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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
God, Sex and Greed
Aired August 24, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: America, this is no joke. A rabbi, a millionaire, an evangelical, and a porn star walked into our TV studios to talk about God, sex and greed.
I'm Roland Martin. And that sounds like a conversation I want to have and one America needs to hear.
Good evening. Welcome to "God, Sex and Greed." We will be taking your phone calls and e-mails tonight. So, you definitely want to pay attention to that.
America is a nation obsessed with freedom. We have freedom of religion and the freedom to celebrate materialism and lust.
MARTIN (voice-over): We love porn. We love gambling, drinking, gluttony, jumping in and out of marriages, glitzy, trashy lifestyles. Our money says, "In God we trust." We stand and sing:
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS (singing): God bless America.
MARTIN: God bless us or God help us? Do we Americans have the faith of our fathers or a spring break mentality? Are we the good guys or Gomorrah?
MARTIN: We just got an eyeful of the stuff that religion is supposed to be against.
And, for six hours over the next three nights, CNN's Christiane Amanpour is going to be looking at God's warriors. They're the true believers, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, who are out to change what they see as modern society's corrupt and godless ways.
But the question really is, is America really that bad? That's what we're looking at tonight.
Our country, folks, was founded by religious people. From the Pilgrims in Massachusetts to the Catholics in Maryland, and everywhere in between, people came here to avoid religious persecution and practice their faith as they saw it.
Now, in a recent poll, 91 percent of Americans said they believe in God. So, why are we being tagged as a godless nation? Let's ask my God panel, Irshad Manji, author of "The Trouble With Islam Today," Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, my good buddy, TLC host and author of "Shalom in the Home," and the Reverend Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
And, Reverend, I have got to deal with you first -- $13 billion, that's how much money America spends on porn. Christian books, DVDs, $3 billion. "The Girls Gone Wild" video, $29 million alone. It pretty much sounds like America has spoken, and said they're choosing lust and money over faith.
REV. ALBERT MOHLER, SOUTHERN THEOLOGICAL BAPTIST SEMINARY: Well, I don't know that you can make a simply mathematical equation, Roland, but I will tell you there is clearly a nation awash with pornography right now.
And evangelical Christians are certainly concerned about that. It's a sign of a culture that is increasingly seeking gratification in all the wrong places. And pornography, with all of its lies -- because that's what it is -- it advertises a false product and a false hope, a distortion of sexuality -- it's one symptom. I don't think it's the cause of the problem, but it is a very glaring and graphic symptom of the problem we face in this country.
MARTIN: Rabbi Shmuley, I have got a graphic that's pretty interesting; 95 percent -- a recent report said 95 percent of people have had premarital sex. And the median age when they first had it was 17.
What's going on with America and sex if we're supposed to be this faith-based nation?
RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, "SHALOM IN THE HOME": Well, they have it before they get married. They just don't have it after they get married.
BOTEACH: Kids today are delivered by a stork. One out of three American married couples is entirely platonic.
And when husbands and wives do actually have sex, it lasts on average statistically for seven-and-a-half minutes, and that includes the time the husband spends begging.
BOTEACH: So, we're not a very sex-filled society. We are porn- filled. And the two are very different.
Sex is about intimacy. It's about vulnerability. It's about connection. Porn is about objectification. It's about making people into commodities.
Why do we do this? Because America is the money-obsessed culture. Everything has to be an object. We have to own it. We have to possess it. The idea of actually sharing our most intimate selves with each other is something we're very afraid of.
Do we ever ask ourselves how could it be that we're the most prosperous, most successful country of all time, and yet we're so miserable? One out of three women in America go to a doctor for depression.
MARTIN: I see Irshad over there shaking her head, going...
IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR, "THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY": In empathy with all of my friends, not because I'm miserable, especially since I'm standing next to Shmuley here.
But, look, you asked earlier, Roland, are we all that materialistic? The reality is we are. America has 6 percent of the world's population and consumes more than 30 percent of the world's resources. Now, if that's not a recipe for materialism, I don't know what is.
But then you ask another fascinating question. Are we so materialistic that we outdo the rest of the world? I'm not so sure about that. The rest of the world is not free of this sin either. I have a friend who spent the entire summer in Kuwait, that little Middle Eastern country that was once invaded by Saddam Hussein.
She wrote to me about all of the poolside parties featuring backless dresses and sparkling diamonds. You go to another part of the Middle East, Dubai, you drown in Gucci bags and slot machines.
MARTIN: Rolls-Royces and all kinds of things they're buying absolutely.
MANJI: OK? The difference is, Roland, the difference is that those parts of the world are far more secretive about their materialism and consumerism than America is. You know what that's called? Hypocrisy, my friend. And I just wish that hypocrisy were considered as much a sin as lust and greed.
MARTIN: Well, Reverend Mohler, is that part of the problem, that we're such an open society, it's on television, it's on the Internet, that that contributes to it, and we're so free and so open, it's all over the place?
MOHLER: Well, you know, there's no more closed mind than one that claims to be open to everything. And that's where we are in this country, where we talk about tolerating all of these things, but it's not just tolerating it. It's really mainstreaming it in our culture.
