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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Imus Sorry; What is a Christian: Sex and Salvation

Aired April 9, 2007 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin, however, tonight with our top story. Don Imus and the price he'll be paying for a two-week suspension. For words that he now calls repugnant, offensive and just plain stupid. He said them last week about members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: While the Reverend Al Sharpton and others are calling for Imus to be fired, today he appeared on Reverend Sharpton's radio program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMUS: Don't you think that I'm thinking to myself, well what was I -- what made me think I could make fun of these young women? What was I thinking? What was I thinking?

(CROSSTALK)

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOWST: What do you think as you a -- you say a self-described good, decent man, you should do to establish a precedent that this type of thing cannot go unaccountable.

IMUS: Well just because I've done this program -- I've done for 30 years this way doesn't mean I have to do it this way tomorrow. And let me go talk to these women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, late today, NBC, which simulcasts his radio program on MSNBC, suspended it for two weeks, effective a week from today so Imus can do a radio telethon this Thursday and Friday.

Then CBS radio pulled the plug also for just two weeks.

A short time ago I spoke with Reverend Sharpton to get his take on these late developments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Reverend, NBC has pulled him off the air for a two- week suspension. CBS radio has done the same for a two-week suspension. Is that enough?

SHARPTON: No, I think it's clearly not enough. I think it's some baby steps in the right direction.

The issue is that if they're conceding his remarks were racist and that his remarks were repugnant, then he should be terminated. Again, the issue for us is a regulatory single standard. The FCC, that gives license to both of those entities, have rules. You cannot sit up on public-regulated television and make just racist remarks as one and claim that's free speech.

COOPER: Do you think people should go on his show? I mean, his show is popular with, you know, with these high-powered journalists, the Tim Russerts of the world, as well as presidential candidates.

SHARPTON: I think that, clearly, anyone that goes on the show now, even after the parent companies have said what was done here, is saying that they identify with that.

And they clearly, in my judgment, have stepped over the line of a lot of people that say, enough of this is enough. And I might add, many of us have had to stand against some people that are friends of ours in our own community, and say, no, that we cannot tolerate that on the airwaves. They have been fired. They have been suspended. So, we have been consistent here, and we intend to continue to be consistent.

COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, appreciate your perspective. Thanks.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Some more perspective now from Amy Holmes, a conservative analyst and speech writer for former Senator Bill Frist. Also, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN and a sportswriter for the "Philadelphia Inquirer." Both joined me earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Stephen, CBS, NBC both suspending Don Imus for two weeks. Is that enough?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": No, it isn't. He should be fired. I don't think there's any question in my mind about that.

And it's not necessarily because of what he said, Anderson. It's because of -- you know, when -- his initial response, once the heat was coming down, is that it was just something stupid, and essentially, it's allowable. It should be allowable. It's not really a big issue. And I think it was very disingenuous on his part.

I think his response was disingenuous. And I think it really crystallized where he was really coming from and, more importantly, his executive producer as well for his show. I think they should both be fired.

COOPER: He says he's a good person, just said a stupid thing. You think this shows something deeper.

SMITH: Well, I don't know whether it shows deeper or not. But I know to judge people by their actions, especially when you're an individual that has been in this industry since 1971, especially when you have had a syndicated show since 1996.

Know this man's history. He's a veteran in this business. He knows the dos and the don'ts. And he went on that third rail. He not only tinkered with the third rail. He crossed it because evidently he felt that he could get away with it. And I think it's incumbent upon all of us to make sure that he doesn't.

COOPER: Amy, this two-week suspension, is this a corporation's way of sort of trying to push this away for as long as possible, see if the heat dies down, and then just allow him to kind of come back quietly?

AMY HOLMES, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is. And I think that all of three of us would agree, if we said similar things on a broadcast, we would be canned instantly. And it's surprising to me that this -- it took this long for this decision to be made.

But I do think that there's something deeper here worth investigating. Don Imus said that he didn't know where these words came from. Well, they came from his mouth, but they also come from the radio every day, from music videos. There is, unfortunately, this pernicious, invidious element in our pop culture of the degradation of African-American women.

And I think I would like to see the black community come together, as happened after the Michael Richards fiasco, to say, not only should Don Imus be condemned, but anyone who is using this type of language to denigrate women of color.

SMITH: I completely agree with her. But, at the same time, I think we also need to understand that it starts with dealing with individuals like Don Imus, in terms of their actions, because when you look at it, certainly, he's an individual that's been a veteran in this business quite a -- for quite a long time. He knows exactly how inflammatory those statements were going to be.

