Despite his repeated attempts in recent weeks to suggest that "secular progressives" have waged a "war on Easter" resembling the purported "war on Christmas," Bill O'Reilly admitted that "there is no attack on Easter." Further, O'Reilly congratulated himself for the lack of Easter attacks, stating, "[A]fter the thumping that the department stores and all-over crazies took over Christmas, these people say, 'You know, I don't think we want to come up against O'Reilly and these other people on Easter. Let's just let it go.' "
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Despite his repeated attempts in recent weeks to suggest that "secular progressives" have waged a "war on Easter" resembling the purported "war on Christmas," Bill O'Reilly conceded on the April 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor that "there is no attack on Easter." Instead, according to O'Reilly, there have only been "two dumb incidents, one in St. Paul, Minnesota, where a secretary was asked to take down decorations featuring the Easter Bunny, and one in Georgia, where an Easter event was changed to a Spring event." Further, on the April 13 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly not only stated that "there hasn't been a war on Easter," but he congratulated himself for the lack of Easter attacks, stating, "[A]fter the thumping that the department stores and all-over crazies took over Christmas, these people say, 'You know, I don't think we want to come up against O'Reilly and these other people on Easter. Let's just let it go.' " But, if O'Reilly is correct in noting that there is no "attack on Easter," it is not for his lack of trying to promote one: Since March 1, O'Reilly has repeatedly cited the St. Paul "incident" and other unnamed "attack[s] on Easter" as evidence of an ongoing "assault" on Christianity.
On March 22, at the request of St. Paul Human Rights Director Tyrone Terrill, City Council President Kathy Lantry reportedly ordered the removal of Easter decorations from the City Council's lobby out of concern for offending non-Christians. Although O'Reilly described the St. Paul incident on April 13 as "dumb" and apparently not evidence of "attack[s] on Easter," in previous episodes of his television and radio shows, he repeatedly pointed to this event to declare, as he did on the March 29 broadcast of his radio show, that there is a "culture war" in the United States featuring "well thought-out ... assault[s] against any kind of Christian symbol[s]."
- While promoting a segment devoted to the St. Paul controversy on the March 24 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly warned: "Look out, Easter Bunny. The secular progressives are gunning for you." Later in the program, O'Reilly asserted, "[T]here is a movement in the USA to ban displays of so-called religious holidays in the public square" and added that "this is going on all over the country."
- On the March 29 broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly mentioned the St. Paul incident as an example of "this war" against Christianity "being waged very bitterly," and later asked: "[W]hy are we kicking the Easter Bunny in the head?"
- During the March 28 broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly again highlighted the controversy to ridicule the "left-wing print press" for allegedly "saying that I'm making up the culture war."
O'Reilly has also more generally referred to "attack[s] on Easter" to prove the existence of his alleged "culture war":
- When discussing the alleged culture war, O'Reilly has often aired on-screen graphics showing images of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny above the headline "Under Attack."
- During the April 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly declared, "Although some left-wingers in the media deny it, we have documented a number of cases where Christian holidays, like Christmas and Easter, have been attacked by secular interests." Later in the broadcast, O'Reilly and Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham agreed that a "secular battle against Christmas, against Easter ... is taking place" in America.
The weblog Think Progress has also noted O'Reilly's apparent Easter flip-flop.
From the April 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Now, I really got to thank the far-left Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its editorial writer, Cynthia Tucker. Madam, you continue to give me A-line material, and I appreciate it.
