Return to Transcripts main page


Professor Williamson Explains Pentecostalism; Yulia Tymoshenko's Image and Image in Politics; Many Controversial Cases for Supreme Court Ahead, Including Lowering Age for Carrying Weapons to 18 and Death Penalty in Missouri

Aired February 23, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour already. Happy Sunday to you. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you with us. Here are five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

PAUL: No. 1, Ukraine's ousted president insists that he's still in charge, even though he's on the run. His own parliament voted to remove him from office and says it's forming a new national unity government. The parliament also freed his political arch rival from prison, and she told a huge crowd in Kiev that Ukraine is done with its, quote, "dictator." And elections are set for May 25th.

BLACKWELL: Up next, one of the most dangerous and violent men in the world is behind bars for the first time in more than a decade. Drug lord Joaquin Guzman better known as El Chapo was captured this weekend. It was a joined operation between Mexican and American forces at a resort on the West Coast of Mexico. More than 130 guns, 19 armored cars and two grenade launchers were found at the scene.

PAUL: Number three, one man is dead and nearly 30 others were hospitalized in a carbon monoxide leak last night at a restaurant. This is in a New York mall. Now, the investigation is ongoing, but police believe the leak may have started with the heating system in the basement.

BLACKWELL: Number four the American student who disappeared while studying abroad in Italy has been found dead. We told you about this young man yesterday. His name is John Durkin and his body was discovered in a railroad tunnel in central Rome. They found him yesterday. The 21-year old had been out with his friends at a local bar the night he went missing. And Italian investigators are now, of course, looking into Durkin's death.

PAUL: Number five, sports fans pay a steep price to own a piece of history. Last night, items belonging to sports legends like Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth were sold at auction. This was in New York. A baseball bat used by Shoeless Joe Jackson sold for nearly $1 million. Another high price item, Babe Ruth pocket watch, the new owner paid more than $700,000 for it.

You know, for today's "Faces of Faith," this is a dangerous, sometimes deadly ritual. We're talking about snake handling for worship and a lot of people are just perplexed by this.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, especially considering one week after Kentucky pastor and TV show star Jamie Coots died from a rattlesnake bite, his son has taken over the pulpit. And last night Cody Coots, he's 21 years old, he delivered his first sermon with the same snake that killed his father.

PAUL: Joining us over the phone, co-author of "Them That Believe," Dr. Paul Williamson. He is also a professor of psychology at Henderson State University. Dr. Williamson, thank you so much for being with us. I understand that you were at last night's sermon. Tell us about it, what was it like?

DR. WILLIAMSON, HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY: Good morning, Christi and Victor. It was a service that was in many respects very typical of what goes on in every service where people follow the signs.

BLACKWELL: So, did you have a chance to speak with Cody Coots last night and if you did, what did he say?

WILLIAMSON: Yes, I had an opportunity to spend time with both Cody and his mother and his sister and he was concerned about, of course, this being his first night as pastor at the church and he was concerned with what they usually are concerned with, with a laid on experiencing the full anointing that allows them empowerment to view the signs and there were about 50 believers that were gathered together. He began the service with about half an hour of guidelines that he felt were necessary to be established. Especially since he was, for the first time, assuming the full responsibility as the leader of the church.

He talked about the need for children to be controlled in the church, which is not that uncommon for this particular tradition. He also talked about guidelines for handling serpents that people should wait until the full anointing would be there. And then, again, that there might not even be a serpent handler, which sometimes takes place because there is always this concern for waiting until the moving of God, the waiting until the full anointing of God comes upon a believer (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: Dr. Williamson, let me ask you something. You know, a lot of people are watching this wondering why this one verse of the Bible seems so central to this family and this group of believers. God, yes, in the Bible, you know, tells us that he will protect us, but he also tells us to be wise and responsible. Do they see that other people think it's irresponsible to put themselves in harm's way or are we misunderstanding this?