Let's keep in mind that if this was something that was said about a Jewish person, or a group of Jewish females, or a group of white individuals or white females, the likelihood is that he might have suffered something significantly more than a two-week suspension.

COOPER: Well, those who support him say, look, he's an equal- opportunity offender, that he says, you know, stupid, hurtful things about Jewish people and about gays and about Catholics.

SMITH: Really?

HOLMES: I wouldn't say that's a great defense, you know, for Don Imus fans there, to say two wrongs make a right.

But, you know, Stephen, I don't think we should be letting folks off the hook who use these kinds of slurs every day...

SMITH: I'm not implying that we should.

HOLMES: ... to make money, to sell albums, who -- who use this to enrich themselves and make themselves more popular...

SMITH: We don't disagree on that.

HOLMES: ... at the expense of African-American women.

SMITH: We don't disagree on that at all.

HOLMES: And I would -- I would also add that, if Don Imus were sincere in his apology, the first people he should have apologized to were the women of the Rutgers basketball team, a private apology to them, also a public apology that could have been printed in the Rutgers newspaper. He should have sought a meeting with those young women and also with the Tennessee basketball players, who he dragged into this ugly racial taxonomy.

COOPER: Stephen, I know you spoke to the coach of the Rutgers team. How are they responding to all this?

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: Well, she was appalled by it. She certainly felt very, very badly for her kids because she coaches these women.

COOPER: Did he get a pass early on? It seemed like it wasn't until over the weekend, and bloggers really picked this up, that -- that the media -- you know, the rest of the media kind of got dragged along.

HOLMES: I think that's right, Anderson.

And I think that, you know, for a long time, his remarks have been overlooked, again, because of his popularity and his ability to sell books. So, you have had people go on who -- at least in this point in time, if they go on in the future, can be called sellouts.

I don't -- this -- what this man said was disgraceful towards these women on the basketball team, and what he said about African- Americans in general. So, I would hope that politicians, people who have any ounce of respectability, would not grace his airwaves with his presence.

SMITH: Can we get real about something here? It happens to be also because he's white. The fact that he's white, and he happens to be a white radio host who is highly successful, has a lot to do with it, because I'm here to tell you something right now. Had it been me, I would be gone. I would not have a job today.

HOLMES: Stephen, I'm not so sure about that. We see politicians...

SMITH: I am.

HOLMES: We see politicians going on Al Sharpton's show, who himself was found guilty of defaming an innocent man by repeatedly calling him a racist, and we see our politicians going on his show, which I think is disgraceful.

And that's another element of this, is, why is it that, when people get into trouble, they run to Al Sharpton's show, instead of apologizing to the people that they have directly offended?

When I watched this interview today, I was watching these two radio egos, one demanding the supplication of the other, the other one groveling for forgiveness, and forgetting who are the women who were insulted in this in the first place?

SMITH: Because they're trying to reach the masses.

And the reality of the situation is it's very difficult. They should be apologizing to those women at Rutgers University. They're -- make no mistake about that. But what they're trying to do is to appease the African-American community, because somebody has sent them some sort of message that that is who they have offended, and that's all they have offended, where in fact, they have offended every decent person out there who would find this reprehensible and repugnant.

COOPER: And, two -- two weeks from now, if -- if the attention on this has died down, and he's allowed to go back on the air, what does that say about MSNBC? What does that say about NBC, about CBS?

SMITH: Well, I think what it says more than anything else is that you can offend black people and it's cool. It's all right. They'll get over it. They'll let it go. And, somehow, some way, the firestorm will die down, and we will move on with life as usual. If it happens with other communities, that doesn't appear to be the case. But, when it pertains to African-Americans, we can be a bit more tolerant. That's, to me, the message that it would send.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: And I would add that it would show that these companies are spineless and they're willing to put profits over principle.

SMITH: Amen.

COOPER: Amy Holmes, Stephen Smith, good discussion. Thanks.

SMITH: All right.

HOLMES: Thank you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up tonight, a 360 special.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Teaching abstinence here. Preaching sex here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God created sex, that God is for sex.

COOPER: Grappling with abortion, body and soul.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Told him that I loved him and that I was sorry and that I would hold him one day in heaven.

COOPER: "What is a Christian: Sex, Salvation and You," ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Good evening. Welcome to another edition in our , "What is a Christian" series. Tonight, sex and salvation. The moral message of the bible, which is so tied to who we are, the way we mate and procreate.

Tonight we look at the battle among people of faith over sex and salvation. A taboo topic for some, but in other churches we're seeing pastors actually giving sex tips in their sermons.

We'll explore some of the most contentious issues faced by Christians today -- homosexuality, pornography, abortion, abstinence.

We begin with a twist on sex education for college students. The controversial lesson isn't being taught in a classroom, it's being preached in a party zone.

CNN's Joe Johns reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

"Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" 1 Corinthians 6:19

(END GRAPHIC)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day is for drinking in the sun and the booze. The night is for cruising the strip. College students flock to the white sands of Florida's Gulf Coast beaches to live out a rite of spring, if not a rite of passage. It's been called Satan's playground.

But this spring, the devil's got company. Young evangelical Christians, 400 strong, powered by an unusual spring break message -- abstinence. That's right, don't do it, resist the pressure and urge to have sex before marriage. They preach, it's the only way to keep your body safe and your soul pure. Not exactly an easy sell here. And the evangelicals know what they're up against.

ANGEL ELLIS, BEACH REACH ORGANIZER: We have asked students before who are down here to party, what is your purpose in life? And I had a girl say to get drunk and to get laid by the hottest guy on the beach. That was her goal for the week.

JOHNS: At a free pancake breakfast put on by the evangelicals, college juniors Mike and Jake say they appreciate what the Christian kids are trying to do, but it's just that the temptation is so strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All's you got to do is take that camera and you walk down that beach where those stages are...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you see all those girls, whose daddies would be so proud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they keep throwing it in your face, eventually you're going to take the bait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's true. You know what I mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The toughest fish in the sea, you keep dangling that -- you keep dangling that squid right in front of his face, he is going to go. He is going to get it. And that's what we do. We go get it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's true.

JOHNS: So, what drives the evangelicals to head out night after night against almost impossible odds?

Lacey (ph), Jeremy, Tara (ph) and Erica, and the others all belong to a Christian outreach ministry called Beach Reach. They're spending their spring break offering free bus rides. It's a way for them to corral the party people and deliver their message.

Like millions of American teens, these kids have signed abstinence pledges.

ERICA MITCHELL, BEACH REACH PARTICIPANT: We did this program called True Love Waits, and I took a pledge then. And we got purity rings and everything.

JEREMY WARREN, BEACH REACH PARTICIPANT: Yes, we're going to stay pure until that day we say "I do."

JOHNS (on camera): Is it hard so far?

WARREN: Yes. Yes.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNS (voice-over): The Bush administration has more than doubled federal funding for programs that promote abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The programs now get $204 million a year.

But critics argue, abstinence-only programs are not realistic. They do not provide kids with the facts with things about like condom use, and that could leave the kids naive about protecting themselves if they do have sex.

In fact, one Yale University study shows nearly nine of 10 teenagers who sign the pledge will break it -- an alternative, teaching abstinence, but as a part of a comprehensive sex-ed program.

HEATHER BOONSTRA, GUTTMACHER INSTITUTE: The evidence is very strong. Those programs result in delay, more in sexual initiation, result in fewer sexual partners, result -- result in, you know, less frequency in sex, more contraceptive use, more condom use overall.

JOHNS: How to use a condom and other such lessons don't sit well with these kids, though. And the Beach Reachers are determined to walk the straight and narrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never want to go down the road that I have seen people going down.

JOHNS: The path to purity, she says, leads to a much brighter future, no matter what temptation paves the way.

Joe Johns, CNN, Panama City Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Another path hotly debated, of course, is homosexuality. It's a major issue in the Catholic Church and with many evangelicals, but it's also dividing mainline protestant denominations, like the Episcopal church in America who are at odds over an openly gay bishop and same-sex unions.

For years gay and lesbian Christians have struggled for acceptance within their churches. For them -- many of them, it's been a painful journey. Their faith and their sexuality are not always in sync.

Well, now some are convinced that therapy and prayer can change that. The medical community disagrees and the gay and lesbian community say the so-called cure is a fraud.

CNN's Gary Tuchman investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN GRAPHIC) "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman." Leviticus 18:22

(END GRAPHIC)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By the hundreds, they stream into this massive church in Phoenix.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enjoy. Have a great day.

TUCHMAN: Parents, grandparents, teenagers, and young adults, all denominations, many filled with hope, others with dread -- from the pulpit, words of compassion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to show the gay and lesbian community that we love them.

(APPLAUSE)

TUCHMAN: Actually, it's more complicated than that. This is anything but a call for tolerance of homosexuality.

DR. JOSEPH NICOLOSI, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE RESEARCH AND THERAPY OF HOMOSEXUALITY: We, as citizens, we need to articulate God's intent for human sexuality. And that's what we need to do. We're not just opposing homosexuality. We're articulating the wisdom of heterosexuality.

TUCHMAN: This gathering is called the Love Won Out conference, organized by the Christian ministry Focus on the Family. Organizers claim homosexuality is a treatable psychological disorder, that with enough therapy and enough prayer, can be cured.

