Freedom From Religion Foundation
The man who kicked me off his Fox News show for “denigrating the name of Jesus” has now been suspended from Fox News for allegedly sexually harassing co-workers.
After allegations that Eric Bolling, a conservative Christian host and commentator with Fox News, had sent lewd photographs of male genitalia to multiple female colleagues, the news outlet has started a formal investigation. This accusation of sexual misconduct is the most recent to besiege Fox News, which has recently seen the departures of Bill O’Reilley, former CEO Roger Ailes, and the suspension of longtime host Charles Payne.
In December 2011, I was a guest on the Fox Business Network “Follow the Money” show, hosted by Eric Bolling. He had invited me to talk about FFRF’s complaint about a courthouse nativity scene in Athens, Texas. I didn’t understand how this related to a show about money, but was happy to explain our position to a national audience.
During the show, I told Eric that this is an issue of exclusion. “America is a diverse country. It is not a Christian country. . . . We don’t think a religious monument or message is appropriate at the seat of government.” After Bolling asked me about why an “outside group” like FFRF can complain about a Texas city, I responded that the complaint originated with a local resident. Then I asked:
DAN: Why would the city want to exclude residents? Why would they want to put up a discriminatory and insulting image to a lot of Americans? The Nativity Scene basically is an insult to human nature, that we are all doomed, and damned, and deserving of eternal torment unless we bend our knees before this Master and Lord . . .
ERIC: Sir, I have to take exception to the way you describe the nativity scene. It’s not an insult. It’s certainly not an insult to me. I’m a Christian. It’s not an insult. . . .
I was simply telling the truth — the way I describe the nativity scene is exactly what the bible teaches. After he asked me about FFRF’s right to complain, I couldn’t let his attack remain undefended:
DAN: If the town is right that that nativity is just free speech, as opposed to government speech, then they should not disallow us putting up an anti-Christian message. And, by the way, why was Jesus born? To save us from our sins. What an insult that we are degraded, depraved human beings. That Jesus created a hell, a place of torture . . .
ERIC: Sir, sir . . .
DAN: . . . And how would you feel if you didn’t believe that mythology, the superstition of the majority?
ERIC: I have to stop you. This is my show. See, the name of this show is “Follow The Money with Eric Bolling.” I can’t allow you to talk like that on my show. You’re absolutely wrong. You, sir, are denigrating the name of Jesus Christ on my show. I’m not going to let it happen. I’m going to say goodbye to you right now . . . Bye, bye.
He immediately went to a panel to discuss the issue, without me. Texas Representative Louie Gohmert said the nativity scene “is not a sign of hate. It is a sign of love. . . . They’re not a Freedom From Religion . . . They’re a Freedom From History.”
Gohmert then betrayed his historical acumen by reporting the fake news that Thomas Jefferson called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention, claiming that if God takes notice of a sparrow that falls to the ground, he will certainly take notice of our country. It was Benjamin Franklin, not Jefferson (who wasn’t even there), who asked for prayer, and that request was ignored. Gohmert did not mention the history that there was no prayer at the Constitutional Convention. And I wonder if he has actually seen a dead sparrow, it’s decaying body being eaten by ants. If “God’s eye” is on our country like that, then we are in deep trouble, he should have concluded. It’s a good thing we have a secular Constitution to govern us when a deity cannot.
Bye Bye Bolling
But critical thinking, especially skepticism about religion, apparently does not fall under the protection of Free Speech, at least not on Fox News. You can denigrate skeptics, but not Jesus. If the sexual allegations are true, Fox News — claiming to be a true guardian of truth and morality — should say permanently to Eric Bolling what he said to me: “Bye, bye.”