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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's Return to Freedom; Donald Sterling Attends Services at Predominantly African-American Church; Interview with Pastor Carl Lentz
Aired June 2, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Hey, thanks for joining us for this special edition of 360.
Tonight, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's return to freedom after five years in the hands of a brutal Taliban affiliate and the controversies surrounding how it came to be. