• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Hey, O’Reilly, Here’s How to Give the Word to Maher

    It’s not that Bill O’Reilly was pecksniffian in his verbal sparring with Bill Maher last week on the topic of religion. The powerhouse host of Fox News was just plain ill-equipped.

    A good-natured O’Reilly failed to put up an effective defense as an unhappy-looking Maher unpacked his usual smug ridicule of anyone who believes in God – especially those imbecilic Christians – in a segment aired over two nights on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

    Bill, Bill, Bill: Many viewers were a little discouraged when the best you could do, having bloviated on the “allegorical” teaching of the Bible, was to say “Jesus seemed to be a pretty good guy” and ask Maher what’s so wrong with loving one another.

    Hope springs eternal, though. O’Reilly – and the folks as well – can find plenty of edifying evidence to counter the Mahers of this world in a new book, “In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity” (Encounter).

    The author is David Brog, a self-described “largely secular” Jew and former U.S. Senate aide who now runs the Texas-based group Christians United for Israel. Brog stopped by Heritage last Friday to give a talk rebutting the popular accusation that people who believe in God are responsible for everything bad. (Mr. O’Reilly and others can watch here.)

    Forty years ago, John Lennon naively sang that “the world will live as one” if among other things there were “no religion too.”

    Today, Brog told his audience, he fears the West is “losing the battle for preservation of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

    Anti-Christian bigotry – especially anti-evangelical and anti-Catholic – is the last acceptable prejudice. Americans appear to be abandoning their Christian faith in the highest numbers ever recorded, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

    In his 365-page book, Brog concentrates on building a case that – say what you will about the Middle Ages – the Judeo-Christian tradition over the past several hundred years rolled up a stellar, even “miraculous” record of instilling compassion and respect for individual dignity in Western civilization.

    “The Judeo-Christian idea,” Brog argues, inspires man to transcend a natural focus on self, family and “in group” and compels him to risk life and livelihood for members of an “out group” – whether they live across the tracks or across the seas.

    In the years before Jesus’ ministry, as O’Reilly might have informed Maher, neither the ancient Greeks nor Romans taught generosity and compassion toward outsiders. They not only enslaved outsiders, they killed their own newborn babies for being female or otherwise undesirable.

    And after Jesus was crucified, it wasn’t the great Enlightenment thinkers who taught love of outsiders. Rather, they essentially “invented the concept of racism,” Brog argues, tainting even such an expansive mind as Thomas Jefferson’s.

    “The Judeo-Christian tradition was alone in recognizing equality and preaching love,” Brog said. “Critics think they’ve reasoned their way to these insights, but they come from the Bible. … We tend to be born on a moral third base, and think we hit a triple.”

    Who’s on third, Bill Maher?

    Brog, who spoke at Heritage as a guest of our DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, contended it’s no accident that Christians led most of history’s human rights campaigns. Among them: movements to end the slaughter and abuse of the “Indians” in Central, South and North America; to abolish the slave trade and the institution of slavery in the United States; to guarantee civil rights to black Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities; and to fight hunger, disease and even debt in the Third World.

    If O’Reilly had read or heard Brog, he could have reminded Maher that one of the great 20th-century Americans, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was an ordained Baptist minister. He was entrusted with a church in Montgomery, Ala., where he became a leader of the famed 1956 boycott of segregated buses.

    Christopher Hitchens and other professional atheists strain to diminish King’s Christian faith and calling. One of Brog’s most moving uses of the historic record is King’s own account, after hateful men bombed his home in January 1956, of hearing the “voice of Jesus” promise not to leave him alone. King was afraid, he wrote in “Stride Toward Freedom,” but gained the strength to face anything.

    Addressing an angry crowd of friends and followers outside the house, King urged them not to panic or become violent but rather to “love our enemies” as Jesus taught – and “let them know you love them.”

    Faith does make a difference, O’Reilly could have pointed out. Just where does Maher think he got his professed altruism? Who does he think started and spread America’s hospitals, orphanages, widows’ funds, animal shelters?

    Politically incorrect or not, Maher embraces more than a few virtues because of the Judeo-Christian tradition. American culture continues to draw on transcendent ideas injected and nurtured by generations of Christian and Jewish believers. We would be desperately the poorer without them.