Californians Mark and Penny (ph) Vatcher are looking to cure their 16-year-old son, Brett.

BRETT VATCHER, CONFERENCE ATTENDEE: My dad found this online. So, he wanted us to drive out here from San Diego.

TUCHMAN (on camera): I mean, do you want to be here?

VATCHER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

VATCHER: Not really. I don't know. He's wicked religious. And he doesn't like that I'm gay.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We will come back to Brett in a moment.

You should know the theory that homosexuality is a treatable disorder is flat-out rejected by the mainstream psychiatric community. And yet, for more than a decade, Mike Haley (ph) lived as an openly- gay man, but then...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I realized that I had fallen in love with this girl... TUCHMAN: He says that life-changing moment, that switch to heterosexuality, came after a long and painful struggle. Today, he's married with three children.

Melissa Fryrear had a similar conversion.

MELISSA FRYREAR, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: And I don't know what it is about red-headed men, but whew.

(LAUGHTER)

FRYREAR: Buh-boom-buh-boom-buh-boom, my heart -- my heart goes a little pitter-patter when I see those red-headed men.

TUCHMAN: She's straight now, but says she was a lesbian for 10 years.

FRYREAR: I had had dozens of relationships. I wasn't happy. I was abusing alcohol, abusing drugs. My life was just mismanaged.

TUCHMAN: At Love Won Out, self-proclaimed ex-gays like Haley (ph) and Fryrear enthusiastically regale the crowd with their personal stories.

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi is at the center of this. He's an unorthodox Catholic psychologist. He runs the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

NICOLOSI: Homosexuality, as we said, is a gender-identity problem.

TUCHMAN: Nicolosi concludes boys can become gay if they don't get enough attention from their fathers or if they were abused as children.

NICOLOSI: The guy with a homosexual problem does not trust men. When he begins to trust men, his homosexuality disappears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appropriate parental reaction requires good judgment.

TUCHMAN: As for 16-year-old Brett and his parents, the morning session convinced the father that Brett was not born gay.

MARK VATCHER, CONFERENCE ATTENDEE: ... circumstances in his life that caused him to get to this point.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Like what?

M. VATCHER: Maybe -- maybe I wasn't a good dad, or maybe, you know, somebody abused him along the way. Who knows what happened?

TUCHMAN: Did anybody abuse you?

B. VATCHER: No.

TUCHMAN: Was he a good dad?

B. VATCHER: Yes.

M. VATCHER: Oh, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

B. VATCHER: I just want to say yes.

(LAUGHTER)

M. VATCHER: Uh-huh.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Brett, for his part, does not agree with Nicolosi's lecture.

NICOLOSI: And, indeed, it appears that these children are normal. They're particularly intelligent. They're very astute. They're very sociable. They're charming. They're very verbal and sensitive.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Does this have a chance of succeeding with you?

B. VATCHER: No. Don't tell my parents.

(LAUGHTER)

B. VATCHER: No.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Joseph Nicolosi often accuses the media of distorting his research. He was reluctant to speak with us.

(on camera): We're hoping we can talk to you when it's over.

NICOLOSI: Yes. OK. Well, I don't think so.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Eventually, he did agree to go on camera, but...

(on camera): You're categorically saying that, if a father and son have a normal relationship, that child will not be gay?

NICOLOSI: Yes.

TUCHMAN: That's a pretty strong statement, right?

NICOLOSI: You want to debate? Do you want an answer or you want to debate?

TUCHMAN: Well...

NICOLOSI: I gave you an answer.

TUCHMAN: Yes. So, there are some stereotypes you talk about, how, you know, if a child's effeminate, if he's creative, he's artistic, those are things to look out for. Is that fair to say?

NICOLOSI: Goodbye. You're confusing effeminacy with artistic. I didn't say artistic.

Here.

TUCHMAN: Hey, Doctor?

(voice-over): For the record, the word "artistic" is right here in the Love Won Out literature.

As for Mike Haley (ph), the recent convert to heterosexuality...

(on camera): Any homosexual who wants to, do you think they can become heterosexual?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, every single person that wants to leave homosexuality can do it.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But how? Is there really a treatment for homosexuality? Or is the so-called cure just another path to pain?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next, some answers to those questions. And we will see how this controversial Christian therapy has impacted the lives of some who have tried it.

Also tonight. porn addiction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stats don't lie, that Christians are consuming pornography. I've met women, men, children, pastors. I mean, a huge amount of pastors admitted to struggling with pornography.

COOPER: And he's trying to heal, he says, with God's grace. Tonight, meet the man who started the number one Christian porn site, but it's not what you think.