WILLIAMSON: Well, we must keep in mind that this particular condition comes from a rich tradition of holiness in Pentecostalism where that - the immediate presence of God is desired, it's felt, it enriches life, and central to both of those traditions, here's Mark Chapter 16 and verses 17, 18 and, of course, in this tradition they look at this expression or these statements by Jesus concerning passing out devils and speaking with tongues and taking up serpents and drinking the deadly thing if the spirit mandates and laying on the hands. These all things, this has been the all central to part of that tradition and, so, what is interesting is that this particular group looks at all five signs as being legitimate signs and not simply the passing out of devil or the speaking of tongues going over hands, which some do practice without going further.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Williamson, we had on the show yesterday we interviewed Bill Estep. He's a reporter there in Kentucky, with "The Lexington Herald" and he sat down last night with Cody Coots and Cody told him that in conversations with his father his father would say if people just felt an ounce of what I feel, they would never judge me again. What is it that they feel? I know you just described some of the elements of the service, but what is it that they feel that continues to, even after the man died to go back to serpent handling?

WILLIAMSON: Well, what they feel is what they describe as the anointing. And if you ask those who experience this - and it's not only, it's not only ditto (ph) serpent-handling tradition, but it's also experience among Pentecostal traditions and the presence of God comes and fills the believer. If you ask them what that is like, they'll often say, well, it's a moving of God upon them. They'll talk about love, experience of peace and joy. One person said it's like you can put your arms around the whole world and love the whole world. No words, no concern for the things of life. But only being connections with beyond. Another description they often here is that the anointing is the highest high that we can ever, ever receive or ever experience. Some within this tradition dislike that.

In other Pentecostal traditions, the other religious traditions in Christianity have people who had experienced drug abuse and oftentimes the reference to the use of drugs becomes a metaphor for them. However, they would be careful to say that this is something that transcends that. It's more powerful than that.

BLACKWELL: Well, it's, obviously, a very strong feeling, it's even after Cody Coots' father died after that bite from that snake to go back and now take the pulpit. Dr. Paul Williamson, thank you so much for joining us this morning and really giving us a look inside. What, you know, there was a reality show but you know the family really well and the dedication it takes to go back and to take that pulpit after his father died.

PAUL: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Doctor.

PAUL: Thank you very much. Sure.

The Roman Catholic Church has 19 new cardinals. And a ceremony in Vatican, Pope Francis presented them, I should say, with their traditional red cap and ring and the new cardinals come from around the world, including Brazil, the Ivory Coast and Haiti. There are no Americans in this group, but there is one Canadian.

BLACKWELL: And the story we've been following has developed a lot. Many changes in the last 48 hours. One of them is huge victory for Ukraine's opposition, the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She's even seen wearing her trademark blond braid. But make no mistake - that braid is more than a hairdo. It may end up being the defining image of a new political movement.


BLACKWELL: Now, let's go now to the Ukraine where last night former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko took the stage after she was released from prison and she appeared exhausted, emotional, angry at points, encouraging the Ukrainian opposition to keep up the fight for independence.

PAUL: Now, remember, she has been in prison for two and a half years, but she was instantly recognizable to her supporters. That blond braided crown. You see it there? That's her trademark. It's her calling card. But it's not just a hairstyle. This is very calculated.

BLACKWELL: Editorial producer Nadia Bilchik is here to explain. Nadia, why that hairstyle, why that braid?

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Well, to understand Yulia Tymoshenko's hair is really to understand her background. So, she didn't start her career as a politician. She was a business mogul. In fact, she was known as the energy mogul of Ukraine. In 2005 when she ran for prime minister she was considered Fortune 500's 100 most powerful women.

So, how do you transform the image of a tough businesswoman into a prime ministerial candidate? So, she met with image consultants and brand experts who say let's make her look more like a country schoolteacher. And that was - the braid was supposed to represent four key things and that was innocence, patriotism, royalty and tradition. So, by wearing her hair in this manner, she conveyed a completely different image to this tough, self-made millionaire.

PAUL: Has she really worn it that way ever since? I mean was she wearing it like this every day that she was in jail?

