On the November 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly claimed it was "crazy" for non-Judeo-Christians to want public schools to recognize their religious holidays. While discussing the Hillsborough County, Florida, school board's decision to end school closings on religious holidays and replace them with secular off-days, which it reversed November 8, O'Reilly stated, "And to have these radical changes because somebody walks in and says, 'Look, I want a holiday because I'm a Buddhist, or I practice Shintoism. ... [W]hat are you, crazy?' " As Media Matters For America has previously noted, the Hillsborough County school board originally decided to end school closings on religious holidays after a group of Muslim parents, with the backing of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, requested a school holiday recognizing Eid-Al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
O'Reilly continued, "This country was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy. ...And our students need to know that and be taught about that." Responding to a caller who disagreed, O'Reilly persisted, "[W]e have an obligation to teach our children how exactly the country was founded and why 85 percent of Americans are Christian," claiming it would be "fascism" to "wipe that [Judeo-Christian] tradition out because somebody is offended." (In fact, 77 percent of the U.S. population identifies itself as Christian, not 85 percent, as O'Reilly claimed.)
From the November 9 broadcast of Fox News' The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: I mean, this is what the woman in Dallas Morning News [columnist Macarena Hernandez] tried to do about the border and the illegals. They are just liars. It just drives me crazy because it's all over the place. And nobody calls them on it. You know, every sponsor in South Florida that deals with the St. Petersburg Times should not advertise there for three weeks. I know you gotta do the Christmas stuff, but send them a message. You know, put out an honest paper, or we don't want to be in it.
Now, I'm glad we won this thing, because there is -- you know, secularism, secular progressives are making tremendous gains all over the country. And in California you can't -- you can't say it isn't through the ballot box; it is in California. It is. The SPs in California are winning the fight at the ballot box. So, I mean, to me it is very worrisome. I think traditional America is good. It made us the great country we are. And to have these radical changes because somebody walks in and says, "Look, I want a holiday because I'm a Buddhist, or I practice Shintoism, I need a holiday." I mean, what are you, crazy? You know this is nuts. This country was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy. That's what it was founded on. And our students need to know that and be taught about that to understand how their country has evolved to where we are today. Period.
CALLER: Bill, you gotta -- you got it pretty much backwards. Here's the point. When you keep citing majority rules, that's only about -- this is a country of individual rights. Majority rules when we had slavery for 200 years. You can't say that because only a small percentage are Hindu that, therefore, we teach only about Christianity because the vast percentage of the kids in a government school are Christian.
O'REILLY: So what are you saying? I mean, look, philosophy aside, what are you saying that they shouldn't be taught about Judeo-Christian traditions?
CALLER: Yeah, I'm saying that -- go ahead and have any holiday you want. [Inaudible] Muslim or a Hindu, they didn't really expect to have a Ramadan holiday.
O'REILLY: Well, then why did they ask for it?
CALLER: Because they were sick of sending their kids to a government -- public government school that's supposed to protect their individual rights --
O'REILLY: Well, then send them to a private school. Send them to a Muslim school. Look, this is a country where 85 percent of the population is Christian, [caller]. That's what -- if I go to Pakistan, I don't have any right to say I want Roman Catholicism taught. That's ridiculous. That's a Muslim country. They have a right to teach what they want to teach in their country. It is insane for me to walk in to Islamabad [Pakistan's capital] and start jumping up and down because they don't have a crucifix in the school. It's ridiculous.
Here, we have an obligation to teach our children how exactly the country was founded and why 85 percent of Americans are Christian. You don't wipe that tradition out because somebody is offended. You don't stop saying Merry Christmas because somebody's offended. That's fascism. It's not a majority rule; it is what's right and wrong. You either teach the children about the history of their country, or you don't.