Pornography is not just now available on the Internet and in the old form of the magazines and books and films and the smutty movie houses, and all the rest. It's now in billboards. It's in the shopping malls. It's advertised on T-shirts that kids are wearing. We have absorbed this really into the very heart of the culture.
And that's the most damaging thing, because God gave us the gift of sex, yes, for pleasure, for procreation. But he gave it to us within the covenant of marriage, where he knew it would be for our good. We are unleashing this poison into society, and it is inevitable that we will reap all kinds of ill results of this, and, as the world is watching, we're telling them that we are a sex-crazed society, and they're getting the point.
MARTIN: But, Reverend Mohler, look, OK, and I don't think anybody can distance themselves from this, we like sex, we like money. Let's just be honest here. Let's stop being all holier than thou.
MANJI: In which order, Roland, for you, anyway?
MARTIN: Well, you know, I haven't been home in a week, so I will leave that alone.
But again the bottom line is, is it a matter of excess, in terms of going too far in terms of this whole focus and fascination with money and sex?
BOTEACH: Well, with all due respect to Reverend Mohler, one of the reasons that we're becoming so sex-obsessed and God-obsessed is the failure of religion.
And you hear it, with all due respect to what Reverend Mohler is saying. He said two things. Number one, God mandated marriage. Nobody cares anymore. Either you're going to find good reasons why marriage actually suits people's needs better. Either you are going to explain to them that what you want is not some empty night of sex when you feel awful the next morning, but some real night in a healthy connection where you feel fantastic the next day, and -- and we have to stop the condemnation.
Reverend Mohler is talking about -- it was almost a fire and brimstone speech we just heard, that we're all going to hell. OK. Well, maybe. People would rather enjoy today, even if they're going to burn tomorrow. We must begin to show the relevancy of religion, or religion will become irrelevant.
MARTIN: Reverend Mohler, you want to respond to that?
MOHLER: Well, the rabbi loves to take what I say and run off in a different direction.
It is very clear that God had a purpose in making us sexual beings and giving us the gift of sex, but he also had a place where that sexual gift was to be exercised, and that's within marriage. If you feel guilty for having sex out of marriage, it's because you're supposed to. Your conscience is telling you that's wrong.
MOHLER: ... find the greatest fulfillment in marriage.
(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: Reverend Mohler, isn't that part of the problem, though, in terms of -- you look at a Ted Haggard. You look at -- there was a pastor in Chicago, a Catholic priest, who was convicted of taking money out of the collection plate.
And so you even have religious leaders who are also falling victim to this whole notion of sex and money. And so people are saying, wait a minute, that's hypocrisy. You guys are doing it. Why shouldn't I?
MOHLER: Well, the hypocrisy would really be if organized Christianity said, hey, we're going to give them have a pass, because they were ministers.
That's not at all the case. They have lost their positions, as they should. They have been exposed. The one thing we know is that every human being is a sinner, and we should know that even our Christian leaders, even though they're saved by grace, they are also sinners. And that's why we have to have the controlling power of God's word and that's why we have to know that there is a rule book we have been given and it applies to all.
MANJI: But we cannot let the religious radicals, Roland, of any faith define the situation here.
I will give you a quick example of what happens when you try to compromise with these guys and gals. Way back in the 1940s, more than 60 years ago, the godfather of Islamic radicalism today spent time in America, wound up hating it. Why? Because of its lustfulness. But how did he define lustfulness?
By men in suits and women in their Sunday best dancing with each other at community events. For some religious fanatics, in fact, for a rising number of them, any degree of interaction between men and women is called lust.
MANJI: And you know what? That demonizes decent relationships. Do they really need to be catered to?
MARTIN: I'm glad she brought up interaction.
I have got to ask this question. I hate you cut you off.
Ave Maria, Florida, Tom Monaghan, pizza magnate, is building this -- basically this exclusive Catholic town. He says he doesn't want any contraceptives. They don't want any porn sold.
Irshad, is that the answer, creating this isolated town, where you have this perfect sort of scenario?
MANJI: Nothing is perfect, because human beings are not perfect. That's the first point to make.
But the second is, I'm glad you said the word isolated because yet again we are seeing the rise of gated communities here. And frankly in a society that values its diversity, religious and otherwise, I'm not so sure that hiding yourself off from the rest of society is the way to go.
BOTEACH: It utterly undermines the whole religion message that people are presented with choices and they exercise good choice.
Do we want "Stepford Wives"? Is a man really virtuous if he doesn't cheat on his wife because there's no other woman on Earth? Religion is about exercising our moral excellence by choosing good things amidst a predilection to do otherwise.
MARTIN: Reverend Mohler, want to give you the last word.
Is Ave Maria, Florida, is that the answer?
MOHLER: Well, you know, I admire Tom Monaghan and his vision there. I just don't think it's going to work, because the world is right outside the front door.
You can say, we're not going to have those things right inside this little city limits, but somebody's going to go out for milk, and they can get more than milk. The reality is that the neighborhood of my greatest concern is the human heart, not a piece of real estate.
