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O'Reilly's War on Christmas: Truth Takes a Holiday Again

Posted by: David Kiley on November 28, 2006


I’m sorry. I can’t help it. But Bill O’Reilly’s argument that there is a war on Christmas is so inspid and vacant of facts and truth that I can’t help myself. I have to comment here and probably a few more times before the New Year.

I channel surfed onto his rant last night after he was off for a week. He started right in on the Christmas war, and a case the Supreme Court may hear (God help us! They don’t have better cases?) about a school in New York City that is barring the display of the nativity scene. What struck me about O’Reilly’s nonsensical rant (I may write a book) was his insistence that the Federal government recognizes the Birth of Jesus as a holiday.

You have to be paying attention to recognize the distortion here that is so great, some could classify it as a lie. The exact wording of the Federal law follows.

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following days, to wit: The first day of January, commonly called New Year’s day, the fourth day of July, the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas day, and any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving, shall be holidays within the District of Columbia, and shall, for all purposes of presenting for payment or acceptance of the maturity and protest, and giving notice of the dishonor of bills of exchange, bank checks and promissory notes or other negotiable or commercial paper, be treated and considered as is the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, and all notes, drafts, checks, or other commercial or negotiable paper falling due or maturing on either of said holidays shall be deemed as having matured on the day previous.”

It’s not exactly an endorsement of the Baby Jesus. It was, and is, a recognition by the government that the vast majority of citizens, including Federal employees, celebrate, commemorate and otherwise mark December 25. Some go to church. Many do not. But everybody who follows the traditiona wants the day off. The Federal holiday was not so much a recognition of the Birth of Jesus, but a recognition that a whole lot of people want, expect and should have the day off.

This imaginary war on Christmas of O’Reilly’s is a great business model. {We wondered when you were getitng to the business part]. He invents a cause celebre, invents the arguments for and against it, decides whom he will debate on it with him controlling the microphone….and all while he has a new book out that—you guessed it—advances the war on Christmas discussion. It’s a brilliant business model for selling books and making lots of money. But it reminds me of the story of the fireman so desperate to appear the hero that he sets his own fires so he can be the first one on the rescue scene.

I have recently read O’Reilly’s “Culture Wars.” Every page and every word. A review if forthcoming. It takes a long time to write when there is a gross distortion of facts on nearly every page.

Reader Comments

Maureen Rogers

November 28, 2006 6:30 PM

David - Thanks for pointing out the decidedly non-committal - shall we dare to say even secular-like - language that makes 12/25 a national holiday. Yes, indeed Bill O has an excellent business model stirring up antipathy toward those of us who dare to question whether the Founding Fathers were at the Last Supper signing the 10 Commandments into law with quill pens. What a humbug!


December 4, 2006 10:19 AM

Although it's not hard to bash Bill O, your article misses the bigger point. A point which many of us who believe or follow a faith (not just Christians) feel the country has turned so secular (or politically correct) that people feel they have to conceal or completely lose their identity. Instead of embracing different faiths it seems (at least in my part of the country) that we've almost banned them from public view. It seems as if you can't have a nativity, then you can't have any other religious symbols because it offends those who don't believe in religion. So what are we left with? Some say this is "the war" that you speak of.

Peter Calvert

December 4, 2006 2:19 PM

Interesting. This federal law recognizes Sunday as the first day of the week, confirming Saturday as sabbath.

Stella Presley

December 11, 2006 4:54 PM

David -

I wonder how those of you at Business Week, Wal-Mart, those who buy advertsising during Christmas programming and Saturday cartoons to pimp their toys, and every retailer across the country would feel if the millions of Christians in this country decided, that instead of buying into the commercial business model that clouds a lot of Christmas' true meaning, we deemed it a wholly and completely religious observance. Celebrated only with good food and the gathering of friends and family. I wonder how the free market, which depends so much on "holiday" sales would fare if Christians began to take it more personally when Rabbis in Seattle threaten a lawsuit if the menorah isn't added to a Christmas tree display (that was completely devoid of crosses or nativity depictions) and stopped spending there money - and instead made a point of NOT shopping on black Friday and all the subsequent days until Christmas.

Would people who have a problem with Christmas now be satisfied? Would secular humanists be happy with the resulting lay offs, downsizing, and very low profit margins? I think not.

Stella Presley


January 9, 2009 3:17 PM

Go wish a dozen people in San Francisco a "Merry Christmas" and see what happens. People will take offense because O'Reilly is most certainly right.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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