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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Nationwide Rallies for Trayvon Martin; Wildfires Rage Across the West; World Waits for Royal Baby

Aired July 21, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The Northeast may finally be cooling off, but wildfires continue to threaten California. While expected thunderstorms could bring some relief, they present new dangers.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Could we be in more danger from terrorists now than we were before? That's what the NSA chief is saying, and he's blaming one person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everybody here is a nerd, and if you're not, you're in denial.

BLACKWELL: And it's not just nerds at this year's Comic-Con extravaganza, film stars, comic book icons, and -- well, some less than human guests.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. Happy Sunday. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Eight o'clock here on the East Coast, 5:00 out West. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

HARLOW: Welcome, everyone.

If you live in Florida, Governor Rick Scott wants you to pause today and pray for racial unity. His request follows a day of nationwide rallies for Trayvon Martin.

BLACKWELL: Yes, marchers are demanding federal rights charges against George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed the African- American teenager.

CNN's Nick Valencia now from Miami.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PROTESTERS: Enough is enough.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the nation, a call to action.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: Not only do I vow to you to do what I can for Trayvon Martin, I promise you I'm going to work hard for your children as well.

VALENCIA: From New York to Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, in more than 100 cities, rallies with one clear message, justice for Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he was profiled as well as a lot of our African-American men, and he was singled out. And I think it's travesty.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: Trayvon was my son. He was a loved child. He did nothing wrong.

VALENCIA: In Miami, Tracy Martin, father of the slain 17-year- old, was the headliner.

Surrounded by hundreds of supporters, he spoke to CNN.

MARTIN: It was overwhelming. It just goes to show the love and the support that our families and friends have for us here in Miami as well as across the country. It sends a message to the nation that we're not going to sit back and let our children be killed and not say anything about it.

VALENCIA: One week to the day, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of martin. Thousands spanned across the United States, the hope in power and numbers, to put pressure on the justice department. Activists want civil rights charges filed against the former neighborhood watch man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to organize and have rallies just like this in order to fight racism.

VALENCIA: In Florida, demonstrators pushed to get the controversial stand your ground law amended. And while the governor has said he will not budge in support of the law, martin's supporters have not been discouraged.

MARTIN: I think people are just tired of senseless violence, and the people really want the world to know that our children's lives matter just as much as their children's lives.

VALENCIA (on camera): It's the voice of a movement they hope will bring change -- Poppy, Victor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Nick Valencia, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: South of Los Angeles, it looks like firefighters have turned the corner on a wildfire that already has destroyed at least six homes, the Mountain Fire. It's now 49 percent contained. Evacuation orders still in effect for Idyllwild and Burn Valley. The firefighters could get some help today from rain moving into the area. But the fast shifting winds and the flash flooding is also a concern.

HARLOW: To Milwaukee now where health officials say the week long heat wave may have claimed two more lives. A 69-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman both died in homes without air conditioning. This comes after three men were found dead earlier this week there.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in meteorologist Jennifer Delgado in the CNN weather center.

And good news in the forecast?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and some good news definitely in the forecast. Temperatures are already cooler out there, as we look across parts of the Northeast.

Good morning to you. You can see temperatures right now in the 70s and 60s for areas like New York, 79 degrees there, 67 in Scranton and then Philadelphia, 77 degrees.

For how about for this afternoon? How warm will the temperatures get? Well, the good news is the temperatures today are going to be seasonable and some locations just a couple of degrees below average.

For New York today, a high of 86, degrees 88 degrees in Washington. I know you guys struggle a lot yesterday. In the Midwest, for areas like Kansas City, 88 for you.

And then as we move out towards the West, of course, we're going to see warmer temperatures, but we're also tracking showers and thunderstorms moving right on top of the Palm Springs area. Of course, that is the site of the Mountain Fire when you just heard about the fire earlier.

Well, I can point out to you that, yes, we are looking at rain out there, but this can cause another problem when you see these storms moving through. Some of these storms can produce some lightning, and that could trigger, say, more wildfires. Of course, if it's a dry storm, but if some of these storms start to produce some heavy rainfall like we've been seeing in some of these locations, that leaves the potential for landslides.