And that's where the Christian message is directed, towards how the human heart can be made right with God on issues of money, sex, greed and all the rest.
MARTIN: Reverend Al Mohler, I certainly appreciate it, sir. Thanks a lot.
Irshad, Rabbi Shmuley, stick around. You will be with us for a little bit later.
Folks at the top of the show, I promised you a millionaire and a porn star. they're up next.
And whose freedom needs suppressing first? I want you to weigh in on this. Call us at 877-CNN-1980. That's 1980. Or send me an e- mail. The address is email@example.com.
And, later, will your faith determine your vote for president next year?
And remember him, Reverend Jerry Falwell? He's passed on, but his disciples are out to change your life and our laws.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MARTIN: Welcome back. We're talking about God, sex and greed.
And with me now, two people who are living, breathing examples of what so many religious fundamentalists say is wrong with America.
Timothy Sykes psychs is a 24-year-old hedge fund manager who loves making money. In fact, he took $12,000 he received for his bar mitzvah and turned it into nearly $2 million. He's also the author of "An American Hedge Fund."
My other guest, Savanna Samson, is a former stripper who is now an adult film star for Vivid Entertainment. She's also the mother of a 6-year-old and she's a Catholic who attends mass, goes to confession, and takes holy communion.
Now, before we start, remember, we're going to let you get in on this conversation a little later, so be sure to call us at 877-CNN- 1980. That's 1980. Or send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, Timothy, you say that greed is good; it's great.
Savanna, you say, look, sex, it's a wonderful thing.
Don't both of you think that you're part of the problem with this perception that America is this godless society focused on sex and money?
TIMOTHY SYKES, HEDGE FUND MANAGER: I think the main problem is that America isn't focused enough on greed and sex.
MARTIN: Not enough?
SYKES: Not enough. Greed is not just good. Greed is great. Greed is the greatest motivator for education that we have.
MARTIN: Savanna, you're sitting there saying I could sell more DVDs if that's the case.
SAVANNA SAMSON, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: Well, that's the case. But it really depends on how you look at it.
I feel that what I do is provide a service for people to enhance their sex lives, to lead a more healthy sex life, and not to avoid the terrible outcome of sexual repression.
But, Savanna, there are people who will say that marriages may have been broken up over porn.
They may say marriages have been broken up over this quest for money, Tim.
So how do you deal with that? Because that is a reality of some people, what they have gone through. SAMSON: Well, I also get thousands of e-mails from couples saying that I have helped save their marriage, that they thank me for their child being conceived and things like that.
So, it just really depends on how you look at it. Too much of anything, obsession over anything is not good. It's important to lead a well-balanced life in sex, in love, and greed and everything.
SYKES: Yes. There's individual cases, but as a society, as a whole, we are falling behind other countries that are greedier than us.
Greed creates a competitive edge. When you want money, you work as hard as you can, you learn as much as possible, to earn as much as possible. And without that, I don't even want to imagine what our country is going to be in a few years.
MARTIN: But, Tim, we have got to be honest here, OK? I love making money. I love getting paid for what I am passionate about.
But it is a question that when you begin to put your family and your children and everything before that. Let's look at the case of Tyco. Look at Dennis Kozlowski. Look at Enron. Just last week, the Rigas father and son, both of them to prison, two so-called Christians. And they were sitting here, taking all kinds of loans.
Greed drove them to drive their companies into the ground. And what happened? People lost their fortunes, their 401(k)s. How do you explain that?
SYKES: They were not greedy enough. They did not learn enough.
MARTIN: How were they not greedy enough?
SYKES: There's always a way to make an honest buck, if you look for all the opportunities, if you're determined to learn enough. They were not determined enough. And that's what it comes down to.
Society condemns greed. We do not push ourselves enough to get ahead in this world. And that's what happens. You have this mess with the subprimes now, too. All these people think they can flip houses and take on leverage. They cannot do that. This is not an easy game. Greed is very complicated. And we have to understand it much more than we currently do.
MARTIN: Now, Tim, you took your money from your bar mitzvah, a religious ceremony, to get your first couple of million.
Savanna, let's deal with you. You grew up Catholic and you also wanted to be a nun.
(CROSSTALK) SAMSON: I wanted to be a nun at one point.
MARTIN: At one point.
SAMSON: I was very close to God always. All my fondest memories came from religious family functions. And that's, with my career choices, why my family was very hurt by that.
But I'm still very close to God. I believe part of Catholicism is being kind, loving, and to be of service. And what I do is I provide a service. I write for adultfriendfinder.com, where people hang on my every word, ask advice in how they can lead a healthier love life.
MARTIN: But how would you tell your child, though? How would you tell your child, this is what mom did, this is what I do, and you're raising that child in a Catholic upbringing?
Well, I'm going to have to cross that road when it happens. But my child will know that I'm not ashamed of what I do, and not to judge people by what they do for a living. I'm going to have to prepare him for what's real. And I think I'm going to have the same problems that any mother has to face of how to prepare the child for what's real.
MARTIN: What if that child says, mom, you were an adult film star; how do you reconcile that with your faith? Is that what God wanted you to do?
MARTIN: Was that his will for you?
SAMSON: I am an entertainer. This is how I choose to entertain. I provide -- my movies are very couple-oriented. And it's a healthy sexual outlet for people.
MARTIN: You love sex.
You love money.
Is there a line you wouldn't cross?
SYKES: There is definitely a line I wouldn't cross.
MARTIN: And that is?
SYKES: There is morality involved. I will not deal in slave trade. I'm not going to sell little kids, you know, stuff like that. But, if you look at all the opportunities, there are so many opportunities out there. And people just have to have the passion, they have to be dedicated enough to learn and greed pushes them to have that dedication.
MARTIN: Savanna, what's the line you wouldn't cross? What is excess for you?
SAMSON: Well, there's all sorts of -- bestiality and things like that, that I just can't even comprehend.
My movies are for couples, and there's certain things that I wouldn't do on camera, absolutely.
MARTIN: All right.
Rabbi Shmuley, you have been sitting here really patient. I saw you over there twitching over there, like I need to say something. What do you have to say about what Tim and Savanna talked about?
BOTEACH: Well, first of all, I think the problem with Tim is that he's too young to remember the Beatles. I don't care too much about money. Money can't buy me love.
It's people who don't feel loved on the inside that always need money on the outside as a currency by which to purchase self-esteem. Who are those who are the most greedy? It's those who feel the most insignificant. It's those who cannot find any virtue except through possession. I am my bank account. They're the ones who sit there every day to see if they are on the list of the Forbes 400. They live very insecure lives, and that's why they're so unhappy.
As far as sex is concerned, it's great to love sex. But the only problem with porn is that porn is the most boring sex around. As Savanna sits there utterly naked...
MARTIN: She's really happy about that.
BOTEACH: ... with some guy, what we don't see is the director saying, louder, louder. I mean, come on. There's nothing erotic about that.
When you say that have helped couples conceive and everything, Savanna, the guy's focused on you, not on his wife. Could you imagine if you were married to a guy like that, who, even as he's making love to you, is being excited by another woman, is feeling attached to another woman, is conceiving almost -- he's basically using you for what I call mental decapitation. He's cutting your head off and using your body for friction alone.
SAMSON: No, what you forget is that women enjoy watching these movies as well.
BOTEACH: Really? Name a porn magazine for a woman. Name one.
BOTEACH: Name even one porn magazine for a woman.
BOTEACH: "Playgirl," people say it's for gay men, but I'm not going to get into that.
"Playgirl" has -- the sales are dead. I once did an interview for "Playgirl," not because of my body, I assure you.
BOTEACH: But, Savanna, you have a brain. You're smart. Look how articulate you are.
SAMSON: Very much a problem in marriages is that people don't share it together, that they sneak around, and then they have guilt, and they don't share it with their wives.
SAMSON: Keeping an open dialogue about your fantasies and sex is very healthy in a relationship. I think that's the problem with relationships. They don't share it together.
MARTIN: I want to deal Tim with this.
Tim, he talked about in terms of greed and people are feeling empty, watching the Fortune 400 list. What about that? He's making an incredible point, because even Tom Monaghan, he said he got rid of his jets and planes and the big homes, he said, because he felt empty owning all of that, because it had no meaning.
SYKES: I think he makes a point, but it's incredibly incorrect. Money is simply...
MARTIN: He only has a billion. Go ahead.
SYKES: Money is simply a byproduct of the hard work, of the dedication, of the learning. I don't focus on the money. I have made some money. It feels good. But I have learned self-reliance. I have learned self-confidence. I learned I can do this. I can be on CNN.
BOTEACH: ... exact opposite. You have no self-confidence, with all due respect. That's why you're saying that it's never enough greed. There's not enough greed. You're insatiable.
Insatiability points to an utter inner emptiness, where no matter what you put in there, it's never enough. Isn't that the problem with America? Everything we have, we're still not happy. It's not enough. If I gave you a billion, you would want two billion. Three billion, you would want -- you just said, we don't have enough greed in America.
For God's sake, George Washington did not cross the Delaware to get to buy a mutual fund, honestly.
MARTIN: Savanna, real quick, real quick.
MARTIN: Real quick.
SAMSON: No, but what's wrong with trying to take advantage of all this country has to offer and to be the best that we can be, so that we can live in luxury and provide our family for the future?
MARTIN: Rabbi, I have got to take a break right here.
Folks, you can go to CNN.com. You can respond to it. Give us a phone call as well. I certainly would appreciate it.
Savanna Samson, Tim Sykes, thanks a lot.
Rabbi Shmuley, sit tight. Don't you go anywhere.
We will be taking, folks, your phone calls and e-mails for the panel when we come back.
MARTIN: America, welcome back to our special, "God, Sex and Greed."
Now, we have got a rabbi, a millionaire, and porn star ready to take -- I mean -- adult entertainer -- ready to take your calls and e- mails.
Look, I have one ground rule. Just like on my radio show, if you cuss, I will cut you off, all right?
All right, let's go. My guests are millionaire hedge fund manager Tim Sykes, who loves money, Vivid Entertainment's adult film star Savanna Samson, who loves sex. And Rabbi Shmuley, well, he loves God.
