It was the Holy Spirit who directed Bill O'Reilly to write his latest book, "Killing Jesus," he tells Norah O'Donnell in his first interview about the upcoming work. Though the book is not religious and its contradictions of biblical descriptions may upset some, the Fox News anchor and best-selling author believes that in writing it, he is using God's gifts in a positive way. The interview with O'Reilly will be broadcast on the 46th season premiere of 60 Minutes on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
"All of the ideas come to me in the middle of the night and one night, I just woke up and I went, 'Killing Jesus,'" he tells O'Donnell. "And I believe because I'm a Catholic that comes from the Holy Spirit. My inspiration comes from that...so I wrote "Killing Jesus" because I think I was directed to write that."
The inspiration doesn't make him special or a chosen one insists O'Reilly, it's part of God's plan for him, he says. "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," says O'Reilly.
The book contradicts some of what is written in the New Testament's accounts of the crucifixion. In one example, Jesus does not speak his famous words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" in the book, because the way he was hung on the cross would have not allowed enough air in his lungs to speak them audibly, says O'Reilly. He doesn't refer to Jesus as the Son of God, either. "There's no religion in the book. It's all about history," he tells O'Donnell.
"Killing Jesus" follows O'Reilly's two previous best-selling books, "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy." It is a researched, historic account like the others, but despite the de-emphasis of religion, the project "reinforced my faith a little bit," says the devout Catholic.
O'Reilly believes in the Holy Spirit but doesn't allow his religion to dominate his life. "I'm not a holy roller. I am not an Evangelical Christian, but I go to church," he says. If he doesn't attend Mass, "Then I fall so far behind in my repentance I can never catch up," he says with a smile.
Giving to charity may be part of O'Reilly's repentance. He says he gives a million dollars a year to charities from the money he makes selling merchandise from his hit show, "The O'Reilly Factor." So should he feel the need to try to catch up on that repentance, the book has certainly given him the wherewithal: For writing "Killing Jesus," O'Reilly and his co-author, Martin Dugard, were paid an almost unheard of $10 million advance.