And, of course, if you're in the higher terrains, that can prove to be dangerous, especially for the firefighters out there battling those fires. Right now, we do have flood watches in place across parts of the four corners, as well as you can see for areas, including southern California, as well as into regions like Las Vegas, and that is because we're dealing with monsoon season, and monsoon season brings a great amount of rainfall. When it rains, it really pours.

That's where we'll continue to see the showers, sunshine for areas up towards the Pacific Northwest, and we have a slight chance for severe storms, looks right on top of North Dakota today. More showers for the south, and then the rain showers will start to end later into the evening for parts of the Northeast.

Guys, we'll send it back over to you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jennifer Delgado, thank you.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Well, charges have been filed in the captivity case, a bizarre and troubling case we first told you about yesterday. Police found four malnourished men in a Houston home, one of them described as just a skeleton.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they were beaten and abused. The question is why. That's what police are still trying to figure out.

Our Ed Lavandera has more -- Ed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Poppy, criminal charges have now been filed here in this bizarre case in north Houston, where four men were found being held against their will inside this house just beyond that purple wall. The man who was arrested is a man by the name of Walter Jones. He is the grandson of the woman who owns this house. He has been charged with two felony criminal counts, one of them injury to the elderly by act, and the other injury to the elderly by omission.

And this is a case where investigators are still trying to unravel what was going on inside this house and how long the four men had been held against their will inside this house.

They said the conditions inside were deplorable. The men needed to be taken to a hospital for treatment. But we are told by investigators here in Houston that the three men taken to the hospital are now in stable condition and doing much better.

Victor and Poppy, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: All right. Ed, thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: Police are ruling out foul play in the death of a woman who fell from a Texas rollercoaster. The accident happened on Friday night at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. Witnesses say the victim just flew out of her seat during a steep turn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very sad. I feel horrible for the family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were screaming when they came back, and they were trying to get out of the restraint. They were screaming, "My mom, my mom, we've got to get my mom. She's gone."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: In response to the investigation, the park released a statement, and here's part of it. "It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired. When we have new information to provide, we will do so."

Well, Six Flags says the roller coaster will be closed until the investigation wraps up.

HARLOW: The journalism world is mourning the death of a trailblazer. Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas has died. Over nearly half a century, she covered ten presidents, from JFK to Barack Obama. She was known for her blunt, no holds barred questions. In 2010, she retired from her career a week after a video surfaced showing remarks she made that were perceived to be anti-Semitic by the Jewish community.

She was also a mentor to many women reporters who followed her steps on the White House beat.

President Obama said, quote, "Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism. What made Helen the dean of the White House press corps was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold leaders to account."

Helen Thomas was 92 years old. She will be buried in Detroit, where she was raised.

BLACKWELL: Disgraced no more. Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer asking for forgiveness, and voters seem to be doing that.

Plus, a dramatic issue after a rafter hit his head on rocks. See who sprung into action to save him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Twelve minutes after the hour. Good morning, New York City. Thank you for starting the day with us. I'm going to be in New York two trips this week.

HARLOW: I know. We're looking forward to having you.

Beautiful day looking at the Hudson River. I'll be back with you this afternoon, New York.

Well, you know, folks, we have some incredible rescue video to share with you. Look at this, a river guide jumping into action when a rafter gets knocked unconscious, hitting his head on those rocks after being thrown from his boat. The guide swam over, pulled him out of the water.

The rafter was OK, even after all of that. The hero who saved him says he's been on the river for 25 years, and it was his first time having to make a rescue quite like that. BLACKWELL: Right place, right time, right skills.

HARLOW: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Brace yourself for this. A guy on a motorcycle was trying a new helmet camera, and what he caught on tape. Look at that. His own accident. We're going to watch this again. You can see the bike slamming right into a car.

HARLOW: Oh, my gosh.

BLACKWELL: At about 70 miles per hour. The rider was actually thrown off the motorcycle onto the hood of the car. Here's the incredible part. He just got up and walked away, a few bumps and bruises.

HARLOW: Unreal. Glad he's OK. Terrifying video there.

All right. Just like the motorcycle rider, battered but not broken, I guess you could say the same about two names in New York politics, Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they're not only back in the game, they're also riding high with voters.

Our Alina Cho is live in New York this morning.

Alina, how do they explain this actually renewed support?

HARLOW: Yes.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they both believe they deserve a second chance, right, Victor and Poppy? When you ask people watching these races very closely, they will tell you it may be a couple of things, name recognition for one, their willingness to go it alone, and main, just maybe, New Yorkers love fighters as politicians.

