New assault on Christianity, freedom of speech in America

What would the Founding Fathers think?


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," November 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Some people call it the war on Christmas. But tonight, the focus is on every American's right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It doesn't matter if you're Christian, Jewish or of no faith at all.

In 2012 and right now, it is the Christians who are under siege by government officials and anti-religion groups who think Christmas and Christianity have no business in the public arena.

Exhibit number one. In Kansas, the city of Buhler has been forced to remove the cross from the city seal after an atheist group complained.

Exhibit number two. In North Carolina, at Western Piedmont Community College, students were told they couldn't sell Christmas trees if they were called Christmas trees. They wanted to call them holiday trees until their school finally caved.

And finally, in Rhode Island, exhibit number three. Lincoln Chafee is not backing down. The liberal governor refuses to call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. Once again, he wants the holiday tree and his office didn't even want a holiday lighting this year. He caved only after enormous pressure.

So, Eric, this is turn of play now, because for years, the liberals have said, oh that the right, the conservatives are against First Amendment, are against freedom of expression. But we're seeing quite the contrary at play right now.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Right. And we'll do it again. Let's read the First Amendment to the Constitution. Should we do that?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: The whole thing?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Do we have to?

BOLLING: Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof -- or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

It's groups like Freedom from Religion that are a problem. Wisconsin- based group that finds different municipalities around the country and they go and make it their project. They go try to get on TV, make enough ridiculous noise so that when people pick it up and say, hey, really, would this fall under the First Amendment of the Constitution?

Free speech, free religion, First Amendment. Back off Freedom from Religion. I can't stand that group, by the way.

GUILFOYLE: All right. Dana, we're going to talk about the situations that are illustrating this point of what's going on across the country right now, we're all watching it. They continue to blame the right. But, in fact, when you look at who is culpable -- we'll start with Kansas.

Now, this is in the city of Buhler, they're going to remove the cross from their city seal and from all the city properties because this group, Freedom from Religion Foundation complained that it violates the establishment cause of the Constitution.

PERINO: So, one of the things that I look in to with this is that the seal was redesigned 24 years ago. That's when a these lot of lawsuits happened. What they were trying to do here, not make a religious point, they were making a historic point because the city was established by Mennonite immigrants who were seeking refuge from religious persecution.

This is an historic point and what marks the town and makes it different. And that they have a point of history to look to. I don't think that anyone who puts the cross on there was trying to make a religious point, necessarily, though they might be faithful Christians. But the fact that their town was founded -- you can't run away from your history. No one does that.

GUILFOYLE: Now, Brian, the mayor there, Daniel Friesen, says that concerns over the lawsuit were a deciding factor in deciding to remove the cross from the city seal and redesigning it.

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST: I blame your people, and not the Irish people or the Puerto Rican people. I blame the legal people. The hiring of the legal people of this world, it's a fear of using taxpayer money to defend the right to show the cross that's having everybody cave.

In this town of 1,350 people say, all right, we'll take it off. It's just too expensive to fight. We need people to donate their legalese in there --

GUILFOYLE: You're right.

KILMEADE: Or send money to get a hometown lawyer to take them on.

GUILFOYLE: Bob, you're a Christian. How do you feel about this?

BECKEL: First of all -- of course, I'm a Christian. By the way, to indict all liberals saying these all liberals are responsible of this is ridiculous.

GUILFOYLE: Well, that's why you're here to defend.

BECKEL: But -- I mean, I think the idea that sales -- Christmas tree sales, or Chafee in Rhode Island, it ought to be a Christmas tree. That's what it is.


BECKEL: If you want a menorah next to Christmas tree and light it, it doesn't matter to me. But --

GUILFOYLE: Then, why do they do it, Bob?

BECKEL: Wait a minute. In Buhler, there is a distinction. And that is, this is a city that takes federal, state and local monies. And when you have a cross on your -- despite the history of it. And Mennonites were persecuted and they did go there. That does draw the line to me between church and state.

BOLLING: Well, what about -- by the way, freedom from religion picks out different municipalities. I remember last year, there is one in Texas outside of Waco where they wanted them to remove a manger scene because it was a public park across the street, and people in the park could --

BECKEL: Those are ridiculous. To take down --

BOLLING: Where do you draw the line?

BECKEL: Because this is a permanent seal of a city. That's a lot different than a Christmas display at the public park.

