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O'Reilly waging yet another war - paging Dr. Frasier Crane

Reported by Chrish - November 13, 2006 -

In keeping with his reputation of frustrated malcontent, Bill O'Reilly suggested tonight 11/13/06 that there is a "war on religion" in this country. As last year's "war on Christmas" was soundly ridiculed and dismissed by intelligent people, The Factor had to find a new tactic to spread Grinchiness and then make O'Reilly the savior of the season - Santa and JC rolled into one.

O'Reilly started out the segment noting that there are two bestselling books out now "that say 'you're an idiot if you believe in God,'" with a small unreadable graphic (unless you freeze it and look closely) of the book covers and the banner "Anti-God bestsellers." For the record, the books are Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" (#2 on Amazon, 4/5 stars based on 190 reviews) and Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation", #13, 4.5/5 based on 205 reviews.

(A bit of a tangent here, but notice how the books whose content is offensive to O'Reilly are virtually hidden yet his own books and the likes of Ann Coulter, Bernie Goldberg, and Byron York get frequent promotions with full covers clearly visible. Fair and balanced or plain old agenda-driven propaganda?)

O'Reilly cited three famous people who publicly stated opinions against organized religion - Elton John, Larry King, and Ted Turner - and then got in a snarky bash at the competition: "what's going on over there at CNN?" So, he asked, is this a trend?

His guest, Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, answered his questions about the growing "anti-religion movement." Her take is that there is a growing number of people who are not religious, and religions are turning more to the government to prop them up through tax exemptions and so-called faith-based initiatives. When O'Reilly pointed out that her group, as a non-profit, also got tax breaks, she replied that they get some but not the property tax breaks that religions get. O'Reilly said that

"the government from the very foundation wanted to encourage religion, you know that. The Founding Fathers did, and that's why they give these people a break."

Good grief, this man was a history teacher? Gainesville Humanists writes

"Should religious organizations be taxed? The question has been debated since the founding of this nation.

James Madison was in support of taxing church property, as was James Garfield. In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant's message to Congress included a 900-foot petition containing 35,000 signatures stating, "We demand that churches and other ecclesiastical property shall be no longer exempt from taxation."

And OMB Watch reports

"Religious, charitable, educational and scientific organizations have been tax-exempt since 1913, although no political activity parameters were included in the first exemption statues. In 1954, however, Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson (D-TX) added the "express prohibition" on political campaign activity—without the benefit of hearings, testimony, or comment from affected organizations during Senate floor debate on the Internal Revenue Code. "

Johnson pointed out that the religious agenda is losing in America in so many ways- people are not going to church like they used to, they eat meat on Fridays, gay people are getting married, the morning after pill is starting to be available - and that is why religious institutions are turning to the government for aid. O'Reilly says that in his book he says that the reason "people like you and the ACLU, other people who are against religion" want to diminish the religious right is to move their own agenda forward.

Of course, O'Reilly is wrong about the ACLU. Again. The ACLU defends the rights of all Americans to not have our government endorse or support any one religion over others, either through celebrations, endorsements, or taxation. They are currently engaged in legal battles against this administration which is trying to favor the majority religion, clearly against the intent of the authors of the Constitution.

Johnson says religion is political and anti-progressive, to which O'Reilly acknowledges "of course they are!" and she retorted that it's anti-enlightenment. O'Reilly got personal and said to his guest "You might think you're enlightened, and that's swell, you may be enlightened. But I think you're a bigot. I think you're a bigot against people who believe.'

Johnson looked momentarily stunned but said "Fine" and kept stating her values: anti-censorship, pro-research, pro-choice... From that O'Reilly saw an opening and referred back to the Tiller conversations last week ( as he put it, "that doctor killing babies late-term, any reason at all") and said to Johnson "You think that's fine." She quickly said that no she didn't,
and the conversation went to that issue specifically. In a nutshell, she is against government or religious right-wingers invading private medical records looking for crimes and O'Reilly professes to be interested in saving human beings. (As long as they're pre-born - mothers need not apply for mercy at The Factor.) When Johnson said that medical records are private, O'reilly said "oh baloney. A doctor can commit a felony just as much as you and I can."

What a contrast to how he treats right wingers and guests who endorse government-favored religion! He was so rude and contentious - what a legacy he's making for himself.