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Pastor Pulls Out of Inauguration; The Dangers of Football; Selling Music Overseas

Aired January 11, 2013 - 10:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us, I'm Carol Costello. It is 30 minutes past the hour time. To check our "Top Stories".

The federal government wants to give Boeing's newest airliner another look. The Department of Transportation said it will conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner's critical systems including design, manufacturing, and assembly. The federal government says the aircraft are safe to fly. The 787 has had a pretty difficult week, though, incidents include a fire that started in the battery compartment of a Japanese airliner and a fuel leak in another Japan airlines jet.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai arriving at the White House minutes ago for a one-on-one meeting with President Obama. The future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan topped the agenda. Both heads of state will take part in a joint news conference coming up in a little more than two hours from now.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger will anchor our special live coverage.

Vice President Joe Biden says his task force on curving gun violence will present its recommendation by Tuesday. Biden says the recommendations will serve as a beginning, not an end to the discussion. President Obama called for the task force after last month's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

In a little more than a week President Obama will take the oath of office for his second term, but his inaugural committee is scrambling to replace one key speaker. Pastor Louie Giglio says he will no longer give the benediction amidst criticism of a sermon he gave back in the '90s about homosexuality. That sermon one liberal Web site labeled as anti-gay.

Joining me now are Wayne Besen the executive director of Truth Wins Out a nonprofit group that fights what it calls, quote, "Anti-gay extremism" and in Washington Peter Sprigg a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, welcome to you both.



COSTELLO: Wayne, why the objection to this pastor?

BESEN: There are a lot of pastors in this country who are pro-gay, are progressive who aren't anti-gay and gave -- and gave horrible sermons that basically dehumanize and demonize an entire group of people. There are people who not just the progressive wing but there are those who are even Baptists, for example.

I mean, the President could have gone to the interfaith alliance for a (inaudible) (ph), he could have gone to the Auburn Theological Seminary and their Groundswell program and found some real preachers that were inclusive instead of exclusive who too accepted everybody and didn't reject them.

It sends the -- it sends the wrong message and he would have cast a huge shadow over the entire inauguration with this mean-spirited message against gay people and Americans are no longer putting up with it. Most people don't want to see their sons, their daughters, their friends or family members dehumanized in such a mean-spirited way and they're fighting back, they're saying enough, enough of the hate. Too many young people are harming themselves because they received such ugly messages wrapped up in the guise of religion.

COSTELLO: I'd like to give Peter a chance to respond. So, Peter, in your mind, I mean basically what the Pastor said was that he thought was homosexuality was a sin and he's certainly not in favor of same- sex marriage, many religious people feel this way. So -- so Peter your response to Wayne?

SPRIGG: Well, none of the quotes that I've seen from Pastor Giglio are at all out of the mainstream of Christian Orthodoxy or of contemporary evangelical thought, so if he's to be blacklisted for the opinions that he's expressed then you're essentially blacklisting all Evangelicals, all bible believing Christians and all Roman Catholics who believe in the teachings of their church. I think that's a shocking position to take.

COSTELLO: And I also think Pastor Giglio, Wayne -- Pastor Giglio -- wait -- he said he didn't want to get involved in cultural issues he simply wanted to pray for the country.

BESEN: Well, I think he was very much involved in issues.

SPRIGG: Exactly.

BESEN: If we had found -- if we had found a video like this bashing any other minority, he would have been gone before he could take a second breath. The times have changed. People are no longer having a gay exception to the rules of civility and decency, no more will we be able to bash people and say they can pray away the gay without people speaking up and saying that they don't like that.

And this is the world we live in. And people are no longer going to allow gay people to be thrown under the bus and treated as second class citizens and we're entitled with our First Amendment rights to speak out against such bigotry wrapped under the bow of religion. COSTELLO: OK in a blog post with congregation, Pastor Giglio said the following "The issue of homosexuality is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate. However, individuals rights of freedom and the collective rights to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we as a people must recover and preserve."

Is this a slippery path? Do we risk silencing some with differing views? Should we be more accepting and -- and Peter, I suspect you would think so?