GUILFOYLE: And, Bob, let me tell you something -- this is what's sad. They're deciding that it's financially more feasible and economic to remove the seal, redesign it, hold the contest in the city, and it will cost $2,500 to have a law firm fight it and potentially lose it. That's wrong.

BECKEL: I understand that. But that doesn't change the facts that this is a permanent seal 365 days a year and it does --

PERINO: But I bet you could find historic towns across -- at least, well, all across America. But certainly on the Eastern Seaboard that have some sort of religious founding that use that in their documents or in their seals.

The point they would take city or state or federal money, like what entity doesn't take city, state, or federal money. That is all across America.

BECKEL: Well, I suppose you could argue, first of all, I'm not so sure that there are municipalities. Maybe there are, but I would be very surprised if there are because they have been sued by now if that would be the case. But the fact is that you are taking money, collective tax money from people who are of different faiths. And it's going to Buhler getting some piece of that.

BOLLING: What if the people of Buhler or the town of Texas are OK with this deal?

BECKEL: Don't put those two together. Those are apples and oranges.

BOLLING: No, no, but therein lies the difference. It's Freedom from Religion. They go seek out these situations, when the people in the towns themselves say we don't want your help. We don't a problem with manger scene or cross on our seal.

GUILFOYLE: This is happening across the country. It's the insidious nature of it which is most disturbing. And that's why we're putting together the pieces here so people can decide.

BECKEL: I am second to none in fighting the idea of doing away with manger scenes in public property.


BECKEL: I think that's ridiculous. It makes no sense.

But that is very different than a symbol of a -- or seal of a town.

GUILFOYLE: Bob, you take a walk with me to North Carolina? Are you up to it?

BECKEL: Yes, I am.

GUILFOYLE: OK, fine. Let's discuss it.

Western Piedmont Community College. So, this is the one we discussed in our exhibit two.


GUILFOYLE: Aha, there we go. Take a look at these beautiful trees. Oh, no, oh, no, you didn't call them Christmas trees. You better call them holiday trees or they're out -- Bob.

BECKEL: I think it's absolutely ridiculous, particularly because this group was raising money for children in poverty. I mean -- what?

KILMEADE: It's unbelievable.

PERINO: It's terrible.

BECKEL: I mean, I just don't get it. They walked it back. The reason they walked it back because they got bad publicity. Otherwise, they probably would have kept going and ban the thing.

This is the kind of the thing that gives -- first of all, allows the right wingers to blame evening on the left wingers on all this stuff. So, you ought to stop doing it, number one. But number two, it's a Christmas tree. Get it? Christmas tree. Let them have it and sell it.

GUILFOYLE: They're about to be ostracized. Dana?

PERINO: The White House over the weekend, the Obamas accepted the Christmas tree when it arrived and being put up in the Blue Room today.

BOLLING: Christmas tree?

PERINO: Yes, it is.


BOLLING: Hold on. Hold on. Mr. Beckel, let's use your -- let's use your example of taking federal, state -- the White House is built with our money.

BECKEL: I have no problem --

BOLLING: Should President Obama therefore call at it holiday tree?

BECKEL: I have no problem with doing things like a Christmas tree in the White House or menorah or nativity scene on a public property -- I have no problem with that. I just said in this one case, I think it's a little bit different.


KILMEADE: I will say this, I think as a group, as a five, which I'm not official a member.

BECKEL: Yes, you are.

KILMEADE: I'm filling in for Greg.

GUILFOYLE: You're still on the tryout.

KILMEADE: I know, of course.

I would say we should band together and promise never to attend a Western Piedmont College game, scrimmage or even the --

BECKEL: Oh, man. I got to give up my season tickets.

KILMEADE: The fact is the students want to not do it. Let's not go there.

BECKEL: My whole season tickets --

GUILFOYLE: Bob, we've got another one for you.

KILMEADE: That's what I'm saying, Bob, make the sacrifice. Stand for something.

BECKEL: Go ahead.

GUILFOYLE: OK. So, let's go to Rhode Island now. This is another hot story that people are talking about, because have you ever been to a holiday tree lighting? This is really appropriate because right now in New York City, we have the Christmas tree lighting. So, don't try to come here, because the traffic is horrific.


GUILFOYLE: But what's going on in Rhode Island is, they were going to hold a holiday tree lighting because you can't call it a Christmas tree lighting again. Again, the same type of -- Brian, you make --

KILMEADE: They did it again last year. They even tried this last year. This is Lincoln Chafee is pretty wacky, wouldn't you say? And for him to dress like Steve Doocy every single day is unbelievable and is getting on my nerves.

