Among the many talking points in Tiger Woods' speech on Friday morning was his plan to rededicate himself to the Buddhist religion. Woods was taught the religion by his mother, Kultida, who grew up as a Buddhist in Thailand.
He admits straying from Buddhism in recent years, but Woods vowed to lean on the faith as he moves forward.
"I owe it to my family to become a better person, to become a better man,'' Woods said. "… Part of following this path is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. … Buddhism teaches that 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.''
It appears Woods did not heed the advice of Fox News commentator Brit Hume, who said in early January on Fox News Sunday that Woods should try the Christian faith.
"The extent to which he can recover depends on his faith,'' Hume said. "He's said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the same kind of forgiveness and redemption as the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and make a great example to the world.' ''
Those comments did not sit well with Buddhists, who say Hume is wrong. They say their religion, which is over 2,500 years old and has 376 million followers worldwide, has plenty of room for redemption. All Woods has to do is be sincere in his religious practices to obtain forgiveness.
"In Buddhism, according to the sutras (scriptures), there is a tremendous emphasis on compassion and forgiveness,'' said Richard Weissman, president of Ratnashri Sangha of Tampa Bay, a Tibetan Buddhist group in Hudson. "Specifically, in our tradition there is a Buddha of compassion and a Buddha for purification. We also have four powers (support, regret, resolve and virtuous activity) that allows for redemption from any transgression.''
According to Pew Research Center, 0.7 percent of the U.S. population practices Buddhism, which puts it behind Christianity, Judaism and secularism.