MARTIN: All right. Let's go.
Of course, our first caller would be from the state where we have Sin City, also legalized prostitution, Nevada.
Graham is on the phone line.
Graham, what's on your mind?
I just wanted to say you shouldn't look at greed so black and white. I consider greed to be more like motivation for me. I bust my rear to feed my family, and I want a better life for my family. And I think it's kind of funny that guys are having this conversation about God and sex and religion, when we live in a country that separates church and state.
MARTIN: All right.
What Graham just said is, he said, look, I bust my butt to make my money, so greed is not a black-and-white issue.
SYKES: He is 100 percent correct.
He is busting his butt for his money, and that's what we should all do. We're making this country better, based on our individual efforts. We're finding cures to cancer. We're making money. We're pushing this company -- country and this company, you know, forward. This is a great country and greed made it this way.
MARTIN: Savanna, go ahead.
SAMSON: Someone like me, who's using her name, leveraging it to go into other business ventures...
SAMSON: ... my wine, all these things, more ways that my family can bank on in the future.
BOTEACH: I am so saddened for men like Graham, who just don't understand how broken they are, including Time.
All we want to be in life is be special. And the question is, how do you become special? Tim says by having a lot of money. And Savanna says by being famous and having men attracted to you. And I say through virtuous action and nobility of spirit. That's the only thing that's internal. It's only thing that's stays with you.
Tim, all the money in the world, you are still not going to be special. They don't love you. The girl who will marry you will marry you for your money, man. And that sucks.
SAMSON: But there's also someone like me, who, the more money you make, the more good I'm going to do.
I have got all sorts of things, from like the (INAUDIBLE) Foundation. I give to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. So it's good to make money and it's also good to share the wealth.
SYKES: Exactly. Money is just a byproduct.
You're not listening to me, Shmuley. Money is a byproduct. It's about hard work, determination, self-reliance, and self-confidence. We're talking the same thing. There's just this money issue. And you're anti-money for some reason.
MARTIN: But where does faith fall in, though? Because, again, what he's saying is, from a faith prism, it's a matter of being spiritually prosperous, not just simply saying, I need to make more, more, more. Where does faith come in? Or do you even think about it?
SYKES: I'm very religious. I don't necessarily have to...
BOTEACH: Yes. Yes. Your religion is money. You worship at the golden calf.
SYKES: ... religion.
You see, when Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America is business, he humiliated this country. He vindicated all the American haters out there who say, America is nothing but a bunch of shallow materialists.
Is that really what we're about? You mean when we went and die -- our soldiers die in Iraq to bring freedom to people who don't have it, are they dying for money? George Washington and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence, was that to make a buck? Come on. What happened to American virtue, for God's sake?
(CROSSTALK) SYKES: Listen, without greed, what do we have? We have Tyra Banks and Clay Aiken?
I like "American Idol," "America's Next Top Model," but we need to look to real heroes, like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.
BOTEACH: Do you have a heart or do you just have hands? Where is your heart?
MARTIN: I think Savanna is over here getting upset. She is wagging those pumps, like, look, man, this is just ridiculous. I want to make money.
Let me ask you this question, folks.
Let's go to an e-mail from Alvin Barringston (ph): "Do you think there's greed in the mega-churches? And what can be done to raise people's awareness of the pastors that teach prosperity, but only the pastors are getting rich?"
BOTEACH: Well, it's individual prosperity. Look, religion has a lot of hypocrisy. If it didn't, we'd be more influential and we wouldn't be having this debate. People -- because religion is such a powerful tool. Why do people reject it? Answer: There's a lot of us who practice it, we don't practice it all that sincerely or authentically.
MARTIN: But we have to call those people out. Because I have a problem when I'm watching television, and it's naming and claiming, walk into a car dealership and lay your hands on it and it's yours. No, I'm sorry, you need to do some work. And it might not be God's will for you to actually have that. And so I think those prosperity ministers, they are corrupting the gospel, they are corrupting the word, and at the same time, folks like you, Tim, they're saying, you know what, hey man, if was good enough for you, you get have the plane, jets and Rolls-Royces, sounds like it's good to me.
SYKES: There's a lot of corruption. I do not try to try and mistake greed for a religion. You know, I don't want to cross those boundaries. These are two separate things. I feel satisfied with what I'm doing with my life. I feel fulfilled, I have self- confidence, I'm doing my part to help this economy. That's great.
SAMSON: No, I'm saying that the more money that you make, the more you need to give back to society. And that Is part of me, if that makes me the good person that I am, even though I am...
BOTEACH: You're a very good person, you're a brilliant woman, why are you making your money by losing your dignity? There are so many women who've made money in much more dignified realms. Let me tell you something. The fact is that what distinguishes humans from animals...
MARTIN: About 10 seconds, Rabbi. BOTEACH: ...that we have dignity, and you -- and Savannah, you can have that dignity by making money in a dignified way...
MARTIN: Savanna, real quick response.
SAMSON: I have this God-given thing, that this is a way for me to channel my sexuality. It's what God gave me.
