Bill O’Reilly has been the king of cable television news for more than a decade. But lately he’s been making headlines for another reason.
His last two books, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, have sold more than 5 million copies. And his latest release, which came out Sept. 24, is likely to be the most popular and divisive of all. It’s called Killing Jesus, and it’s already hit No. 1 on Amazon. The book, which he wrote with historian Martin Dugard, is expected to become a national best-seller.
O’Reilly is a devout Catholic, but Killing Jesus is not a religious book. He doesn’t refer to Jesus as the Son of God or the Messiah, and some of his points are in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches.
For instance, O'Reilly argues that Jesus did not say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” from the cross. He says it wouldn’t have been physically possible.
“You die on a cross from being suffocated,” he says. “You can hardly breathe. We believe Jesus said that, but we don't believe He said it on the cross because nobody could have heard it.”
Despite his controversial remarks, O’Reilly says the Holy Spirit inspired him to write Killing Jesus. He claims he woke up in the middle of the night and thought, “Killing Jesus.”
“I believe because I'm a Catholic that comes from the Holy Spirit,” O’Reilly explained in Sunday’s airing of 60 Minutes. “My inspiration comes from that. And so I wrote Killing Jesus because I think I was directed to write that.”
In the program, Norah O’Donnell asked O’Reilly why he thought the Holy Spirit would choose him. After denying the title “chosen one,” he said, “I'm just one of many who have been given gifts. I can write. I can bloviate on TV. So I'm trying to use the gifts in a positive way. And I believe that's all directed. And that's why I'm here on the planet.”
The news broadcaster admits the title is a bit sensationalist but says he wanted the book to get attention.
“Of course it's sensationalist. That's who I am,” he told O’Donnell. “I'm a sensationalist. I'm a big mouth. I get attention. In this world you have to—if you want a mass-market presentation, you have to get attention.”
O’Reilly hired Dugard to do the research, which included a visit to the Holy Land to replicate Jesus’ return to Jerusalem and His final walk, CBS reports. O’Reilly once taught history, and Dugard is a history writer.
Since O’Reilly is in New York and Dugard is in California, the team works together on their books by computer and over the phone. Killing Jesus took just eight months and included an advance of more than $10 million.