SPRIGG: Absolutely. I mean, the world we live in unfortunately is increasingly marked by the enforcement of intolerance in the name of tolerance, exclusion in the name of inclusion and forced uniformity in the name of diversity. It's contradictory, it's downright Orwellian and yet people actually make the statements unbelievably with a straight face. I want to emphasize to that --


BESEN: Yes well Peter --

SPRIGG: When --


BESEN: -- Peter, I find it ironic that you are embracing diversity. I mean, you -- you called for the imprisonment of gay people and said we should export homosexuals out of the United States and suddenly you're for tolerance? I'm a little confused here.

SPRIGG: Well, this is about Pastor Giglio and President Obama, it's not about me.


COSTELLO: Wayne is right about that, Peter.

SPRIGG: I want to emphasize that when somebody says that homosexuality is a sin, they are talking about a person's conduct, not about their person -- their inherent personal dignity. The Christian theology teaches that all people, including those with same-sex attractions, are created in the image of god. But it also treats -- it also teaches that all people, you, Carol, me, Wayne, all of us, are sinners who can be saved only by the grace of God.

And that's what needs to be emphasized here.

BESEN: Well, I deal with preachers every single day that claim --

COSTELLO: Wayne -- allow Wayne --

BESEN: And they disagree with you.

COSTELLO: And there are many things in the bible about women perhaps that many women would object to, not everything in the bible -- I mean, people have their own interpretations of the bible, not all people feel the same, correct?

SPRIGG: Well, that's correct. I would also point out --

BESEN: Go ahead, Peter.

SPRIGG: I'd also point out that there was a poll taken just last September which asked whether people thought that someone having sexual relations with -- sexual relations between two adults of the same gender was morally wrong or morally acceptable. 52 percent said it was morally wrong. 42 percent said it was morally acceptable. So this position that is not being blacklisted is the majority position --


COSTELLO: Well then how do you -- how do you explain the majority of the people of the country believing in same-sex marriage, then? How do you explain that? It doesn't jive with what we know about polling about how people feel about same-sex marriage in America? Most people think it's OK. It's about time.

SPRIGG: It -- how you jive it is because when you focus on the real issue which is people's sexual conduct. They do not approve of the sexual conduct. When you frame it in a bias way in terms of rights and so forth, then -- then it tilts the results of the poll.

COSTELLO: Wayne, I just want -- go ahead Wayne.

BESEN: OK, I'm sorry.

COSTELLO: I just want to ask you one final question about -- about pastors in general and what they believe or don't believe. I mean a lot of pastors don't believe in abortion. They're not pro-choice. Should they not speak, too? I mean, where do you draw the line, because you're not going to agree with everybody all the time especially when it comes to religion.

BESEN: I think a lot of it is also temperament. I think when you aggressively and go -- go after an entire group of people and condemn them, say they're going to hell, they can pray away the gay, which simply is not true, and in a really mean way dehumanize them, I think that's where you draw the line. There's room for differences.

But I think we're quickly seeing that the vast majority of people don't want to see gay bashing anymore. That's an issue of the past. They want to see people treated well. They want to see them treated equally with dignity and respect and I think that's where the American people are today. And I think this pastor was not where the American people are today. And -- and I think that's good. I think that's a great step in America.

COSTELLO: And we'll leave it right there. Thank you, both of you, for coming in and expressing your viewpoints this morning, we appreciate it. Wayne Besen and Peter -- and Peter Sprigg with the Family Research Council, thank you so much. We keep hearing about the dangers of head injuries like concussions. Should you let your children play contact sports like football? It's a tough question for parents to answer. We're going to try to help next.


COSTELLO: Forty-one minutes past the hour.

There are a lot of parents who are going to have second thoughts about letting their children play football. Is it too dangerous? Just yesterday we learned that NFL pro bowler Junior Seau suffered from a degenerative brain disease when he committed suicide last year. Scientists say it was likely caused by 20 years of hits to his head. The concerns over concussions and head injuries are front and center right now, not just in football, but in all sports.

