A ministry is putting up $10,000 to challenge Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, regularly the top-rated show on cable television, for a debate over his description of Christians who follow the Bible as, well, "Bible-thumpers."
Rev. Bill Keller, who has created the Live Prayer presence on the Web, and previously has been a guest of Fox News anchors such as O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Neal Cavuto, told WND he's putting up $10,000 and challenging O'Reilly to do the same.
Then there would be a six-minute debate over homosexual "marriage" on O'Reilly's show – O'Reilly talking for three minutes, then Keller making the biblical argument against homosexual "marriage" for three minutes.
O'Reilly's audience would determine the winner and the sum would go to a charity of that person's choice.
"O'Reilly says that those who support God's plan for marriage lose the argument because all they can do is 'thump the Bible.' Let him put his money where his mouth is. We will each put up $10,000 to the charity of our choice, he can make his case for gay marriage, and I will ONLY use the Bible to make the case for traditional marriage," Keller said.
O'Reilly had originally said on his own program,""The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. That's where the compelling argument is. 'We're Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.' That is a compelling argument, and to deny that, you gotta have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn't been able to do anything but thump the Bible."
He's been busy defending it ever since, saying on Laura Ingraham's show: "There are Bible thumpers, and all they do is say, 'I object to gay marriage 'cause God objects to it. You don't win a policy debate in America with that.'"
"If you're going to stand up for heterosexual marriage and exclude gay marriage, if you're going to do that, you've got to do it outside the Bible. You can't cite the bible, 'cause you'll lose if you do it."
Multiple WND requests to O'Reilly for a comment did not produce any response, and Keller also reported to WND he had not heard from O'Reilly.
But Keller told WND he's been watching O'Reilly in recent shows, and said the Fox star has been defending himself over and over.
He said "Bible-thumper" is a pejorative "used to mock and demean Christians who believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God representing absolute truth and our final authority…"
He compared it to using the N-word to describe a black.
"He would have been much better served if he had just apologized," Keller said. But he cited O'Reilly's "mix of liberal Catholicism, new age mysticism and secular gobbedly-gook" for his defense of the comment.
He noted that O'Really just a few days earlier had described the Bible as allegorical, or a bunch of stories.
Keller said he is so confident that he will prevail, he is not only willing to debate O'Reilly on his own turf, but let O'Reilly's audience vote over 24 hours to determine the winner.
"Bill has no clue how he has demeaned Christians with his elitist 'Bible-thumper' remark, and has even doubled down in recent days. If he is so sure, of himself it will be an easy $10,000 for the charity of his choice. Let him put his money where his mouth is, or he is no different than the gutless wonders on MSNBC who will never take on those who stand for biblical truth on the issues of the day!"
Keller's Liveprayer.com has more than 20,000 daily visitors and there now are more than 2.5 million who have subscribed to his daily devotional.
At the RedState.com blog, there was the following: "The cockalorum – the Strident Conservative Word of the Day – of 'the most-watched program in all of cable news' marginalized the opinion of nearly every Christian in America concerning their opposition to homosexual 'marriage.
"After being called on his statement by Rush Limbaugh, Bill tried to back-pedal his 'foot-in-mouth' comment in an interview with Laura Ingraham. In typical O'Reilly fashion, he refused to admit his error and ended up attacking her. In doing so, Bill – is it a coincidence that Bill and bloviating-blowhard all start with the letter B? – just kept digging the hole deeper . . . and deeper . . . and deeper."
The blog continued, "Apparently, Bill thinks that it’s OK for Christians to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes. They just need to keep their religion behind closed doors and out of the public square. You know, like they used to say about homosexuality.
"And for the record, O'Reilly is being inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. For instance, O'Reilly claims to oppose most abortions. What is his basis for this public policy position? It can't be based on 'thou shalt not kill.' That would mean he's taking a position based on the Bible and we all know that O'Reilly will have none of that."
The commentary noted, "As many of you know, Bill O'Reilly is a former history teacher. Perhaps he missed the fact that many of the Founding Fathers not only found it acceptable to base policies on the Bible . . . they considered it vital…"
It attributed to Andrew Jackson the statement, "That Book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests," and to Benjamin Harrison, "If you take out of your statutes, your constitution, your family life all that is taken from the Sacred Book, what would there be left to bind society together?"
And Bryan Fischer, host of the daily "Focal Point" radio program on American Family Radio, a division of American Family Association, said the issue isn't complicated.
"God clearly defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Genesis 2, and Jesus reaffirmed God's definition verbatim in Matthew 19, which means, of course, that man-woman marriage is as much a part of the gospel itself as heaven and hell. What God and Jesus Christ have defined, man must not redefine.
"But O'Reilly obviously hasn't been paying attention, since supporters of natural marriage have not only cited Scripture but the best in social research, history and legal thinking to make the case that marriage ought to be defined exclusively as a one-man-one-woman institution. So O'Reilly is betraying his own blinding ignorance here while at the same time mocking the very Americans he hopes will watch his program.
"Well, Mr. O'Reilly, we are going to go right on clinging to our Bibles and our religion whether gasbags in the media approve or not."
He noted researchers have found that one-third of all sources cited by the Founders, according to "American Political Science Review," were biblical references.
"So Bill, go right ahead and keep pounding your chest. We'll go right ahead and keep thumping our Bibles. Just like the Founders."