WASHINGTON — One of the most visible and boisterous voices on cable news, Bill O’Reilly, host of "The O’Reilly Factor," has a reputation that is defined by his personality and politics more than by his faith convictions. But I’ve long known O’Reilly apart from his public persona, and I’ve known there’s more to him than meets the eye.

WASHINGTON — One of the most visible and boisterous voices on cable news, Bill O’Reilly, host of "The O’Reilly Factor," has a reputation that is defined by his personality and politics more than by his faith convictions. But I’ve long known O’Reilly apart from his public persona, and I’ve known there’s more to him than meets the eye.


With O’Reilly’s release and success of the historical page-turner "Killing Jesus" (which followed "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy," all co-authored with Martin Dugard), I was eager to explore the spiritual side of the Fox News star. Here are highlights of our conversation:


Q. You grew up Catholic. How big of a role did faith play in your home?


A. I lived in a traditional Irish Catholic home that didn’t deviate very much from what had happened in the past 150 years. We went to church on Sunday, went out to breakfast afterward. There were rituals. My mother wanted me to be an altar boy, so I was. I can compare it to a very working-class, predictable, faith-based situation. It was just: Here are the rules. Here’s what we do. There wasn’t a lot of why in it.


Q. Did you believe in God?


A. Yes, I bought into the orthodoxy. When you’re a little kid and your parents believe and then the school teaches you, it’s an inculcation. I didn’t challenge it.


Q. And what about Jesus? Did you believe Jesus was the Son of God?


A. Oh, yes. Sure. Yes, back then in the late ’50s, early ’60s when I was in Catholic school, everybody believed it.


Q. What do you believe now?


A. Pretty much the same. I’m much more sophisticated in my analysis of Roman Catholicism, but the theology I have no problem believing.


Q. So what is God to you?


A. There’s an Intelligent Design in the universe that created the human race. And there is a free-will component to every individual — you either choose to do good or you choose to do evil. And if you sit it out, then you’re in the evil category. And then, what you choose to do in your lifetime will be rewarded or punished by the Intelligent Designer of the universe.


That’s pretty much it. My philosophy is, generally speaking, if everybody followed Jesus’s teachings, then there wouldn’t be any war, wouldn’t be any strife, wouldn’t be any abuse. Everybody would be, not perfect, but certainly in a positive realm.


And if I’m wrong, so what? I’m dead. It doesn’t matter. If it’s a positive, while you’re alive, to follow the Christian tenets, why would you not do so?


Q. So you believe that Jesus was sent by God and -


A. I believe the whole narrative. I’m going to accept it, because there’s no reason not to.


I expected that "Killing Jesus" would be a religious book. In fact, it’s more like a history book. There was no sense of proselytizing.


No, I wanted to stay away [from that]. We have "A History" on the cover. I just wanted to make the world aware that this man existed.


Q. I saw the "60 Minutes" interview where you talked about how you believe that the Holy Spirit guided you to write this book. That comment was derided, but I wanted you to talk a little bit more about what you think your earthly purpose is and how your faith informs what you do.


A. The problem with the secular-progressive movement is it simply cannot accept any people of faith and take them seriously. They’re so condescending, and they’re so arrogant that, even though you might be a brilliant person, if you believe, you’re an idiot. So that just knocks out the whole Jesuit organization. It knocks out Thomas Aquinas, Augustine. Everybody is knocked out because they believe. That’s what the genesis of the criticism was… .


When I was honest with "60 Minutes," I said, "Listen, I’m an ordinary guy." I don’t consider myself to be extraordinary. I have ideas that come to me. And as a Christian, I believe those ideas, when they’re positive, come from the person who created me. And the person who created me is God, and in Christian theology, God is made up of three elements. So of course, it would be the Holy Spirit. It’s all logical.


This is what all Christians, if they understand their faith, should believe. It’s not you [who is] creating this monumental book or song or hitting 500 home runs. It’s the talent that you’ve been given and that you’re blessed with. That’s what’s doing it.


Q. Are you afraid of dying?


A. No, not at all. My time is up, I’m going.


Q. Do you think that you’ll ever stop?


A. Yes, I do. I’m tired now, so I’ve got to cut it back soon. I just don’t know when that will be.


—-


Sally Quinn is the founding editor of OnFaith. This article is excerpted from one that appeared originally at OnFaith.