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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Amanda Knox Freed

Aired October 4, 2011 - 21:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Piers Morgan continues our coverage. Piers?

PIERS MORGAN, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT, HOST: Anderson, thank you very much and we are leading on the breaking news tonight. Amanda Knox finally free and back at home in the U.S. Home for the first time after spending four long years in an Italian prison. The American student was convicted in 2009 of killing her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

That conviction was overturned yesterday by an appeals court. Joining me tonight from Live in London where there's a very different view of recent events. British sympathies clearly predominantly with the Kercher family. They're still trying to come to terms with the latest twist in the case as Amanda Knox comes home to Seattle. The dramatic press conference just moments ago. Amanda Knox was overcome with emotion.

(VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA KNOX: They're reminding me to speak in English because I'm having problems with that. I'm really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real. What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who's believed in me, who's defended me, who's supported my family. I just want -- my family's the most important thing for me right now and I just want to go and be with them, so, thank you for being there for me.

(APPLAUSE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Emotional scenes from Amanda Knox just a few moments ago as she arrived back in America. Joining us now in Seattle live is CNN's Drew Griffith following the story very closely. Drew, a pretty relieved and obviously very emotional Knox family. Where do they go from here? What are the next few days going to hold for them?

DREW GRIFFITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Piers, they're going to try to literally hide to try to find some home where the media won't be staking out and trying to follow every move Amanda Knox makes. As you saw in that statement that she gave, she's still extremely emotional and, remember, she has had no contact with the media or the press while she was in that Italian prison. The Italians wouldn't allow it. So this, although we've been watching this case for four years, is all new to her to face this kind of media pressure and the family's quite concerned about that.

MORGAN: I'm also fascinated to hear her speak in English. I mean, we've heard her in Italian, obviously, in the courtroom but it was a moment when she almost had to be reminded to speak in her mother language. And, as you say, very emotional. I mean, whatever your view of how this has all unraveled, it would take a pretty hard heart not to understand that this girl, who's still very young, has been through one hell of an ordeal.

GRIFFITH: Yes, she was just a young college girl, she was barely in Italy, she spoke no -- really no discernible Italian when this whole thing went down and then she was whisked off to prison and, for the past four years, her life has been in kind of this frozen status. So, they are -- like I said, the family -- I talked to them and they are very concerned about her emotions. They were hoping, Piers, that there would be some kind of a six week or so grace period where she could go dark. I would be amazed if -- if the media in general stayed away from her for that long.

MORGAN: Well, I agree, I mean, incredible media scenes down there. Drew Griffin, for now, thank you very much. We're going out to Thomas Wright who I spoke to last night, a close friend of the Knox family asked to celebrate with them this evening. Thomas, let me start by -- by saying, obviously, for you, for all close friends -- friends and family of Amanda, an incredibly emotional and exciting day I would imagine.

THOMAS WRIGHT, KNOX FAMILY FRIEND: Yes, Piers, a very, very moving thing to see. And what strikes me more than anything is that the bond that she mentioned with her family was really the thing that carried her through here. I mean, they made a commitment at the very beginning of this ordeal, when they saw it was going to get very complicated and very difficult, to make sure there was a family member in Perugia at all times for her so that the two days a week when they were allowed one hour to visit her there would always be a family member who would -- who would come into the prison, who would hold her hand, who would talk to her about how she was feeling.

The other thing they did that was quite remarkable was they negotiated a weekly phone call and I think this will really help her transition to -- to the reentry process because every Saturday morning a phone call would come to the kitchen, Edda Mellas, her mother's kitchen, and it would be from Amanda and Amanda would share how she was feeling.

And, at the beginning of that process, the -- the officials said it could only be the parents or the immediate family but as the time wore on and one year, two years, three years, more and more people began to show up in the kitchen and they began to pass the phone around and, though the calls were -- were never more than 10 minutes, sometimes on some days she was able to hear the voices of so many people that cared about her and she shared her own emotions and some days it was very difficult and she was sharing very unpleasant feelings and things.

Some days she was sharing joyous things, stories that happened, things that happened inside the prison and I think a measure of the experience inside the prison was that when she came back with the verdict, with the acquittal to the prison, cheers erupted from all of her fellow prisoners so that's an example of -- of the type of person that she was and how she was seen by her fellow prisoners.

MORGAN: Thomas, one of the more emotional moments, I thought, in that press conference came when somebody else, actually, I think it was one of her lawyers, mentioned Meredith Kercher's name and you could see Amanda Knox wincing really at the mention of her friend when she was reminded it was a great friend of hers. You know, she's obviously lost a great friend as well here. It's easy to forget that.

What do you think she'll be thinking tonight about the Kercher family, because they've been very dignified since this result came through and, yet, you know, back in Britain, (INAUDIBLE) at the moment there is a lot of disquiet about what's happened. They feel that Amanda Knox is being celebrated, perhaps, a little too enthusiastically, given that this family is still grieving for their lost daughter. And, what are y our views as a family friend of Amanda?

WRIGHT: Well, I think that -- well, I know that Amanda liked Meredith and that they were -- they were good friends and that's why they became roommates, that's why they decided to live together and Amanda felt great emotion around what happened to Meredith. You know, she kept a diary in the first 30 days that she was in prison and you can see it all through the diary. You know, this is awful what's happened to Meredith. I wish she were here. And all -- all of those mentions of Meredith just showed that, even today, you could see, she cared very much about her friend and continues to care about her friend.

MORGAN: Well, one thing's for sure, Thomas, if you judge somebody by their friends and family then Amanda's chosen pretty well, I'd say, because you've all been extraordinarily stoic towards her and I -- I hope you have a good evening this evening.