These two men may have had their problems, and big ones, but they do know how to fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Oops!

CHO (voice-over): After suffering through years of late-night laughs at their expense, disgraced politicians Anthony Weiner --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a man who literally (EXPLETIVE DELETED) his own career.

CHO: -- and Eliot Spitzer --

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: How could you be this stupid?

CHO: -- just may have the last laugh. Weiner running for New York City mayor and Spitzer a candidate for city comptroller are leading their respective races, according to at least one major poll.

(on camera): What do you think that says about New Yorkers and their willingness to forgive?

ELIOT SPITZER (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Well, look, I hope there's forgiveness.

CHO (voice-over): Spitzer is the former New York governor also known as client number nine, a man who resigned from office in 2008 after admitting he hired prostitutes. Now, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, the so-called sheriff of Wall Street, just two weeks after announcing he's running, is trouncing the competition, Scott Stringer, with 48 percent to stringer's 33 percent.

ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: So, today I'm announcing my resignation from Congress.

(CHEERS)

CHO: Ex-Congressman Weiner, whose unfortunate last name made him the butt of jokes after he accidentally tweeted these compromising photos, is making his own comeback. The same Quinnipiac poll has Weiner with 25 percent support to his Democratic opponent, Christine Quinn's 22 percent.

A "New York Times"/Sienna poll has Quinn on top.

(on camera): This shows at least in New York politics that sex sells?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it certainly shows that celebrity sells.

HUMA ABEDIN, WEINER'S WIFE: We love this city and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.

CHO (voice-over): In Weiner's case, having his wife Houma's support is key.

WEINER: My wife is an enormous asset to the campaign. She's the not-so-secret weapon of this campaign.

CHO: Spitzer and his wife Silda are living separately.

(on camera): Will we see Silda on the campaign trail?

SPITZER: Yes, absolutely, at the right moment, yes.

CHO (voice-over): That could be key when the men dubbed the tabloid twins sweat it out on election night.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHO: That was an unfortunate cover on "New York" magazine. When you ask New Yorkers if these men should get a second chance, so far two out of three say yes. And keep in mind, it's still the middle of summer, things would really start to heat up in the fall.

But, Victor and Poppy, if these two men are actually able to pull it off on election night, it could also show that voters just love a story of redemption too. It's not like it hasn't happened before in politics.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we just saw one in South Carolina. Alina Cho, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

BLACKWELL: Hey, on Twitter, they're calling it the great Kate wait. Will today be the day the royal baby arrives? All eyes are on London, specifically a hospital in London.

HARLOW: Absolutely. You know what, this story just might bring you to tears. A paralyzed young man receives thousands of dollars to help him walk again one day. Now, though, he's giving it all away. You'll see why next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: You know what that music means?

BLACKWELL: Yes.

HARLOW: Royal baby.

London is in the middle of a heat wave, and waiting game waiting for the British royal baby to be born.

BLACKWELL: Yes, even the hospital where Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge, is expected to give birth has become a sensation in its own right, reporters and photographers camped outside.

Our royal correspondent Max Foster is there, part of the great Kate wait as it's called.

Max, you've been there almost a week now. What's the scene like today?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL FOSTER: Well, I know what it feels like to be a statue or some sort of monument. We've become a tourist attraction.

People come along and take pictures of us. Let's just spin the camera around. I mean, this is -- people come here to have their picture taken in front of these cameras.

And it's sunny. So, the tourists are out. It's part of the whole -- I mean, Buckingham Palace is the most popular tourist attraction in London, so maybe it's fun to come here and follow it up by gawking at us. It's a strange atmosphere.

HARLOW: I hope for your sake, Max, the baby comes soon so you can stop feeling like a prop in front of the hospital.

BLACKWELL: And it's hot too, isn't it?

HARLOW: Yes, it is hot, but at least it's sunny in London.

So, interesting with all of this, we get very few details from the palace. I agree with them. This is a private matter happening in front of the world's eyes.

But do we have any word on how Catherine and William are doing, preparing, et cetera?