BILCHIK: She did - and very persistent. When she went to jail in 2007 and a lot of the time she's actually being in the prison hospital. You've seen her with a long braid ...

PAUL: On the side?

BILCHIK: On the side.

PAUL: Right.

BILCHIK: Which, you know, people often ask is this her real hair. And in front of supporters once she said, look, I am a serious politician. You know, this is my real hair and she took down the hair. These are my nails. I don't wear a lot of cosmetics and, absolutely - in effect, if you see the images of her released yesterday, you'll notice that her hair, the top of her hair is quite darker than the braid. So, obviously, having been in prison, there is not a good hair colorist in Ukrainian prison.

PAUL: Right. Right.

BLACKWELL: You know, I think it reinforces how important imagery is in politics. I think about Madeline Albright and those broaches. I mean she wrote an entire book about how much this ...

BILCHIK: The brand.


BILCHIK: But this brand, braid brand of Yulia has even taken us to the Olympics. Because Johnny Weir wore a Yulia Tymoshenko type braid in the Sochi Olympics in solidarity with the Ukrainians who wanted to join the E.U. CNN Miller has supported this particular hairstyle. And again, it's a statement.

PAUL: So, everybody is wondering if she will be the next president.


PAUL: You know, when they have ... BILCHIK: She has not said at this point. She actually has not said if she's going to run for president. Again, we absolutely don't know. Interestingly enough in terms of the hair braid it's so popular that even YouTube videos on how to braid your hair like Yulia Tymoshenko. But as we said, we just want to trivialize it. Because she is a woman who really wanted to change her image. What has to be interesting is if Hillary runs for president in 2016, in terms of her image. Now, what's got to be interesting - if Hillary runs for president, if (INAUDIBLE) succeed, in terms of her image, what are her image consultants going to say?

PAUL: Right.

BILCHIK: What are her brand specialists going to say? Because one thing when one wants to convey authority it happens in the clothing. Three key things; SPF: structure, proportion and fit. What about this garment makes me look authoritative? What about my hair makes me look like I'm presidential? So, it really, you know, brings an interesting debate, but certainly we'll be seeing a lot more of Yulia Tymoshenko in the next while.

PAUL: Right. I just wondered if she will carry it over.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, if she would. But I think when people immediately saw that braid, we knew who she was. Because even in the last two and a half years spending time in prison and the prison hospital, her look unchanged, as she was in a wheelchair because of her physical problems.

BILCHIK: Yes, she has very, very degenerative disease. And you mentioned how much older she looks.

BLACKWELL: She looks much - much ...

BILCHIK: But her signature hair.

BLACKWELL: But the signature hair - I immediately knew it was Tymoshenko. And I just want people to know that we're having this conversation about Tymoshenko and Clinton, this is also something men think about. I remember Al Gore saying, if you see me - after the 2000 elections, if you see me shave the beard and lose weight, then you'll know something is happening. Because men think about that, as well. Of course, political consultants look out for the candidates.

PAUL: The power of image.


PAUL: And the brand braid.

BLACKWELL: All right. Nadia Bilchik.

BILCHIK: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Nadia. So, listen - the weekend is wrapping up, as you know. The Supreme Court justices may want to sleep in, we're thinking, because they may be hearing some pretty controversial cases. Coming up this week, we're going to have a preview for you next.


BLACKWELL: Week ahead. So, let's check your calendar now. Let's start Monday with Seth Meyers. He gets a special guest for his first show, his first taping of "Late Night," you know, he replaced Jimmy Fallon who moved to the "Tonight Show" Vice President Joe Biden is going to be on the show. The V.P. is, you know, has been booking media appearances and talking a lot about health care as the weeks wind down to that March 31 open enrollment deadline. And then we also know that the vice president is going to be on "The View" on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama in Los Angeles. He's giving a public talk on nonviolence and the effects of compassion. Last week President Obama upset China by meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

That takes us to Wednesday when the former secretary of state Hillary Clinton heads to Florida. She's giving two speeches, but, of course, Clinton goes to Florida ramping up the buzz about expectations that she's working towards a 2016 presidential run. And on Friday, President Obama expected to speak at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting and, according to "The Hill," this will mark the first time the president has spoken in person at a DNC meeting since 2010. There've been videos since.

