Bill O'Reilly Talks With Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1999

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 15, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: In just a moment we'll bring you a powerful interview between Bill O'Reilly and my late friend the Reverend Jerry Falwell. The Reverend Falwell was more than a conservative Christian leader. He also held enormous power in the political arena. And he passed away earlier today from apparent heart problems at the age of 73. A few years ago, Bill talked to the Reverend about some controversial remarks he made. And here's that interview.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: You are never controversial, Reverend. That's what I like about you. You're always very calm and never really speak your mind. So what is this anti-Christ thing now?

REV. JERRY FALWELL, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHANCELLOR: Well Bill, like Dr. Billy Graham, like many, many ministers, evangelicals in the land, we believe in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of his Church. I'll bring that down to lay language. We believe the Lord could come today. We believe we should live every day as though this were the day for the Second Coming. But we should work and plan with the next generation in mind, setting dates is always wrong.

What I said that caused the furor — and if I had to do it over I would have said it a little differently — but I wouldn't change the wording. I was speaking in Kingsport, Tennessee, at Higher Ground Baptist Church for a Bailey Smith evangelism conference; a lot of pastors there. Talking about prophecy, the approaching year 2000, the coming of the Lord. I said, “Now setting dates is always wrong.” But in my heart of hearts I believe the Lord is coming soon. And if the Lord were to come in the next 10 years or so, then the anti-Christ who will appear, after the church is raptured, or called away to be with the Lord, and the seven-year tribulation begins here on the Earth. The anti-Christ would appear during that tribulation period to persecute the population that's left behind at the rapture.

I said if the anti-Christ, therefore — if the Lord is coming in the next 10 years the anti-Christ would be a counterfeit Christ, pretending to be Christ — would by necessity need to be alive on the Earth today, because our Lord was about 30 when he began his ministry 2000 years ago. The Lord was a male. He was Jewish. Now there are evangelicals who believe that the anti-Christ will be Italian coming out of the old Roman, revived Roman Empire or European. That is not anti-Italian, or anti-Semitic, whatever; it's a historic fact. I believe that since Christ was a male Jew that the counterfeit who will pretend to be the Christ will be that. But that was purely an evangelical saying if the Lord were to come. We don't know when he is coming.

O'REILLY: So you are not predicting he is going to come in the next…

FALWELL: Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no.

O'REILLY: So all of this — the anti-Christ is here, we should be looking out for him. That this is all…

FALWELL: No, we shouldn't be. We don't know who he is going to be. By all means we should not be looking.

O'REILLY: Because I heard rumors he was in the World Wrestling Federation right now. And I got very upset. Listen, I am going to poke fun at this, Reverend, because I don't know why you say this stuff. It hurts your credibility to say this stuff don't you think?

FALWELL: Well, you know, I've been preaching this for 40 years.

O'REILLY: I know that. But, look, people want to paint you as a nut.

FALWELL: I know that.

O'REILLY: They want to paint Jerry Falwell as a nut. They want to put Bill O'Reilly in a box. They want to put Geraldo Rivera in a box. Anybody who is outspoken or has an opinion about anything, there are going to be people who want to put them aside, you know, that kind of thing. So you play right into their hands by this anti-Christ thing.

FALWELL: Well, the mistake I did make was I didn't realize how biblically illiterate — and that is not just this generation, that is generally true all the time — most people are. That's not a put down. That's a fact. I am also economically illiterate and I'm politically illiterate, but I do know the Bible. Dr. Graham has been preaching this for 60 years. I've been preaching it for 40. But we've never had a comment made. The problem is the Internet connects everybody now. The media is all-pervasive. Sitting in the audience was one media person from a small newspaper who decided of all that I said that night, in one hour, that one comment was what would make the headlines.

O'REILLY: But there's also something else here. You take the Bible fairly literally.

FALWELL: Totally literally.

O'REILLY: Fairly literally.

FALWELL: Totally literally.

O'REILLY: So you believe Adam and Eve were there.

FALWELL: I believe they were two real persons. That Christ is a real person.

O'REILLY: A lot of theologians do not, and they take them as allegories and parables. So there is a difference of opinion there. Again, when you say something like there's a Jewish man, he's going to be the anti-Christ, you are just feeding into that frenzy that wants to pound you down.


HANNITY: He was a dear friend and we're going to miss him dearly around here.

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