FOSTER: Well, they've had a prenatal set of sessions, private sessions, and the woman who's running those classes have been talking a bit about that, saying they had private sessions to talk about what it's like to go through childbirth and how William has to be particularly sensitive to let Kate be completely relaxed, and I think that probably explains why they've been out of town, away from the cameras, hiding away at the Middletons' house because of the priorities that she can relax. Although there's lots of speculation from photographers they're now in London and braced to come here.

We've been saying every day this week we don't know when she's going to be coming here. We will be told when she is here, but in the meantime, we're just sort waiting. The great Kate wait has become one of the most trending topics on Twitter, apparently.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I know the queen is pretty much over this wait. I love when she told those kids, do you want a boy or a girl? She's like, I don't care as long as the kid comes. I'm going on holiday. I love that.

FOSTER: Yes, exactly.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about what's happened --

FOSTER: She speaks for a nation.

BLACKWELL: Yes, everybody's ready. Se speaks for a world because we're waiting too.

Let's talk about what's happening in Belgium today. While they're waiting for a baby, it's abdication day in Belgium.

FOSTER: Exactly. The third monarch to abdicate this year, Qatar, the Netherlands, they've all done it, handing over to a younger generation. So, now, a new king in Belgium.

Interesting because this is a real example of how monarchy does work, you could argue, because there's a big split in the country, the north and south, big political divide, but they all agree on the monarchy. That's interesting. Also, you've got this court case in Belgium at the moment, a 40- year-old lady says she is the illegitimate child of the king, and she's going through the court process, and her mother recently said, actually, she did have an affair with king. So, people say that's late to why he's abdicating. He says it's because he wants to hand it to a younger generation.

HARLOW: Fascinating stuff. And the wait continues there in London.

Max, great reporting. We'll get back to you soon. Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: Stay cool.

HARLOW: Stay cool.

BLACKWELL: A Houston bakery has whipped up a life sized cake of Kate Middleton and baby. We've got an extra seven or eight days before the baby is born. Let's make a cake.

The duchess (INAUDIBLE) Rice Krispies in the mix for support. Our affiliate shot this on Thursday. That's a lot of detail. The head, you don't see.

The finished cake is on display this week at the bridal show at Houston Convention Center. Then it gets shipped to Kensington Palace. Not sure whether you know --

HARLOW: How do you ship a big cake like that?

BLACKWELL: I've watched many episodes of cake boss, and that is the scariest part of the episode when they put it in the truck. Apparently, this gets to fly. We'll wait to see if they take a bite.

HARLOW: We'll wait to see. Who knew?

(MUSIC)

HARLOW: All right. Time for the good stuff.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

HARLOW: Listen to this story. Great story. Dan Black from the United Kingdom, he's been paralyzed since he was hit by a car almost four years ago. He's right there.

But there's hope that new stem cell treatments could help Dan walk again. That's when they become available in about five or so years. That's what experts say. So Dan's town helped him raise money, a lot of money, $30,000 for treatment, and that's when Dan met Little Vaughn (ph).

BLACKWELL: Yes, he's 5 years old. He also can't walk from cerebral palsy, and there's also hope for him in the form of expensive surgery. A lot of that money, the family just didn't have. What's the difference here? Brecken's (ph) treatment is available right now. so, what did Dan do? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN BLACK: My village, they were nice enough to try to raise money for me to have treatment. There isn't any treatment available for me at the moment whereas Brecken can have treatment now. So I decided to donate the money on to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: He gave the money to Brecken.

HARLOW: That's the good stuff. He donated it to him. And since he did, hundreds of others have as well, bringing Brecken closer to walking again for the first time in his life.

And for all his efforts, Dan's been nominated for a Pride of Britain Award. That is great.

BLACKWELL: Good stuff there.

All right. Coming up, the man who runs the National Security Agency says leaker Edward Snowden gave our "playbook," quote-unquote, to the terrorists.

HARLOW: And we're going to meet a man who's preaching to the unfaithful. It's a church for atheists. Yeah, we know. We're going to tell you all about it straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Bottoms of the hour, 8:30 a.m. here on this Sunday morning on the East Coast. Welcome back, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow.

BLACKWELL: Always a pleasure to be with you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

Here are five things you need to know this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROTESTERS: Enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Number one, Florida Governor Rick Scott is calling for people in Florida to pray for racial unity today. His proclamation follows a day of rallies across the country for Trayvon Martin and marchers are demanding the federal government bring a civil rights case against Martin's killer, George Zimmerman.