Just in time for Holy Week and Passover, Ms. Tucker writes an editorial entitled "Hippity Hoppity Easter Hypocrites." Quote: "It's a bit surprising to hear conservative talk radio rush to the defense of the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs. Rabbits and eggs, after all, have never been Christian symbols. Still, fresh from their holy war against 'holiday trees' and 'the fat guy in the red suit,' talk show hosts are taking up arms in defense of an embattled Easter, which they claim is under attack by the same political correctness that supposedly menaced Christmas trees and Santa. ... The real threat comes from conservative Christianity, which is attempting to rebrand Easter as 'Resurrection Sunday.' "
Wow. The real threat is Resurrection Sunday? Hide the kids. OK, let's walk through this nutty diatribe. First of all, there is no attack on Easter. Only two dumb incidents, one in St. Paul, Minnesota, where a secretary was asked to take down decorations featuring the Easter Bunny, and one in Georgia, where an Easter event was changed to a Spring event. After pressure, it's back to an Easter event.
So unlike Christmas, the secular left has avoided fostering Easter controversies this year.
From the April 13 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Now, I have to say to be honest, there hasn't been a war on Easter. OK, that, that has not happened. This is just two things that have happened here. We even watch after the thumping that the department stores and all-over crazies took over Christmas, these people say, "You know, I don't think we want to come up against O'Reilly and these other people on Easter. Let's just let it go."
From the April 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight. Although some left-wingers in the media deny it, we have documented a number of cases where Christian holidays, like Christmas and Easter, have been attacked by secular interests. Lawsuits and corporate policies have proved this point over and over again.
With us now is Jon Meacham, an editor at Newsweek magazine and author of the brand-new book American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation.
Here is the kind of exciting guy I am. On vacation in the Bahamas last week, I read that book.
MEACHAM: I have a theory that -- first of all, that the secular battle against Christmas, against Easter, against these kinds of things that you're talking about, against "under God" in the pledge --
O'REILLY: You don't deny that battle is taking place?
O'REILLY: OK. Some of your ilk do.
From the March 29 broadcast of The Radio Factor:
O'REILLY: Now, the latest -- and this is amusing -- is in St. Paul-Minneapolis. [Laughing] And we reported it on The Factor last week. A toy rabbit holding a sign that read "Happy Easter," pastel-colored eggs, and green plastic grass were removed from the desk of a St. Paul City Council secretary by the St. Paul Human Rights Director Tyrone Terrill. Terrill told the St. Paul Pioneer Press the removal happened because those things -- the bunny, the eggs, and the plastic grass, and the sign Happy Easter -- might offend non-Christians.
Now, did I make it up? No. That actually happened. So the poor woman, who's a nice woman, we did the story and she brings in -- every holiday she brings in little things to cheer up the office. All of a sudden, she can't do that because it might offend non-Christians. This is insane. This is insane. OK? If anybody's offended like by that, there's something wrong with them. OK?
So you're basically looking at something that happened in St. Paul that should not have happened. Certainly a violation of this woman's freedom of expression. Now they'll say well, she can do it at home. She shouldn't do it in the workplace. There's -- that's not a crazy argument, but surely -- surely this is unnecessary. This kind of ideological, politically correct nonsense is unnecessary. It's not going to offend any sane person, and if it brings a little joy to the woman in the office, that's a good thing. Believe me when I tell you, there isn't one religion in the world that if somebody had a happy whatever -- happy Wiccan day -- I don't care. If it makes them happy, I'm happy. If you like Wiccan day, I like Wiccan day. Doesn't matter to me. If it's happy. Shinto day. Buddhist day. Good. Good. I'm happy. Am I impressed? No. Not impressed.
So, you've got this war, and it's being waged very bitterly. Very bitter attacks. And they had a conference in Washington, D.C., about this. All right? So we're going to bring you somebody who was at the conference who's going to tell us what happened there. And then we'll take your phone calls on the war. The culture war, with religion as the centerpiece.
