Bill O’Reilly’s comments on Thursday’s episode of “The View” sparked more than fireworks; they ignited a firestorm. When responding to a question about why President Obama’s ratings were slipping, O’Reilly attempted to cite examples of Obama’s disconnection with the American people. His first example: Obama’s response to our struggling economy. His second example: Obama’s unwillingness to address the wisdom of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque. Most Americans share concern over our economy. But the Ground Zero Mosque divides.
When prodded by the show’s co-hosts, O’Reilly declared the results of an August CNN poll that showed 70% of Americans were not in favor of a mosque being built at the site of 9/11. His argument lit the fires of emotion among the more liberal co-hosts, Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg. As the heated discourse continued, O’Reilly said, “The Muslims killed us on 9/11.” His choice to lump all Muslims into a group with those who terrorized America on that dark day was more than Behar and Goldberg could handle. They walked off their own show to return only after O’Reilly clarified his position on Muslims.
Fans on both sides of the aisle began waving their respective flags. O’Reilly’s fans overwhelmingly responded online with support for his comments. Most echo his claim that when the word “Muslims” is used in context with 9/11, it should be assumed to mean “Muslim extremists.” Others defend O’Reilly by saying he simply misspoke. On the other side, fans in support of Behar and Goldberg believe they acted appropriately in demonstration of their disgust. As Christians, we must remember to separate our loyalties to political parties, TV stations, celebrity figures and the like, from our loyalty to Christ and His Word.
One verse of the Bible that both liberal and conservative Christians usually agree upon as a moral basis for living is: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NIV). Looking through this lens, Christians might want to consider the following:
1. How would I want to be treated if I were a guest on a show?
2. How would I want to be treated if I were a host of a show?
3. How would I want to be treated if I were a member of a religious group, or of any group, in which some members acted in a way that does not reflect me?
If I were a guest, I would not want the host to interrupt me, yell at me, or walk out on me. If I were a host, I would not want my guest to be disrespectful of me or of others. If I were a member of a religious group – which I am –who had members that acted contrary to my beliefs, I would not want to be treated as an idiot because others used hate speech and burned Korans.
Barbara Walters got it right when she said to the audience, “You have just seen what should not happen. We should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and screaming and walking off stage.” She may be a co-host, but she is in reality the mother of the show, with years of journalistic experience and wisdom behind her. The teacher explained this is not how we should deal with conflict. Yet she coupled her criticism with expressing love for her colleagues – treating them as she would like to be treated. While not perfect in all her words as none of us are, Ms. Walters was the real hero to applaud in this situation. She took the reins of the show, and poured calming rains on the storm.