HARLOW: Number two, police are saying foul play was not a factor in the death of a woman who fell from a roller coaster. The ride, the Texas Giant at Six Flags over Texas, will remain closed until the investigation has wrapped up. In a statement, Six Flags wrote that it is not yet ready to comment on Friday's incident and that doing so would be quote "A disservice to the family of the woman."

BLACKWELL: Number three the hit TV show "Glee" will take a short hiatus just after its premiere this fall. The show's creator Ryan Murphy told the "Hollywood Reporter" that writers need time to rework the show following the death of star, Cory Monteith. Now the first three episodes of the season will air, and then the show will take a break to regroup.

HARLOW: Number four Lance Armstrong back on a bike. He is scheduled to take part in the Des Moines Register's great bicycle ride across Iowa. That kicks off today. This will be the sixth time he's ridden in this race, but it is the first time since he was stripped of his Tour de France titles. Speaking of, the Tour de France starts today, or wraps up today rather, in Paris.

BLACKWELL: Number five is the final round of the British Open. It's under way right now. But the leaders won't tee off for another 30 minutes or so. Among those leaders, Tiger Woods is gunning for his fourth British Open title. Lee Westwood leads the open by two shots.

The head of the NSA says there is concrete proof that terrorists have benefited from information leaked by Edward Snowden.

HARLOW: So let's get the story from our Athena Jones she's live in Washington for us this morning. Good morning to you, Athena. Let's talk about General Keith Alexander heading up the NSA. Did he offer any examples -- concrete examples of this? Because he's saying basically that Snowden opened us up and made us more vulnerable to terrorism.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well perhaps not surprisingly, Alexander didn't spell out those -- that concrete proof that he mentioned. But ever since Snowden made these revelations, the intelligence community and administration officials have been defending the effectiveness of these surveillance programs saying that they have helped thwart numerous attacks here and abroad.

And they've also -- administration officials from the Obama administration and from the previous administration, the Bush administration, have also said that Snowden's revelations put us in danger, that they were bad for our national security. And so General Alexander went -- expanded on that when he was speaking to the Aspen Institute this week. Let's listen to what he had to say there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: What we're doing is we're telling them here is our playbook. Here's how we're stopping you. Perhaps if you tried a different method, you'd be successful, and that's just plain crazy. What we're doing is irresponsible in this area and I think it's significant and irreversible damage to our nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: And so he's stressing one of the big concerns from the intelligence community about these revelations.

Now, in other news related to this, we also learned this week from the director of National Intelligence that the FISA Court has reauthorized an order requiring Verizon to collect and share data. I can tell you that Keith Alexander did some explaining for why these programs are so important.

Let's listen to what he had to say there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER: The purpose of these programs and the reason we use secrecy is not to hide it from the American people, not to hide it from you, but to hide it from those who walk among you who are trying to kill you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Now that data that Verizon is collecting, is it's these numbers that are called, the length of phone calls, the time and date of phone calls. Of course the government stresses they are not listening to these phone calls. That order expired on July 19th and so it required reauthorization for Verizon to continue to collect this data. Back to you guys.

BLACKWELL: All right Athena Jones in our Washington Bureau, thanks for the update.

JONES: Thanks.

HARLOW: Atheist churches cropping up in the heart of the Bible Belt. One is headed by a former Evangelical preacher turned atheist. He's going to join us live next in our "Faces of Faith."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: In today's "Faces of Faith", we're talking about a new kind of church, a church without God. It's called The Community Mission Chapel. It looks and sounds like a place of worship; there's a weekly service, there's offerings, uplifting songs.

BLACKWELL: Yes but here's the catch. It's missing one major detail. Its members don't believe in a higher power. This self- proclaimed atheist church is just one example of the growing presence of religiously unaffiliated congregations popping up all over the world. And it's making some waves in the heart of the Bible Belt -- Lake Charles, Louisiana.

HARLOW: Yes. So here with us to talk about it is the founder, Jerry DeWitt. He's a former Evangelical preacher turned atheist and author of a new book "Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism".

Thank you for joining us. I appreciate it Jerry. JERRY DEWITT, ATHEIST & FORMER EVANGELICAL PASTOR: Thank you it's a pleasure to be with you.