And on Sunday, the glitz, the glamour, Hollywood's biggest night. The Oscars. The 86 academy awards kick off Sunday night from Los Angeles. We know you've got a busy week, add those things to it. As a lot's going on. Christi.

PAUL: Victor, you know, the Supreme Court has a busy week, as well, because this week the justices are deciding which cases they're going to hear this session and issue rulings that could affect policy across the country. Athena Jones has a preview of what they're talking about.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's no shortage of controversy before the court. On Monday, the justices could decide to take cases that could significantly expand gun rights. The National Rifle Association is challenging a Texas concealed carry law that bans anyone under 21 from carrying guns in public. The NRA argues that Second Amendment right of self-defense extends to responsible 18 to 20 year old, as well. And the NRA is appealing a federal ban on selling handguns to minors saying that also violates Second Amendment rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the Supreme Court recognized the individual right to have guns, the question became what type of limitations should be put on that right?

JONES: Also, on Monday the court hears the case that could test the limits of President Obama's push to use his executive power when Congress won't act. This time on climate change. At issue, whether the EPA went too far. When without congressional approval it limited carbon emissions from power plants, factories and other sources of greenhouse gases beyond cars and trucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the constitutional side, this is a classic conflict between Congress and the White House. Congress has refused to give the president what he wants and now the EPA is going it alone.

JONES: And later this week, the court could get involved in the latest challenge to the death penalty. Early Thursday, Missouri is planning to execute Michael Taylor by lethal injection. He was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl. But the state is refusing to reveal which drugs it would use after witnesses said another lethal drug mix in Ohio took some ten minutes to work on convicted killer Dennis McGwire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many defense attorneys have said that that that raises the question of cruel and unusual punishment.

JONES: Critics say Missouri has been in a rush to execute. It carried out one recent legal injection just minutes before the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on a last-second appeal. Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.



BLACKWELL: Still ahead on "NEW DAY," one person is dead, more than two dozen injured from carbon monoxide poisoning at a mall in New York. We've got a live report from the scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Well, if you are a "Sound of Music," I'm sorry to tell you that Maria von Trapp has died, not the mother, I know that's who you immediately think of - but Maria, the other Maria was the last- surviving member of the seven von Trapp children who were portrayed in the musical. Her half-brother tells CNN that she died of natural causes at her home in Vermont. Her family, remember, fled the Nazis and their story inspired the Oscar-winning film. Maria von Trapp was 99 years old.

BLACKWELL: You know, some folks in Atlanta have a simple message for Justin Bieber, stay away. Apparently, the pop star has been eyeing this mansion in town, but the affluent locals don't want him moving in. So, a group of them will actually protest in front of that house tomorrow morning.

PAUL: Wow. Serious?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, they are. Do not come here, Bieber. And according to the Facebook page nearly 200 people say they will join that coalition.

PAUL: OK, you know New Orleans is famous for among other things, its food.


PAUL: One of the most iconic Big Easy foods is the king cake.

BLACKWELL: You know, I've never actually had any of king cake.

PAUL: Really?

BLACKWELL: I've heard the whole thing about buying the baby.

PAUL: Well, this is one you can try.


PAUL: One food truck decided to take it to another level here and combine it with a burger, Victor. A burger.

BLACKWELL: OK, so they put big beef patty and come cheese between, you know, the purple, green and gold goodness, I hear. And so, this is an interesting mix of sweet and savory. Can't we just eat a burger without sticking it between doughnuts or pancakes? Burgers are good.

PAUL: It's too boring!


PAUL: On that note, grab your O.J. your oatmeal, whatever it is that you're going to have for breakfast. And stick around with us, we have a lot more to come.

BLACKWELL: We sure do. Another hour of your "NEW DAY" starts right now.