Bill O’Reilly Recants, Says Christianity is a Religion Again

Well, that didn’t take long.

A week after Bill O’Reilly told Dave Silverman that Christianity was a philosophy and not a religion (which is why we should allow things like Nativity displays on government property), he recanted and admitted it was indeed a religion.

Here’s his conversation with Father Jonathan Morris (the good part begins at 6:20):


O’Reilly: “This isn’t a Catholic issues, you Protestants out there and you unaffiliated Christians, we’re all in the same soup bowl here.”

Morris: And not just Christians. Not just Christians and Catholics. People of belief.

O’Reilly: People who admire the philosophy of Christianity. But we are under siege…

Morris: The religion of Christianity. Let me correct you on that.

O’Reilly: We’re not gonna debate that now.

Morris: It’s also a religion.

O’Reilly: It’s a religion but it’s a philosophy that is being… administered by different religions. But we’ll have you back for that discussion.

Morris: I couldn’t let you get away with that.

That’s all it took? A Catholic priest says he’s wrong and O’Reilly backs down?! Dave Silverman said he was wrong and O’Reilly got all defensive. There’s a lesson to be learned in all this.

I think it’s that bullshitters will accept the truth only when it comes from other bullshitters.

Or something like that.

(via NewsHounds)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • good_creon

    In hindsight, we really should have started a pool on how long it would take Bill to go back on his philosophy stance.

  • SeekerLancer

    I think Father Morris wanted to nip this in the bud before people started to decide they should tax the philosophy.

  • Karen

    Dammit, and I was looking forward to all that tax revenue to pay for our wars…

  • Johnathan Fullman

    The real lesson here is that people are more willing to accept something from someone in their in-group. This serves to remind how powerful the testimony of an ex-religious person might be to their religious friends and family.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      Kind of like how Bill Donohue goes after Bill Maher, but seems to have no problem with Stephen Colbert. It’s not the content, but rather who it comes from.

  • Conspirator

    If Bill O’Reilly is a Catholic, then he’s probably been programmed to not never contradict a priest on anything related to the church.  

    As someone that was raised Catholic I can tell you there is a reverence for priests that is taught from the beginning, and it’s hard to get over.  I gave up believing in such nonsense in the mid to late 80′s, when I was a teenager, and yet in the late 90′s when more and more information came out about priests molesting boys I had a hard time accepting it at first.  There I was, someone 10 years or more separated from such beliefs, having a hard time accepting that priests could fail so badly.  

    So if a priest told O’Reilly he was wrong on something, I can see him accepting that as the case pretty quickly.  It’s a lifelong brainwashing that he’s been subjected to. 

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      As someone that was raised Catholic I can tell you there is a reverence for priests that is taught from the beginning, and it’s hard to get over.

      As someone who respectfully debated his Catholic priest second-cousin on Facebook, only to have his father react violently to the fact that I dared question his “authority” on the matter of abortion and bodily rights… I can attest to this.

  • SeekerLancer

    I think one of the most confounding things here is that even if O’Reilly believes that Christianity is a philosophy, what does displaying religious symbols have to do with the philosophic part of Christianity? That’s done for purely religious purposes. 

    So even if his argument held water, which it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be relevant to the “War on Christmas” argument.

    There’s so much crap being spewed from both of them about persecution and religion being under attack and the danger of their traditions dying off. I don’t know who makes me angrier in this video to be honest, Father Morris or O’Reilly.

  • pureone

    He doesn’t know half the meanings of what he says- and what else could we expect of him. He still uses the term “Pinhead” to describe those he deems stupid. He doesn’t realize it’s a derogatory term for someone with Microcephaly. 

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I’m pretty sure most people don’t know that, so… yeah. (I certainly didn’t!)

      • Marco Conti

        I did and I wondered all along why no one told O’Reilly. I guess pinheads don’t have a loot of pull.

        Now someone please explain “Dittohead” to me.

      • DeviousSoybeans

        I only learned this recently, from watching American Horror Story. Yeek. 

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Honestly, I hear “pinhead”, I think “Hellraiser”.

  • Thalfon

    It sounds like he’s trying to argue that each of the myriad of individual beliefs under the Christianity umbrella is a religion, but the umbrella is not. Which is a rather silly argument, because even if you want to make that claim semantically, it just means that Christianity is a category of religions that agree on several important points, and is some sort of meta-religion all the same.

  • Cincinatheist

    Religion goes out, religion comes in. Can’t explain that.  

    *sorry, I know it’s tired, but I couldn’t resist.

    • Coyotenose

       Bill opens his mouth, people hand him money.

      You can’t explain that!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    “She’s my sister! slap!
    “She’s my daughter! slap!
    “My sister! My daughter! slap! slap! slap!
    “She’s my sister and my daughter!

    “Christianity is a philosophy!” slap!
    “Christianity is a religion!” slap!
    “A philosophy! A religion!”slap! slap! slap!
    Christianity is a philosophy and a religion!”

    O’Reilly is a moron! slap!
    O’Reilly is a liar! slap!
    A moron! A liar! slap! slap! slap!
    O’Reilly is a moron and a liar!

    • phantomreader42

       It’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax!

    • bernardaB

       Give credit to the movie “Chinatown” for your first quote.

