Tiger Woods literally had not left the podium last week before there began a national post-mortem of his timing, sincerity and motive. Of all the things Woods wedged into his 13-minute mea culpa, the point most striking and perhaps most ignored was his admission that he faltered after abandoning his Buddhist faith.

Tiger Woods literally had not left the podium last week before there began a national post-mortem of his timing, sincerity and motive.

Of all the things Woods wedged into his 13-minute mea culpa, the point most striking and perhaps most ignored was his admission that he faltered after abandoning his Buddhist faith. Woods stated:

“People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught.”

For all the blogging and punditry, it really doesn’t matter what any of us thinks of Tiger Woods’ apology; he owes us nothing.

It doesn’t matter if we buy into it or dismiss it as manipulative hooey. In a nation where 97 percent of us profess believe in God, at some point, all of us have betrayed our faith.

The difference between our hypocrisy and Woods’ may be one of scale, opportunity and audacity, but it is no less so.

A better brand

In every little moment of mean-spiritedness, every flicker of a prejudiced thought, every instance in which we deliberately say or do something we know to be in conflict with our faith, we trample it underfoot.

We diminish our faith when we shelve it to feast on the shortcomings of others.

We do so when we pray with all the enthusiasm of doing homework but can’t wait to dissect someone else’s faults.

We wound God’s faith in us when we stroll through the marketplace, brandishing our belief as a blunt instrument rather than as a banner of mercy and reconciliation.

Maybe we’re even thinking, secretly thinking, that Woods’ spectacular fall is proof that his particular brand of faith — of which we know virtually nothing — is inferior to our own.

We are traitors to our own beliefs when we refuse to apply even their basic tenets to our politics, the atmosphere of which has become so injurious that the blood from the battle soon will reach the horse’s bridle.

Playing the persecution card, we don’t want our faith challenged as much as we want confirmation that others’ moral failures are somehow worse than our own. But the brilliant Leonard Cohen wrote, “Ring the bells that still can ring; forget your perfect offering; there’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

Charita Goshay writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact her at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.