Dr. Robert Cantu is the co-director of the neurological sports injury center. Good morning, doctor.


COSTELLO: I have heard from so many parents concerned about letting their kids play football. Should they?

CANTU: Well, Carol, I think it's the age that's crucial. Junior Seau played 20 years at the National Football League level, but he played in college and he played in high school and earlier in his life, so it's really the total number of years that he was taking hits to the head that led to what he ultimately had, unfortunately, CTE.

And, yes, no question that the 20 years in the NFL was the majority. But I think the issue is, I believe very strongly, kids under the age of 14 should be playing flag football not tackle football. Not taking the shots to the head.

But from the ages of 14 on up, if individuals understand the risks and they have passion for the sport, I wouldn't say don't play it, but I would say play it wisely and play it with proper technique and that means not hitting with your head.

COSTELLO: See, if I'm a parent that still really concerns me because a 14-year-old might not be ready to understand the consequences of playing football. And how do you explain to that kid what might happen and more importantly, how can that child protect himself?

CANTU: Well, there is no absolute way of protecting yourself playing tackle football. In the act of tackling, that's when most of the concussions happen because that's when most of the head contact happens.

So, tackle football has inherent risks, unquestionably. And if you're going to play it, you have to understand that concussions can occur and more likely than not will occur. Most importantly, not just the concussion-level blows, but all the blows to the head, if you take enough over enough years, can add up. Unfortunately in our series of 68 cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy recently published last month in December in the journal "Brain" six of those cases were high school players.

COSTELLO: Oh. Oh, that's really scary. The Cleveland Browns quarterback, the former Cleveland Browns quarterback, Bernie Kosar, he says that he has suffered for years from the hits he took while playing football and he's found this doctor in Tampa who can actually give him injections of something that increases the blood flow to his brain and Bernie Kosar says that's actually helping to repair his brain.

I know you can't specifically comment on this doctor's treatment, but is there any way you know of that can repair damage to the brain?

CANTU: Not actual damage. But there are many therapies that can be useful in helping an individual have the symptoms of post concussion syndrome, which is what I assume Bernie has, although I've never seen him and don't know firsthand.

The symptoms can be treated. They can be treated with a variety of therapies depending upon what the symptoms are. If they are primarily cognitive symptoms, cognitive therapy. If they're primarily balance issues, vestibular therapy. There are therapies for the upper cervical spine as well.

So the symptoms can be treated and the quality of life improved. Structural damage to the brain, no, so far as of today we know of nothing that will reverse structural damage.

COSTELLO: I know you're working on it though --


COSTELLO: -- Dr. Robert and I'm glad you are. Dr. Robert Cantu with the Neurological Sports Injury Center. Thank you so much for enlightening us this morning.

CANTU: You're welcome Carol, thank you for having me.

COSTELLO: A new video on Justin Timberlake's website suggests the Grammy winner might be taking a break from Hollywood to get back to his musical roots.


COSTELLO: You may have seen Justin Timberlake on the big screen recently. He's been in "The Social Network", "Bad Teacher", "Bad Teacher", "Trouble with the Curve". But a new video at Timberlake's Web site suggests the Grammy winner might be turning his attention back to his first love, music.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER: Look, I've only done two albums in ten years, that's the way I really look at it. What does the next decade mean for me.


COSTELLO: "Showbiz Tonight's" A.J. Hammer joins us now to parse that out and tell us exactly what it means because I know you know, you can see into the mind of Justin Timberlake.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": That's me. That's what I do. And actually I do know some people pretty close to him but I can't reveal what they're telling me because I don't want to violate that confidence. But judging by this video and what he's doing right now Carol, he's being pretty coy about the new venture.

The first thing he did was post this mysterious tweet, it had nothing in it except January 10th, 2013 at 9:01 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. So obviously, immediately, that led to speculation that he would be announcing plans to release his first album in six years because so many people have been eager for that.