WRIGHT: Thank you, thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Now that Amanda Knox is home, you might think that is the end of the story but the prosecution has said they will appeal the reversal of her conviction, due to happen next summer. If the reversal is reversed, that raises lots of legal issues. Joining us from Los Angeles to explore the possibilities, noted defense attorney, Gloria Allred. Gloria, a gripping fascinating case with many twists and turns here. Are you, from a purely legal point of view, satisfied that justice has been done now?

GLORIA ALLRED, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: One hundred percent I believe that justice has been done and I'm glad that she never gave up hope because if hope dies then that's the end for someone in prison. I think the Italian system, obviously, is a very difficult one. It's a very challenging one. It's one with which I have some experience, having had a case in Italy years ago involving the death of an American woman in Italy. But, in any event, she's now going to -- there'll be an appeal by the prosecution but it's going to be on very narrow grounds. It's going to be on legal issues. I think her chances of -- of not having this lower court decision reversed are very, very good. And I just hope that she can lead, you know, a -- she'll lead a different life, a different life than she would ever have led, obviously, if this had never happened to her and it couldn't have happened, obviously, without the support of her friends and her family and all those many supporters and the expert who became part of her legal case.

MORGAN: Gloria, thank you very much. Vicky Ward's a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, who's written for the British press who have been pretty scathing about Amanda Knox and, indeed, about this verdict. Vicky, why do you think it is? Is it simply a question of Meredith Kercher is British, Amanda Knox is American and it's a kind of geographic thing here where the British feel a greater affinity, perhaps, to the Kercher family and their case?

VICKY WARD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: No, I don't, Piers. I think it's simply a case that, although justice may have been done, we don't know what the real story is and the Kercher's don't know what the real story is. They don't know what happened to their daughter and that's the problem.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, I -- this has been my slight disquiet, I think, about the manner of all these celebrations for Amanda Knox coming home, is that everyone seems to be forgetting that she has been convicted and sentenced of defaming somebody who she accused of this crime and, if you remember, what she initially has said to have admitted, she said she was there in the building when the crime happened and then changed her story. Do you think she emerges with a clean character or with a stain on her character?

WARD: I think she emerges with many questions, frankly. I don't think anybody knows exactly what happened that night in Perugia and that is a problem. I thin the worst thing she could possibly do now would be to capitalize on it and make a lot of money and if she does that then the British press will be all over her, yes, Piers.

MORGAN: Well, I think that's right and the British press are being criticized by American media for having paid for interviews in connection with this case before. I don't really share their unease over that. It's a pretty familiar practice for the British press over the last ...

WARD: They do do it.

MORGAN: ...30 years that I've known it.

WARD: Yes, they do do it all the time.

MORGAN: And, I think that they are -- they are driven by a deeps sense of injustice on the part of the Kercher family who still don 't know who killed their daughter or who's telling the truth here.

WARD: Well, I think that's a slightly more gray area because I think that, you know, I read a blog about this for the Huffington Post today. I think that one of the problems with the legal system is that often, you know, justice gets done but the truth never gets told and -- and that is just the way the law works.

MORGAN: Gloria Allred, let me bring you back in just finally here. Again, on the legal point, when she was found guilty and convicted and sentenced to a three year sentence, not a small period of time by any means, for this defamation, how seriously should we be taking that from a legal point of view?

ALLRED: Well, she's served -- it's time served and I think that was the least of her problems. So, I think the homicide, the issue there was the most important part. I might add that I differ with your prior guest. I -- I wouldn't be surprised if she did a book and she did a movie and God bless her if she does.

I think we all want to know what really happened and most of all, though, her family has incurred enormous legal fees and costs throughout this ordeal and her grandmother's mortgaged her home. They need to be able to have funds to basically get out of this hole that they're in because of what has happened and I don't have any problem if she has a book or does a movie and I think we want to know what happened.

WARD: But does she know?

MORGAN: Well, we may never know, I'm afraid. Vicky Ward, Gloria Allred...

ALLRED: Well, she knows where she was.

WARD: She knows where she was but that's the problem with this story, is that everybody wants to know what happened...

MORGAN: ...well, ladies, listen, I'd love to argue about this all night and we may get you both back to argue about it but, for now, we've got to leave it there. Thank you both very much.

WARD: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: Up next, my in depth interview and extraordinary conversation in many ways with Victoria and Joel Olsteen, quite a fascinating encounter. You won't want to miss this with America's most famous preacher and his wife.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Victoria, Joel, welcome back.

JOEL OLSTEEN, AUTHOR/PASTOR: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: It seems like only yesterday you were gracing me with your presence. Now, you're here because you've got this great new book, Every Day's A Friday, How To Be Happier Seven Days a Week, and I'm thinking to myself, you are the two happiest people I've ever met anyway. How could you possibly get any happier? J. OLSTEEN: Well, you know, I think we all can if we -- if we learned what to ignore and certain battles not to fight, just, you know, I think we can all be improving and growing and being happier.

MORGAN: Why Fridays? Because, when I came to New York, in particular, I was horrified. On Fridays my staff all came in dressed like, you know, people on the street because it was apparently dress down Friday and I was like, what does that mean? Apparently, it means you dress badly, wear jeans and old T-shirts and things. So, to me, I associate Friday with this unkempt sort of misery. Why have you selected Friday as a day of great joy and happiness?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, Piers, for the most people, the studies show that people are happier on Fridays.

MORGAN: Why?

J. OLSTEEN: I think people are looking for the weekends, looking forward to it, getting to relax, you know, done with work and, you know, I've also read, Piers, where there's more heart attacks on Monday than any other day.

MORGAN: The stress of going back to work.

J. OLSTEEN: Yes, the stress. People just...

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) because most people don't enjoy their jobs? I don't know about you but I look forward to Mondays. I don't really like Fridays because everything sort of winds down, you know, everything slows down, you're not really working as hard. I don't really like it.

