Bill O'Reilly: "Christianity is a philosophy not a religion."

Speaking of conservative Catholics, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, like Bill Donohue, loves Christmas because it is a chance to pick ugly public fights. Which, really, is what the season is all about.But his on-air dust-up with American Atheists' Dave Silverman not only made Silverman look good but it forced O'Reilly onto some treacherous ground, I thought, as he made statements like:

"It's a fact that Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a philosophy."

"Roman Catholicism is a religion," he says."Judaism is a religion." But Christianity -- nope.Interestingly, Pope Benedict has also insisted that Christianity is not a religion; rather, it is the truth, and Catholicism is simply the necessary "container" (I forget his exact term) for that truth.But that exalts Christianity, whereas O'Reilly seems to diminish Christianity, as well as leaving it vulnerable to exclusion from the public square on all sorts of levels -- after all, there are no constitutional protections for philosophies, are there?I think the secularists' "war on Christmas" displays is profoundly silly, and sad. But emptying Christmas of any religious meaning to try to win a round in that battle seems self-defeating.In any event, is Christianity just a philosophy and not a religion? Or is O'Reilly preaching heresy here? "Hello, Cardinal Mueller...?"Mediaite has the story. Below is the video of the exchange.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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