Is 'The Factor's' Christmas Campaign Going Overboard?

Published November 30, 2005

| FoxNews.com

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, are we overdoing this Christmas deal? With us now, FOX News analyst Ellis "Satan" Henican.

ELLIS HENICAN, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Oh, this is Jesus talking here, I suppose, right?

O'REILLY: And from Washington, Lori Litman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition.

HENICAN: See, you can't even keep a straight face.

O'REILLY: All right. I couldn't.

HENICAN: You don't even believe.

O'REILLY: I couldn't resist a cheap shot. I just couldn't.

HENICAN: You don't even believe it, O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: You're the devil. Just keep quiet because Ms. Brown is actually rational. We want to get to her first. Are you offended by the word `Christmas', madam? Are you offended by that word?

LORI LIPMAN BROWN, SECULAR COALITION OF AMERICA: By the word? Oh, not at all. I am only offended by the fact that it's used as a political tool instead of a...

O'REILLY: All right.

BROWN: ...personal, spiritual thing.

O'REILLY: I don't want Christmas to be used by any politicians to advance anything, I agree with you. So you walk into a store. It can't be Sears/Kmart because you wouldn't see Christmas, but if you walk into Macy's, you would. And you see `Merry Christmas' along with `Happy Holidays,' `Seasons Greetings,' Happy Hanukkah,' all that stuff. When you see `Merry Christmas,' you're not offended by that, correct?

BROWN: Bill, I love the holiday decorations, the music.

O'REILLY: No, wait, I got to — you got to answer these questions, Ms. Brown, very precisely.

BROWN: OK.

O'REILLY: When you walk into the store and you see `Merry Christmas' on a banner, on an advertising thing, you're not offended?

BROWN: OK.

O'REILLY: You're not?

BROWN: I'm not offended unless I know they changed it from `Happy Holidays' to Merry Christmas just to exclude me, which it sounds like what some of them are trying to do.

O'REILLY: Exclude. All right, what if they have `Happy Holidays'.

BROWN: Or to exclude any non-Christians.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't think they're trying to exclude you by saying `Merry Christmas' because the federal holiday on December 25th.

BROWN: I'm sorry. I missed — I misunderstood. I thought there was a push to go to saying `Merry Christmas' instead of `Happy Holidays'.

O'REILLY: No, it's all-inclusive. We're like one of these resorts where you get the ocean and everything else, OK?

BROWN: Oh, yes.

O'REILLY: But here.

BROWN: Yes, private companies can do whatever they want. That's not the government.

O'REILLY: Ms. Brown?

BROWN: Yes.

O'REILLY: On December 25th, you have off and so does Ellis and so do I because it's a public holiday. And the holiday is? This is "Jeopardy", Ms. Brown. The holiday is, December 25th?

BROWN: It's Christmas.

O'REILLY: Thank you.

BROWN: And by the way, that number, December 25th...

O'REILLY: Yes?

BROWN: ...is not the historical birth of Christ.

O'REILLY: That's right.

BROWN: I believe it comes from Jewish tradition.

O'REILLY: It's celebrated on that day, which is fine with everybody. All right, so.

BROWN: But the number comes from Jewish tradition.

O'REILLY: We've established, Ms. Brown, that you as a secularist committed are not offended by the word `Christmas'. Do you take the holiday off?

BROWN: No, I'm not offended by the word.

O'REILLY: Would you rescind the federal holiday? Would you have Congress rescind that federal holiday? Or would you not?

BROWN: Yes, I don't think it needs to be a federal holiday. That's a government endorsement of a Christian holiday.

O'REILLY: All right, so you, OK, you want Congress then to rescind the federal holiday at Christmas? You do want that.

BROWN: I'm not working for that, but I think that would be appropriate...

O'REILLY: OK.

BROWN: ...given the First Amendment that prohibits the establishment of a national religion.

O'REILLY: OK, fine. Do you want...

HENICAN: No, I don't care about that.

O'REILLY: OK. So you don't want to rescind the holiday?

HENICAN: No, no, no. Here's...

O'REILLY: Wait, I'm asking you questions.

HENICAN: OK.

O'REILLY: I don't want you bloviating.

HENICAN: I'm going to answer. You go ahead.

O'REILLY: You walked into the store, you see `Merry Christmas'. Are you offended?

HENICAN: No problem.

O'REILLY: No problem?

HENICAN: It's a private school. Put anything you want.

O'REILLY: OK.

HENICAN: Put `Happy Devil's Day' if you want.

O'REILLY: OK.

HENICAN: It's your store. You put whatever you want.

O'REILLY: In front.

HENICAN: Yes, Town Square, I got a problem, but not the store.

O'REILLY: OK. You go down to the Capitol, you see the nice tree. Hastert says it's a Christmas tree. Are you offended?

HENICAN: Yes, I wish they would use a holiday tree because it's more polite.

O'REILLY: It's more polite?

HENICAN: It's more polite.

O'REILLY: But it's a Christmas tree.

