Bill O’Reilly Can’t Deal with Atheist Sign in Washington December 2, 2008

Bill O’Reilly Can’t Deal with Atheist Sign in Washington

Shocker: Bill O’Reilly is pissed off that atheists had the gall to include themselves in a winter display at the state capitol building in Olympia, Washington.

Atheists have just as much right to include themselves in a holiday display as any other religious group. The government cannot endorse any particular faith, so everyone gets a fair shot at expressing their beliefs.

I do question how effective the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s sign is — will it really get any religious people to change their mind? — but I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t be heard at all.

I suppose if O’Reilly is mad, FFRF is doing something right.

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  • Who are the intolerant ones again? So fragile their belief must be.

  • Richard Wade

    He clearly thinks that the government has endorsed Christianity and rightly so. He clearly thinks atheists have no right to speak out because of “tradition,” his code word for majority tyranny. He clearly favors freedom of his speech and no one else’s. O’Really is the kind of guy who gives fascist pig blowhards a bad name.

    Even Rupert Murdoch hates him if you can imagine that.

  • “I suppose if O’Reilly is mad, FFRF is doing something right.”

    A good rule of thumb.

  • JSug

    I don’t think the point was to convert anyone. I’m pretty sure the intent is to highlight the fact that letting any religious group put their propaganda on publicly owned property is a bad idea. I believe the permanent plaque that will replace this temporary sign has a reverse side that reads “Keep religion out of government.”

    I don’t really approve of any of these displays in my state’s capitol building. But as far as I’m concerned, they brought this on themselves by insisting on allowing displays sponsored by private religious groups. If you allow one, you have to allow them all, Bill. And really, you’re barking up the wrong tree by harassing Governor Gregoire. She had nothing to do with it.

  • strikefighter

    I love the claims that he, and others, make about this country being founded upon Judeo-Christian traditions. I will give them that this country is majority Christian, and many of our founders were believers in a higher power. But regardless of traditions, none of these things are codified in law. We may be traditionally Judeo-Christian, but not in the legal sense.

    And, I just love to see something get Bill so riled up.

  • Nodster

    Is there anything funnier than seeing this belligerent lunatic accuse others of being “nutty”? Classic.

    In the talking points Jesus is a religious figure, then in the segment directly following, he’s “philosopher Jesus” so it’s allowed. Nice spin in the “non spin

  • ash

    Atheists have just as much right to include themselves in a holiday display as any other religious group.

    I’m starting to get uncomfortable with the amount of times I have to argue the position that atheism is not a religious stance, rather one that ranges from lack to rejection of religious views. This doesn’t help.

  • yes, I think you meant

    “as any religious group”


    “as any other religious group”

  • grazatt

    Even Rupert Murdoch hates him if you can imagine that.

    What???? Tell me more, please.

  • llewelly

    I bet Stephen Colbert is outraged as well.

  • I suppose if O’Reilly is mad, FFRF is doing something right.

    Except “if Bill O’Reilly is mad…” is like saying “if water is wet…”

  • The problem you make is with a (possibly) false assumption. Is the goal of this sign to change minds or express ourselves? Unlike Christians, we are not in ‘evangelist’ mode all the time, and I see this as just an honest expression of our thoughts on the matter.

  • SarahH

    Well there’s something everyone can enjoy.

  • Randy

    I want to know where I can buy my own blond bimbo bobblehead like Bill has! He tried to pin this on political correctness rather than that pesky freedom of speech thing.

  • TXatheist

    O’Reilly has a history of yelling Shut up at people and this is what he wants, for us to shut up….NO!

  • JimboB

    Well if Bill O’Reilly is mad, I’m sure Bill Donahue is somewhere close behind…

  • I think all we have to do is just remind people they aren’t alone when they have doubts begin to think for themselves and come to rational conclusions. The sign does that, doesn’t it?

  • sc0tt

    I love this line –

    “We don’t celebrate Ramadan in this country because we’re not Muslem. Christmas is a federal holiday because our traditions are… JudeoChristian”

    Simultaneously trying to be inclusive and dismissive of Jews in the same soundbite.

    I’m with the folks who would have preferred a more positive message on the sign though.

    And another thought – rather than wage war on Christmas, how about a movement to move it back to October (?) for the sake of truth?

  • PrimeNumbers

    Our traditions are all pagan in origin. Christianity stole them. Judaism is irrelavent.

