Video: Bill O’Reilly in spat with Christian radio host over ‘bible thumpers’ comment

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Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has come under fire again from a Fox contributor over comments he made last week during which he said he supported equal marriage and that members of the religious right had to do more than just “thump the bible” to win the debate on same-sex marriage.

Last week, Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kellty spoke on the O’Reilly Factor, and said that those in favour of equal marriage had a “compelling argument”, and said that opponents to it had not come up with strong enough arguments against it.

In their discussion they mentioned Tony Perkins, the president of the anti-gay Family Research Council who previously claimed that the US Supreme Court ruling in favour of equal marriage could lead to “revolution”.

Speaking on his own show the O’Reilly Factor, he got into an argument with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who asserted that he had made the comments just to insult people, whilst he maintained that it was “garbage” that people had taken offence, and that he was just being honest about the “policy debate”.

Ingraham starts by suggesting that she thought there was a feud between Fox Host Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, because of comments made by Limbaugh about O’Reilly’s comments.

O’Reilly then interrupts Ingraham, denies that there is a feud between he and Limbaugh and says that he “doesn’t care” what he says.

When Ingraham gets irritated that O’Reilly interrupted her he says: “Listen, I’ll give you your time”, to which she responds: “I adore you, I’m just trying to make a point”.

She continues: “I don’t think you need to use the word ‘thump the bible’, I think this debate about marriage, is a relatively recent one.

“People who are for traditional marriage this is new to them, and I think you’re right – they haven’t been very good at PR, they haven’t been very good sometimes, at making their argument. You’re right –  I believe that a lot of them have a very deeply held religious belief about what traditional marriage is.

“You’re a Roman Catholic, I am too, right, we believe people should be treated with respect, I certainly believe people should be treated with tolerance, there should be a meaningful debate on this.”

She goes on to commend O’Reilly on his consistent position on judges legislating on issues such as equal marriage, and says that “the left” enjoys the “fighting” between conservatives such as O’Reilly and Limbaugh over such issues.

O’Reilly then says “there isn’t any fighting”, and denies that there is a feud. He said he made an “honest” point that “if you’re going to stand up for heterosexual marriage, and exclude gay marriage  if you’re going to do that, you’ve gotta do it outside the bible. You can’t cite the bible, because you’ll lose if you do.”

Ingraham says she thought O’Reilly’s comments were “disrespectful”, and when he interrupts her again, she jokes that she is “not very well educated”.

Becoming irate, O’Reilly asks: “We’re talking a policy deal here. Don’t you understand the difference between private beliefs and public policy?”

O’Reilly “there was no insult, it wasn’t a matter of intention”, and says he is “disappointed” in Ingraham. He again said that “Bible thumpers .. all they do is say I object to gay marriage because God objects to it. You don’t win a policy debate in America by doing that.”

“I’m not doing that and most of the people I know who have gay friends, gay family members as I do, I don’t simply do that.”

When asked, he said he did think his comments were “accurate and honest”, but not “helpful”, because he didn’t intend to be helpful. He reiterated: “You will lose the debate if that’s all you do”.

Ingraham responds: “For some people it’s not about winning a debate, it’s about living the life that they want to live for themselves, their communities, their families.”

He concludes by saying that “out of all the conservative radio hosts, [Ingraham] has the most common sense,” but says that he can’t believe she “bought into this garbage”, and that he is “disappointed” in her.

On his original comment Igraham said “give it some more time to percolate”, and that Christians would “come up with better arguments” against equal marriage.

O’Reilly concludes by saying: “I don’t have time to do any of that. What I’m doing is giving an honest commentary.The polls have turned around because one side has a stronger civil argument than the other. That’s the truth.”

O’Reilly has also come under fire from conservative talk show host Steve Deace from Conservative Talk Radio, who discussed the issue with Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats, and said Bill O’Reilly’s changing stance on marriage equality was a “hanging offense”, and that he was a “charlatan” and a “fraud”.

Fox News Host Don Imus on Wednesday said during his programme that there was “some indication” that “Jesus may have been gay”, referring to a religious text, but not explaining why he made the claims.