In the latest instance of decrying the purported "war" on Christmas, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "it's all part of the secular progressive agenda ... to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square." He then added: "[B]ecause if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious-based, usually." O'Reilly's comments came during a November 18 discussion on his television show, The O'Reilly Factor, with guest and fellow Fox News host John Gibson about "which American stores are using 'Christmas' in advertising this Christmas season and which are not." Gibson is the author of The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005).
In response to O'Reilly's remarks, Gibson said, "You have France or you have -- or you have Holland, you have legalized prostitution, you have drugs. All those things come in which religious organizations tend to oppose."
O'Reilly's segment with Gibson was the most recent example of Fox News' coverage of the purported "Christmas Under Siege" by "secular progressives." As Media Matters for America has documented, O'Reilly began promoting the "siege" with Fox News host Sean Hannity before Christmas 2004. Most recently, O'Reilly revealed a new front in the "war on Christmas" on his November 9 television show when he discussed his "decision to look at some retail policies this year" regarding which seasonal greeting major retailers will use with their customers. In response to a guest's argument that nondenominational salutations did not offend Christians, O'Reilly responded, "Yes, it does. It absolutely does."
From the November 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: "Back of the Book" segment tonight: We continue our reporting on which American stores are using "Christmas" in advertising this Christmas season and which are not. So far, here's the list. Again, our litmus test is which operations are using the greeting "Merry Christmas" in their advertising and which are not. OK, using -- you can see JCPenney's, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Dillard's. Not using, there they are. Now, Kohl's, still giving us a hard time, but their advertising has been all "Happy Holidays" so I don't know what they want. The company says the clerks are free to say "Merry Christmas." Yeah, OK, that's nice. Again, this investigation is designed to spotlight retailers who have knocked the word "Christmas" out of the Christmas season. We're not too interested with the word "merry." Don't really care about "merry." On the toy store front, here's what we found out. Toys "R" Us simply is not going to answer our questions, so we assume that means they're not using "Merry Christmas." Not using for sure, KB Toys and FAO Schwarz. But FAO Schwarz says that their people in the store can shout "Merry Christmas" as loud as they want.
With us now, Fox News anchor John Gibson, the author of the book The War on Christmas: Why It's Worse Than You Thought. This is so incredibly stupid I can't believe it. All you need to do is use all the phrases: "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," "Happy Hanukah." Plenty of advertising space, plenty of room for banners in your store. Why do you think they're this dumb in excluding "Merry Christmas"?
GIBSON: In the book, I talk about this going on in schools and libraries and public parks all over the country. And the only thing I can think about these retailers is they tend to worry about 100 percent of the customers. And if 85 percent of the country is Christian and 90 some percent celebrate Christmas, there's that little extra percentage that may not.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but surely they understand, because they do understand. We called Toys "R" Us. They knew right away --
O'REILLY: -- OK, that they're in waters they don't want to be in. So surely, they understand the anger that's going to be engendered by millions of Americans who believe that their cherished holiday is being denigrated, disrespected.
GIBSON: Yes, it indicates hostility and --
O'REILLY: By not using the word.
GIBSON: -- by refusing to say the word "Christmas." And what I've noticed is the way this appears in schools, for instance, is we now don't call it the Christmas break. It's the winter break, as if people worship winter. And there wouldn't be a winter break if there wasn't Christmas at that time of year. So once you call it -- change the name. You won't use the word "Christmas," then you go to "winter," you can sort of push the Christmas thing out of public view.
O'REILLY: See, I think it's all part of the secular progressive agenda --
O'REILLY: -- to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square. Because if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious- based, usually.
GIBSON: You have France or you have -- or you have Holland, you have legalized prostitution, you have drugs. All those things come in which religious organizations tend to oppose. Once you start taking out even the secular symbols of religious holidays -- Christmas trees, Santas, so forth -- refuse to use the word "Christmas," you can shove this religious stuff indoors, out of sight.
O'REILLY: Yeah, because no kid is going to come home and ask Mom what winter break is.
O'REILLY: But a kid might come home and say, "Hey, what's this Christmas thing all about? Who is this baby Jesus guy?" You know?
O'REILLY: So look, that's on a very intellectual level, and it's behind the scenes. But these retailers are killing -- they're shooting themselves. I mean, they're killing themselves, because millions of people are just not going to shop in these places.