    It’s a safe bet that O’Reilly and Maher both can sing along to “Get Together,” a 1969 hit for the Youngbloods: “C’mon people now, smile on your brother / Everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”

    So, O’Reilly: Don’t be a popinjay. Study up. Talk with David Brog – hey, read his book – before your next televised encounter with Maher or a like-minded mocker.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to Hey, O’Reilly, Here’s How to Give the Word to Maher

    1. Mark Chenoweth says:

      Reading some William Lane Craig or watching Craig debate guys like Hitchens wouldn't hurt either.

    2. Tom Millar says:

      What an excellent response! Bill O'Reilly I love your show, but Bill Maher won that debate. It is so important for all of us to have a "ready defense" and to study and be ready for situations like that. Thank you Heritage!

    3. Fran Coombs, Crofton says:

      Rage on, Brother McIntyre. Unfortunately, O'Reilly like many urban sophisticates is uncomfortable defending the religion of his forefathers. It would be much more interesting to see Maher go head-to-head with Glenn Beck who regularly and openly professes his faith in Jesus Christ but at the same time doesn't mock the faiths of others. Isn't Maher the little weasel who was cheering on the other side after 9/11? Fortunately for him, our Lord is a forgiving one.

    4. Bobbie says:

      I have yet to read any instruction in the old and new testament of the bible that reads our Father informed "people" or Muslims to kill any part of God's human creation.

      Since God created women to be the barer of conception of human life, it is THE MUSLIM MAN THAT DISTORTS WOMEN TO PUNISH AT MUSLIMS WILL.

      God created man in God's image, HE doesn't provoke man against man or man against women and their ability to conceive human life. God's will is that we all get along no matter what nation our appearances reflect.

      Under common law, America made it a reality. MAN'S IGNORANCE IS DESTROYING THIS. Man's influence to hold no accountability is destroying the individual and America. Nobody has to choose to come here if they don't want to. Muslims admit intolerance of civil law and freedom and women. WHY ARE MUSLIMS HERE?

      maher and his atheist religion is the perfect example of ignorance and parsimonious demeanor.

    5. Shhhhhh says:

      That Maher guy thinks he is a journalist, he is a stand up comic. Bill Maher tries to act intelligent, however, it is only a act, not the reality of who he is. Maher needs too cut it out, I did not attend college for 8 years to have some knuckle dragger like Maher yell insults because I attend church.

    6. Ed Foster, Brevard, says:

      The Jewish Sabbath is on Saturday. Maher the idiot thinks it's Sunday. Why didn't O'Reilly call him on that?

    7. Chris, Long Beach, C says:

      If ones faith is supposedly so strong and unshakeable, why would it matter what atheists have to say? When listening to these types of debates, it usually seems as though the faithful are trying very hard to convince themselves.

    8. KMarie says:

      It was disappointing to hear O’Reilly profess Christianity but then deem Scripture allegorical and wonder aloud whether Maher was opining about one of Jesus' parables when Maher was referring to the Mosaic law. O'Reilly's failure to grasp that Christ (whom he says he worships) was the fulfillment of the Mosaic law is tantamount to wanting the nourishment of food without swallowing what has been chewed. It's one thing to have a shallow understanding of scripture; most do. It's another to have the arrogance to debate one's shallow understanding while professing the opposite. I suspect many Christians who watched that performance … grieved.

    9. WHICH WAY says:

      AM I STUPID ?…MAHERS ONLY ATTACK ON CHRISTIANS.THAT PUTS ME IN WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS PAST AND PRESENT, ISAAC NEWTON AND MICHAEL LICONA COMES TO MIND.

    10. David, Texas says:

      Chris, Long Beach, many a believer's faith is unshakable. The disturbing part of this debate is how good a point that Mr. Maher had and what poor defense Mr. O had in return. Mr. O said he's a Christian, yet he doesn't lend credibility to the Old Testament, and thinks that Bible stories are merely allergories. How can a believer not believe his own, historic text? (he is not a Christian–by definition, a born-again person).This is what an unbelieving world, in the words of DC Talk, simply finds unbelievable. Why should they believe, then, when a supposed Christian even doubts his Bible? A Christian has no problem believing and defending every word of the Bible, and has archeology for extra support. What was revealed in this debate is that both Bills need to be prayed for, as both are hugely accountable for what they do with their audience. They can potentially do tremendous things for the Kingdom of God, or they can be a stumbling block for many. And I do agree with this article–next time, it would be a good idea to have a true apologist debating the atheist.