Plus, sermons on sex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God created sex. Why not at least tell people what he has to say about it.

COOPER: A church goes where few others have gone, between the sheets when, "What is a Christian: Sex and Salvation," continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARDINAL EDWARD EGAN, NEW YORK: He taught us and all who would listen that our God is our father. He taught us that we are to love that God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and he added, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Welcome back to, "What is a Christian: Sex and Salvation." We're looking at how some Christians are trying to turn gay people straight through years of intensive pray and therapy.

It's a controversial tactic, the medical community says it doesn't work. But some claim they have been cured. And others say they've gone through pure hell.

Once again, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone." John 8:7

(END GRAPHIC)

TUCHMAN: Men, women looking for a way to exorcise homosexuality here at a gathering in Phoenix called Love Won Out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be people there that are just, you know, searching for more information.

TUCHMAN: Christian ministries offer referrals to various treatment programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a good day now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will. I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

TUCHMAN: With more than 120 local branches in North America, Exodus International calls itself the world's largest ex-gay referral service.

ALAN CHAMBERS, PRESIDENT, EXODUS INTERNATIONAL: You have got to have healthy expectations.

TUCHMAN: Exodus president Alan Chambers says his own journey from homosexuality to heterosexuality followed a long and difficult path.

(on camera): How did you do it?

CHAMBERS: Well, it's not like a light switch. I didn't -- I didn't flip it on and flip it off. It was years of work.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Not everyone has had the same result.

(on camera): Shawn, when did you realize you were gay?

SHAWN O'DONNELL, UNDERWENT EX-GAY THERAPY: At the age of 6, I realized I was different from other boys. And it wasn't until later on that I actually associated the word gay with that. I was 10.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Growing up gay in Elgin, Illinois, wasn't easy for Shawn O'Donnell. His Catholic parents were loving. But the kids at school were merciless.

O'DONNELL: I had very low self-esteem, hated myself.

TUCHMAN: It got worse when, at age 10, Shawn was born-again and joined an evangelical church.

(on camera): How important was religion in your life at that time?

O'DONNELL: Extremely important. It was the top of my list. I went to church four or five times a week. I mean, I was always at church. I was so involved in it, missions trips, Bible studies, prayer groups.

TUCHMAN: And, if you're gay, you believe you're going to hell?

O'DONNELL: Right.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It was too much for the boy. He started cutting himself. He attempted suicide. And, finally, at 18, he came out to his pastor.

(on camera): Did you feel like he was angry at you?

O'DONNELL: No. No. He was very compassionate, with the understanding that I needed help.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Shawn's pastor referred him to therapy at a local ex-gay organization.

O'DONNELL: I had to deal with my father issues. And I had to deal with my mother issues. And I had to deal with -- you know, I was never molested. So, that wasn't an issue. But that also was an issue that they brought up. If I was, that could have pushed me to be gay.

TUCHMAN: At times Shawn says he felt like he was making the transition from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

O'DONNELL: Well, I thought I'd go a couple of days without being attracted to other men, but then I'd have a sexual slip-up. So then I thought, I'm failing again.

TUCHMAN: Five years into therapy, Shawn hit another low point and again tried to kill himself. Desperate, he moved to California and joined a live-in program for gay men trying to become straight.

O'DONNELL: Very controlling environment. We went to work. After we got home, we had dinner together. We didn't go places alone other than to work and back. We were always in groups of two or three. Sundays we went to church together. And we had curfews.

TUCHMAN: Shawn says he was totally committed to the program.

O'DONNELL: God, if anybody tried to do this, I tried. I did pray so many hours and sweat so many tears, you know? The picture I get is, Jesus at garden of Gethsemane when he sweat blood, you know? If I could have sweat blood I would have.

My first year into it, I felt great. I felt like I graduated through the first year, because they had like a graduation ceremony and I thought, oh, you know, I'm going to make it. You know, this is what I've need, you know? And then I had a slip with one of the guys in the house.

TUCHMAN: The next day, Shawn drove into San Francisco and had a one-night stand with a man.

O'DONNELL: You know what? That was it. You know, I was done. I had given it the good old college try and so I decided that I was going to come out, again.

TUCHMAN: This is what the established psychological community says about homosexuality.

CLINTON ANDERSON, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: There is no conclusive research that explains why people become gay or why they become straight, for that matter.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Clinton Anderson handles gay and lesbian issues for the American Psychological Association. The APA categorically rejects theories about the causes and cures for homosexuality.

ANDERSON: Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not in any sense need to be treated or need to be cured.

