The War on Christmas Heats Up!

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," December 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Perhaps you've heard about my book, "The War on Christmas." Here on "The Big Story" we have aired all kinds of stories showing how political correctness has taken a toll on this very special holiday. So, who is winning this war? Let's ask Rob Boston from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Gary McCaleb of the Alliance Defense Fund.

Rob, here is the test, is a Christmas tree in a school an unconstitutional celebration of a religion?

ROB BOSTON, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: John, your war on Christmas is bogus. It doesn't exist. It's thinner than drugstore wrapping paper. Christmas trees can exist in public schools.


GARY MCCALEB, ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND: John, is it a war on Christmas? Yes. Rob is not answering my phones. I've had over 400 calls for help this year. Folks are identifying issues where Christmas is being suppressed.

For example, down in Memphis, Tennessee, which is scarcely a hotbed of left-wing activism, we have public officials saying to a community group, "You can put a display up and have a nativity scene but it can't have Jesus in it." Now, that sounds to me like a battle for Christmas.

BOSTON: I don't believe any of your stories coming out of the ADF. I've looked into about a dozen of them in the past week and they are all lies. You have maligned communities from Plano, Texas, to Saginaw, Michigan, to Dodgeville, Wisconsin, but the good news is the public schools are fighting back. They are posting things on their Web sites. They are responding to John Gibson, they are responding to the Liberty Council. They are responding to Jerry Falwell. They are shooting it all down. You have no facts. Bring them into the courts if you have got them. Bring them into the court.

GIBSON: Gary, go ahead. You are defending me, Gary. Get busy.

MCCALEB: Whoa. Stop, Rob. What's going on here? They put up a two-page document on a Web site and make a few vague allegations about what might have happened. Plano, Texas, is classic. There is a lawsuit that we had to file there over a year ago, just the complaint alone 144 pages to detail the constitutional claims. They are backtracking and rebuttal one year after the fact is to take a single nuisance out of that case and say this didn't happen.

Well, one reason there is no policy against Christmas in Plano, Texas, today is they were sued in federal court a year ago, and a federal district judge issued a temporary restraining order saying back off, stop suppressing those ...

GIBSON: Hey, Rob, my impression is that actually the reason that a lot of these schools are returning Christmas is my book and O'Reilly's campaign. And they are suddenly saying we can't do this this year because we got caught.

BOSTON: You guys are rich. This stuff was made up. I called school superintendents and I said, you know, O'Reilly is telling ...

GIBSON: Rob, Rob, Rob, Rob stop, stop right there. Rob, stop right there.

BOSTON: No, you're wrong. I'm not going to stop.

GIBSON: Yeah you are. Because the incidents in my book are not lies. Hang on, Gary. Rob, the incidents in my book are not lies. If you are calling me a liar, let's go one on one. Every one of those incidents in those books, I interviewed every person involved. There are no factual discrepancies. Don't call me a liar here when you don't know what you are talking about.

BOSTON: Anybody can call the Alliance Defense Fund and say, look ...

GIBSON: Rob, straighten up. You just called me a liar. Back up your charges. Gary, pipe down. Rob, you just called me a liar. Back up your charges.

BOSTON: John, you told me the whole country — I'm going to explain to John why he's a liar. You told the whole country that kids in Plano, Texas, and Saginaw, Michigan, couldn't wear red and green clothes. That is a lie. They can wear it.

GIBSON: That is a lie. I said in Plano, Texas — pipe down, Gary. Rob, in Plano, Texas, the school would not allowed students and parents to bring red and green stuff to the Christmas party, now called the holiday party. That is the policy in Plano, Texas. I have the memos. If you are calling me a liar on that, you are going to get sued.

That was never a change in my story. I never said clothing. You are wrong. And now you are a liar.

BOSTON: As to the Alliance Defense Fund, I have an e-mail from them they sent out in August trying to raise money on the war on Christmas in August.

GIBSON: Rob, you're done. Rob, you're done. Rob, get your facts straight before you come on the air.

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