    11. Dean Arizona says:

      Way back when I watched Geraldo interview Manson and have regretted it ever since. Bill O opening the window and letting Bill Maher in? Nope! Why give this guy a stage to display his evil? John Stewart's at least appears to not take himself seriously and when on the Factor serves to allow us to laugh at ourselves and the critical mass du jour, Maher is a Linda Blair do over and beyopnd exorcism.

    12. Cal says:

      Bill O'Reilly is too politically correct, and is still hoping the BO will come on his show, so he doesn't want to get down and dirty with outrageous commies.

    13. Herman D'Algato says:

      Great advice for O'Reilly, or anyone else looking to give educated rebuttal to the religion haters like Mahar and Hitchens. Brog's book is outstanding and decimates the flimsy arguments of Mahar. Unfortunately, it seems O'Reilly is more interested in hearing himself talk these days than in learning from true experts like Brog.

    14. Drew Page, IL says:

      You never get anywhere arguing religion with anyone.. The more one side gets aggressive, the more the other side gets defensive. Let it go. Who cares what the atheists think? The Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem withcraft trials are pretty well behind us in history. There are fundmentalist Christian sects, just like there are Muslim fundamentalist sects, that maintain some pretty scary ideas of what God wants. In my opinion, these "fundamentalists" are neolithic stone-agers that who preach more harm than good. thankfully, these groups are relatively few and are known.

      What I don't get is why Maher and others like him are so afraid of what Christians believe. They seem to be insulted if someone says "Merry Christmas" in their presence, uses the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, or sees the motto "In God We Trust" on our currency.

      I don't care if you don't believe in God, why do you care if the rest of us do? In 234 years of American history, there has never once been an attempt by the government to force its citizens to belong to any particular religion. Nor has there been an attempt on the part of any Judeo-Christian religion to take over the government.

      For all those who don't believe in God, but want something bigger than themselves to believe in — there is always the government.

    15. Keith Holmes, Martin says:

      Thank you Mr. McIntyre for that refresher course on what made the United States of America a truly great nation. Namely, follwers of the Word of God. It's a shame that in this day of "political correctness" people forget the history of how and why this nation got it's start. By trying to live up to Judeo-Christian ethics, it set the standard for the way the rest of the world feels we should live. I'm sure Mr. Maher has convinced himself that he's trying to free people from religious constraints when in reality he's just excusing himself (and anybody who will listen) from any accountability for his actions. Thanks again.

    16. Josh Stieber, DC says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and writing this article. A friend posted it and facebook and I thought I'd share the thoughts that I also shared with him:

      -While I am not a huge Maher fan, I have found that most people who bash religion usually do so based on their perceptions of what it represents and sometimes have been hurt to see that the noble ideals that religions teach have not been practiced by it's followers

      -Rather than reflexively insist that our religion is good, or play the victim that "it's those Christians, they ruin everything!" the loving thing to do is to hear out those concerns and appropriately respond

      -Doing so, I imagine, would show that even though the author insists that Christians have done great things like lead the Civil Rights movement, it was also people who claimed to be Christians that carried out slavery and discrimination to begin with.

      -If you ask the average person today what they think of when they hear the title 'Christian,' I don't think many would be quick to say anything that resembles Christ's example

      -So both sides fail if it's a questions of "X religion is good because of Z" or "X religion is bad because of Y"; both sides are picking and choosing cases that justify a blanket claim

      -Religion has led to some very inspiring things and also to some of the most horrible things in all of history, so the discussion needs to be more nuanced, for example: yes, there are some Christian values in the Constitution, but to say it is purely a Christian document is part of the reason why people become repulsed at religious advocates to begin with

      -Instead of getting defensive, I think we should practice what Jesus taught and take the log out of our own eye: instead of being the first to condemn gay marriage, we should also address the fact that Christians have the highest rates of divorce, an issue that the Bible has more to say about than homosexuality

      -Christians can continue to insist that they are good and ignore the history of what Christianity has justified: slavery, oppression, war, torture, discrimination, etc; or we can live out what we preach… as O'Reilly said of Jesus: to practice love

      -Somebody like Bill Maher may always have something bad to say about religion, but I'd rather be ridiculed for things like reaching out Muslims in the revolutionary love that Christ showed, even to Samaritans, tax collectors, and prostitutes than burning Korans in the name of righteousness; of sacrificial love over personal comfort and safety

    17. Sam, WI says:

      One other major form of anti-Christian bigotry that was unfortunately left our was the anti-Mormon variety. Which in my opinion is perhaps the worst because there is also an element of hypocrisy involved in it. The media wouldn't stop talking about Mitt Romney's religion but nobody ever talks about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's reiligion, even though they are in fact the same.

