Christmas is fast approaching and the “war on Christmas” is just getting started, with atheist groups and other secular organizations pushing to ban nativity scenes and make sure the only decorated trees in government buildings are “holiday trees.”
To that effect, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly invited American Atheists President David Silverman onto his program on Wednesday to debate the issue. Though the conversation started pleasant enough, it quickly devolved into a contentious war of words. For example, O’Reilly accused Silverman and his “merry band of fascists” of trying to destroy Christmas.
“You’re an atheist, you’re a non-believer and I respect that. That’s fine. I don’t look down on you. I don’t think you’re a pinhead,” O’Reilly began. “But why you messing around with my tradition? Why are you messing around with Christmas? Just leave it alone. Is there a compelling reason for you to mess around with it?”
Silverman assured the host that they are not “messing around” with anything, rather they are making sure the government does not prefer “one religion over another.”
O’Reilly went on to argue that Christianity is not a religion, it is a “philosophy.”
“Mr. Silverman, it is a fact that Christianity is not a religion. It is a philosophy,” O’Reilly said. “If the government said the Methodist religion deserves a special place in the public square, I would be on your side.”
“So you’re actually going to tell me on live television that Christianity is not a religion,” Silverman replied.
“Correct,” said O’Reilly. “Roman Catholicism is a religion, Judaism is a religion.”
Silverman strongly disagreed, saying all of those are “sects” of Christianity. He also told O’Reilly it was “really not cool” for him to “cloud the issue.”
As tense as things had already gotten, it got even more uncomfortable in hurry after Silverman told O’Reilly that he would have a problem with him putting a “Happy Winter Solstice” sign on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office door after he said he wouldn’t.
“Don’t tell me what I think! When I said I didn’t have a problem, I didn’t have a problem. Got it?” O’Reilly scolded, putting his finger in his guests face.
Watch the tense segment via FoxNews/Mediaite below:
The pair also disagreed on whether the Christmas tree was a “secular symbol.” O’Reilly argued that it is, while the American Atheists president said the “Christ” in “Christmas” makes it a religious symbol.
“You are so unreasonable, it is frightening,” O’Reilly shot back.
“It’s a federal holiday. Why don’t you get off your but and get it revoked and see how far that you go,” he added. “Your view is insane.”
It was towards the end of the segment that O’Reilly called Silverman a “fascist.” Of course, like with everything else between the two, Silverman disagreed. “I am a patriot,” he said.