  • The thing is the FFRF is not trying to participate in the holiday display. They are being a scrooge. Their sign is humbug. Granted, some people would be pissed at any sign put up by atheists. But I don’t see why they have to turn a holiday celebration into a protest. It’s just bad form. As a visible and vocal atheist, I find it embarrassing.

  • John

    I agree. The sign should have got the message across in a positive way. I may be an atheist, but I’m no Scrooge!

  • At least a FSM light display would have been fun. 🙂 Or maybe a giant box wrapped up in festive paper with some kind of secular holiday message on it? Maybe something about peace or a winter-wonderland kind of thing. How about a simple message like “Happy Holidays from the FFRF. Support the separation of church and state.”

    Why are the public atheists so unimaginative? I don’t think everything we do to make ourselves seen and included has to be combative and rude. We complain when Christians are that way, and yet we constantly lower ourselves to the same level. It’s very discouraging.

    Frankly, I’m sick of the anger and arguing. Yes, a lot of atheists are angry. And that sign has an angry tone. I don’t think pissing off anyone, including Bill O’Reilly, is productive. That’s not to say that I want to avoid pissing people off, because that’s impossible. The existence of atheists pisses some people off and that’s just too bad. But we don’t have to go out of our way to be annoying.

    I agree with those who say it’s time to be for something instead of always being against things. I really like the Colorado billboards for that reason. I’m personally going to be working toward doing what I can to shift the atheist movement in a more positive direction in 2009.

    OK, I’ll stop. Is it bad form to write comments that are longer than the original post?

  • Ubi Dubium

    Yes, I certainly think a staute of the FSM (pesto be upon him) would be more appropriate in this situation. The whole FSM idea was created as a protest against and satire of religion intruding into inappropriate places. While the god-bots might be able to claim that “atheism” as such is not a religion, they can’t claim that about Pastafarianism. While the sign may make us look like Scrooges, a display of the FSM and some Pirates make the whole thing look rather silly. Which is the point.

  • Richard Wade


    Even Rupert Murdoch hates him if you can imagine that.

    What???? Tell me more, please.

    It’s in a new book about Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News by Michael Wolff.

  • Miko

    I’m sure it’ll convert exactly the same number of people who are converted by any of the religious displays.

  • JSug

    I disagree. Here’s why:

    There shouldn’t be any religious displays on government property. Private religious groups lobbied the state legislature to allow them to put up displays they paid for themselves. But they’re still on public property I’m paying to maintain with my tax dollars (yes, I’m a WA resident). While this sign is probably pissing a lot of people off, there is nothing inherently negative in it. It isn’t directed at any particular religion. It simply states an opinion that is held by a significant portion of the population, which is the same as any religious display. To be fair, I’m pissed off about the nativity scene sitting next to it. Maybe the people that are pissed off will think twice about allowing such statements to be displayed on public grounds.

  • RobL

    I agree with what the sign says but think it is the wrong place and time for the message. The assumption that Christmas is strictly a religious holiday and we therefore need a counter message of equal and opposite force is wrong. If there was a Crèche display in the capitol or a copy of the 10 commandments or a something else overtly religious then I would agree that going to guns was appropriate but Christmas decorations? My understanding is that this is a counter point to a Christmas tree, some garland, and some twinkly lights. Christmas is a lot of different things to different people. I am an atheist and have a Christmas tree at my house. I love Christmas and to me it has no supernatural connotation. No more than Halloween does (another secular religious holiday). Are we going to protest putting up scary decorations at Halloween too? Most people, even Christians, celebrate Christmas in a very secular way. I see a fundamental difference between putting up a Christmas tree which can mean a lot of different things to different people with a sign expressing a clear and forceful statement about religion. Why is posting this explicit sign in a public building different than posting the 10 commandments? I think it is opposite sides of the same coin, neither are appropriate.

    Maybe there is a slippery slope argument you can make, if you put up a tree then you need to put up a Menorah (happened at SeaTac last year) but I still see a difference. You don’t see Christmas trees painted in frescos on churches, you do see Menorahs in synagogues. A menorah has very specific religious meaning, a Christmas tree does not.

    I live in Wa state and would be writing letters as fast as I could to my elected officials (I do it so often I have templates set up in my computer) if I thought this was the right fight. I don’t, I think it makes us look like a bunch of angry party poopers. It would be much easier to defend ourselves against idiots like O’Reilly if we were protesting a clear violation of church and state and not the appropriateness of garland and wreaths.

  • Linda

    I do question how effective the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s sign is — will it really get any religious people to change their mind?