TUCHMAN: But many of the people struggling with their sexuality here in Phoenix don't see it that way.

(on camera): This is kind of blunt, but I mean, I'm curious, do you like girls now?

ALAN CHAMBERS, PRESIDENT, EXODUS INTERNATIONAL: I love my wife. I am attracted to my wife. We have been married nine years.

TUCHMAN: Are any feelings toward men still within you? Do you feel it could come out again in some way?

CHAMBERS: Well, again, I don't think that I will ever be as though I never was. You know, certainly I'm human, I could be tempted by a homosexual thought. I could find myself...

TUCHMAN: So that doesn't go away?

CHAMBERS: It hasn't gone way 100 percent with me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Still, Chambers and other self-described ex-gays like Mike Haley (ph) say they'd never go back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thought of forfeiting my wife and my children, I wouldn't have the blessings that I have in my life now.

TUCHMAN: But Shawn O'Donnell doesn't buy any of it.

(on camera): You talk to people, tell us they are heterosexual, they love their wife, they find their wife sexually attractive and they've been cured.

O'DONNELL: Right.

TUCHMAN: You don't believe that?

O'DONNELL: No, not one bit. Not one bit.

TUCHMAN: Do you think programs like Exodus can work for some people?

O'DONNELL: No.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Shawn is back in Elgin, Illinois now, working as a high school science teacher. He has been living as an openly gay man for six years.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Elgin, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: This debate is clearly one which divides families, causes many people pain. Joining us to talk about it more is Ken Hutcherson in Seattle. He is the founder and senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church and one of the most leaders in the fight against same-sex marriage. And in Dallas, the Reverend Jo Hudson, the senior pastor at Cathedral of Hope, which has a predominantly gay and lesbian congregation.

Appreciate both of you being with us. Reverend Hudson, can a church cure a person's homosexuality in your opinion?

REV. JO HUDSON, CATHEDRAL OF HOPE: Well, I wouldn't believe homosexuality needed to be cured. So I wouldn't necessarily think that it's the responsibility of a church to cure homosexuality.

COOPER: When you hear that idea of a cure, what do you think?

HUDSON: Well, I go back to my understanding of faith that says that human sexuality is a gift of God. And that that human sexuality is something that can be used for good or for bad, but that it is essentially a gift of God and should be honored and treated with great respect. And so I include the full spectrum of human sexuality in that.

COOPER: Pastor Hutcherson, even those people in Gary's report who say that they are cured of homosexuality admit that they still have feelings of attraction to people of the same sex, they're essentially just living their lives suppressing those feelings, is that is what God wants?

PASTOR KEN HUTCHERSON, ANTIOCH BIBLE CHURCH: Well, I think anything that the Bible calls sin, Anderson, when a person is cured of alcoholism, does that mean that they are completely set free from ever wanting a drink? No. They are not. Or someone that has a problem with tremendous amounts of lust, if they are cured of that, that doesn't mean that those feelings aren't there. Just because the feelings are there don't make it right or wrong. What makes it right or wrong is what the Bible has to say.

COOPER: And you believe it is possible to be cured of homosexuality.

HUTCHERSON: Absolutely. I think it's possible to be cured of any sin, Anderson, that the Bible calls because that's what the holy spirit does, that's what repentance does, and that's why we think that homosexuality is a choice and that it is a sin and that they need to repent of that sin. And God gives them the strength to walk in a life that pleases him.

COOPER: Reverend Hudson, do you believe the Bible says homosexuality is a sin?

HUDSON: I believe there are passages in scripture that point to that. But I understand scripture and the Bible in a very different way I think than Reverend Hutcherson does. I look at scripture as a sacred text, the Bible as a sacred and sacramental text, but I also look at it as a text that points to a history and a culture and a very different kind of people that lived then as do we now.

COOPER: What do you think, Reverend Hutcherson? Do you -- I mean, there are those who say, look, Jesus never talked about homosexuality, if you read the Bible, there's nothing he ever said about it. If it was so important, why wouldn't he have championed it or talked about it?

HUTCHERSON: You know, well, Jesus never talked about a lot of things that came directly from his mouth but I think that Reverend Hudson would also agree that we believe the whole New Testament and Old Testament was inspired by God and it was inspired by the holy spirit who led men along to write those books -- those 66 books in the Bible, the 27 in the New Testament, it's the ones that lays out the whole truth of God, not just what Jesus says.

And she would have to agree that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, you know, it says that men left the natural desirable woman and went after a man, and a woman left a natural desire of a man and went after a woman. If the Bible said they left the natural, that means the Bible says that homosexuality is unnatural and that's where I stand. COOPER: Reverend Hudson, the gays and lesbians in your congregation, I imagine some have been in other congregations and felt that they were no long welcome and they found a place at your house of worship. What are -- what have they been though? I mean, for many this is an academic discussion. It is an academic debate. For people in your congregation, this is very real and this has real pain and real cost. What are the stories that your congregation tells you?