So, he takes over Rhode Island and this is one of the stands he's going to have. So, then he decides, I'll tell you what? Since it was so controversial last year, I ended up caving, let's not even have a tree lighting. Then the people of Rhode Island really get mad and say, they want a tree lighting, they just can't call at it holiday tree.

BECKEL: First of all, he's not a whacko, number one. He's a good guy and he's a good governor. But he went back to what the previous governor said.

However, what do you think you put a tree up and put lights and bulbs on it for? What else -- is there something else you call it? I mean, any other religion have it as part of a symbol for the holiday?

KILMEADE: Why would he try to alienate the people of Rhode Island?

PERINO: Festivus.

BOLLING: A pole, not even a tree.

KILMEADE: Yes, that's a pole. Right. And we celebrate --

BECKEL: Polish?

BOLLING: I mean, you don't complain about --


PERINO: It's a fake holiday.


PERINO: I think that they probably in Rhode Island and the governor's staff, round about July, they have a brainstorm meeting and they're planning for the next six months. And on the agenda is question of how can we drive the right crazy this year?

KILMEADE: He's on the right. He's a Republican.

PERINO: Oh, he's not.

KILMEADE: He is kind of a Republican.

BECKEL: He is a Republican.

KILMEADE: He said, look --

PERINO: No, he's independent. He's independent.

KILMEADE: Yes, he left because no one liked him on the right or the left. He says, hey, we used to say the Lord's Prayer in school. We moved on from that, essentially saying get over it, people. Let's call it a holiday tree.

PERINO: What do atheists want to us believe in?

BOLLING: Here's the best example. On every single bill we have, every coin "In God We Trust." I mean, there it is. It's money. It's God.

PERINO: It doesn't say in Christians we trust.

BECKEL: You know, the thing about he said that we used to do the Lord's Prayer every day in school. You know what we had to eat on Friday?


BECKEL: Fish sticks. Why? Because of Catholics. That's why.

GUILFOYLE: I love fish sticks. They are tasty and delicious.

PERINO: Also because of lobbyists and they figured it out, the way --

BECKEL: The Catholics, there were so many Catholics in our school and we had to eat fish sticks. That's why I hate fish.

GUILFOYLE: Guys, real quick because this is an example of type of speech that the left likes to support, which is the WikiLeaks suspect Manning, right, who is looking at 32 years --

KILMEADE: Bradass. That's what he wanted. That was his --

GUILFOYLE: There you go. You're quite familiar with it. What do you think of that? Look at the juxtaposition and the hypocrisy.

KILMEADE: Life in prison.

BOLLING: That's all?

KILMEADE: He jeopardized -- he jeopardized national security.

GUILFOYLE: But he is supported by the left.

KILMEADE: I'm sure he can have a holiday tree in his cell.

PERINO: I will not take anyone from the left seriously about Manning until they support and try to get out of jail the video maker who was jailed after the video.

GUILFOYLE: There you go.

BECKEL: On Eric's old show, I said on that show that they ought -- we ought to get a hit squad together and shoot this guy. You know how much heat I took about that?

PERINO: And now, you'll get it again.

KILMEADE: And from who?

BOLLING: He's treasonous.


BOLLING: What's the top penalty for treason?

GUILFOYLE: Well, he is treasonous and they could have actually sought the death penalty but they did not. And he has a tremendous amount of support.

The defense plans to call at least 48 witnesses on his behalf. They feel that he should be free, that he is political prisoner. He's complained about his confinement in Quantico. He's saying it's illegal punishment.

BECKEL: Can you imagine him on the front line defending you? Look at him.


BECKEL: Put the picture back up.

Ask yourself this question. Would you feel good about this guy on the front lines?

KILMEADE: Meanwhile, he's done more damage that Zarqawi to our national security, this guy, allowing all this stuff to get out there. We cannot be trusted. A lot State Department, international causes, they still have not forgiven us from that, because we let this nobody download information to Mr. Julian Assange.

BOLLING: The left says Bradley Manning should be protected under free speech and Christmas trees should not.

BECKEL: The left does not. I just said I thought we have to deal with it. I'm on the left.

GUILFOYLE: Pick your bedfellows, Beckel. All right.


BECKEL: Actually I wouldn't get in bed with you but that's not telling the truth --

BOLLING: Can we move on?


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