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The GW Hatchet

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Bill O’Reilly calls students ‘fascist’ for attempting to oust Catholic priest

Commentators on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor debated Monday whether universities can remove a religious leader on a college campus for anti-gay remarks. Hatchet File Photo.

Updated: Tuesday, April 9 at 3:39 p.m.

One of the nation’s most conservative commentators threw his support behind a GW priest who students say should be fired for his anti-gay remarks.

Bill O’Reilly blasted the student effort to oust Father Greg Shaffer from the Newman Center during The O’Reilly Factor Monday.

“It is a fascist act to demand that a college remove a chaplain because you don’t like what the chaplain said. That’s it,” O’Reilly said.

Liberal Fox News contributor and alumna Sally Kohn defended the students’ right to protest the priest. While she said University President Steven Knapp probably should not force the priest from his post, she urged him to bring the case to the District’s archdiocese.

She added that Shaffer’s conversations calling the students “immoral and unnatural” during their college years was “horrible.”

“I don’t think he’s the right person for ministering to young people,” Kohn, who is openly gay, said.

Shaffer and the seniors, Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy, who recently became a priest as well, declined to go on air.

Bergen said The O’Reilly Factor, as well as other conservative media outlets, have misreported that the team has asked the University to remove Shaffer from campus. He said they only intend on asking the District’s archdiocese for Shaffer to be replaced with another priest.

“In our letter to the university, our op-ed in Huffington Post, and our press release, Damian and I have made this very clear, but for whatever reason, no one is actually taking the time to read our statements,” Bergen said.

He said it is “blatantly untrue” that O’Reilly said, “They are asking the university to boot him.”

“O’Reilly did, however, agree that we could write to the Archbishop with a formal complaint. We agree, and we have agreed with that from the beginning, as was reported in the original Hatchet article,” Bergen added.

The segment aired for about four minutes at about 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Since the campaign went public last week, Catholics at GW and across the nation have decried the effort and praised the Newman Center leader.

Prominent Catholic activist and president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights Bill Donohue sent a letter to University leaders condemning students’ attempt to fire Shaffer.

Officials have received at least two dozen letters in all, University spokewoman Michelle Sherrard said Monday.

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