SYKES: You take advantage of any opportunity you get. You take advantage of opportunities.
We knew this was going to be a hot conversation. Tim wanted to squeeze that last word in. We've got to move on. Timothy Sykes, Savanna Samson, thanks for being here. Rabbi Boteach, don't you leave. We'll hear from you later on. And don't you go away yet, either. You haven't heard about God's pit-bulls. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What our vision is to raise a new generation of people that understand the rule of law, that are taught that from our Christian traditions and world view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: That's just a fancy way of saying Jerry Falwell's disciples are out to change our laws. The question is, which ones? And what else is on their agenda? It's all coming up.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Zain Verjee in Washington. We'll get back to Roland Martin and "God, Sex, and Greed" in just a moment, first the latest on Hurricane Dean. The storm and its 150 mile-per-hour winds are heading straight for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, tonight. Severe weather expert, Chad Myers joins us now with an update on Dean's track -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Zain, literally the paper is still warm. Data from the Air Force reconnaissance in the storm now, just found a surface wind of 160 -- six-zero -- miles-per-hour. That makes it the first Category 5 and hopefully the only Category 5 of this hurricane season -- headed to the Chetumal and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Now, it will miss Cancun and Cozumel, it will miss most of Riviera Maya, but we will still have winds here about 100 miles-per- hour, and huge waves. But the big-time damage will be south of the main tourist areas near Chetumal, and then all the way even into Campeche, later on this evening into tonight.
Now, this hasn't updated yet, because literally that just same off. The winds were 155, they just updated that number to 160, so therefore that Category has just changed to a Category 5. a dangerous storm, the good news is not many people live, other than Chetumal, a fairly unpopulated area, but Chetumal in danger, 100,00 people do live there -- Zain.
VERJEE: Thanks Chad, Harris Whitbeck is standing right there. Let's get more from him -- Harris.
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Zain. People are about as prepared as they could be at this point, still several hours before the storm makes landfall, people still out here walking along the side of the -- the shore of the bay, here. Actually a bit -- they find it odd that it is so calm at this hour. You can actually see some blue sky, the waters are very calm. That of course can change very rapidly and the Mexican government is taking -- is making great effort to try to convince people to go to the shelters as soon as possible. They've got over 700 shelters throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and also members of the police and military are out in force to make sure that people get to safety as quickly as possible -- Zain.
VERJEE: Harris Whitbeck. Thanks, Harris.
Make sure you stay with CNN for the latest on Hurricane Dean. Back to Roland Martin and "God, Sex and Greed" in just a moment.
MARTIN: Welcome back. Tonight we're looking at "God, Sex and Greed," but for the next three nights, CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is showing us some people who want to purge modern society of its evil ways and make their view of God supreme. Some of them are the late Jerry Falwell's disciples, and yes, they're lawyers, no joke, lawyers. Christiane met a few at Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTNL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was Jerry Falwell's final creation, a law school where the 10 Commandments are found carved outside these classroom doors.
MATHEW STAVER, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: This is our supreme court room. It's modeled after the United States Supreme Court.
AMANPOUR: Nine chairs for nine justices, a classroom that's meant to be a clone.
(on camera): And obviously it's no accident, because you want to change what the Supreme Court has ruled on.
STAVER: Yeah, we do. We say that the Supreme Court room reflects our supreme vision to restore the rule of law...
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Mathew Staver is dean of the law school, a minister who became a lawyer because of the abortion. He says no such right is written into the constitution.
STAVER: That doesn't sound like a rule of law to me. That sounds like somebody making their own ideology under the guise of the rule of law. AMANPOUR: It is Staver who's training what the late Jerry Falwell called is next generation of pit bulls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May it please the court.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What are the pit bulls to do?
STAVER: Well, the pit bulls, according to Dr. Falwell, and really what our vision is, is to raise is new generation of people that understand the rule of law that are taught that from our Christian traditions and world view.
MARTIN: Joining us from D.C. is the reverend Barry Lynn, he's executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Mathew Staver, he's in Lynchburg, Virginia. You just saw him in that clip of Christiane's report, he's the dean of the Liberty University's school of law.
And Dean Mathew Staver, I got to start with you. Falwell made it clear that he wanted his conservative Christian values to be the foundation of this law school. What kind of law students are you turning out?
STAVER: We're turning out law school students who understand the rule of law, who understand the history of America, who understand constitutionalism. When I went to law school, I never was required in my constitutional law course, for example, to even read the Constitution. But at Liberty University School of Law, we are training in the rule of law and the history of law. We are actually training our students to respect, not ignore, the rule of law, but even beyond that, from our own Christian perspective and historical perspective, we're training our graduates to be good practitioners. In fact, many of our students are working all over the country right now, within various private practices, corporations, working for state and federal judges.
One of the things we are looking at, however, is to really train in the practice of law and the bench and bar already have made outstanding comments that our students are a notch above other students from other established law schools.
MARTIN: Barry Lynn, do you buy that? Do you simply believe that they are trying to put their brand of Christianity and put that in place in terms of our legal system?
