O'Reilly falsely claimed Red Cross symbol was "adopted" because of "Christian philosophy"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

In a discussion about a lawsuit filed over the presence of a large cross at a war memorial in San Diego, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that the Red Cross "historically ... adopted" its emblem "because of the Christian philosophy of giving alms and giving assistance to people in need." In fact, according to the American Red Cross website, it was "[i]n honor of the Swiss ... [that] the symbol of a red cross on a white background (the reverse of the Swiss flag) was identified as a protective emblem in conflict areas."

On the July 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that the Red Cross "historically ... adopted" its emblem "because of the Christian philosophy of giving alms and giving assistance to people in need." In fact, according to the American Red Cross website, it was "[i]n honor of the Swiss ... [that] the symbol of a red cross on a white background (the reverse of the Swiss flag) was identified as a protective emblem in conflict areas." While the cross on the Swiss flag originated in the 1200s from "a symbol of the Christian faith," according to the Swiss Embassy in the United States, the Red Cross makes no mention of Christianity as a reason for adopting the symbol.

O'Reilly misstated the origin of the Red Cross emblem during an interview about a 17-year-old lawsuit filed by Philip Paulson to remove a cross from Mount Soledad in San Diego, which serves as a war memorial. Interviewing Paulson's lawyer, James McElroy, O'Reilly asked: "The Red Cross symbol is the cross. ... Would you tell the Red Cross it has to get rid of that symbol?" McElroy said the Red Cross symbol is "quite different" from the Latin cross represented on Mount Soledad, a cross McElroy described as "the pre-eminent symbol of Christianity." O'Reilly responded that "it's the same cross."

In addition to stating that its symbol was chosen as the reverse of the Swiss flag, the American Red Cross website adds that "[t]he Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy," and that the "emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality" at the first-ever Geneva Convention at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1864.

From the July 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: "Back of the Book" segment tonight. As you may know, an atheist named Philip Paulson filed suit in 1989 asking the city of San Diego -- rather, demanding that the city of San Diego remove a cross, a monument to war dead, atop Mount Soledad. Anybody ever been to San Diego, you've seen that cross when you're riding on the expressway.

The 29-foot cross was erected in 1954, and the case wound its way through the legal system until finally, federal Judge Gordon Thompson ordered the city to take it down. San Diego appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Thompson and said the cross could remain, pending more appeals. The very liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case next October.

Joining us now from San Diego is attorney James McElroy, who's representing Mr. Paulson.

I just want to know where you're coming from before we get into the case. The Red Cross symbol is the cross all over the world, here in the United States. Would you tell the Red Cross it has to get rid of that symbol?

McELROY: No, Bill, I think most people recognize the Red Cross symbol is not the same as the Latin cross. They're quite different, and the court repeatedly makes that distinction. The Latin cross is the pre-eminent symbol of Christianity in the world and well recognized by just about everyone as the pre-eminent symbol of Christianity.

O'REILLY: But I don't understand the difference of a Red Cross from the Latin cross. It's the same cross.

McELROY: No, Bill, it isn't at all. The Red Cross, both pieces of the cross are equal in size. And the Latin cross is distinguishable by the fact that the cross piece is two-thirds the size. You would recognize anyone --

O'REILLY: I see. You know historically the Red Cross adopted that because of the Christian philosophy of giving alms and giving assistance to people in need. I'm sure you know that. Because that's why they did adopt it. But you still wouldn't say they couldn't have the cross, right?

McELROY: Absolutely. There's no problem with the Red Cross --

Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
Stories/Interests
Religion, Separation of Church and State
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