July 10, 2009

On The O'Reilly Factor last night, the Falafel Master devoted his Talking Points Memo segment to the notion that President Obama is "a secular guy" -- and as proof held up the recent foofara over the Air Force's decision to deny a military-plane flyover at a "God and Country" festival in Idaho.

O'Reilly: But to diminish spirituality by denying the good folks in Idaho a flyover is simply stupid. There is no specific religion in play at that festival. This is another example of secularists being disrespectful to people of faith.

Later, in a discussion of the case with Warren Ballentine -- who laughs at O'Reilly for even making this argument -- O'Reilly repeats the claim:

Ballentine: What I'm saying is this: This president has purposely taken the position that he is not going to be connected to any religion, because he doesn't --

O'Reilly: What religion is in Idaho at the festival, Warren? What religion is there? Tell me what religion is there.

Well, Bill, according to the festival's organizers, the Christian religion is there:

Organizers don't deny the explicitly Christian nature of the annual patriotic rally.

"Yes, it's about as Christian as you can get — we believe in promoting Christianity," Syme said. "And we have no plans to change that."

It's not open to Jews, nor to Muslims. Not even Mormons were welcome at this festival.

Of course, this has all been reported previously, so these facts were available to O'Reilly and his producers. But they had a narrative to sell, so why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Another fact that goes unmentioned (but which we already explored in depth): The Obama administration is in fact simply enforcing longstanding U.S. military policy that has gone ignored for the past 50 years and more. And it is only doing so because it faces likely lawsuits from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for failing to uphold those policies.

In other words, the administration isn't pushing secularism here. It's just doing the right thing, and making its military adhere to its own policies.

But don't tell Bill O'Reilly because he isn't interested. And he'll just yell at you if you do.

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