    18. Greg Yungner, Mpls says:

      As a christian, I believe one day we will all meet our maker. Bill Maher will have some explaining to do. One thing I k now for certain, the message from religion will always better that of a comedic fool like Maher! Ignorance is bliss.

    19. Jason Knowles, Rockl says:

      As an atheist myself, what Maher, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are saying is that the "morality" on which Christians (and Muslims and Jews) seem to think they have a monopoly is not alwyas moral nor was it the Christians who originally thought up these precepts. Also, many people of faith ignore scientific evidence when it conflicts with what the Bible says. If we take the Bible literally, as many Christians do, then the Earth would be a mere 6,000 years old, man roamed the Earth simultaneously with dinosaurs, and our entire species came about as a result of incest. Adam and Eve's offspring had to intermarry and committ incest if we take the book of Genesis at face value. All Maher, Dawkins, et al. want is for Christians to acknowledge what they do not know and be intellectually honest about it. That does not make you any less of a Christian if you ask me. Your deeds are what you should be judged on (if at all). Also, true human morality involves eliminating and not creating human suffering. Again, there are perfectly natural reasons for us to not steal or kill or rape (the last of which the Bible does not forbid by the way). Do you really need the Bible to tell you this? I don't. I have a conscience and I listen to it. My conscience and scientific evidence tells me that homosexuality is a natural continuum of human sexual behavior. Your Holy Book says it is an "abomination." Now, we can debate the word abomination and what it really means but the point is that it is used to justify the killing and torture and denial of rights to homosexuals. That is immoral to me because it promotes human suffering. And it defies science. Of course the Bible has guidance for doing good, social justice, etc. but these are not original ideas nor are they ideas that would be missing from the world if the Bible did not exist. Sam Harris' new book The Moral Landscape reflects his scientific study of the use of science to study human values.

      • HarryFromMA says:

        CORRECTED SPELLING & EXPANDED VERSION (CAPS for emphasis only):
        Jason,
        Part 2 of my response- some of Part 1 is included first:

        Your nice-sounding post is empty. You have nothing to give society on what is absolutely moral, immoral, right, or wrong. YOU decide based on YOUR mind and FEELINGS, and you skip the entire NON-Bible arguments on the gay/homosexual/GBLT issues and same-sex attractions.
        Mahr, Dawkins, Hitchens and the rest do not, either.

        Maybe a signer of the Declaration of Independence can give a more contemporary view and insight than New Age PMA speaker/author Dyer:
        Charles Carroll of Carrollton said:
        "Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
        - Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)

        The Declaration of Independence, when our founding fathers proclaimed our independence to win, they did indeed remember God:

        “the laws of nature, and of nature’s God.”

        James Wilson, the man who is "the primary source of this phrase", previously explained in 1765:
        "As man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is NECESSARY that he should in ALL points conform to his Maker's will. THIS will of his Maker is called THE LAW OF NATURE. … THIS law of nature, being coeval [coexistent] with mankind and dictated by God Himself is, of course, SUPERIOR in OBLIGATION to ANY other. It is BINDING over ALL the globe, in ALL COUNTRIES, and at ALL TIMES; NO human laws are of ANY validity if CONTRARY to THIS. … UPON these TWO foundations, THE LAW OF NATURE AND the law of REVELATION, DEPEND ALL HUMAN LAWS; that is to say, NO human laws should be SUFFERED [PERMITTED] to contradict THESE."
        - "Commentaries on the Laws of England" (1765)

        He also said these revealing words:
        "Far from being rivals or enemies, RELIGION AND LAW are TWIN SISTERS, FRIENDS, and MUTUAL ASSISTANTS. Indeed, these two sciences run INTO each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both."
        - James Wilson, The Works of the Honourable James Wilson (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), Vol. I, p. 106

        James Wilson is ONE OF OUR founders who signed the US CONSTITUTION, and who gave us the Declaration's phrase.

        "Our Declaration of Independence was derived from common law, “the Laws of Nature and Nature's God,” all men being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” It calls upon “the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions” and “the protection of Divine Providence.”"
        - FROM: http://essentialliberty.us/about/introduction/

    20. Jason Rocklin, CA says:

      Hey Moderator, why were my comments removed? They were certainly not uncivil just because they took up a contrary position. Is that the freedom of debate you espouse on your website or is it only the freedom to tow the company line? What gives?