HENICAN: It's more inclusive.

BROWN: It includes everybody.

O'REILLY: But hold it, hold it, hold it.

HENICAN: No, no, part of the Christian...

O'REILLY: The tree tradition...

HENICAN: Part of the Christian spirit, Bill, is politeness...

O'REILLY: Yes.

HENICAN: ...is being nice and welcoming to people. It's not trying to stick their finger in their eye. And that's what you're doing here.

O'REILLY: I'm sticking a finger in whose eye?

HENICAN: Yes, yes. All the people who don't want to embrace your and my religious holiday. I mean, I'm a Catholic. I love Christmas.

O'REILLY: Do you know anybody who is offended by the word `Christmas?' Do you.

HENICAN: No, no, but that's not what this fight is about.

O'REILLY: Sure it is.

HENICAN: That's not what this fight is about at all.

O'REILLY: There isn't any sane person in this country...

HENICAN: Let me tell you.

O'REILLY: ...that's offended by the phrase `Merry Christmas' or the Christmas tree.

HENICAN: Let me tell you what you're doing. Let me tell you what you're doing. You were trying to turn Christmas, the holiday that I love more than any other, into a government program.

O'REILLY: No, I'm not.

HENICAN: You want the government to support it. You want it to be done in the town square.

O'REILLY: No.

HENICAN: You want taxpayer money to back it. That's where we part company.

O'REILLY: I don't — listen, the town square...

HENICAN: Christmas is too great to have the government ruin it.

O'REILLY: ...the town square is there to reflect the nature of the country. 85 percent of the country is Christian. And we're founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy.

HENICAN: Fair enough. Fair enough.

O'REILLY: Fact.

BROWN: But Bill.

O'REILLY: Wait a minute, I'll get back to you, Ms. Brown.

BROWN: OK.

O'REILLY: I will get back to you. OK, now listen.

HENICAN: There's a principle here you're missing.

O'REILLY: It's a federal holiday named Christmas.

HENICAN: Fair enough. No problem.

O'REILLY: The Christmas tree came from Europe.

HENICAN: No problem.

O'REILLY: It's a tradition.

HENICAN: So why do you want to ruin it by having the government?

O'REILLY: Ruin it?

HENICAN: ...by having the government.

O'REILLY: You can call it what it is.

HENICAN: No, no, no, no, your only problem here, Bill, is you want the government doing it. You want them to pay for it.

O'REILLY: Bull, bull.

HENICAN: You want them to sponsor it. And you know, you're going to lose me on that.

O'REILLY: Flight of fancy.

HENICAN: No, no, no. Let's you and I do it. Come to my house.

O'REILLY: Ellis.

HENICAN: I'll bake Christmas cookies for you happily. Happily. Come to my house.

O'REILLY: You would probably pot in them.

HENICAN: Come to my house.

O'REILLY: I'm not doing it. All right.

HENICAN: We'll sing Christmas carols, whatever you want.

O'REILLY: Let's let Ms. Brown get in here.

HENICAN: Whatever you want.

O'REILLY: Just because you say it doesn't make it true.

HENICAN: At home.

O'REILLY: This is a flight of fancy.

HENICAN: At home and in businesses, not in the town square.

O'REILLY: Ms. Brown, one final question here. And I admire you for being honest. You would rescind the federal holiday of Christmas because that's what this is all about. It is a federal holiday.

BROWN: If I could, I would, because the public square is not for the government to endorse the majority of religion. And the founding fathers were very careful to protect minorities, especially...

O'REILLY: The founding fathers said `Merry Christmas' all day long. They had Christmas celebrations everywhere, including...

BROWN: But they didn't put it in the Constitution.

O'REILLY: ...every government building. Of course they didn't put Christmas in the Constitution.

BROWN: But they kept God out of the Constitution.

O'REILLY: They never envisioned a person like you objecting to it.

BROWN: They kept God out of the Constitution.

O'REILLY: They never envisioned a person like you objecting to it.

BROWN: They put in a First Amendment.

O'REILLY: That's why they didn't put it.

BROWN: They put in a First Amendment to keep the government from endorsing the majority's religion.

O'REILLY: Then why did the government pass the holiday, madam?

BROWN: Political pressure, political pressure.

O'REILLY: Yes, I know. U.S. Grant was under a lot of pressure in 1870 to do it.

HENICAN: Be polite.

O'REILLY: Thank you, madam.

HENICAN: Christians are polite, Bill O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: You are the...

HENICAN: Be polite. Be inclusive. Be loving.

O'REILLY: You are the anti-Christ.

HENICAN: Merry Christmas, my friend.

BROWN: Include all of us.

O'REILLY: You're the anti-Christ.

HENICAN: I am.

O'REILLY: I'm forgiving everybody.

HENICAN: I got Christmas cookies for you.

O'REILLY: Yes, filled with pot. And we'd like you to vote in our billoreilly.com poll question. Will you shop at stores that do not say `Merry Christmas?' Will you shop at stores that do not say `Merry Christmas?'

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