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Why are Atheists meddling with Christmas?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Continuing now with our reporting on this year's Christmas controversy situation. Many of the actions against public displays of Christmas taken by atheist organizations. With us now David Silverman. President of the American Atheist group.

DAVID SILVERMAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ATHEISTS: Thanks for having me.

O'REILLY: I'm really trying to get and I'm not being a wise guy here. I will deal with the hard stuff with Governor Chafeee tomorrow. I'm trying to give you a point of view here. You are an atheist, you're a non- believer. I respect that. That's fine. I don't look down on you. I don't think you are pinhead.

SILVERMAN: Thank you.

O'REILLY: If you want to be an atheist that's why we have America. You can be with it. But, why are you messing around with my tradition? Why are you messing around with Christmas? Just leave it alone. Is there a compelling reason for you mess around with it?

SILVERMAN: Well we're only messing around -- we are not messing around with anything. We are stopping the government from preferring one religion over another.

O'REILLY: Okay. Stop there.

SILVERMAN: No.

O'REILLY: No, no, no. You listen to me and then you answer my questions.

SILVERMAN: I'm trying to answer your questions. Go ahead.

O'REILLY: What religion is involved with Christmas? What religion?

SILVERMAN: Christianity.

O'REILLY: That's not a religion. That's a philosophy.

SILVERMAN: Okay. So, since the dawn of time the Winter Solstice has been celebrated by multiple religions.

O'REILLY: The Winter Solstice.

SILVERMAN: The Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year. It's been celebrated with evergreen trees because they don't die, giving gifts, family, friends, song.

O'REILLY: Do you like the winter solstice?

SILVERMAN: It's great.

O'REILLY: So, why don't you celebrate it?

SILVERMAN: We do.

O'REILLY: So great.

SILVERMAN: But you don't call it Christmas because Christianity doesn't get favor -

O'REILLY: No, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: You can celebrate Winter Solstice.

SILVERMAN: Yes. And you can celebrate Christmas --

O'REILLY: Anyway you want.

SILVERMAN: But our government can't take sides. The government doesn't this is a good religion, this is a bad religion. The government can't say this is a Christmas tree.

O'REILLY: Mr. Silverman. It is a fact that Christianity is not a religion it is a philosophy. If the government were saying that the Methodist religion, all right, deserves a special place in the public square I will be on your side.

SILVERMAN: So you are going to actually tell me on live television that Christianity is not a religion?

O'REILLY: Correct. It is a philosophy.

SILVERMAN: You and I are fundamentally going to disagree on that point.

O'REILLY: You are wrong.

SILVERMAN: That's fine you can call me that.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: Roman Catholicism is a religion. Judaism is a religion.

SILVERMAN: You know what, they're all sects of Christianity. It's really not cool for you to try and.

O'REILLY: Not cool.

SILVERMAN: Not cool for you to cloud this issue. This issue is about religious neutrality from the government. The government says. The government is not allowed to pick sides.

O'REILLY: Okay, number one --

SILVERMAN: Religious belief or philosophy is fine.

O'REILLY: If you read the constitution it says the government cannot promote a religion.

SILVERMAN: No, it says the Congress shall not establish any laws respecting an establishment of a religion.

O'REILLY: Of a religion. Not a philosophy.

SILVERMAN: So you wouldn't have a problem with the government of the United States establishing atheism that is also a philosophy. That would be fair for you?

O'REILLY: Establishing it? What does that mean?

SILVERMAN: Yeah, so we'll put " In God we Don't Trust" on all the coins.

O'REILLY: You can put your Winter Solstice sign --

SILVERMAN: "One nation under no God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: If you wanted to go down to Albany, New York and put a happy Winter Solstice sign on Andrew Cuomo's office door I have got no problem with it. Okay?

SILVERMAN: Yeah you would. I thin you would.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: Don't tell me what I think when I said I didn't have a problem, I don't have a problem.

SILVERMAN: Sorry.

O'REILLY: Got it.

SILVERMAN: Sir, you would have a problem with it.

O'REILLY: No I would not.

SILVERMAN: I'm challenging you on that. You would.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: You are challenging me? You don't know me.

SILVERMAN: Yes do I know you. I watch your show.

O'REILLY: That's ridiculous.

SILVERMAN: It wouldn't be right either because the governor is not in a position of promoting Atheism.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: Winter Solstice is not a religion.

SILVERMAN: No --

O'REILLY: It's a holiday. If he wants to put Winter Solstice up on his office door, I have got no problem with it.

SILVERMAN: Actually it's a celestial event and you are right it would be secular. If you put up there "in God we do not trust" -

O'REILLY: Jesus Christ.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: I just said Jesus Christ that's a religious -- he was a man. Now, Christmas tree is a secular symbol. It's a secular symbol. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

SILVERMAN: What's that first word?

O'REILLY: Secular symbol.

SILVERMAN: Christmas.

O'REILLY: Christmas tree.

SILVERMAN: Christmas is a Christmas tree. Now look --

O'REILLY: This is so unreasonable you are so unreasonable.

SILVERMAN: No, it's not unreasonable.

O'REILLY: It's frightening.

SILVERMAN: I'm not unreasonable at all.

(CROSSTALK)

SILVERMAN: I'm saying the government has to be fair. The government has to not take sides. Everybody is equal. Everybody has the same rights.

O'REILLY: It's a federal holiday. Why don't you get your -- off your butt and get it revoked? See how far you go?

SILVERMAN: I won't get enough votes (ph).

O'REILLY: Of course you don't. Your view is insane.

SILVERMAN: No, it's not.

O'REILLY: Can you celebrate Christmas without being a Christian.

SILVERMAN: Actually you can celebrate Christmas without being a Christian by force because you can't go to work, you can't get your mail, you can't go to the bank.

O'REILLY: You can't go to work.

SILVERMAN: No, you can't.

O'REILLY: Yes you can.

SILVERMAN: Oh really? Are you going to be working on Christmas?

O'REILLY: I don't work on Christmas.

SILVERMAN: 99 percent of the country doesn't either it's a federal holiday.

O'REILLY: You and your merry band of fascists.

SILVERMAN: Fascists.

O'REILLY: You get it revoked.

SILVERMAN: You called me a Fascist.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

SILVERMAN: I am a patriot, sir.

O'REILLY: You are a fascist.

SILVERMAN: I am a patriot taking the craziest notion that everybody in this country is equal and the government has to treat everybody equally fairly. That's Fascism?

O'REILLY: Banish Christmas trees.

SILVERMAN: Did I not say banish Christmas trees.

O'REILLY: From the public square. That's what you do and that's what you want.

SILVERMAN: That's not what I do. Stop telling me what I do. We demand equality from the government and it's our constitutional right and you should be demanding it along with me.

O'REILLY: Your equality is assured. Nobody infringing on your equality.

SILVERMAN: Really? We'll all be taking Darwin day off next year.

(CROSSTALK)

SILVERMAN: By force. It's a national holiday now.

O'REILLY: Take Winter Solstice off and knock yourself out nobody is going to stop you.

SILVERMAN: Right. You won't. But I also have to take off Christmas because it's a mandated federal holiday. Just like the Fourth of July.

O'REILLY: You run this organization, right? You run this atheist organization.

SILVERMAN: I run American Atheists.

O'REILLY: Keep it open.

SILVERMAN: No, we do. It will be open on Christmas day.

O'REILLY: You just contradicted yourself for the 18th time.

SILVERMAN: No, I said 99 percent. We are open.

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