REV BARRY LYNN, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: You know, the late Jerry Falwell often said that one of the reasons he created Liberty University's School of Law was because he knew that one of the quickest ways to change the country and the culture was to control the court.
He called the students at that institution "lieutenants of the Lord," and as a consequence, what he is doing and what Mat continues to do in a very militant way, is promote the doctrine of fundamentalist Christianity, and like Christian fundamentalists are just as dangerous in many ways as fundamentalists of any other religion. They think they know all the answers, there's really no doubt about it, if you won't conform to their views by choice, then they will simply change the laws and make you conform to their views.
MARTIN: Dean Staver, is that what's going on, that fundamentalism, that very hard-core view of the law and religion?
STAVER: No, it's not. In fact, I've known Barry, we've debated on many panels before. Even though he's wrong, I certainly like Barry as an individual, but he's flat wrong on this issue. Liberty University is not militant, we're not narrow-minded. In fact, to the contrary, we're open to various kinds of viewpoints, but our viewpoint oftentimes has been excluded. And if it were Barry's choice, it would be permanently excluded. We, in fact, are wanting to train a new generation of lawyers, and judge and policymakers...
LYNN: You know, I never -- I have never suggested that Liberty University or Regent University, run by Pat Robertson or any of the other religiously connected law schools, don't have the right to exist. That's not my point. My point is to say that fundamentally, the Constitution, which is a shared values of the American people, is the law that our judicial system depends on, not your interpretation of one religious viewpoint.
MARTIN: Dean, I want to ask you this question. I mean, I look at what Charles Houston did, the Thurgood Marshall and the others, where they focused on the issue of race and the law, in terms of putting in their moral prism. But you know, what about that, because when I hear that your lawyers are really going to be focusing on the 10 Commandments and abortion, gay marriage, what about the issues of racism? What about the people who on death row who've been free for DNA? Are those the kind of issues that you want your lawyers to also focus on?
STAVER: Roland, that's a good point. In fact, law permeates all of our society, not only on these issues that you mentioned, but we certainly want them to focus on civil rights, on the plight of the poor, on the plight of the downtrodden. Law covers every aspect of our life and we're just simply saying our faith matters, we want to be able to bring faith and values into the legal profession, something that's long since needed. Many people even in the secular legal community are saying what Liberty University is doing, not only from a faith and moral values, but from a practitioner's perspective, is long overdue and welcome in the legal academy.
MARTIN: Hey, Barry, you got 10 seconds, 10 seconds.
LYNN: All right. Liberty University ought to be called conformity university. It's all about conforming to one ridged narrow view point.
MARTIN: Thanks sir.
LYNN: That's it. MARTIN: I certainly appreciate it, gentlemen. We'll keep the conversation going off-line. Unfortunately I'm out of time. Dean Mathew Staver, Reverend Barry Lynn, I surely appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
Folks, are you voting for God, sex or greed next year? Don't go away until we check out the holiest person on the campaign trail. Who is that? Well, stay with us.
And later, the one thing I hate about us when it comes to religion.
MARTIN: All right, folks, we've got nine Republicans, and eight Democrats, but who are we hearing about the most on the presidential campaign trail? Jesus. Maybe we all should just say "hallelujah."
Back again to talk religion and politics are Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Irshad Manji, and this time around we're joined by Michael Eric Dyson, a best-selling author, ordained Baptist minister, and theology professor at Georgetown University. Doc, how you doing?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY, GEORGETOWN UNIV.: Doing fine, my brother.
MARTIN: You know, you know, what's blowing me away? We always get Republicans talking about faith. But, I swear, Democrats, they must have went to a revival meeting, because they're talking about faith at every turn. What's going on?
DYSON: Well, I think that they understand that you got to play the game as the game is played. And I think the reality is the right- wing has hijacked religion, hijacked faith, hijacked the language of expressing connection to God, and I think the left has always been always wary of trying to curtail or wary of trying to open up to this so-called force of religion that they can't control.
And I think, look, if you look at the best of our religious traditions, the progressives have always had the right way. Martin Luther King, Jr., has often appealed to by the right-wing by saying, look Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to make this a Christian nation. No, he didn't. Martin Luther King, Jr. used his Christian faith to make this a just nation. He worked with Jews and Muslims folk, he worked with people from Islam, he worked with people from all religion traditions. The central point to him was, how do you translate faith into workable solutions? Justice is what faith sounds like and what love sounds like when it speaks in public. That's what Martin Luther King, Jr. understands.
MARTIN: Irshad, you're Muslin. What about that? Now, how does it feel, you're sitting there watching Democrats actually discussing faith and having substantive conversations?
MANJI: Not substantive conversation, all right? Discussing faith... MARTIN: Well, best they can.
MANJI: But you know what? But here's the point, that's exactly right. I was actually watching the Iowa Democratic debate this past Sunday. It was painful, Roland, all right? Everybody was nervous, everybody on stage was highly scripted, even the most radical or, you know, maverick of the candidates, Dennis Kucinich, even he declared himself to be the candidate who would bring spiritual values back to the White House.
Now, he may be right about that, but the point is that political speaking, the man is talking in tongues at this point, OK?