J. OLSTEEN: Yes, I'm the same way because, of course, we work weekends and I enjoy what we do -- what we do but not everybody's like that and, just, you know, the thought is in general, you've heard of that, thank God it's Friday. You know, we should -- we have the right perspective. We don't have to dread going to work, even if it's not the perfect job. When you have the right perspective and you think, hey, I'm alive, I'm healthy, I've got a lot right in my life, you can enjoy each day. Maybe not jumping up and down but you can enjoy it.

MORGAN: But, the theme of the book is very much that you make your own decisions about your life and your life will be happier. Is it as simple as that? I mean, lots of people, through circumstance, are not really in a position to do much about their lot in life. However, I mean, it's an easy thing to say and, you know, the critics will say it's all right with you Joel, you're worth $100 million. What about the poor guy who's trapped in a factory job or something or maybe has no job who, just through lack of opportunity and bad circumstance, is unhappy because he can't get out of that?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, Piers, to me, faith is all about learning to be happy where you are. I mean, it doesn't take any faith to be happy when everything's going your way, when the economy is great, when you get good breaks. But, you know, there are many people that are in a situation that seems like they're stuck but, you know, my belief is if you put your trust in God you can be peace -- you can -- you can have peace, you can be happy right where you are and I always say this, if you don't get happy where you are, you probably won't get to where you want to be because these are tests you have to pass as far as I'm concerned.

You've got to pass those tests, say God, I'm at a job and I don't like it or I've got some medical problems but I want to be good to somebody, I'm going to put a smile on my face anyway. When you do that, to me, you're releasing your faith and that's what allows God to change people.

MORGAN: Do you believe, fundamentally, that money can make people happier?

J. OLSTEEN: You know...

MORGAN: Victoria, you're shaking your head, why?

VICTORIA OLSTEEN: Well, I mean, it helps, I mean, it helps but, no, I don't -- I've seen people who are very wealthy and they're unhappy, they don't have good relationships, they may even have bad health and ...

MORGAN: Yes, I think I've met more unhappy rich people than poor people and the reason I say that, I went to South Africa. I went to the Soweto Township. There are millions of people living in complete poverty, some of the happiest people I've ever met. Their spirits were just alive with happiness and I couldn't really understand it. I still don't really understand it but it was a fact, I saw it with my own eyes. Why is that? You must have been in many of these places over the years.

J. OLSTEEN: Yes.

MORGAN: Why can poverty stricken people sometimes find joy in their lives?

J. OLSTEEN: I think there's not so many distractions. I think they have their priorities where they love their family, they're with their family, they don't have a million things that are getting them off course and they just take every day for what it is, just the simple things in life, getting up and enjoying family times and just not fighting a lot of the battles that we allow to steal our joy.

MORGAN: Does he ever get angry?

V. OLSTEEN: Angry?

MORGAN: Or is he always this content happy chap?

V. OLSTEEN: Angry, no. Is he content, yes. I think he chooses it. I mean, there's things that I'm sure that are stressful...

MORGAN: What really flips him out? What gets his goat?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, I don't really think he flips out but what -- he likes things to be right, you know, and, you know, I've watched him when things aren't right and he chooses to see the best in the situation. He's always really great about finding what is right, you know, because I -- you know, a lot of people have a tendency to look at the wrong -- one wrong thing.

MORGAN: When's the last time you heard him -- when's the last time you heard him shout, Victoria, come on?

V. OLSTEEN: Never.

MORGAN: You've never heard him shout?

V. OLSTEEN: No, he's never shouted ...

MORGAN: He's never shouted?

V. OLSTEEN: ...and if you -- listen, if you live with me and you don't shout, you're pretty good.

MORGAN: You're quite a live wire. I remember from our last interview. And I would imagine you can be quite lively, right?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, you know, I like to keep things hopping?

MORGAN: Do you have a temper?

V. OLSTEEN: Do I have a temper? I've grown out of my temper living with him. I don't have a temper.

MORGAN: So he really is this kind of bastion of calm...

V. OLSTEEN: He's infectious.

MORGAN: ...serenity. Do you never shout at anybody?

J. OLSTEEN: No, no, that's not my personality. A lot of it is just your personality. I've been like this my whole life. So, no, I don't -- I don't...

MORGAN: Let me just clarify, you've never shouted in your life?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I probably have, you know...

MORGAN: When was the last time?

J. OLSTEEN: ...I can't remember.

V. OLSTEEN: He doesn't shout.

J. OLSTEEN: I don't -- I don't shout.

V. OLSTEEN: He doesn't really shout but he does have a look, like when he's aggravated at you.

MORGAN: What's the look?

V. OLSTEEN: It's like ...

MORGAN: And that's when you know...

V. OLSTEEN: ...that's when it's like, OK everybody, kids, let's go, let's go, let's everybody be right.

MORGAN: That's blind fear. So, what -- what frustrates in the noisy, what can ruin your Friday?

J. OLSTEEN: You know, I don't know if it would ruin my Friday but I -- like she said, I like things to be right, I like, you know, I like organization. You know, I just -- I -- you know, I like to -- I expect excellence but not in the wrong sense but I believe we're supposed to be excellent so, if, you know, if we put things into -- into place and people aren't doing their job, you know, there are some times you think, OK, come on guys, let's get going.

But, you know, I -- I choose to believe -- you know, to use that energy to make things right and not just to yell at people or anything like that, that's just not who I am.

MORGAN: Have you ever had a fist fight?

J. OLSTEEN: I never have -- I never have. No.

MORGAN: Not even when you were a kid?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, probably with my brother, yes. Or my cousin.

MORGAN: That doesn't count. Brothers deserve it.

V. OLSTEEN: Now, you would wrestle with your brother but not a fist fight.

J. OLSTEEN: No, no.

MORGAN: Never actually -- have you ever been punched in the face?

