Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly thinks that atheists are "a merry band of fascists" and that "Christianity is not a religion."
In case you're wondering, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook lists Christianity as a religion, and then goes on to describe its various sects, just as it describes the various sects and branches of the religion of Islam.
O'Reilly had Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, on his program last night to debate why atheists challenge Christmas displays on public property.
"Why are you messing around with my tradition? Why are you messing around with Christmas? Just leave it alone," O'Reilly demanded.
Silverman responded that atheist organizations are not messing around with Christmas, but "messing around" with government preferring one religion over another. He said that long before Christians were celebrating Christmas, people celebrated the Winter Solstice with evergreen trees and get-togethers and that the government has no business choosing which religions, such as those celebrating Christmas as opposed to the Winter Solstice, should be favored over others. (Silverman characterized the celebration of the Winter Solstice as a secular celebration, but some religions celebrate it as well.)
"Mr. Silverman, it is a fact that Christianity is not a religion. It is a philosophy," O'Reilly stated (see video embedded below). For O'Reilly, denominations such as the Methodist and Catholic faiths are "religions," but Christianity itself is a philosophy. "So you're going to actually tell me on live television that Christianity is not a religion?" Silverman asked. "Correct," O'Reilly responded. Silverman tried to explain that Catholicism and other denominations were sects, but O'Reilly would have none of it.
The two engaged in a shouting match over one another, with Silverman saying that the issue is about government neutrality and O'Reilly calling atheists a "merry band of fascists" who should not take Christmas Day off of work. During their exchange, O'Reilly also "took the Lord's name in vain" by muttering, "Jesus Christ!" and proclaimed that a Christmas tree is a secular symbol that has nothing to do with Christianity. To this, Silverman asked why, then, O'Reilly referred to the decoration as "a Christmas tree" when the word "Christmas" has everything to do with Christianity.
"You are so unreasonable it is frightening," O'Reilly opined. "Your view is insane."