MARTIN: Rabbi Shmuley, I got to ask you this question. In 2004, only one of the Democratic presidential candidates had pretty much a faith team. Now, all of the candidates have those outreach efforts. How does that make you feel, to hear Democrats and Republicans talking the God talk and mixing faith in with their public policy?
BOTEACH: Well, I think we need more spirituality in America, so it makes me very happy. The problem, Roland, is that for the past 10 years, religious morality has been defined as anti-abortion and hating gay people. And in a sense, religion has become a mockery as a result. We've got a 50 percent divorce rate. Any country with a 50 percent divorce rate has no right to call itself civilized.
Who do we blame? The gay people. I mean, we ruined marriage well before any gay people decided to get married. So, the problem is that religious morality has to have a broader definition. Religion isn't supposed to only condemn, it's supposed to inspire. We need to hear politicians them talking about how their faith makes them better people with a better vision for America.
MARTIN: But Doc, isn't it also the part of progressives to say: wait a minute, let's stop just having -- of course the late Jerry Falwell, let's stop having James Dobson and others talk about faith issues, you got to have external force up there talking about issues, talking about poverty, talking about how we treat people every single day. That's also part of the problem.
DYSON: That's a great point. If you're talking about the gospel, as the Rabbi said, usually it isn't about anti-abortionist or some right-wing conservative hunter that is going to roll like a juggernaut against the progressives who are just going to hell in a hand basket.
The problem is, Jesus -- people say: what would Jesus do? Well I'm going to tell you what would Jesus do? First of all, he ain't going to ask "What would Jesus do?" he would ask, "What would Jesus say? What would Jesus be? How would Jesus behave?" What did he do? He helped the poor, he released those who were captive, he visited those who were in prison, he talked to the widows. In other words, he engaged in a social gospel that translated to ideas of God. He said two things: Love the Lord thy God with all our heart, mind and soul, love thy neighbor as thyself. That's how it gets translated.
MANJI: Yeah, well, even -- the fact is, however, guys, as you well know, even liberals can treat, you know, religion very superficially, and I can tell you, for example, when Bob Dylan, of all people, had a 30th anniversary rock concert in Central Park, in New York City, he had Sinead O'Connor on to perform, you might remember she was booed off the stage by a bunch of proud potheads and happy hippies. Why? Because she dared to rip up the photo of the pope on "Saturday Night Live." So here's the question, what are these, you know, hippies and potheads doing defending an establishment religion like Catholicism? Point is, religion isn't going away in this country.
MARTIN: You know what, real quick, when I interviewed Reverend Jerry Falwell, for a special we did in April, he answered this question, when it comes to having a Sunday schoolteacher, he said look, I want somebody who understands national security. So, isn't it also one of the points we must to deal with? That is, look, you can want a person of faith, and where we are now, you want somebody who can lead this nation, deal with this war...
BOTEACH: God is not a Republican, God is not a Democrat. The thing about religion is it always transcended political partisanship, and it's a shame that we talk so much about how religion is being co- opted. The idea of religion is to be above politics, not to be corrupted by it. It could trickle down and to inspire people.
MANJI: God is above politics, religion is not.
MARTIN: Doc, 10 seconds.
DYSON: Yeah, yeah. Martin Luther King, Jr. said when he saw that -- you know, the governor of...
MARTIN: George Wallace?
DYSON: George Wallace -- thank you -- was for school prayer, he knew he had to be against it. He was an ordained Baptist minister, but he knew that politics were deeper than whether you pray right, it's whether you act right.
MARTIN: I certainly appreciate it. Rabbi Shmuley, Irshad Manji, Michael Eric Dyson, thank you all very much.
Next, the one thing I hate about us when it comes to religion and what we all can do about it.
MARTIN: America, if Social Security is the third rail of politics, then religion is the elephant in the room that we are all desperate to ignore. For years, mainstream media has ignored religion, only covering it when it was controversial and pitted extremists from both sides. This is a dumb way for us to discuss the issue, and frankly adds nothing to the conversation. Why do this show? And why has CNN dedicated three days to "God's warriors?" Because we shouldn't want to understand people of faith, we need to do so.
Faith is an essence of so many people across the world and not just a part of who they are. It's time we got our heads out of the sand and actually talked and listened to one another about our religious differences.
I need to know why Muslims reacted so violently to the cartoons about Mohammed. I need to know why Christians were up in arms over allegations of Jesus marrying. I need to know the Jewish faith and how it's not just a religion, but a way of life.
Folks, let's stop playing with religion, let's talk, let's engage. Will we get mad at one another and will the conversation turn heated? Of course it will. I've still got Catholics e-mailing me a month after I penned a piece on cnn.com criticizing the pope. Fine, I can deal with that. I won't shy away from a debate and neither should you.
Religion has been around forever and it's not going away, so let's put our dukes down and stop the bickering and fighting, because the day we spend more time learning than fighting, that will be a day we'll better understand one another.
I want to thank all the folks who participated tonight, thank you for watching and calling. Be sure to e-mail us and go to cnn.com with your responses. I'm Roland Martin. That's all for tonight, LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.
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