J. OLSTEEN: No.

MORGAN: Never.

J. OLSTEEN: Never have.

MORGAN: Incredible life you've had.

J. OLSTEEN: I've been blessed.

V. OLSTEEN: Have you ever been punched in the face?

MORGAN: Yes.

V. OLSTEEN: You have?

MORGAN: Yes. Many times. I thought it was all part of life's rich tapestry but at least I'm not like you and I think I've missed out here. I think about a life of total serenity.

J. OLSTEEN: No. Now we've all had challenges. We all have to -- you know, the scripture calls it fighting the good fight of faith and that's when you know God's in control and, you know, I used to get frustrated when things weren't happening the way I wanted to or, you know what, I had everything worked out and my -- my plans didn't go the way I wanted it to but now I've learned to say, God, here's my plans for today, I'm going to do my best, if it doesn't work out I believe you're in control, that you're opening the right doors and what we don't, you know, hear a lot is sometimes God closes a door on purpose. And, I used to think, oh God that was a good opportunity, why didn't it work out? But, you know, I've learned now just to trust. God knows what's best for each one of us.

MORGAN: What do you say, we had the 10th anniversary of 9/11 recently and it's extraordinary being, you know, in America. I was in New York City after it happened and I came back here for the anniversary and so on. It's very hard to tell God-fearing people who've prayed all their lives, it's very hard to tell them that they lost relatives in that kind of thing that there is a merciful God.

I mean, they just -- they all, when I've seen them be interviewed, many of them, particularly if they're devout Christians or Muslims or all the denominations who perished on that day, what do you say to them? How do you explain that a just God can allow these kind of atrocities to happen, ruining so many lives?

J. OLSTEEN: You know, it's difficult, Piers, but the world we live in is not a perfect world. We're living in a fallen world and, you know, to simplify it, God's given us all our free choice. We can do what we want to do and, unfortunately, some people choose to do evil. I mean, God didn't make us as robots and, you know, it -- it's hard to explain because God is good. Obviously, God could have stopped it but he didn't but there's much about faith that I don't understand and I think that ...

MORGAN: Has it ever -- did your faith ever get dented?

J. OLSTEEN: You know, it really...

MORGAN: You always sound very unequivocal and I watch you on Sunday mornings and, you know, it's fantastic to watch, you're an incredibly inspiring speaker. But, I wonder, you know, I've had relatives who, for example, renounce their Catholic belief and their faith in God after the Holocaust who lived through the war who just couldn't understand how any God could allow 5 million Jews to be -- to have their lives taken in such a ghastly manner. And, it's hard to argue. You know, I -- I find it difficult. What do you say to people, again, who might come to you and say, I -- I can't continue having this faith because some appalling thing has happened?

J. OLSTEEN: You know what, that happens from time to time but, again, I go back to the fact that, you know what, having faith means you're going to have unanswered questions. I mean, that's what faith is all about. So, I can't explain why, you know, parents will come to me and their little child has cancer. I can't -- I don't -- I still believe God ...

MORGAN: What do you say to them?

J. OLSTEEN: What I say is this, God's got you in the palm of his hand. None of this is a surprise to God, you may be hurting, our hearts break with you but we're going to pray for you and God's going to give you a strength that you've never felt before and if you turn to God and turn to your faith and you don't get bitter and start blaming God and blaming everybody else and give up on your dreams, I believe somehow, someway, that God can bring good out of it. He can give you a new beginning. I know you'll never get your loved one back but God can make the rest of your life still very fulfilling if you'll -- if you'll (INAUDIBLE).

MORGAN: Victoria, have you ever had your faith dented?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, no, I've never -- I never have, you know. It's like what Joel is saying. A lot of times we don't -- we want to see everything happen but God's a supernatural God and he can bring grace and comfort into your life just by a state of peace and joy, even though when ...

MORGAN: How do you have -- how do you have moments, for example, when something bad has happened, you know, in your life or something that's really affected you badly and you've prayed to God to have that situation end in a happy way and then it hasn't, your prayers haven't been answered, in that circumstance do you not feel slightly let down?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, you know what, I can't tell God what to do. I can ask God what to do, I can -- I can ask him to do things for me but I know in my core that he's got my best interest at heart and it may not look good but there's -- but, somehow, some good can come out of it. And, you know what, you can't bring people back, you can't bring things, maybe, that you've lost back sometimes. But, God has a way of somehow getting you out of yourself and into a new place in your life.

MORGAN: We're going to take a little break and come back and talk to you about executions which is a burning issue right now, many people believing that America should now join most of the rest of the world and abandon executions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP)

J. OLSTEEN: (INAUDIBLE) I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the word of God. I won't be convinced. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Joel and Victoria Olsteen. Do you ever watch yourself back on TV?

J. OLSTEEN: I do. I still edit my sermons. MORGAN: Do you?

J. OLSTEEN: I do still edit them. I mean, I edit with somebody now but I did that for 17 years for my dad and, so, after I, you know, speak my sermon on Sundays, I like to edit it because I know what I -- where I messed up or where I could do better and you know how you do with editing now.

MORGAN: Well, yes, but, I mean, I've watched you. It's almost always word perfect. I mean, you have an extraordinary style. How have you developed that?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, my mother has had a great memory and when I started, you know, my dad just spoke extemporaneously and just would go and I couldn't do that. I had to write out what I'm going to say so a lot of mine I've put in me, I go over it for two or three hours a couple of days before and I get it so much in me that, you know, it can come out pretty good now.

MORGAN: I mean it's huge pressure now because you've got so many people tuning in to -- to watch these sermons. You can't get them wrong, can you? Every word gets analyzed.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, you do. You have to, you know, it makes me very responsible in what I'm going to say because people are going to, you know, some people are making decisions based off of what you are saying so you've got to think, OK, how is this coming across. This is the way I mean it but is it coming across that way? So, I try to think through it a lot.

