A tip of my hat to the smarter than you average Bear who provided the initial impetus for this post.
I had heard murmors about this, but I hadn’t seen it yet. Bill O’Reilly is currently ranting and raving about his perception that religion is under siege. O’Reilly’s premise in the piece above is about an attack on religion, but what he is really talking about is his perception of an attack upon Christianity.
As a member of a true minority religion in the US it is hard for me to feel badly when I look at what appears to be a complete bias in the opposite direction of his point. But I’ll get to that in a moment, first let’s look at the transcript of O’Reilly’s call cited above. From http://mediamatters.org/items/200412070004
“FOX News Channel host Bill O’Reilly responded to a Jewish caller to his radio show who objected to “Christmas going into schools” and explained that he “grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity.” O’Reilly told the caller that America is “a predominantly Christian nation” and that “if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel.” O’Reilly labeled the caller’s concerns “an affront to the majority” and insisted that “the majority can be insulted, too.” During his exchange with the caller, O’Reilly also mistakenly referred to “the seven candles” of Hanukkah.
From the December 3 broadcast of the nationally syndicated The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly:
CALLER: I agree with what you’ve been saying recently — you’re concerned about the secularization of Christmas and — I’m concerned about the secularization of Jews and about the — and Christmas going into schools.
When I was growing up — I’m Jewish, but I was not in a very Jewish area. There were some Jews there but, I was kind of — grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity —
O’REILLY: Were they?
CALLER: Yeah, when I got to college I found out — that’s true. A lot of people were. I found that millions of dollars were spent trying to convert —
O’REILLY: I mean that you really believe that people were trying to convert — you personally — were trying to make you change from being Jewish to Christian?
O’REILLY: How do they do that?
CALLER: Well, for example, there are various organizations in the colleges that go to people — try to invite you to Bible study groups —
O’REILLY: Yeah, I know, but — I mean, you don’t have to go. I mean they do that to me. They come — the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door and invite me places. I mean, I don’t care — I just say no, get outta here.
CALLER: The thing is, is when you have — for example, Christmas carols or gift exchanges being done in school, that kind of sets the kids up to being converted.
O’REILLY: Yeah, but you give gifts on Hanukkah, don’t you?
CALLER: No, there’s not really a Jewish tradition of giving gifts on —
O’REILLY: Well, the seven candles [sic], you get a gift for every night, don’t you?
CALLER: Actually, the Jews give gifts on —
O’REILLY: All right. Well, what I’m tellin’ you, [caller], is I think you’re takin’ it too seriously. You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don’t wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] — if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo — and that’s your guys’ — Christian, that’s my guys’ philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don’t wanna hear about it? Impossible.
And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that’s what this anti-Christmas thing is all about.”
Here is my take on the matter. We live in nation that is predominantly Christian and as such there are going to be some things that are done that benefit the majority, such as making Christmas a federal holiday. If you celebrate this holiday there is an excellent chance that you will never have to worry about getting time off because most businesses are closed.
This is as opposed to those of us who do not and are forced to use vaction or sick leave so that we may engage in our own worship and observance of the holidays that are important to us.
I don’t fault Christians for wanting this and am not upset by it, I live in a Christian country and am happy to make some allowances.
However, O’Reilly demonstrates ignorance in his remarks and a complete disregard for the position that the caller tries to raise in which millions of people are not Christian and have no attachment to the holiday. It is not an insignificant number. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans and others as a collective comprise a very substantial number of people. Why should we be force fed Christmas.
We can certainly appreciate that it is important to other people, but we can do so without being beaten over the skull with it.
Let’s consider a couple of other points and put them into context. The argument that we should all abide by what we think the majority wants is not something that can stand untouched. It is an argument that has less substance than many want to admit.Majorities of people around the world have at one time or another believed that it was flat, that slavery was permissible, that women were property and should not be allowed to vote, that the Sun revolved around the Earth and all sorts of other nonsense.
There can be no argument that the US was founded in part because of a desire for religious tolerance. We can debate repeatedly the intent of the Founders, but there is still no doubt that the First Amendment provides for a separation of church and state, which is why courthouses should not be adorned with the 10 Commandments or similar religious paraphenalia.
In concept you should be able to walk into a court and not be concerned with the religious beliefs of the judge because he/she is supposed to rule upon law, not religious law.
One of the things that I find funny here is that O’Reilly and others who complain about bias and a lack of tolerance seem to be incredibly intolerant about so many things. Do they not see the hypocrisy of their positions.
Anyway, I have to get back to work now, but we can visit and revisit this until the horse is not just dead but glue.