HUDSON: Well, we hear from people every day and every week from people not only in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, but people all over the world who have been rejected by their churches, who have been -- who have left the church of Jesus Christ, who want to be in relationship with God, who want to have a healthy, strong, relationship with a God who loves them, and yet have been turned away from church after church and have come to our congregation and been affirmed, have come close to God, have through the reading and the study of scripture come close to God, have transformed their lives into service and servanthood, making a difference in the lives of others and living very Christian, discipled lives.

COOPER: Reverend Hutcherson, do you believe someone who is gay and happy about it and living a life and has a partner, do you believe that they are going to hell?

HUTCHERSON: I think that if they have not accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savor, that's the key to getting into heaven, not whether or not you are a homosexual or not a homosexual, whether you're white or whether you're black. The Bible says if you haven't accepted Jesus Christ, you are condemned, he is the only way. That's where I stand. And I don't even think twice about it.

COOPER: Pastor Hutcherson, appreciate it.

HUTCHERSON: Thank you.

COOPER: And Pastor Hudson as well, thank you very much.

HUDSON: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: Up next, Christians battling a temptation that is seemingly everywhere these days, online, on the newsstands, even on your iPod, we're talking about pornography. Some say they are addicted. But one ministry says there's a way out, xxxchurch.com. And you are either disgusted or intrigued, but it's not what you think.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of you may be going through some things you need to pray and ask the lord for strength. Others of you may have been struggling with sin this week and you need to go to God and confess and just repent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: For millions of Americans, one of the greatest temptations in their daily life is porn. It's a big business, raking in $12 billion a year in the United States. With more than $2.5 billion of that linked to Internet pornography.

It was once a taboo topic in churches. But no more. Christian leaders say they can no longer deny the toll that porn addiction is taking on church members, even on pastors. But grace is available, even online.

CNN's David Mattingly reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry. And it might be hard to miss. But somewhere among all the adult products and XXX pictures...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you get a free Bible yet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real pastors. Real church. Real Bibles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He loves porn stars, he loves you.

MATTINGLY: ... there's an all-out battle for souls. And Christians fear they are losing.

CRAIG GROSS, FOUNDER OF XXXCHURCH.COM: Pornography is fantasy. It's not real. It doesn't bring you closer with your loved one. It tears you apart.

MATTINGLY: Craig Gross founded xxxchurch.com, to help Christians struggling with the temptations of pornography. He believes the numbers are growing for both churchgoers and ministers.

GROSS: We watch Ted Haggard. That's not the start of porn boulevard. That's the end of porn boulevard.

MATTINGLY: Gross organizes church groups called "Porn and Pancakes" to get the issue out in the open. When prayer and Bible study aren't enough. he also offers free tattletale software.

GROSS: You know you're caught, you know you're stuck.

MATTINGLY: Gross says there has been 300,000 downloads so far. Anytime the user visits a porn site, the program automatically alerts a friend, a spouse or a pastor.

GROSS: If it slows you down just a bit and you start to think about the consequences, you might change your ways.

MATTINGLY: But when porn becomes an addiction, the only hope for some is to get away. At the Pure Life Ministries in rural central Kentucky, porn addicts spend six months on a desperate path to salvation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've given over the lust, fantasies, masturbation or pornography, you are on dangerous ground.

MATTINGLY (on camera): All of the men in this room have left behind jobs, homes and in some cases, a wife and children. Some come here thinking this is their last chance to break their porn addiction because after six months, that's it. They're not allowed to come back.

(voice-over): The program demands intense Bible study and discipline. Many here used to spend hours a day viewing porn and looking for ways to satisfy their fantasies, often resorting to prostitutes.

This resident, named Jerry, believes getting closer to God will help him get away from the porn and the chat rooms that almost ruined his marriage.

"JERRY," ADDICTED TO PORNOGRAPHY: I cheated on my wife.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Was that driven by the pornography?

"JERRY": Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, one thing leads to another. I mean, in time, it's just not enough.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Privacy here is nonexistent. New arrivals sleep 16 to a room. There's limited free time. But plenty of time for prayer.

(on camera): I don't see a television. I don't see any computers. Is that by design?

JEFF COLON, HEAD COUNSELOR, PURE LIFE MINISTRIES: Yes, it is. We try to avoid any outside temptation these men might have to deal with, through TV or magazines.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): There are no books here, either. Except for the Bible and study materials, with scriptural lessons on guilt, anger, depression and selfishness.