MORGAN: There was a recent survey, which I found quite fascinating, New York Times named you one of the most influential figures worldwide on Twitter and you actually beat people like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Rachel Maddow, Arianna Huffington, and so on, really big Tweeters themselves because they deemed that your influence, which they assess by the number of your Tweets that were re-Tweeted, actually exceeded all of them. I mean, that shows that you've got proper influence and I would say power.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I felt very, you know, honored when I heard that and, you know, but we've found, Piers, people come to us for inspiration for those little quotes and so we try to stay really focused on what can I speak to people that will help improve their day? My -- my Tweets are not about what I did that day.

It's always about something that they can use and I think when you give people good material they like to pass it on because, you know, the fact is, there's a lot pushing us down these days.

There's a lot of negativity so when you tell somebody go out and be good to somebody today, make somebody else's day and God will make your own day, to give them smaller tidbits like that, you know, that resonates on the inside.

MORGAN: One of the key things in the book is that forgiveness of sins is one of the central tenets of Christianity in many ways. And you're -- I know you're, by nature, a very forgiving man. I've watched you do these sermons and interviewed you before about this. What is your view of state executions and, in particular, the Troy Davis thing which happened recently where, by common consent, there was enough doubt that that man really could not be 100 percent said to have committed the crime, certainly no DNA evidence. What do you think of the whole issue?

J. OLSTEEN: You know, it's a complicated issue, Piers. I haven't thought a whole lot about it but, of course, you know, and I'm for second chances and mercy, yet, the flip side is there's consequences for what we've done and, so, I -- I don't know what my total stance is because I'm so full of ...

MORGAN: A life for a life?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I don't -- I don't know that that's -- you know, I -- it's -- it's hard for me.

MORGAN: You know, I don't think that you can say that. And I've had this debate with you before about these things. You can't be the man who influences millions of people and sit on the fence about key moral issues like that, key moral stroke ethical issues and you've got to have a view haven't you?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I think the thing is, is we have a justice system and I believe in our system of justice, number one. Part of me, the human part of me, the merciful part of me is wow, let's just give everybody a chance and if there is any, you know -- it's hard for me to say, yes, let's kill this person because he's so bad, you know, and they can be redeemed, they can be forgiven but you still, you know, they may still have to be put to death. That's hard for me. I don't know what's the right thing. I mean, there's people smarter than me that make all the laws. I do stand by our systems.

MORGAN: Two-thirds of all executions in America have taken place in five states, most of them southern states near where you're from, including Texas. Texas is well known to be -- may even be the highest in terms of executions for any state in America. So, I guess the part of your issue, unless I'm wrong, is it a lot of your brethren, that come to watch you, presumably, would support the death penalty.

J. OLSTEEN: Sure, I think so. I think -- I -- I don't know for a fact but I think many of them -- many people do and, you know, I, just again, I don't know the right answer. It's hard for me to tell someone to be put to death.

MORGAN: If you came out, particularly in somewhere like Texas, you, Joel Olsteen, came out and said enough, I don't think we can continue with this, particularly based on the -- on the facts, see, Joel, my problem with the whole death penalty debate are the statistics these days are alarming. Over a hundred people in America who are on death row have had their sentences commuted because of new evidence, 17 of them because DNA evidence proved they didn't commit the crime.

When you hear that, surely you begin to think that this isn't right and you have a lot of influence in your state. People will be watching this thinking, well, what does he think? Is he in favor of state killings or is he actually against it because they might take their lead from you.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, Piers, I don't know that I'm the one to give the final answer on that.

MORGAN: You're the perfect guy to ask.

J. OLSTEEN: You know, I guess, Piers, because I've not studied on it and I stay focused on what I feel like I'm called to do and I'm just careful about, you know, there's -- it's a more complicated issue than that than to just throw something out there and create a lot of waves and so that's probably the reason why I just ...

MORGAN: If I asked you about abortion, what would you say?

J. OLSTEEN: ...well, abortion, I -- I feel stronger about because it -- I feel like...

MORGAN: What's your view?

J. OLSTEEN: ...my view is that every baby should live, that, you know, that God's created that life and, so, again, that's what I feel strongly about.

MORGAN: There's a lot of contradiction between the sanctity of life with an abortion and the sanctity of life for somebody who may or may not have committed a crime. Should there not be a more consistent view?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I think there could be when you say may or may not. You know, that's the troublesome thing, if we don't know for sure and, you know.

MORGAN: Well, how can you know for sure, really? I mean, very few cases are completely clear-cut.

J. OLSTEEN: Yes.

MORGAN: And, really it comes down to just a general principle, whether in a modern civilized society, you know, especially in a country with many, many people -- millions, tens of millions go to church every Sunday and they kind of look to religious leaders to say, what should we be thinking? They'll all be a bit confused. So, you know, I know I do this to you when you come on but I sort of feel like you need to be more definitive.

J. OLSTEEN: Yes. Well, if I could I would but I'd have to -- let me study it and I'll come back with a great answer someday for you.

MORGAN: We'll going to have a little break, Joel, and come back and pin you to the floor on another issue where I've tried to pin you on the floor before and see whether your views have changed about homosexuality in light of the fact that now five states in America support same-sex marriage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my guests, the Olsteens, and let's move on to another rather contentious issue, Joel, because last time you came on this show, the pair of you, and you were excellent guests, this happened, and I want to talk about this answer because it made a few headlines.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Is homosexuality a sin, in your eyes?

