Tradition in the public school system

Charles Krauthammer on the controversy surrounding Judeo-Christian tradition in education


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 8, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

O'REILLY: In "Back of the Book" segment tonight, a few days ago, I delivered a "Talking Points Memo" that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that any mention of "Jesus" in America's public schools is fraught with controversy.

And here's the problem. Jesus, Moses, and Judeo-Christian tradition are an important part of country's constitutional history. The sculpture of Moses holding the Ten Commandments hangs outside the Supreme Court to this very day. And there's a good reason for that.

Joining us now from Washington, Fox News Political Analyst, Charles Krauthammer. So, first of all, am I going awry in my analysis of Jesus and the public schools.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm not sure what the analysis is. If what you're saying is that your book should be mandatory in the public schools, --


-- perhaps not. My book, yes. Your book, not so sure.

O'REILLY: It had nothing to do with books and you know it. You read my "Talking Points Memo." It has to do with teaching the urchins history.

And you can't teach the history of America by avoiding Judeo-Christian tradition and the impact it had on the framers. It's impossible.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm all in favor of teaching history. I'm all in favor of teaching civics. I'm all in favor of teaching where the founders derived the principles that went into the Declaration and then went into the Constitution.

And, for that, you'd want to start with the Greeks, you'd want to go to the Romans, you would do John Locke, Montesquieu, you would do the Old Testament, the New Testament. And you would have a pretty good summary of how we got to where we are. If that's what you want to teach, I'll go for it.

O'REILLY: No, you'd have to go Magna Carta. I would pick it up with probably the 18th Century and the British throwing off the king and basically becoming a democracy, and then pick it up because that's the link.

But you know what I'm talking about here. If you bring in -- if you say the word, "Jesus" in public school, you're going to have somebody knocking on your door, screaming separation of church and state.

And I mean, look, do you think the statue of Moses holding those Ten Commandments could be erected in front of a public federal building now. Do you.

KRAUTHAMMER: I wouldn't. But I think, when you're saying that the word, "Jesus" can't be used in public school, --


-- it depends of course what the context is.

O'REILLY: No, it doesn't. I disagree with you.

KRAUTHAMMER: It does because --


-- well then, let me give you an example. Under the First Amendment, you can clearly teach about religion.

You want to have a high school course on the history of religion, comparison religion, on the influence of religion on the American founding, on Lincoln, on his view, his understanding of divine justice and the civil war.

That would be perfectly reasonable. And I don't think there'd be any objection. The difference is --

O'REILLY: Then why isn't it being done.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, because we're not teaching anything. We're not teaching the Civil War. We're not teaching who the founders are. We're not explaining anything.

I've looked at the A.P. exams that my son had to write in high school. There are whole gaps in history. For example, they tell you in advance.

They will never ask about a battle or a date in the Civil War. So, you go until 1816 and you skip to reconstruction. It's a bit of a gap.

O'REILLY: But I submit to you that this case in West Virginia that I cited where they took the picture of Jesus, which was hanging in the corridor for 20 years, off the wall, there was no --


-- divinity there. It was just a picture of the man. All right, now, I would have put a picture of Moses next to him, and a picture of Mohammed maybe, --


-- I don't object to that. But I believe that that public school has consciously said, "We're wiping out Judeo-Christian tradition. We're not going to mention it. It's too much trouble and we don't want it."

And that's what I think is happening. Last word.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I don't believe in what the zealots are doing. I don't like tearing stuff off the walls.

But I do think that if you want your child to learn about God, I wouldn't mind. I would not want my child being taught about the nature of God and divinity --

O'REILLY: But we're not talking about God though.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- at my public school. Did you get that.

O'REILLY: We're not talking about God.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, Jesus is considered divine in the Christian religion.

O'REILLY: Only by Christians -- only by Christians.


O'REILLY: And there were D.S., as you know, that forged the Constitution.


O'REILLY: But they did use the traditions and the history of Judeo- Christian philosophy.

KRAUTHAMMER: Bill, if I have the last word, I would say that we agree on this. There's nothing wrong with teaching Christianity in the context of the founding, Jesus, if you like, in the context of the founding.

The only difference is, under the First Amendment, you teach about religion and its influence on history and philosophy. But you do not teach religion itself.

O'REILLY: That's right.

KRAUTHAMMER: If you want that, you go to your parents, you go to your school, a private school, a parochial school, or to a church. But not the public school.

O'REILLY: OK. All right, Charles, as always, thank you.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.