Recently Fox News star Bill O’Reilly sat down with Sally Quinn of The Washington Post for a wide ranging and frank discussion on his religious principles. The interview ranged from the role of Jesus Christ to the power of prayer and ended with a hint that the end of his Fox empire is near.
Quinn asked one of the “most visible and boisterous voices on cable news” a host of questions about his religious ideas and found that there is “more to him than meets the eye.”
O’Reilly noted that growing up Catholic played a vital role in his upbringing and that even as an adult he has “bought into the orthodoxy” of the Catholic faith.
He says he believes in God and that Jesus is God’s son. Even today as he’s grown more sophisticated, he is still a believer. “I’m much more sophisticated in my analysis of Roman Catholicism,” O’Reilly insisted, “but the theology I have no problem believing.”
O’Reilly also said that he thinks we all need to pick a side and sitting on the sidelines of the choice between good and evil will not do.
“There’s an Intelligent Design in the universe that created the human race. And there is a free-will component to every individual–you either choose to do good or you choose to do evil. And if you sit it out, then you’re in the evil category. And then, what you choose to do in your lifetime will be rewarded or punished by the Intelligent Designer of the universe.”
Why do all this? “…If I’m wrong, so what? I’m dead. It doesn’t matter. If it’s a positive while you’re alive to follow the Christian tenets, why would you not do so,” he asked.
He accepts these tenets, O’Reilly said, because “there’s no reason not to.”
Quinn next asked O’Reilly about the new atheists who have brought the battle to diminish religion to the national media.
O’Reilly derided this new crop of atheists as essentially anti-intellectual.
“They’re so condescending and they’re so arrogant that, even though you might be a brilliant person, if you believe, you’re an idiot. So that just knocks out the whole Jesuit organization. It knocks out Thomas Aquinas, Augustine. Everybody is knocked out because they believe. That’s what the genesis of the criticism was.”
As French mathematician Jules Henri Poincaré once said, “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.”
Today’s atheists, O’Reilly seemed to be saying, are dispensing with thought by simply waving a hand and dismissing centuries of humanity’s discussion of theology simply because they think it stupid.
But, Quinn wondered why O’Reilly thought there were so many people “sneering” and why so much “ridicule” has been “unleashed toward religion by people who don’t believe?”
In reply, O’Reilly took a shot at comedian Bill Maher.
Because they don’t want to be judged. They believe that religious people are judging their behavior, and they don’t want to be judged. They want to do what they want.
Take a guy like Bill Maher. He’s probably the most visible atheist in the American media. Well, Bill Maher does not want to be told what to do. He wants to do whatever he wants. And if it’s take drugs, he wants to be able to do that. If it’s commit adultery, he wants to be able to do that. Whatever it may be, he doesn’t want anybody telling him not to. And the people that would do that would be religious people, so he strikes out against them.
Still, O’Reilly had to admit that he is as fallible as anyone else. He tries hard to be 100 percent sure when he goes after someone on his show, certainly, and he’s never had to retract anything in 18 years.
However, “If there were no God” O’Reilly told Quinn, “there would be some people who couldn’t do anything, but every human being, even people who are damaged, even people who have birth defects, Down syndrome, whatever it may be, everybody has a talent. Everybody.”
As the interview began to wind down, O’Reilly did note that he respects Obama and his office, but if someone is going to “start to lie or dance” he’s going to come after them.
“I respect him,” O’Reilly said of Obama. “But I’m not going to let him control the interview. That’s not happening.”
In the end, the Fox star says that his biggest affinity is for the regular man in the streets.
“I admire people who are making $40,000 a year and living an honest life. Life is hard. I don’t like phonies. I don’t like liars. I don’t like narcissists. I like the regular folks,” he said.
He then said he doesn’t really have a hunger to be remembered. “Once I’m gone, I’m gone. I don’t care.”
O’Reilly finished on a note that might spell the impending end of his Fox News empire.
He told Quinn that, “I’m tired now, so I’ve got to cut it back soon. I just don’t know when that will be.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org