O'REILLY: You know, there are so, so many -- look, I hear this all the time from fallen Catholics. I hear it all the time. And they basically say what you're saying, [caller]. They say look, Father McGillicuddy is a nut. He's up there, and he's screaming and yelling, and he's doing X, Y and Z, and I'm leaving the church. And I'm going -- I'm looking at them going, "You're probably right. Father McGillicuddy is a nut." In every organization, you have nuts. I mean, there are 65 million Catholics in the United States. You're going to have some nuts. And you're going to have them in the Lutheran faith, and the Episcopal faith, and the Baptist. Wherever you go you're going to have crazy people. But that doesn't mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater, to use a cliché. You just go to another church. You find something that is compatible with your beliefs. And, you know, in the United States we have so, so many. Which is great. So, so many. So you have a wide variety of places to go to worship. And if you don't want to go, then you can stay home and worship. You can do whatever you want to do. All that is good.
So why are we kicking the Easter Bunny in the head? You know? What -- give the Easter Bunny his due. All the Easter Bunny does is make people smile and little kids happy. Why do you want to remove the Easter Bunny from anywhere? It's just insane.
CALLER: Good afternoon. I'm calling about uh, the misconception of what Easter is. Easter is not a bunny rabbit, Easter egg, quote, "family time," and that's what it is. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the basic founder of the Christian religion. If you go back to the time of [George] Washington, [Thomas] Jefferson, they didn't roll Easter eggs on the White House lawn. And just like Christmas that we've had a long discussion about being secularized, Easter is the same thing. It's an attempt by the left -- or I don't want to sound conspiracy theory malarkey -- but it is a movement in this country to get away from the values that founded this country, and to become secularized and pushed, specifically Christians, away from and out of the picture.
O'REILLY: Well, I agree with you on that point, but there's a difference between Christmas and Easter. And the difference is important to know. Christmas is a federal holiday. Christmas is honoring the philosopher Jesus. Not the God Jesus. The philosopher. All right? So it's a holiday that Congress passed and U.S. Grant signed into law that has to be respected if you have any regard for your country at all.
Easter is a religious holiday. It doesn't have anything to do with the USA other than the fact that most Americans celebrate it. Because most Americans are Christian, as we mentioned. But I don't -- see, I don't object to the Easter egg hunt, or the secular things that surround the celebration of Easter. I think it makes it fun for little kids, engages them. Makes them curious about the wider theme of Easter. All of that is good. But you are absolutely right, [caller]. That all of this assault against any kind of Christian symbol is well thought-out. There is a reason behind it.
From March 28 broadcast of The Radio Factor:
O'REILLY: You know, I get a kick out of when I read the left-wing print press saying that I'm making up the culture war. That I'm making it up. That I fabricated the war on Christmas deal. Even though lawsuits were filed, and companies had memos -- I made it all up. And now if you watched The Factor last week, in St. Paul they banned the Easter Bunny in the St. Paul, Minnesota, City Council. But I made it up. [Laughing] You know, I make all this up.
From the March 24 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: When we come back, Easter coming up, as you know. And you what that means. Look out, Easter Bunny. The secular progressives are gunning for you.
O'REILLY: "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, Easter is coming. And look out, Easter Bunny. You're not wanted in some places.
As you may know, there is a movement in the USA to ban displays of so-called religious holidays in the public square. We went through this at Christmastime.
Now some on the left deny that's even happening. Writing today in The Kansas City Star, liberal columnist Mike Hendricks called reporting on this trend "hysteria."
But in St. Paul, Minnesota, the city's human rights director, Tyrone Terrill, apparently asked the city council secretary to remove decorations, including a stuffed rabbit, Easter eggs, and a happy Easter sign that she had put up in her workspace.
The woman complied, and a controversy ensued.
Joining us now from St. Paul, City Council member Dave Thune. This is just dumb. OK, would you agree with me? It's just dumb?
O'REILLY: I'm going to wish everybody in St. Paul right now a Happy Easter.
THUNE: Thank you. Happy Easter to you.
O'REILLY: I hope you don't hate me, St. Paul people. But this is going on all over the country. It is an absurd, nuts, intrusive. And it is funny we're mocking it, but it has a serious undertone.
We appreciate you taking the time, Mr. Thune. Thank you.