HARLOW: Why don't you quickly give us your story because this happened, your conversion really happened just a few years ago.

DEWITT: I was born and raised by Pentecostal grandparents and at age 17 I was saved to Jimmy Swaggart's church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And then I spent the next 25 years as a Christian minister -- in the beginning, very hard and fast Pentecostalism and towards the end, more of a liberal, charismatic movement.

BLACKWELL: Well you know, I've been reading about your book and I want to read something in the description of it. In 2011 a member of your flock came to you seeking prayer for a brother that had been seriously injured in an accident. You searched for the right words, but those words failed you. You couldn't find them and your faith crumbled.

Does that mean that there is no God or you're just not faithful?

DEWITT: That's a good question. What it means is that I loved this young lady so much that, had I prayed for her in that particular moment, I felt as if I would start her on a path of doubting that I had been on for several years and had found very troubling and -- and very uncomfortable. And at that moment, I didn't want to share that with her.

So I'm not here to proclaim that I know something that everyone else doesn't know or that I don't know something that everyone else does. This is -- this is about love and this is about loving truth and about loving human beings and about how much I loved God for 25 years, but yet in my search was not able to find any true evidence or proof of his existence or intervention.

HARLOW: You know Jerry, some people would look at this and say an atheist church is an oxymoron, and you say no, no wait a minute, it's not.

DEWITT: Sure.

HARLOW: And I've watched --

(CROSSTALK)

DEWITT: Right.

HARLOW: -- some of your preaching and you're really preaching.

DEWITT: Right.

HARLOW: And you say sometimes it turns people off because I'm still preaching --

(CROSSTALK)

DEWITT: Yes.

HARLOW: -- but I'm preaching a different message. Talk to me about that and having an atheist church, if you will.

DEWITT: Yes. Yes, well you know this is -- this is the reality of it. Is there's a lot of different subcultures within our -- within our country and one of the subcultures in the deep south is the church family. So even though a person may come to the realization that they're an atheist and they move away from any beliefs and superstition that doesn't mean that they're not nostalgic for the church family or for the church environment. So we're able to duplicate that minus all the superstition.

BLACKWELL: Hey Jerry, I need some clarity here because, when I'm hearing you use these words doubt and unsure and uncertain and I looked up the definitions.

DEWITT: Right.

BLACKWELL: Atheism is one who believes there is no deity, there is no God.

DEWITT: Right.

BLACKWELL: Agnosticism is a person who holds to view that any ultimate reality as God is unknown and probably unknowable.

DEWITT: Sure.

BLACKWELL: What I'm hearing you describe is a life of one who is agnostic, not so much an atheist.

DEWITT: Right.

BLACKWELL: Clear that up for me.

DEWITT: Right sure. Well what I like to say is I like to say that skepticism is my nature, free thought is my methodology, agnosticism is my conclusion after 25 years of being in the ministry and atheism is my opinion. And opinions are always subject to change. I would be very egotistical if I were to say somehow I know what no one else has been able to prove or disprove. So yes those words do blend in the life of nonbelievers, but atheism is my opinion.

BLACKWELL: So you believe there is no God?

DEWITT: I have not found any reason to believe there is a God, right.

HARLOW: I want to take a look at some poll numbers. Ok so these numbers came out from Public Religion Research Institute. And what they showed is that nearly 40 percent of Americans that were polled believe that atheism is changing American culture for the worse, 10 percent thought for the better, 46 percent, so the majority there thought really no impact. What do you make of those numbers? DEWITT: Well I would be surprised if believers thought non- belief was something positive. They wouldn't be very true to their theology or doctrine, if they did. But this is something that is growing within our culture. I think, thanks to the Internet and the prevalence of information and the advances that are being made in science, as they call it, the God Gap continuously gets smaller. And whenever you have secular congregations like ours and like the one here in Houston that are able to supply community to people in a way that has never been supplied before, then you're going to see these numbers grow, and not surprisingly, believers would be unhappy about it.

BLACKWELL: Hey Jerry, I've got to get this in really quickly. We've run out of time. But you at this chapel --

DEWITT: Sure.

BLACKWELL: -- you sing gratitude songs.

HARLOW: Yes.

BLACKWELL: In the nature of gratitude --

(CROSSTALK)

DEWITT: Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- you are grateful for something to someone or to something?