J. OLSTEEN: Yes, I've always believed, Piers, the scriptures shows that it's a sin, but, you know, I'm not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they're terrible people and all that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So, I suppose the obvious question is -- we did that back in January, has your position changed at all after that? Because it raised a lot of headlines, a lot of controversy. Since then, more states have endorsed same-sex marriage. It's becoming much less of a prohibitive kind of issue than it used to be. What's your view now?

J. OLSTEEN: You know, Piers, it really never changes because mine was -- mine's based out of the scripture. That's what I believe that the scripture says that -- that homosexuality is a sin. So, it -- you know, I believed it before and I still believe it now. Again, I would just reiterate what I said, I'm not after -- I'm not mad at anybody. I don't dislike anybody. But, you know, you know, respecting my faith and believing, you know, in -- in what the scripture says, that's the best way I can interpret it.

MORGAN: But, I mean, shouldn't the scripture be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age. I mean, we were talking before the break about the issue about eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, not everything in the scriptures, really, is, in my view, conducive to modern life. I mean, like everything else, doesn't it have to move with the times and isn't it down again to people like you to interpret it in a way that evolves when you're known as a very progressive preacher?

J. OLSTEEN: Sure. Well, we want to be progressive but sometimes -- sometimes I just, when I read it, I can't see how you would change that, just like you wouldn't, you know, change some other main things, you know, in the scripture. I just, I don't see how that, you know, if you don't have a basis of truth, and that's what I base mine off of, the scripture, everybody else doesn't and I don't fault them if they don't, but this is just the way I choose to -- to live my life and what I teach based out of the scripture. So, I don't think, you know, I think, you know, personally, 200 years from now the scripture is still going to say that.

MORGAN: Yes, but the law of the land may not and it may not in your state and the law of the land is changing fast and, you know, your argument about executions was well, it's the law of the land in somewhere like Texas. What if Texas eventually, in a moment it's an unlikely place I would imagine to bring this in, but it may change with enough pressure, Texas brings in a law that same-sex marriage is permissible, how would you feel then if it's the law of the land?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, you know what, I'm going to respect the law and I'm going to respect gay people like I do now, you know, have plenty of people that come to our church and friends, I would call, that are gay so I'm going to respect that. I think where it puts a difficult situation is me being a Christian pastor believing the scripture, you know, it would be against my faith to marry two gay people.

MORGAN: You could never do that?

J. OLSTEEN: No, it would be against what I believe the scripture teaches and, so, that's where I think the rub comes in with people like myself. It's not that I'm against anybody or, you know, if people want to live together, that's up to them. But, my faith, when we say marriage, I mean, I think about it, Piers, and all through the Bible there are, you know, hundreds of marriages but none of them are shown as between, you know, the same sex. And, again, I'm not against anything but I just believe that's what the Bible teaches and that's how we've chosen to (INAUDIBLE).

MORGAN: Joel, do you feel a bit uneasy? The last person I heard speaking like this was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's the President of Iran, who says there are no gay people in Iran and it's a terrible sin and curse. I mean, Victoria, what -- what do you think of all this -- the gay marriage debate. I mean, could you ever imagine attending a gay marriage between two people who come to your church, for example, if they invited you?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, I think if it was that easy, that we would have figured it out by now but it's been overthrown, states go for it and then they overthrow it, so it's very difficult for ...

MORGAN: But accepting an...

V. OLSTEEN: ...people...

MORGAN: ...but accepting an invitation is easy. So, would you accept one or not?

V. OLSTEEN: Would I accept one?

MORGAN: Two gay people who attend your church invite you to their wedding.

V. OLSTEEN: Sure, I would go.

MORGAN: You would?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, I don't -- you know, if I had time I would.

MORGAN: Joel, would you go?

J. OLSTEEN: If they were friends of mine...

MORGAN: Yes.

J. OLSTEEN: ...and I respect them, I would certainly go.

MORGAN: You would watch two people you think are sinners committing the ultimate sin.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I'm looking at it, I don't think it's the ultimate sin, but I'm looking at it from another point of view of respect to that person and, you know, it's -- you know, it gets convoluted but I'm looking at it as respect to that person.

MORGAN: Could you -- could you in your position actually actively encourage people to go through a same-sex marriage? Could you be seen to do -- could you be photographed at such an event?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I would not...

MORGAN: Would that cause you problems.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, you know, there's -- it's such a hypothetical and I'm talking about...

MORGAN: Well, not really because you said lots of gay people go to your church so it might happen.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I haven't been to many weddings lately to begin with and I'm talking about somebody that was, you know, dear to us. I'm not going to disrespect somebody that's dear to us and say, you know what, you're not good enough for us or something like that. That's the way that I would see it. Now, I'm not going to just run off and go attend, you know, certain marriages just to make a statement because that's not who I am and that's not what I stand for and, again, I don't look down on those people.

MORGAN: After the break, let's talk a little bit more about politics. I know it's a bit of a minefield for you. I'm curious who you think of all the Republican runners and riders at the moment, who's been catching your eye as potentially a leader for America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with Joel and Victoria Olsteen. Let's talk politics for a moment, Joel, because I know this is a bit -- as I said before the break, a bit of a minefield but of all the Republican runners and riders in the race so far to be the nominee, who -- who do you think is the most impressive leader potentially that you've seen.

J. OLSTEEN: Piers, they all look like great leaders to me.

MORGAN: That's a terrible answer.

J. OLSTEEN: Now, I can't pick out one. Now, Governor Perry is the Governor of Texas, a friend of ours, I've never met Mitt...

V. OLSTEEN: A great Governor.

J. OLSTEEN: ...a great Governor, a great, great man, a great friend of the ministry and I've never met Mitt Romney but, man, he looks fantastic and smart people and I can go down the row but I -- I don't know.

MORGAN: Rick Perry's not going to be a friend much longer if you keep saying how fantastic Mitt Romney is.

