim about “thousands” of supposed ex-gays would, again, be more plausible if Peter didn’t always give the same two or three people as examples. I mean, because if there are thousands of them, and they were all doing so well and were all so not gay anymore, one would think that maybe there would be some willing to tell their stories who aren’t currently making money from the ex-gay business and/or aren’t currently being used as pawns in the Religious Right’s self-created culture war.