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Exchange of Letters with Bill O'Reilly Regarding his Book, "Killing Jesus"

ADL Letter to Bill O’Reilly 

September 30, 2013

Bill O'Reilly
The O’Reilly Factor
Fox News Channel

Dear Mr. O’Reilly:

We were deeply disturbed by your remarks in interviews promoting your new book, “Killing Jesus,” including your appearance Sunday on CBS News’ 60 Minutes, where you have referred to Jews as having played a mob-like role in the crucifixion of Jesus.

On 60 Minutes, you said that Jesus was insulted when he found that the temple was being used by moneychangers and that he was “upset that the Jews were taxing, overtaxing and extorting the folks.”  You suggested that this was the crux of the “Killing Jesus” theme, that he was “executed for a reason” -- the reason being the interruption of the flow of money.

These remarks are damaging not only because they are historically inaccurate, but because they could breathe new life into the age-old anti-Semitic notion that Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus, and that he was killed not only because he claimed he was the son of God, but because he tried to interrupt their commercial greed.

As I’m sure you are aware, the best historical studies show that the Romans put Jesus to death, and the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations have repudiated the centuries-old deicide charge against the Jewish people. The 1965 Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate rejected the deicide charge on theological grounds.  In March 2011, Pope Benedict XVI’s book on “Jesus of Nazareth – Part II,” built an argument against the anti-Jewish concept of deicide through a thorough analysis of the Gospels, leading to his conclusion that there is no basis in scripture for the claim that Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.

The deicide charge contributed to centuries of persecution of the Jewish people.  Yet, despite efforts by the Catholic Church to repudiate those beliefs, a surprisingly large number of churchgoers around the world still believe that “Jews were responsible for the death of Christ.”  In America, a 2011 ADL poll found that 31 percent of Americans strongly agreed with that statement.

We hope that you will reconsider your choice of words in describing the role of Jews in the crucifixion, and make clear you do not believe that Jews are to blame for the death of Jesus.  May we hear from you on this?


Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

Response from Bill O'Reilly

October 2, 2013

Mr. Abraham Foxman
Anti-Defamation League
605 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10158

Dear Mr. Foxman:

As you know, the 60 Minutes story was edited.  It is clear in Killing Jesus that the Romans executed Jesus with an assist from corrupt elements of the Temple.  That is the historical fact.

I include a transcript from the CBS interview that provides my full comments on the issue.

Thanks for reading my book and I hope you are well.


Bill O’Reilly
Fox News Channel

ADL Response to Bill O'Reilly's Letter

October 3, 2013

Bill O'Reilly
The O’Reilly Factor
Fox News Channel

Dear Mr. O’Reilly:

Thank you for your timely response to our concerns regarding your interview on 60 Minutes.  After having reviewed the full transcript of the interview, it is clear to us that you did conclude that it was in fact the Romans, not the Jews, who killed Jesus.

Your response to the interviewer’s question, “Was it the Romans or was it the Jews?” was emphatic on this point:  “The Romans killed him,” you said.  “The Jews had no power to kill him.”

I’m sorry that this portion of the interview was omitted from the final 60 Minutes piece that was aired; but your assurances on this point, as well as the transcript of unedited interview, clearly put this matter to rest.



Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

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