J. OLSTEEN: Well...

MORGAN: You have to make your mind up somewhere down the line. Got to back the right horse here.

J. OLSTEEN: ...well, to me, I'm just taking it all in like everybody else. I'm just an outsider looking in and, so.

MORGAN: But you are a Republican aren't you? You have to be.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I've voted both ways before...

MORGAN: Really?

J. OLSTEEN: ...but, I'm -- I'm conservative, you know, that's who I've always been. But, you know.

MORGAN: You -- you're very conservative aren't you? You would say?

V. OLSTEEN: I like to vote on the candidate.

MORGAN: Who do you like out there?

V. OLSTEEN: Who do I like out there? I'm still watching.

MORGAN: Right now, if you had to put an X by someone's name...

V. OLSTEEN: Yes...

MORGAN: ...who would it be?

V. OLSTEEN: ...good thing I don't have to right now because it's too early in the race.

MORGAN: Is Rick Perry your kind of guy? Is he the kind of guy...

V. OLSTEEN: I like Rick Perry. He's been a fantastic Governor. He's really done amazing things for Texas and, so, let's see -- let's see how he fares with all this. I think he'll do well.

MORGAN: Victoria, what do you -- what do you think are the key issues in society today? What do you think people most care about?

V. OLSTEEN: I think -- are you talking about political issues ...

MORGAN: Anything. Anything. When people come to your church, what are -- what's really concerning them?

V. OLSTEEN: They care about their relationships -- their relationships, their finances, and their health.

MORGAN: Yes, I would say that's what most people care most about. Do you think politicians, today, are doing the right kind of thing or are they too busy scuffling with each other in Washington to understand clearly, as you've just defined it, what the real issues are for people in America?

V. OLSTEEN: Yes, I think they're squabbling too much.

MORGAN: Yes.

V. OLSTEEN: Yes, I think they're squabbling too much.

MORGAN: There is, isn't it? I mean, they just spent a lot of time shouting at each other. We've already discussed that you don't shout. When you see them all ranting and raving and being deliberately obstructive to getting things done, what do you think?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I think, like most Americans, I would hope that they would work together and, you know, what I -- what I see that's difficult these days is any kind of compromise and, you know, it's hard to get 100 percent of what you want. You know, just like some of these issues we're talking about in this, I think it's getting more difficult for some people to have some type of compromise to say nothing's going to get done if we don't all come together. So, that would be my hope that we would -- you know, but it's difficult.

MORGAN: Are you comfortable with a Mormon becoming President if Mitt Romney won, for example, or John Huntsman? I mean they're both Mormons. Would you be comfortable with that?

J. OLSTEEN: You know what, I'm comfortable with -- that would not stop me from voting for somebody. I would look at the total candidate though, you know, what's their experience, what's their education? You know, what do they stand for? I don't think I would vote for somebody just because they're a Mormon or anything like that.

MORGAN: Are there aspects to Mormonism which you find offensive?

J. OLSTEEN: I don't know a lot about it and here I go again but I don't know a lot...

MORGAN: How can you keep saying that?

J. OLSTEEN: ...I don't know a lot about it but here -- here's the thing.

MORGAN: I bet you do but you just don't -- you don't want me to think you know lots about it, otherwise it makes the argument more difficult. J. OLSTEEN: Well, you know what, I haven't studied it. I hear things from time to time. There are certain things about the Mormon religion that I don't agree with...

MORGAN: Like what?

J. OLSTEEN: I don't know -- I don't...

V. OLSTEEN: Well, I think there's different degrees in religion too. It's just like being a Christian, you know, you could say, this -- these people think it's OK to do this, this, and this and they're Christian and these people say, oh, no, we don't do it like you're saying the Catholic Church, well they won't let you do this, this, and this. So, I think it has to do with degrees of how much you practice that religion, so.

MORGAN: Well, what are the things about Mormonism which are awkward for you?

J. OLSTEEN: You know what, I don't know enough about their -- their beliefs to -- to point out what they are, to articulate it well but here's what I -- here's what I believe that, you know, Mitt Romney says he believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that he believes Jesus is his savior, that's the -- to me, those are the foundational things, when I look at somebody, could I vote for them, do they believe, you know, in the major things like me. I don't know what all the other church doctrine is.

MORGAN: Could you vote for a Jewish candidate?

J. OLSTEEN: Sure, I could vote for a Jewish candidate. I mean, Jews, that's how our faith was started. They're God's chosen people in the scripture, I mean, sure I could.

MORGAN: So, you don't really mind, particularly, what religion. Could you vote for a Muslim candidate.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I think -- I think I could. I would have to look at it all but I would have to look at, you know, it's -- it's so hypothetical because, you know, if we're talking about for America, you know, 90 percent of America is Christian so I -- I am pretty sure that I would find somebody that more shares my beliefs and is educated and qualified so it's hard for me to go there because I think I don't think we'll come to that point.

MORGAN: What do you make of what's going on with the Palestinians and the Israelis right now?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, it's a -- it's a difficult situation. It's been that way for so many years. I mean, I -- you know, the scripture says we pay -- pray for peace for over there, we stand with the Israeli people, our hearts go out to the Palestinian people as well. They want peace. They want to live their life, you know, in victory and it's a difficult thing.

MORGAN: You've both been out there recently I think, to Israel, right?

J. OLSTEEN: We did. We went out in February.

MORGAN: Tell me about that. How did you find it?

V. OLSTEEN: We found it very peaceful. It's amazing, a country that has been under such conflict for so long. You know, you -- you hear stories in America like it's dangerous and, you know, you see like the worst but you go in there and the people are very solid, they're very peaceful, they have a lot of confidence in the fact that they're going to be OK.

