In another great battle for the political ages, Fox News host Bill O‚ÄôReilly and the president of American Atheists, David Silverman, locked horns once again on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 on the ‚ÄúFactor,‚ÄĚ as the holiday sparks flew over the legitimacy of the Christmas holiday.
As many of you may know, Fox News trots out its favorite, annual Trojan horse known as the War on Christmas around this time, and this year is no different. Fox‚Äôs Bill O‚ÄôReilly is once again reeling in anger over the non-traditional, anti-Christmas antics of Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee, and his politically-correct idea to label the official state tree a ‚Äúholiday tree‚ÄĚ instead of a ‚ÄúChristmas tree,‚ÄĚ and this is what set the stage for O‚ÄôReilly and Silverman to have yet another corybantic clash.
O‚ÄôReilly came right out of the gate firing at Silverman, asking him why he is so hell-bent on attacking the time honored tradition of Christmas. O‚ÄôReilly told Silverman that if he wanted to celebrate the Winter Solstice, it was his American right to do so, like it is someone else‚Äôs right to celebrate Christmas.
Silverman countered with his argument that it was not anyone‚Äôs right to celebrate Christmas because the government forces people to acknowledge and participate in Christmas on some level ‚Äď either directly or indirectly ‚Äď because it is a federal holiday. Silverman then irately complained to a stunned O‚ÄôReilly that he is unable to go to most stores, get his mail, or work on Christmas day, and that infringes on his rights, because he doesn‚Äôt have the power to force his employers to open for business on Christmas.
Now, in O‚ÄôReilly‚Äôs defense, Silverman can‚Äôt force any merchant to do business on any day, whether it‚Äôs Christmas or not. Just because a holiday is a federal holiday it doesn‚Äôt mean vendors have to shut down to recognize it, and there are many holidays that prove that. People like me have worked on many of them.
But the undisputed highlight of this entire exchange has to be one of the most bewildering statements ever made, as O‚ÄôReilly shocked the atheist world ‚Äď and probably most of the Christian and religious worlds too ‚Äď by saying,‚ÄúChristianity is not a religion,‚ÄĚ but merely ‚Äúa philosophy.‚ÄĚ In other words, Christianity is just another point of view‚ÄĒnot necessarily the one and only true story of the one and only Son of God Almighty.
A bemused Silverman looked at O‚ÄôReilly and told him that he could not believe what he had just heard. And as the two men continued to disagree on whether or not Christianity is indeed a religion, an incensed O‚ÄôReilly took his bony, conservative finger and pointed it right in the face of Silverman and called him a ‚Äúfascist‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒchallenging him and his ‚Äúmerry band‚ÄĚ of other ‚Äúfascists‚ÄĚ to start a move to get Christmas annulled as a federal holiday; Silverman declined, pointing towards a lack of support for the idea.
Now, Christianity is not the basic, religious denomination like Methodism or Baptist, but it most certainly is a religion, and all religions and non-religions are philosophical. What stinks the most about O‚ÄôReilly‚Äôs ridiculous statement is the fact that if President Obama had said this, every right wing, Birther-loving, evangelical, born again, conservative, Bible thumping, Holy Rolling, Pat Robertson screwball would be up in their racist arms over it. President Obama would probably have been impeached.
The political and religious fallout from O‚ÄôReilly‚Äôs boneheaded statement should be like a right wing avalanche bearing down on the weak, but it will probably be more like a journalistic trickle that has slipped out of the Fox News faucet by mistake. Based on the religious magnitude of O‚ÄôReilly‚Äôs words, he should be moonwalking that statement back tonight‚Ä¶but don‚Äôt count on it!
Personally, I‚Äôm not offended by the idea of Christmas because I actually like the Christmas holiday. It doesn‚Äôt mean that I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and it doesn‚Äôt mean that I believe that Jesus was a White man. It just means that I enjoy the incompetent White man in a red suit who never gets me what I want.