Did you know that if you’ve always thought like I do that Christianity is a religion just like Islam or Judaism are religions; well then: “You are wrong,” “You are unreasonable,” “Your view is insane,” “You are a fascist,” “You are so stupid,” and “stone-cold dumb” ?
That new revelation comes to us this week from our old friend, Bill O’Reilly, America’s top ranking battlefield general fighting the so-called “War on Christmas.”
“Christianity is not a religion,” insists Mr. Bill – “it’s a philosophy.” And if you don’t agree with him on this point, then you’re a “wrong,” “unreasonable,” “insane,” “stupid,” “stone-cold dumb,” “fascist.” But at least you aren’t a “pin-head.”
Now, of course, there is a reason why Mr. O’Reilly is taking a stroll down this disingenuous path and playing the obvious fool. He gets it. Bill O’Reilly gets the First Amendment. He understands the Establishment Clause. He likes to describe himself often self deprecatingly as just a simple man, but that’s not exactly true; he’s a smart man, a talented man, a man who knows what he’s doing.
Every year at about this time our Mr. Bill takes advantage of his TV bully pulpit on the Fox News Bill O’Reilly Show The Factor to spout off bombastically about his imagined “War on Christmas”: “The nasty cold-hearted atheists amongst us are trying to tear down and destroy our wonderful American Christmas traditions,” he angrily laments.
He knows the real truth, however, which is that the atheists merely want to have the government get out of the religion business; stop promoting, sponsoring, and supporting Christianity in clear violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause. Atheists don’t want to destroy the American Christmas tradition – far from it – they just want federal state and local governments to observe the United States Constitution.
Bill O’Reilly understands that perfectly. He knows that government cannot promote religion, at least it’s not supposed to. He admits that violates the Constitution. The government can, however, promote a philosophy such as free market capitalism, for example. That would certainly not violate the Establishment Clause because capitalism is not a religion
So O’Reilly decided this year to just re-define the entire concept of Christianity – it’s not a religion – it’s a philosophy. He said so during his interview this week with David Silverman, president of American Atheists:
O'REILLY: Continuing now with our reporting on this year's Christmas controversy situation; many of the actions against public displays of Christmas taken by atheist organizations; with us now is David Silverman, President of the American Atheist group.
SILVERMAN: Thanks for having me.
O'REILLY: I'm really trying to get and I'm not being a wise guy here … I'm trying to give you a point of view here. You are an atheist, you're a non- believer. I respect that. That's fine. I don't look down on you. I don't think you are a pinhead.
SILVERMAN: Thank you.
O'REILLY: If you want to be an atheist that's why we have America. You can be with it. But, why are you messing around with my tradition? Why are you messing around with Christmas? Just leave it alone. Is there a compelling reason for you mess around with it?
SILVERMAN: Well… we are not messing around with anything. We are stopping the government from preferring one religion over another.
O'REILLY: Okay. Stop there…
O'REILLY: … What religion is involved with Christmas? What religion?
O'REILLY: That's not a religion. That's a philosophy…
O'REILLY: Mr. Silverman. It is a fact that Christianity is not a religion it is a philosophy. If the government were saying that the Methodist religion, all right, deserves a special place in the public square I will be on your side.
SILVERMAN: So you are going to actually tell me on live television that Christianity is not a religion?
O'REILLY: Correct. It is a philosophy.
SILVERMAN: You and I are fundamentally going to disagree on that point.
O'REILLY: You are wrong…
O'REILLY: … If you read the constitution it says the government cannot promote a religion.
SILVERMAN: No, it says the Congress shall not establish any laws respecting an establishment of a religion.
O'REILLY: Of a religion. Not a philosophy.
O'REILLY: This is so unreasonable you are so unreasonable.
SILVERMAN: No, it's not unreasonable.
O'REILLY: It's frightening…
O'REILLY: ...Your view is insane.
O'REILLY: You and your merry band of fascists.
SILVERMAN: …You called me a Fascist.
SILVERMAN: I am a patriot, sir.
O'REILLY: You are a fascist.
SILVERMAN: I am a patriot taking the craziest notion that everybody in this country is equal and the government has to treat everybody equally fairly. That's Fascism? ...
So, Mr. Silverman is a “wrong,” “unreasonable,” “frighteningly insane,” “fascist” (not a pin-head though) for thinking that Christianity a religion which must not be favored, supported, sponsored or promoted by the government in violation of the Establishment Clause. When Mr. Bill gets mad he can’t resist the temptation to call people he respects nasty names.
You see, maybe I’m just a dumb fascist too but I’ve always understood that every religion is a philosophy but not every philosophy is a religion. A religion is a particular type of philosophy. Christianity is a religious philosophy.
“No, no, no, no, you stupid fascist,” screams Mr. Bill: “Christianity is definitely not a religion, but merely a philosophy … And the United States, state and local governments, all of them may therefore promote Christianity as they like without running afoul of the Constitution.”
Hummm … OK; let’s explore the ramifications of that position here and suppose for a moment that Christianity is not a religion but merely a philosophy.
If Christianity is not a religion but merely a philosophy, then Jesus Christ, the son of God and incarnation of Christianity in the flesh, was not a religious man – he was merely a philosopher like Plato or Socrates. Those who identify as Christians are following a philosophy, not a religion.
If Christianity is not a religion but merely a philosophy, then The Holy Bible, especially the New Testament, is not a religious book. It’s a philosophical book. The Gospels of Jesus Christ are merely philosophical works, not religion.
The Christian Cross is merely a philosophical symbol like the American Flag. There is no religious significance with the Cross. Christ’s Sermon on the Mount was a philosophical lecture, not a religious sermon. Easter, the Resurrection, Christmas -- all of that is not religious -- but merely philosophical.
Government should therefore be allowed under the First Amendment to promote all of it -- Jesus’ picture on currency instead of George Washington? – No problem. He’s only a philosopher after all.
O’Reilly insists that anyone who disagrees with him is stupid.
Wait a minute … that can’t be right. Maybe I’m crazy but I’m not stupid, so I looked up the word Christianity in several online dictionaries. In my first 5 searches here’s what I found:
Christianity: Chris·ti·an·i·ty – The Christian religion, founded on the life and teachings of Jesus - a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior.
Christianity: The religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies.
Christianity: The Christian religion, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Christianity: The religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, or its beliefs and practices:
Christianity: (from the Ancient Greek: Χριστιανός Christianos and the Latin suffix -itas) is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings. It also considers the Hebrew Bible, which is known as the Old Testament, to be canonical. Adherents of the Christian faith are known as Christians.
Not one of these dictionary references, including Merriam Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary, defined Christianity as a philosophy. This means that, either our friend, Bill O’Reilly, is utterly and completely wrong and the dictionaries are correct, or every dictionary is flat out wrong, and Mr. Bill knows more than they do about the English language. I’m much more inclined to believe the former.
Christianity is in fact a religion and Mr. Bill can’t change that. Federal state and local governments in the United States should not be promoting it at Christmas or any other time of the year. O’Reilly knows that. He doesn’t like it though.
The bottom line is that the “War on Christmas” is a figment of Bill O’Reilly’s fertile imagination. No one is messing around with his tradition. I’m willing to bet money that at Mr. Bill’s residence right now there is at least one Christmas tree and a Nativity scene. Every store where he shops is probably decorated in the same fashion for Christmas. So are his church and no doubt the private homes of all his friends.
Christmas time is alive and well in America.
Merry Christmas Bill!