Yes, they want to fight for what they feel like is rightfully theirs but it was quite interesting, we had a night of hope over there and we had -- the auditorium was full, we had a wonderful time and we just -- we thought it was a very fascinating, very -- it really brings the Bible alive, you go to these places where, you know, Jesus walked, where he prayed, where the disciples were, you know, the Sea of Galilee. We found it fascinating.

MORGAN: Does it worry you that so many areas of conflict of the world are religion prompted?

J. OLSTEEN: Well, I don't...

MORGAN: Sort of goes against the grain, doesn't it, in terms of the theory of these things, they're supposed to all be peace-loving religions but they all turn out to be excuses to kill people.

J. OLSTEEN: Well, it's been that way for, you know, hundreds, if not thousands, of years so it is -- it is a shame that -- that we can't get along in the day that we're living in today that you would think you would still have to kill people to try to get your point of view. But, you know, it is difficult but you just have to keep believing and hoping and praying and, you know, I think that's all you can do in some of these situations.

MORGAN: We're going to take another break, come back and talk about Olsteen, Incorporated, the burgeoning empire of the number one rock star preacher in the world. You don't look like a rock star.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with the Olsteens. You'll be pleased to know this is the final segment. Three minutes of hell left, Joel, and you're off the hook again. Do you like being interviewed or do you find it a bit of a minefield?

J. OLSTEEN: You know what, I enjoy it. I don't always know the, you know, subjects I'm not always familiar with but I enjoy talking with different people, especially you.

MORGAN: Your two children are both beginning to signs of real talent. Alexandria sings, she's 13, Jonathan is in a band as well, he's 16. Would you like them to do what you do, take over the business if you suddenly weren't around? Would you be happy with that?

J. OLSTEEN: Oh, I'd be thrilled, you know, nothing greater than for your children to follow in your legacy. I mean, I can't call them, I can't make them, I think it has to be a calling that they feel from on high but, you know, what I like about them is they're way further along than I was at that age. I wouldn't get up in front of people and, yet, they're very comfortable and just great kids.

MORGAN: Do they have to lead really squeaky clean lives? I mean, 16-year-old boys normally, certainly where I come from and this is around the time that they're getting into too many pints of cider and around the back of the bike sheds with, you know, their favorite girl in the town. I mean, are you going to have to keep an extra close eye because you're the Olsteens, everyone be looking to trip them up?

J. OLSTEEN: Oh, you know what, I never feel like it like that. I -- we -- we've tried to set a good example in front of them and, you know, do our best but, you know, they're great kids and, you know, I'm sure they're going to have challenges like we all do but I don't feel -- my parents were never strict on me, they never made me go to church, we went to church because all of our friends were there.

They're the same way. They -- I mean, my daughter had me getting to church at 7 o'clock the other morning. I thought, I don't want to get there that early. She said, oh, we're all getting there early. But, you know, that's what I like, that's where their friends are there and, sometimes, when you over-pressure and you -- I mean, I think the key, Piers, is to set a good example at home. We have fun and we don't have to have a lot of other things to make us happy.

MORGAN: Could you -- could you enjoy all of this without Victoria because even there she was looking at you really adoringly.

J. OLSTEEN: No, I wouldn't enjoy it half as much. I don't think I would be half of who I am without Victoria. She has spoken faith and vision into me from the -- from the beginning, before I was ever a pastor, sitting there when my dad was ministering, she used to say one day you're going to pastor the church and that would make me mad. I would say I can't pastor the church, I don't know how to speak, I don't know how to minister, but she just kept speaking those faith into me and, so, we have fun together too. We don't take -- we don't get -- we take life seriously but we have fun together.

MORGAN: Victoria, how do you have fun together? What's he talking about?

V. OLSTEEN: Oh, well, we -- we have good conversations. We like to do a lot of outdoor things together. We work together.

MORGAN: What the favorite thing you like to do together? On a Friday, when you're feeling your happiest? What's the thing you most like? What's your perfect Friday?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, we like to have a good dinner and we like to either ride our bikes or we like to just hang out and talk or, you know, we may have a few friends over.

MORGAN: Do you love him as much as you did the day ...

V. OLSTEEN: Absolutely.

MORGAN: ... you first met him? What's the secret?

V. OLSTEEN: And I respect him even more.

MORGAN: Yes, what's the secret of the Joel Olsteen magic, you think?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, I think he's a man of what he -- of his word, I think he's a man of what his word, he's -- he's always looking for the best in any situation. He's very respectful. He's very generous and he's very kind and he's extremely wise.

J. OLSTEEN: Do you agree with all that Joel?

MORGAN: Oh, that and more.

(LAUGHTER)

V. OLSTEEN: I left a few things out. (INAUDIBLE).

MORGAN: You -- you can't ignore it, I mean, you must get some groupies, any?

J. OLSTEEN: Oh, I have some kind people, I don't call them groupies, but people that, you know, they feel like you've helped them and you know what, I -- listen...

MORGAN: I mean, attractive younger women wanting to throw themselves at you? Do you get all that?

J. OLSTEEN: I don't -- I don't...

MORGAN: Are you like popular like Tom Jones, you know?

J. OLSTEEN: I don't -- no, not in the work we do. I mean, there's people that are respectful but I -- I don't ever -- I don't ever feel that.

MORGAN: Victoria, do you ever have to step in and just -- back off, he's mine. Ever do that?

V. OLSTEEN: Well, I -- you know, it's funny because when I -- when I'm out, even by myself, this is what women say to me, oh, Victoria, I love your husband. And, so, I've learned to say, so do I.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Well, listen, I really appreciate you both coming on, again. It was another lively debate and I hope we can do it again in six months.

J. OLSTEEN: Thank you. I appreciate it very much.

MORGAN: Nice to see you.

J. OLSTEEN: Great being with you.

MORGAN: Thank you. Thanks Victoria. That's all for us tonight. AC 360 starts right now.