Head counselor Jeff Colon says the real test is leaving the structured environment and going home.

COLON: We do live in a sexualized culture. And it is difficult for these men when they leave here. It doesn't help.

MATTINGLY: The Kentucky ministry believes most of their residents will eventually gain control of their addictions. But when temptation is so readily available, every day can become a new test of faith.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, David, why do men choose to go to a program like this instead of more traditional counseling?

MATTINGLY: A lot of these men do go to traditional counseling first. And they say that this ministry in Kentucky has a lot of the same concepts that they encountered before. But because they are Christian, they say they feel that the faith-based approach will work better for them. They say they need that six months away from their regular lives to get in touch with themselves and with God.

COOPER: Interesting stuff. David, thanks. David Mattingly.

Up next, it's not all about guilt. There's a billboard that's attracting a lot of attention in one town for mycrappysexlife.com. You won't believe who put it up. When "What Is a Christian?: Sex and Salvation," continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR JAMES DODZWEIT, GRACE FAMILY CHURCH: God created sex. He is pro sex. He is all about it. He made the whole thing. But he made it and it's such a powerful thing that it has to be inside the strong relationship of a marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A Florida pastor says God wants you to have great sex. Not what most people expect to hear in a church, perhaps. But something that Christians, even conservative Christians have been preaching, under the radar and even online.

CNN's Ted Rowlands, reports.

(BEING VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sex gets people's attention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mycrappysexlife.com.

ROWLANDS: Which this billboard in Florida, certainly did.

MATT KELLER, PASTOR, NEXT LEVEL CHURCH: We were going for a shock and awe factor. And we certainly got that.

ROWLANDS: The shock was that the billboard, which some people thought was vulgar, came from a church.

KELLER: Part three of the series, we're calling "My Great Sex Life."

ROWLANDS: Part of a marketing campaign, promoting a series of sermons on sex.

KELLER: God created sex. God is for sex.

ROWLANDS: 31-year-old pastor Matt Keller runs the non- denominational Next Level Church in Ft. Myers. Before this service, a warning to parents was posted that the material may not be suitable for children. KELLER: So, the question is not, am I going to have sexual desire in my life? The question is what I am going to do about it?

ROWLANDS: Keller's message, while delivered with a hip, conversational passionate style is pretty much by the book. He preaches that sex for single people to avoid, and married men and women to enjoy. His wife, Sara, was at his side for this service about sex in marriage.

SARA KELLER, PASTOR KELLER'S WIFE: And I think that culture wants to buy into that lie that sex is a duty, especially when you get into marriage. It's just kind of like I guess he needs it. So, here I am.

KELLER: God created sex. Why not at least tell people what he has to say about it?

ROWLANDS: Keller says since starting the sex series, church membership has grown about 30 percent. And it's a growing trend, especially among evangelicals. Kurt Fredrickson is the director of pastoral ministry at the Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

KURT FREDRICKSON, FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: To hit those issues head-on, in a church context, I think is really helpful.

ROWLANDS: Church members we talked to, say they like the idea of bringing an issue, like sex, out in the open in church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think in today's society it's not talked about enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be looking forward to, you know, hearing some things and about how to open up our communication and improve our sex lives.

ROWLANDS: But not everyone is thrilled. Because of complaints, Keller says the billboard company refused to allow the sex slogan for a second month. So, now, it's just the church's name.

FREDRICKSON: My issue was that the billboard had this sense of luridness and deception that was trying to draw people some place. And when it got drawn to a church, I think people would feel cheated or duped.

KELLER: We've heard a couple of people who used the phrase bait and switch. I don't think we're doing that. It's not about us trying to grow our church. It's not about us trying to build this big thing. It's about us building people. We're in the people-building business.

ROWLANDS: Randy Newton says the billboard campaign caught his attention. And now, he says he's hooked.

RANDY NEWTON, CHURCH GOER: It's really in your face. And it's a for real topic. Everybody deals with it. And for it to actually happen in the church and from the pastor to actually step up and say, hey, this is what we're going to say about it as a church, is a really bold statement.

KELLER: God has given us the ability to have a great sex life in our marriages.

ROWLANDS: Everyone agrees that sex sells. But Matt Keller thinks he can use it to fill people's hearts while also filling his seats.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Ft. Myers, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, that does it for this special edition of 360, "What Is a Christian?: Sex and Salvation."

Tonight, we've explored issues of sin and temptation, but also of love and great joy. Sex and faith, intertwined in so many ways. All part of a conversation about who we are. We hope you gained some new insight on faith and America. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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