And then at 9:00 a.m. yesterday. This is what we saw -- a countdown clock went up online. The countdown ends on Monday morning. So, then we have to see what that part of the puzzle means. In the video that we showed you a bit of, he also said I don't want to put out anything I feel like is something I don't love, you just don't get that every day, you have to wait for it. But I think it's pretty clear what he's doing here.

Some people aren't in love with this tactic. I actually saw a critic online called it a pretentious publicity stunt. I think that's ridiculous. But remember, his last album "Future Sex Love Sounds" was huge, it came out in '06. It was a wild success, multi-platinum, more than 4 million copies sold, very high expectations for whatever he has coming out.

But I'll also point out as we piece this altogether it wasn't lost on people that Beyonce is quoted in the new GQ article as saying that she and Justin have been working together on a new track. Now, that of course, could be one of the new songs on the album, maybe it's a Beyonce song. But Beyonce fans are also excited because she has announced that a "New Destiny' Child" album will be coming out at the end of the month, their first one from the group in eight years.

So that is concrete. I don't know if the reading anybody's mind to tell you that and we're getting a new "Destiny's Child" and I think people will love it and eat it up.

But yes, let' expect new music from Justine Timberlake, his second album in NY year.

COSTELLO: You are quite the detective. Quite the detective.

HAMMER: That's me, yes.

COSTELLO: Thanks so much, A.J. Watch "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11:00 Eastern on HLN.

How can an economic crisis in Europe affect the market for guitars here in the United States? You might be surprised.


COSTELLO: Unemployment in Europe hit a record high this week and that makes some U.S. Firms that trade heavily overseas pretty darn nervous. Among them one of the world's most prestigious guitar makers.

Tom Foreman takes us on this week's "American Journey".


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paul Reid Smith guitars are prized around the globe played by professionals like Carlos Santana on his hit "Smooth" and amateurs, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 50 percent of all the guitars made in this building go overseas so it's about half our business.

FOREMAN: No wonder at the Paul Reid Smith Plant in Maryland where craftsmen turn out 1,000 instruments a month the founder is watching the Europe an market closely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the exchange rate goes one way, we sell a lot more stuff. If it goes the other way, we sell less because it became more expensive in their country or it became less expensive.

FOREMAN: You've seen that happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, God yes, every day.

FOREMAN: Specifically this is how volatility could affect them. This guitar, for example, which would sell for around $3,000 in the U.S. is being shipped to Europe today. If the euro is strong and the economy's stable when it arrives, all is well. But if the euro gets devalued or the banks or the stocks are in trouble, this American-made product can find itself facing some real hurdles.

The shop that wants to order it may be unable to get a loan for its inventory, therefore, the instrument never gets shipped. Or the customer who wants to buy this guitar may find that his money is now worth so little he can't afford it. And if this drought and the revenue stream continues pushing more businesses and more governments toward default on their debt, then there's a risk of the whole market drying up.

So, everyone knows each time a shipment arrives in Europe like this one, unpredictable market forces here could undermine the value of those guitars and force layoffs back home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last few years just thinking about the economy in general, it's kind of a generalized fear.

FOREMAN: For now they control what they can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we do a better job when somebody's looking to buy a guitar, they'll look more to our stuff than the other stuff. Over time.

FOREMAN: And they just hope that economic waves from Europe don't come crashing against American shores. Tom Foreman, CNN, Stephenville, Maryland.


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question for you today: should we welcome pastors in the public square despite their views on homosexuality. I'll be back with your comments.


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question for you today: should we welcome pastors in the public square despite their views on homosexuality?

This from Charles: "No, until they fully accept others as equals, why should they be accepted as an equal."

This from Jim: "Yes, what are they going to do? You'll have an uproar from the other side.

This from Lindsay: "Don't pick anyone. Prayer has no place in politics."

And this from Kim: "When pastors give as much attention to adultery and divorce, I'll believe they are preaching their beliefs. When they single out one group this way it's nothing more than bigotry."

Thank you for the interesting conversation. So many comments today. Thank you. If you'd like to continue the conversation or tweet me at @CarolCNN.

And thank you so much for joining me today. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.