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Atheist Group Unveils Anti-God Ad Campaign Ahead of Holidays

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Culture War" segment tonight: The war on Christmas heads to Sin City. Atheists have taken their anti-God show to Las Vegas and other cities across America with signs featuring creative messages like this: "Heathen's Greetings," and "Yes, Virginia, there is no God." Merry Christmas to you, too.

Joining us now from Madison, Wisconsin, of course is Annie Laurie Gaylor, the co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which bought the ads. Annie Laurie, how are you doing? Merry Christmas, by the way.

ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR, FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION: Well, merry winter solstice.

INGRAHAM: You almost said it. Annie Laurie, you almost said Merry Christmas. I caught you. It was coming up — off your tongue.

GAYLOR: No, it's the winter solstice today.

INGRAHAM: OK.

GAYLOR: It is the natural holiday. The reason for the season.

INGRAHAM: That's right, because a lot of people would care about the winter solstice were it not for this thing called Christianity. All right, but let's get back to your ads because I find it fascinating. I was thinking about this when I was getting my make-up on. You know, it's the Christmas season. I was thinking what if a Catholic group bought an ad, spent maybe $3,000 bucks on an ad that displayed the following: I gave your winter solstice true meaning, Jesus. Would that offend you?

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GAYLOR: Our ad that — we bought six "Yes, Virginia, there are no God" signs in Las Vegas, and they were censored. So obviously, there's no problem having religion in Las Vegas. There is a problem having atheism.

INGRAHAM: Now these ads are meant to do what? Are they meant to provoke and get people, you know, 80 percent of the country basically is Christian. So is it meant to kind of like rain on their Christmas parade?

GAYLOR: No.

INGRAHAM: Or is it meant to kind of have fun? Is it meant to provoke? Or do you want to get sympathy?

GAYLOR: Well.

INGRAHAM: Because as far as I can tell, you're just making a pain of yourself.

GAYLOR: It's meant to say something true, that there isn't a God. There are many Americans — 30 million Americans who do not believe in a God. And we're here in December, too. And "Heathen's Greetings" is one of our other billboards and "Reason's Greetings," and I think it's fun.

INGRAHAM: Oh, "Reason's Greetings." Oh.

GAYLOR: "Reason's Greetings." Reason is always in season.

INGRAHAM: OK.

GAYLOR: And the real reason for the season is the winter solstice. And people in the northern hemisphere celebrated this time of year from millennia with evergreens and festivals and gift exchanges because they're recognizing the real new year, natural holiday, the beginning of the new year. So we're here, too.

INGRAHAM: You know, it's a free country. So you — yeah, it's a free country, so you can spend your money and take out any kinds of ads like this. And you know, I actually am personally not bothered by it, but what I think is interesting is that there seems to be an orthodoxy and even a religious dogma among atheists, just as strong as that among, you know, devout Christians or Muslims or Jews, but you all call it winter solsticism or atheism or whatever the trendy way of referring to it is now.

GAYLOR: Well.

INGRAHAM: But you guys are just as dogmatic as the people you say are crazy because they think this, you know, this little baby was born in a manger.

GAYLOR: There is nothing dogmatic about the winter solstice. It's reality. It's the shortest and darkest day of the year.

INGRAHAM: I mean, dogma about the fact that there is no God. You're obviously dogmatic about that, are you not? Or are you up in the air about that?

GAYLOR: Well, I think that there — you can certainly say that the God of the Bible cannot be proved to be true. If there is no proof for something, we should not believe it. And more people have been killed in the name of religion for something that cannot be proved than for any other reason. And I think that many people might be pleased to know there is no God. There's no person watching over you ready to send you to Hell.

INGRAHAM: I have a question. How many members of your organization do you think are, I don't know, volunteering in AIDS orphanages in Africa this Christmas season or this solstice season? A lot of them? Because last time I checked…

GAYLOR: We know that it…

INGRAHAM: ...the Catholic Church and evangelical missionaries and Mormon missionaries are all across places in this Earth of ours that no one will go into.