    I ask again, what sort of “changing of mind” are you referring to?

    First of all, O’Reilly does not speak for all Christians.

    His tone makes me sad, in that it shouts “if you don’t shut up and do what you’re told, I’m gonna sick the majority on you. We’re bigger than you… nya nya”

    There’s that same arrogant American bully mentality that makes us the country that the world loves to hate.

  • I don’t disagree with the sign, per se. It’s just really not in the holiday spirit. Sorry, I like Christmas and I don’t want to see grouchy stuff in holiday displays.

  • JSug

    I think some of you are missing an important part of the story. It’s not sitting next to a tree. It’s sitting next to this.

    I guess what I’m wondering is if people would be less up in arms about a sign that read “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet.” Probably not, but if we start telling groups what beliefs they’re allowed to post, we’re showing preference for one religion over another (or lack thereof).

  • RobL

    I didnt see the Creche, that does make a difference. I take it all back, time to write a letter to Gregoire.

    This is a wierd state, very liberal in some aspects and very backwards in others. I would expect this in the Eastern side but it does surprise me it happened on the West side.

  • If I had a time machine and could only take one trip back in time (of course it’d be round-trip), it’d be to convince the founding fathers to put explicit language supporting the separation of church and state in the Constitution.

  • chancelikely

    I think we should all take the time to wish Bill O’Reilly a Merry War On Christmas.

    War On Christmas is his favorite holiday, you know.

  • I suppose if O’Reilly is mad, FFRF is doing something right.

    When isn’t Billo mad about something?

  • grazatt

    It’s in a new book about Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News by Michael Wolff.

    Did you read the book? What exactly did it say about Murdoch’s dislike for O’Reilly? Any thing juicy?

  • Gullwatcher

    This article has some quotes from the book about Murdoch and how he feels about O’Reilly

  • Ravelyn

    just an aside…

    bill o’reilly felt the need to state the governor’s office phone number, so she’s probably hear so much backlash against this display. i think we freethinkers should send her a message supporting her and encouraging her not to cave to bill’s ilk. here’s here’s contact page:

  • Siamang

    Thanks for the link, Ravelyn.

    I wrote:

    I support the first amendment rights for people to post whatever religious or non-religious displays in the state capitol, provided that everyone is allowed.

    I’m sure you’re getting calls from all of Bill O’Reilly’s viewers on this subject. Bill seems to agree with freedom of speech only when it’s speech he agrees with.

    I’m not generally for religious displays or anti-religious displays on state property, as I think there’s ample space for this type of speech where it won’t be confused for a state endorsement. But as long as the state provides a public speech forum, all beliefs should be allowed in.

    Thank you.

  • Siamang

    Also Bill O’Reilly can bite me.

  • Richard Wade

    No, I haven’t read it, I watched an interview which you can see here with the author on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown,” aired yesterday. Olbermann’s disorientation (and delight) at having one of his two arch enemies despising the other is hilarious to see.

  • RobL

    Gregoire is a leftish leaning democrat so I would assume she would view complaints from Bill O’Reilly’s fans as a resounding endorsement of her policys.


    I agree with Bill If you wanted a sign with darwin on it put it up but dont denegrate our religion its a good thing yall did it in washington because it wouldnt fly in mississippi


    I Know alot of Atheists and wickens where I work which is in a prison and even all those convicted felons would not have done something that sick

  • Max Fischer

    If anyone seems to have an insecurity about peoples right to believe something or not believe something and have it displayed publicly in a positive way it is this group of atheists who are making these displays. I am not Jewish. Yet I dont feel a need to make a display explaining why their beliefs differ with mine during the holidays. I like seeing how people of other beliefs and cultures express themselves in a positive way.

    Let’s call this display by this group what it is. Something to piss people off. It’s not something there to make a statement for freedom of speech. Should people just keep making signs in public countering one another in a negative way? No. This is best left ignored. People celebrate the holidays for all sorts of reasons and this just makes atheists look like people who are out to suck the life out of a time of year that brings enjoyment to people.
    This is negative attention seeking and it doesnt impress me much that people who consider themselves atheists agree with this display just because this group that made it also happens to be an atheist organization. It’s an unintelligent and inappropriate way to go about making a point.

  • John Jay Rambo

    I wonder if the fact that Washington state has a disproportionate atheist population of 30% has anything to do with the governor pandering to this group. This wont happen anywhere else after FFRF and the governor sees this grenade blow up in their face.

    “They drew first blood not me”- Rambo

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