DEWITT: We're grateful to be alive. Whenever you consider all of the odds that were against each one of us actually being here and experiencing life and experiencing the universe, then there's lots to be grateful for. This is about a love for truth, a love for humanity, and a love for life.

BLACKWELL: All right Jerry DeWitt.

HARLOW: Appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time this Sunday. Thanks, Jerry.

DEWITT: Thank you. Much love to you both.

BLACKWELL: Hey, you want to know what's going to be hot next year? You want to check out comic-con this year. We're taking you inside entertainment's biggest show to find out what's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Good morning, Washington. It is 8:47 in our nation's capital. Live look at the Capitol dome this morning -- a lot going on, on the hill, we're going to talk about that in just a moment. Let's now look ahead to what's happening this week.

On Monday, Lance Armstrong riding in Iowa; he's going to be riding in the rag ride. This is the first time he's going to be in a public ride since admitting to doping.

I don't like this thing. I don't.

Also on the hill, FBI director James Comey, he will be confirmed as the FBI director. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. During the Bush administration, Comey was pivotal in the end of the warrantless wiretapping program.

Allow me to ignore this because I'm not going to get it right. Aaron Hernandez making a court appearance. The former Patriots player will have a probable cause hearing. So far there is not yet an indictment from a grand jury.

Thursday, closing argument expected in the trial of Bradley Manning. He's the army private accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.

And then Friday happy birthday to Mick Jagger -- Rolling Stones front man turns 70. Poppy says he doesn't look a day over 50.

HARLOW: Victor, I told you, you were going to have trouble with that magic wall.

BLACKWELL: I don't like this thing. I don't like the -- it's -- I don't --

HARLOW: I told you.

BLACKWELL: Look, I didn't even touch it.

HARLOW: Better luck next time, buddy.

All right. Coming up, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley coming your way at the top of the hour -- great show ahead. Let's bring in Candy to find out what's on the rundown. Good morning, Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Hey, Poppy. We are going to continue on with this national conversation or whatever you want to call it. It's taking place in the streets, in the White House, and here today on "STATE OF THE UNION", our guest to kind of go through where we move forward as the President talked about and asked about in his appearance.

We have an all-star panel that includes Bobby Rush, now an Illinois congressman, but you probably well know his background. This is a man who was a former Black Panther in the turbulent '60s. He's now a born-again Christian and a congressman. He's about to have an urban crisis meeting. He represents Chicago in one of the most violent areas of that city. So we wanted to get his take.

Our CNN "CROSSFIRE" host Newt Gingrich will also be here along with others. We're also going to talk to John McCain. As you recall, he ran against the first African-American nominee from the Democratic Party, who beat him. I wanted to talk to him about race relations in the Obama era. But he also had quite the run-in with the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey this past week over Syria. I want to get into that a little bit as well.

HARLOW: Sounds like a great show, Candy. We'll be watching.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Well, stay right here. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts right at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Just ahead on NEW DAY, solving the mystery, solving this big mystery of the totally rocking granny. We showed you this video yesterday. We're going to tell you who she is and where she learned to twirl those drum sticks. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: It is "Guest Host Week" on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" tomorrow night. Matthew Perry fills in. His guest of former "Friends" star, Lisa Kudrow -- be sure to tune in tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

HARLOW: All right. Who doesn't love this video? Look at that. All right. This is a Utah man and his hang gliding pooch Shadow. Shadow is a service dog and helps Dan McManus with separation anxiety.

So Shadow gets kind of nervous when Dan is up in the air by himself and would just chase him down. One time he even tried to hang glide on his foot, tried to jump and go with him. Finally, Dan just said, "All right. I'm going to take you with me." Strapped Shadow to him and took him right up there with him for that beautiful view. I wonder if the dog was anxious at all.

BLACKWELL: It doesn't appear to be. He just looks so calm like, yes, yes --

HARLOW: Oh, that's awesome.

BLACKWELL: We're in this together.

HARLOW: I love that.

BLACKWELL: Hey look at -- take a look at this baby gorilla. She was born Wednesday at the San Francisco Zoo. What do you think, Poppy?

HARLOW: I think it's named Victor.

BLACKWELL: No, it's not. She has not yet been named. She, Poppy, zoo officials say she appears to be healthy and her parents are caring for her.