GAYLOR: And many times…

INGRAHAM: So the idea that Christians are not magnanimous and incredibly generous is really silly.

GAYLOR: If there are being people magnanimous in the name of religion, terrific. But many times, it is religion that gets the credit and taxpayers that get the bill. As you know, Catholic charities get a huge amount of infusions of federal money from taxpayers.

INGRAHAM: Planned Parenthood does, too. But you won't have a problem with that.

GAYLOR: And I would also point out that a quarter — up to a quarter of our members, the last time we surveyed them…

INGRAHAM: How many members do you have?

GAYLOR: …many people volunteer.

INGRAHAM: How many members in the Freedom from Religion Foundation?

GAYLOR: 14,000 members nationwide.

INGRAHAM: OK, we got 300 million people in the United States. You have 14,000 members. OK.

GAYLOR: Well, quality over quantity, I guess.

INGRAHAM: Oh, quality members. Oh, that's true. Numbers don't matter.

GAYLOR: Progress doesn't always come from…

INGRAHAM: Right.

GAYLOR: ...demographics. Progress comes from…

INGRAHAM: I have a question. This is like — let's take it away from the talking points that, you know, there is no God. Did you grow up with any faith? I'm just curious. It's just a personal question.

GAYLOR: I'm a…

INGRAHAM: Did you grow up with anything?

GAYLOR: ...third generation free thinker. I was brought up free from religion.

INGRAHAM: Free thinker.

GAYLOR: My parents did not believe in indoctrination. I do not believe that small children should be indoctrinated in abstractions that they cannot have any real way to determine whether it's true or not.

INGRAHAM: So if I'm raising my two children Catholic, I'm really - if I'm — as a Catholic…

GAYLOR: Well, you are indoctrinating them.

INGRAHAM: ...raising my two children Catholic. So I'm indoctrinating them?

GAYLOR: I think children…

INGRAHAM: I got my cross on. (INAUDIBLE).

GAYLOR: I think children should be allowed to grow up and make these decisions for themselves.

INGRAHAM: So a 6-year-old child should make decisions for himself?

GAYLOR: I think that a lot of children grow up in great fear, for example, of Hell. And I think that is child abuse.

INGRAHAM: Yeah, you should be afraid of Hell. Hell's not a fun place. Yeah, of course, they should be afraid of Hell.

GAYLOR: Well, smile, there is no Hell.

INGRAHAM: Oh, well.

GAYLOR: I mean, I think this is a primitive notion. And it's very harmful to small children to have ideas that are that fearful inculcated in them by their parents and their churches.

INGRAHAM: Have you had any positive interaction with people of faith in your life?

GAYLOR: Yes, I have.

INGRAHAM: You have? So you found them to be gracious and…

GAYLOR: Yes.

INGRAHAM: ...generous? Does it bother you when people say at this time of year, as Christians do, I mean, as a Christian, I should pray for you because that's what we do when people who are unbelieving or nonbelievers, we pray for enlightenment, we pray for understanding, we pray for your soul. Does that bother you when people say that to you?

GAYLOR: Well, (INAUDIBLE) prayer, you're wasting your time.

INGRAHAM: Well.

GAYLOR: You can pray for me if you want to, but there is no God who's going to answer that prayer. And…

INGRAHAM: We have heard that for a long time, Annie Laurie. We've heard that, you know. The thing is when Christians have kind of been put upon for a couple thousand of years. So it doesn't really bother — it doesn't really…

GAYLOR: Put upon?

INGRAHAM: ...surprise us that most, you know, a lot of people won't agree with what we have to say on any given issue. But we celebrate the fact that we have a free country, and you can say whatever you want and take out these ads.

GAYLOR: But we should celebrate…

INGRAHAM: And Annie, we appreciate it.

GAYLOR: We should be able to get along with the separation of church and state.

INGRAHAM: Absolutely. And we appreciate it. And merry solstice.

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