O’Reilly Demands Respect for the Pagan Goddess Eostre

If you call it a "spring egg," you'll hear from O'Reilly. (Photo by -sel)

If you call it a “spring egg,” you’ll hear from O’Reilly. (Photo by -sel)

Fox News‘ Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 3/21/13), claiming victory in the “War on Christmas,” declares that the new battle is the “War on Easter.”

If you watch the Factor, you know that we won the “War on Christmas” battle. A few years ago some American companies ordered their employees not to say “Merry Christmas.” Remember that? We presented the facts to you, you told the stores you wouldn’t buy there. The crazy edict was quickly rescinded. Power to the people.

But the war on Judeo-Christian tradition continues on in some public school districts. In 10 days it will be Easter Sunday. But in some schools you are not allowed to say the word “Easter.” On Long Island, the East Meadow School District holding a spring egg hunt. Not Easter eggs, spring eggs! The same thing in Prospect Heights, Illinois; Manhattan Beach, California; Flat Rock Elementary School in South Carolina; and a school district in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. No Easter. They’re having spring egg events. Moderated by a spring bunny, at least in San Diego.

Now, the use of eggs and rabbits as symbols of spring and new life long predates Christianity. And the word “Easter” comes from the name of a pagan goddess whose festival was hijacked by early Christians who superimposed their own theological interpretation on it. So by insisting that eggs and bunnies be labeled “Easter,” you could say that O’Reilly is unknowingly demanding respect for the holiday’s true origins.

But of course, for O’Reilly, it’s just another battle in “the war on Judeo-Christian tradition.” It’s hard to see where the “Judeo” part comes in, though, in insisting that schools label their springtime celebrations “Easter”–which they avoid doing mainly so that parents who are Jewish or otherwise non-Christian won’t feel uncomfortable having their children take part.

O’Reilly doesn’t have much tolerance for such concerns. When a caller to his radio show (Radio Factor, 12/3/04; cited in Extra!, 5-6/05) complained about “Christmas going into the schools,” explaining that he’d grown up “with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity,” O’Reilly called such opinions “an affront to the majority” of what was “a predominantly Christian nation.” O’Reilly told the caller: “You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don’t wanna hear about it? Come on, if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel, then.”

This is the same O’Reilly who asked–O’Reilly Factor, 2/26/04–why people were complaining about the antisemitism in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ: “Is it because that the major media in Hollywood and a lot of the secular press is controlled by Jewish people?” It’s good to keep in mind this spin that the “No-Spin Zone” puts on the word “secular” when you hear O’Reilly’s theory about why schools are going for the “spring bunny”:

I know it’s stupid. You know it’s stupid. But it’s happening and there is a reason why it’s happening.

Secular Progressives are running wild with President Obama and the White House. They feel unchained, liberated and they are trying to diminish any form of religion. The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs.

 In Scandinavia there are laws that say you cannot criticize minorities and if you do, you could be arrested. Secular Progressives want laws like that here.

So, if the far left can marginalize Santa and the Easter Bunny, if they can tell the children those symbols are obsolete and unnecessary, they then set the stage for a totally secular society in the future. And that’s what you have in Scandinavia. And that’s why the Easter Bunny is on the run here in America.

Yes, in Bill O’Reilly’s conspiracy theory, Barack Obama’s election has emboldened “Secular Progressives” to ban the Easter Bunny because he stands in the way of jailing people who “criticize minorities” (perhaps for feeling “unchained, liberated”). You know, like they do in “totally secular” Scandinavia–where most of the countries still have established state religions.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.