HARLOW: She's beautiful.

BLACKWELL: Is she?

HARLOW: Yes, she is -- BLACKWELL: Ok.

HARLOW: -- in a unique way.

BLACKWELL: Listen, these gorilla videos, I mean they never really get me. The dog Shadow, I like that one.

HARLOW: You like that.

BLACKWELL: But the gorillas, not so much.

HARLOW: I'm with you, baby gorilla Victor.

BLACKWELL: Ok. Time for the "Bleacher Report".

And we start in Scotland where the leaders are just moments away from teeing off for the final round of the British Open.

HARLOW: Among those leaders -- Tiger Woods. He's got a lot at stake here. He's a couple of shots back but definitely within striking distance of his fourth British Open title. It has been a while for a major title for him.

Joining us now, Jared Greenberg with more on the "Bleacher Report" -- hey, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, "BLEACHER REPORT": A man with an animal name -- see what we did there? Three straight animal related stories.

HARLOW: Yes. Let's go.

BLACKWELL: Very good. Good segue.

GREENBERG: Less than five minutes from right now, Tiger Woods will tee off in his red Sunday best. Tiger starts two shots behind the leader. A come from behind win would be historic today for Tiger. Three of Tiger's 14 major championships have come at the Open championship, however, none have been at Muir Field, and Tiger has never won a major when not owning at least a share of the lead heading into the final round.

At 9:10 Eastern, the leader, Lee Westwood, begins his final 18, looking for his very first major and trying to become the first Englishman to capture the Open since Nick Faldo back in 1992.

If you can't trust your parents these days, who can you trust? This weekend Kobe Bryant's parents have made more than $400,000 off of their son's success. Kobe reportedly tried to stop his parents from auctioning his memorabilia. However, a settlement allowed for some items to be sold. A duplicate championship ring Kobe gave his father went for more than $174,000.

Poppy, Victor -- are you smarter than a baseball equipment manager. After that (inaudible) display, I got my money on Poppy. The manager of the Brewers has Milwaukee spelled wrong on the front of his jersey. Now, if you're stumped -- I'll help you out, the "u" is what was misplaced there. Brewers honoring a Milwaukee negro league team from the '20s. So you can understand how the gap happened there. It was eventually noticed and corrected. Victor, did you see that one?

BLACKWELL: I did. I did. Is it "pick on Victor" segment?

HARLOW: No. We love Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

HARLOW: We love Victor. Jared, thank you.

GREENBERG: You got it.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Hey, it's a bit like entertainment's crystal ball. The Comic-Con -- it's where everything it's got going on could be hot next year is revealed this year.

HARLOW: Yes. From costume super fans, your favorite celebs showing off their new project. Our Tory Dunnan takes us inside the convention, which you've got to see to believe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here at Comic-Con, this is where thousands of superhero fans make their annual pilgrimage to the San Diego Convention Center.

And to survive the day, you almost have to have special powers.

The man, the myth, the legend.

STAN LEE, "WORLD OF HEROES": I'm Stan -- nice to meet you, dear.

DUNNAN: Nice to meet you.

There's this really cool thing out there where you can take a picture as a super hero.

LEE: Take a picture as a super hero? I've always wanted that.

DUNNAN: Not only does Stan Lee have a YouTube channel called World of Heroes, he looks pretty good as a hero himself. From the man behind Spider-Man to one who plays him in front of a worldwide audience --

ANDREW GARFIELD, ACTOR: I don't know if Spider-Man has ever been a cool character. I think like, you know, what he does is he stands for the uncool.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everybody here is a nerd, and if you're not, you're in denial.

DUNNAN: From crowded carpets. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Riveting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gargantuous.

DUNNAN: To the all-star cast of JJ Abrams new TV series "Almost Human". Fans have to be brave to approach their favorite stars for an autograph.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's speaking the language you have to learn? That's impressive. That's very impressive.

DUNNAN: The nerd celebration continues here at Comic-Con. It's likely that some of "Big Bang Theory's" 19 million weekly viewers are here and they want to know what's next. Who better to ask than --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys.

DUNNAN: A lot of people here at Comic-Con think, Leonard and Penny, it's the dream for us.

JOHNNY GALECKI, ACTOR: I hope so. I would like to represent that dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All Right.

BLACKWELL: Thanks to Tory Dunnan.