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com/ Kaleena

    Oh Father Whatawaste… 

  • ortcutt

    The telling thing to me is just how toxic the term “religion” has become.  When Bill O’Reilly is reluctant to use the term to describe Christianity, you know that religion has fallen in public esteem.  From 9/11 to Catholic Church child rape to churches that are little more than mega-businesses for pastors, the public perception of religion today is low.  The growth of the Spiritual But Not Religious identification is part of this as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charityjcampbell Charity Campbell

    Make up your mind, Billy boy!

  • TiltedHorizon

    Clearly religion is a philosophy until Bill one debates a priest. Clearly Bill is not “in that category” of being angry; he is just “very deadly serious”. Clearly Bill does not mind atheists; they have every right to be fascists.

    My flip-flops don’t flip and flop half as much as Bill does. I wonder if somewhere up Bill’s ass is a toe strap for me to slide my foot into.

  • LoudGuitr

    Bill O’Reilly is an ass hat.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    BO’R: “If you guys don’t start stepping up soon, and more forcefully, you’re gonna lose your Christians traditions in this country. Alright? And I’ll… let me give you one more example: Gay marriage.”

    Hmm… is Bill O’Reilly suggesting that opposition to gay marriage is a Christian tradition? Ha! No, I doubt he meant it that way, but I sure got a laugh from his phrasing.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      It’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years… Wait, Pat Robertson says actually, that’s millions of years.

  • http://www.bartontees.com/ Barton Tees

    Meh, someone on staff brought up what they thought was a clever little loophole, Bill ran with it: “AHA…we’ve got them now, we don’t need to defend our religion anymore because…….it’s not even a religion at all………wooooah…..deeeeep”

    Then someone with an education in, one assumes both some philosophy and lots of theology said “Nah Bill, that’s the fucking stupidest attempt at using a loophole I’ve ever heard, you may as well stick to I’m rubber and you’re glue”

  • newavocation

    Now if O’Reilly were insightful and truthful would anyone be watching him? It’s all about ratings and dollars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    Prior warning…. nsfw

    Sh*t goes in
    Sh*t comes out
    Never a change………

  • bernardaB

    Now Billo says he believes in exorcism.  I don’t think he believes in religion at all but he puts on the  suit for his ratings. Billo also lied outright when he said that every single European country  collapsed.

    How can a supposed celibate priest presume to  know about family values?

  • Raising_Rlyeh

     It’s a religion but it’s a philosophy that is being… administered by different religions.

    Ah yes, because as we all know Christianity invented the idea of treating others like you want to be treated and helping those that are suffering. It doesn’t surprise me that O’reilly seems to think that his belief system originated this idea. 

  • Ibis3

    I don’t think he’s backing down at all. He is using the term “philosophy” where everyone else uses “religion,” and “religion” where everyone else says “denomination.” He wants to have Morris back so he can argue his case for that usage. I think that’s his tack because he himself doesn’t believe in the Christian religion, but wants to claim he is a Christian because he admires (I won’t say “follows” or “adheres to” because it’s obvious he doesn’t) the philosophical aspects of the doctrine. In effect, he’s trying to separate out the theory of Christianity from the praxis, but he has no more clue what he’s talking about than he does when he’s talking about the tides. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.breslin.18 Charles Breslin

    I didnt hear any recant by Bill….his ego is way too big and I would guess that there will be no recant….maybe a back peddle eventually….

    • Gus Snarp

      I agree. No recant at all. In fact he was very patronizing to the priest, someone you’d think he would recognize as an authority as to whether Christianity is a religion or not. He made the exact same argument with the priest as with Silverman and did not back down at all. In the end the priest actually backed down and seemed to agree with Bill. Honestly, it sounded like the priest was scared. He knew he couldn’t push Bill any further or he would lose future air time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/charles.breslin.18 Charles Breslin

        agreed….what
        a dynamic for such the pedestal they put themselves on….

  • Art_Vandelay

    “Dolan is a good man.”

    Yeah Papa Bear…remember that time he gave a bunch of priests 10k cash bonuses and monthly pensions for raping kids?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Submission to authority is a commandment from their god. Why the surprise?

  • Gus Snarp

    It seems to me that Bill’O’s attempt to make the broader religion of Christianity a philosophy and individual denominations religions fails on two levels: first the obvious one that it’s just not true, but also on another level, that really the main thing Christians as a group agree on is the divinity of Jesus, the existence of God, the existence of Heaven and Hell – mainly religious points. If you want to dig down into philosophy, that’s very different across denominations. So even if there were any legitimacy to his claim at all, he would have it backwards.

    I’m waiting for someone to ask him if Islam is a religion or a philosophy.

  • Verimius

    It’s simple really: Christianity stops being a religion when debating Dave Silverman and starts up again afterwards.

  • Rclarkdaniel

    If the first amendment was meant to outlaw prayer in schools and government facilities, why did the founding fathers who wrote the amendment conduct prayer and church services in the Capitol building?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lonborghini.funghini Lonborghini Funghini

    In the name of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bill, sauce be upon him, is forgiven. Go and blather no more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004310378028 Paul Oftarsus

    O’Reilly is Unbelieveable!

  • twinbeech2

    Recanting is what Catholics do best. They have had lots of practice .

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GWBDVPGGY37K3QLIECDZXLBCCE Carl Leon

    How dumb can one man be!!

  • Donald Barnes

    Bill is an idiot to try and debate a priest concerning Christanity being a religion or a philosophy The priest is the expert and Bill is the layman. What hubris!


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