Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Thursday that the 18 anonymous soldiers who complained of Nativity scenes and Christmas decorations at the Guantanamo Bay naval base “don’t have the courage” to come on his show and called the removal of the decorations “cowardly.”
Mickey Weinstein, head of the MRFF, told O’Reilly that 18 active-duty soldiers, 11 of whom are practicing Catholics and Protestants, contacted the MRFF over two Nativity Scenes in the galleys of the Gitmo base. He said they were fearful of retribution if they complained through the chain of command.
“The religious climate was made very clear when we received our initial in-processing brief,” service members wrote to the MRFF. “One of our senior command team members briefed that their relationship with God was placed higher than even their relationship with their family.”
The MRFF asked the Pentagon to move the decorations to the base chapel and Pentagon officials have agreed.
“Alright, the 18 who complained to you, did you release their names?” O’Reilly asked. “Do you have their names?”
“No Bill, we’re not going to release their names,” Weinstein explained. “That’s part of the reason they came to us.”
“Is there any one among the 18 who would come on this program and just explain why they were offended?” O’Reilly said. “Because it is a federal holiday, and the federal holiday honors the birth of Jesus.”
“It’s not like you’re making anybody at Guantanamo Bay pray or go to church or say ‘Hallelujah, I love Jesus,’” O’Reilly continued. “It’s a depiction of the federal holiday. So if somebody’s offended by that, I would really like to know why, and it seems out of the 18, one would have the cojones enough to come on and tell me why they’re offended. Am I wrong?”
“What we’re really seeing — Christian privilege previously unchallenged being challenged,” Weintstein argued. “My point is, Christian privilege is now gone and now welcome to the land of equality. You must all share your toys.”
“It was a cowardly decision by the base commander because this is a depiction of a secular holiday that was signed into law and if somebody is offended by it I want to know why,” O’Reilly said. “And your guys don’t have the courage to stand up and tell me.”
“Bill, please don’t call our members of the military cowards,” Weinstein urged.
“You, Mr. Weinstein are just a bloviator and you don’t answer the questions,” O’Reilly spoke over the guest, telling producers. “I covered four wars with a pen. All right, cut him off. Cut him off he’s a jerk.”