The 12 Rules of Christmas

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Dec. 9, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, we continue our reporting on Christmas under siege. As we mentioned in the "Talking Points Memo," the latest is the Charles Dickens play, "A Christmas Carol," being banned from a high school in Washington State. But there are ways to combat these crazy school decisions.

Joining us now from Charlottesville, Virginia, is John Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute, a conservative civil-rights group.

So you've got 12 rules that parents can use if they feel their children are being discriminated against with an anti-Christian bias? Is that what's going on?

JOHN WHITEHEAD, RUTHERFORD INSTITUTE: I think it's essentially anti-Christian because the one religion that's picked on is Christianity.

I mean, in the case that we just basically settled in Florida, some parents called, and they said they're having a big Christmas program — a winter holiday program, as they call it these days. They are doing Kwanzaa songs, they're doing Hanukkah songs, but no Christmas songs.

So we wrote the school a quick letter that says you can't do that because there's nothing illegal about having Christmas songs, and you're just going beyond the borders.

And the schools recognize that — what — that this is not illegal, that you can actually have — do a lot of things in school for Christmas. So they back off. We see that consistently. But we're getting all kinds of crazy cases.

New Jersey now has outlawed in some of their schools even playing instrumentals with no words or...

O'REILLY: Yes, that was in Maplewood, New Jersey (search), but what was the...

WHITEHEAD: ... just crazy stuff.

O'REILLY: ... Florida district — what was the Florida district you just mentioned? Which one was that?

WHITEHEAD: That was in southern Florida. I don't exactly remember the district, but...

O'REILLY: Was that — was that East Manatee, Florida?

WHITEHEAD: I don't really remember. We get...

O'REILLY: All right.

WHITEHEAD: We're flooded this time of year with so many issues and cases.

O'REILLY: All right, but they — the school backed down when you — when you came in...

WHITEHEAD: The school backed down.

O'REILLY: ... and they didn't want to fight it?

WHITEHEAD: They basically — and I — as I tell people, there's hope here with the idea that we develop these 12 rules, is that you can take these, go into schools, and they also deal with the office, workplace. We're having employers are telling people in their workplaces this year that you can play your radio, but no Christmas songs on the radio. But they can't do that.

O'REILLY: Yes, I know.

WHITEHEAD: That's against the law.

O'REILLY: OK. Let's run down the 12 rules then. Go ahead.

WHITEHEAD: Well, in the public schools, for example, students can wear T-shirts and symbols during the year. Students can wear T-shirts that say "Jesus is the reason for the season." Students can actually pass out literature in the hallways and other places where literature is passed out. They can invite people to church to hear about Christmas as long as other students are handing out things in the hallways, and, as we know, students hand out a lot of things in the hallways.

Teachers can wear religious symbols during the holidays, if other teachers are wearing symbols, any kind of symbols at all. They can wear Christmas trees. Teachers can wear crosses. In the classroom, teachers can teach about the Christmas holiday. They can talk about the baby Jesus, the history of it, as long as it's taught objectively and it's relevant, and, at this time of the year, obviously, it is relevant.

As I said, in the workplace, there's a lot of things you can do in the workplace, and that's become a big problem as well because what they've done is — there are no longer any Christmas parties. There's end-of-the- year parties. But employers cannot stop people from hearing Christmas music, decorating their work spaces, or, if employees want to generally decorate the office, they can do that.

Cities and public parks — you can have nativity scenes as long as the nativity scene is there with a Christmas tree and other symbols of Christmas. You can have Christmas songs and Christmas plays in the public schools. You can have Christmas songs in these plays.

O'REILLY: As long as they're historically in context.

WHITEHEAD: As long as it's part of a larger program, right.

O'REILLY: Right.

WHITEHEAD: So, as I said, the schools realize that what they're doing is — they've just got into a mode of political correctness, and the basic golden rule of our...

O'REILLY: I don't — I think it's beyond that, though. I think it's more than political correctness. I really...

WHITEHEAD: Well, I think it's a cultural shift.

O'REILLY: Yes. I mean, I really think that the principals and school boards that oppress — you know, imagine banning Dickens, "A Christmas Carol." What they're trying to say is that we don't like the 82 percent of Americans who believe that Jesus was God or the son of God. We...

WHITEHEAD: Well, what they're saying...

O'REILLY: We don't — we're afraid of those people because they'll oppress the other people. That's the genesis of this. Pardon the pun.

WHITEHEAD: Well, yes, but it isn't irreligious. I mean, this is a very religious society. There are so many religions.

The idea is that we're supposed to tolerate everything, but the one thing it seems — and I think you pointed it out — that offends people is that first six letters in the word "Christmas," "Christ," and I mean...

But they go to absurd lengths. I mean, the schools saying that they're having the winter holidays, and I always point out to teachers and principals when you use the word "holiday," you're using a religious term. It's holy day. What holy day are you celebrating?

O'REILLY: Yes, but it's even more than that. It's a federal holiday. That's what Christmas is.

WHITEHEAD: It's a federal holiday.

O'REILLY: All right. So, if somebody's got a problem, they can get in touch with your institute, the Rutherford Institute in Virginia, and...

WHITEHEAD: That's right.

O'REILLY: There it is. So, if you're getting harassed about Christmas...

WHITEHEAD: Then they can download from my Web site the 12 rules and use them, and...

O'REILLY: There you go.

WHITEHEAD: ... the message here is it's positive. You can beat these things.

O'REILLY: All right. . And we appreciate it. Thanks very much, Mr. Whitehead.

WHITEHEAD: Thank you, sir.

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