Singer Clint Black on the Controversy Over Christmas

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Dec. 10, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, country star Clint Black has a new Christmas CD Called "Christmas With You." The title song was inspired by our troops overseas. Here's a sample of it.


CLINT BLACK, SINGER: Alone in the saddle / My mind in a haze / Missing my family / And counting the days / This road is a long one / And if I'm overdue / I'll be dreaming of Christmas with you / I know this Christmas / Every wish won't come true / But I'll be dreaming of Christmas with you...


O'REILLY: Very nice.

With us now is Clint Black.

You know, we just talked with Newt Gingrich about this whole thing, and it's serious in this country where when I was a kid, when you were a kid, we never had these controversies about Christmas, did we? I don't remember them.

BLACK: No, it was a pretty popular holiday. I'm — as a writer, I'm pretty aware of my feelings. I know, you know, I keep myself in check and pay attention to what I'm feeling and trying to know why I'm feeling it, and I feel inhibited from saying "Merry Christmas" to people.

O'REILLY: Do you really?

BLACK: Yes. And I've decided, you know, that's over. I'm going to say it to everyone. I have lots of friends — they're Jewish or, you know, a lot of different religions, atheists — and I'm always curious about how they feel, and I ask them if they're offended by it, and I think you've got to be a pretty big scrooge to — you know, to be offended when somebody greets you with something with "Merry" on the front of it.

O'REILLY: I don't know. There are some people who get offended by everything, and you're never going to please those people. But it's interesting that we haven't heard anything from the showbiz community at all.

You know, Barbra Streisand (search) is Jewish, and she's made tens of millions of dollars off her Christmas album because she sings Christmas songs brilliantly. And I know you're watching me, Babs. — I know you have a crush on me. — And you really sing them well.

But you — we don't hear from the entertainment community, look, you know, this is a holiday, it's a federal holiday, we're all Americans, we all should enjoy it, knock it off.

BLACK: Yes, I — you know, I've heard your arguments on it, and, you know, I really — I really — I just — I don't see — I do see, you know, a time — it's possible in the future — when there's pressure on me from my record company because there's pressure on record companies, you know, that they're going to reissue my CD and I've got to take Christmas out of the title.

O'REILLY: I don't think that's going to happen.

BLACK: Well, no, I...

O'REILLY: I think the tide is turning.

BLACK: I'm optimistic, but, you know, I can only feel optimistic if, you know, many of us come out and talk about our personal experiences. Individual experiences, I think, say everything, and, you know, I ask — I ask people about their various experiences, and I haven't been able to find anyone who could get upset by Christmas.

O'REILLY: No. And I haven't either. I mean, I — these people — well, I do the radio show, and I do have some people to call in there, but I don't know them. Now you named the CD "Christmas With You." You didn't get any heat from the label on doing that, did you?

BLACK: Not at all.

O'REILLY: OK. So that was fine. And then the soldier song is really, really good. It's going to make a lot of people cry. I know it is.

BLACK: Well, it — it made us emotional when we wrote it. I did a lot of research on Christmas, and I'm finding so much irony in some of these battles, the Christmas tree especially, and, you know, hearing you talk about Christmas all week really got me to thinking about that.

You know, the Christmas tree originally was used as a stage prop in a play inspired by the Old Testament to represent the Garden of Eden. Within 30 years — this was a German playwright. Within 30 years, practically every German-Christian home had a Christmas tree in the house adorned wit candles to represent the light of Christ and wafers to represent the body of Christ.

Now the irony here is that this is a really good example of a bridging between Judaism...

O'REILLY: Jewish...

BLACK: ... and Christianity.

O'REILLY: If you look at the whole thing, it's peace on earth, right? Who's against that except for Usama bin Laden? And he doesn't celebrate Christmas, all right. We won't allow him to... And goodwill. Goodwill toward men and women.

BLACK: That's right.

O'REILLY: So what are you objecting to?

BLACK: Well, you know, I...

O'REILLY: You know, when I say you, I mean the people who are behind the secularism because that's the message. It's a message of your album. It's the message of the season. It's the message of the federal holiday. So let's knock it off. I'll give you the last word.

BLACK: I try to see all sides of it and understand, and I can see where people might see something bad about religion. A lot of people have done bad things in the name of many religions.

O'REILLY: But not Christmas.

BLACK: But we have to remember they're people. The religion didn't do the bad thing, and...

O'REILLY: Right.

BLACK: ... and even if you don't believe that Christ is the son of God, you can't deny that the message is good, and I...

O'REILLY: The message is good, and Santa has never invaded a country. He's invited in right down the chimney, and then he leaves, you know.

Mr. Black, great luck with your — Well, you won't need it. You're going to sell a lot of copies.

BLACK: Thanks.

O'REILLY: "Christmas With You."

It's always good to see you, sir.

BLACK: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Thanks for watching “The Factor”. Thanks for coming in.

BLACK: You bet.

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