    21. Janet Weaver New Tri says:

      Bill Mahr is the dunderhead + 100

    22. Juan Martinez says:

      I don't think that americans have left traditional religious institutions because of secularist bigotry against religionists.

      I am glad that Bill O'Reilly had Bill Maher on his show. That took some courage, I think.

    23. HarryFromMA says:

      Jason,
      Atheism is not the answer. Common ideas among all religions, so Christianity isn't unique doesn't help with a moral, ethical, or just society.
      Without a God who lays out absolutes, there is NO foundation for morality, charity work, ethics, etc.
      Mahr is a nasty slime lord who wants to destroy belief in any deity at all. He is in love with his mission of being a wrecking crew for a foundation to be good, and to do good. Liberalism has pushed their agenda – especially on the youth through Hollywood, TV, movies, much of popular music & rap/hip hop 'music' & lifestyle.
      How's that working for us?
      When you say "That is immoral to me because"- TO ME. Bingo! You refer to yuor "conscience" & 'science'.
      So? THAT is a truistworthy for universal morality, right & wrong, etc? Not at all. Mnay have differrent "consciences" in the same, and different countries, and cultures.
      Yoiur "conscience" can help in a NON-absolute way, but it's equal to a personal opinion. Period.
      Atheism has NOTHING to give us on right & wrong, morality vs. immorality.
      Science? You mean the stuff that changes, and all is open to change upon further investigation? NO absolute standard there.
      You seem to be shallow on the issue of Christian's arguments against homosexuality.
      A false logic line- the logic fallacy of the 'False Either/Or:
      EITHER science OR Bible.
      Just because something is natural, doesn't mean its right, moral, or beneficial, or equal to heterosexuality.
      Whining an invented word of homophobia" or whatever other SUBJECTIVE, EMOTIONALLY-driven, NON-intellectual smear labeling reveals how bad the emotions can be manipulated away from actual intellectual honesty.
      What does "natural" mean? Equal to it's opposite, and so on?
      That takes MUCH more than a slogan and shallow skimming of the issues and evidence.
      Natural- if it means it HAPPENS, that doesn't mean it;'s automatically best, or healthy, or good, or moral, or otherwise.
      MANY bad, negative, dangerous things came come through naturally- inborn. Positive things, too.
      THAT is no simple rule for what is GOOD, EQUAL to heterosexuality, etc.
      Conservatives don't need the Bible to support their position on homosexuality. You misrepresent them through simplistic slanted picture-creating.
      The APA changed its DSM in 1972/73 (?) because of GBLT pressure, agitation, protests, etc- just read the documented book by Jeffery Sattinover, "Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth".
      The GBLT advocacy movement misused an unreliable stat to push the '10% of the population is gay' mantra, and pushed it for decades, as well as using weak or bogus 'studies' by homosexuals/gay-bi people, like LaVey, Hamer & the twins, hypothalamus studies, etc.
      All of this wasn't intellectual at it's roots, but emotional, and agenda-driven.
      Kinsey 10%- Some of the weaknesses in brief – the study was the first study of 2 which only covered MALES, so women were then ASSUMED to be a part of the fictitious 10% by GBLT advocacy groups, people, and ideological allies for decades, WAY too much of the prison population, which distorts how it is among the general population. A Kinsey research associate, I think Pomeroy, pleaded with him not to repeat the unsound prison oversampling, in the Female Study & Kinsey dropped the distorted practice). The press and propagandists don't care. They unethically and dishonestly repeating the bunk.
      I am SURE all who fit this description have an absolute moral standard outside theemselves to decide for themeselves what they feel & maybe think is going to be what threy claim is morality & ehtics.
      Or not.
      INBORN? Even the APA now has changed their stripes on this issue:
      APA 1998: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."
      APA 2009 – APA's "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality," states the following:
      "There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the POSSIBLE genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, NO findings have emerged that PERMIT scientists to CONCLUDE that sexual orientation is DETERMINED by ANY particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture BOTH play COMPLEX roles….".

      Your nice-sounding post is empty. You have nothing to give society on what is absolutely moral, immoral, right, or wrong. YOU decide based on YOUR mind and FEELINGS, and you skip the entire NON-Bible arguments on the gay/homosexual/GBLT issues and same-sex attractions.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×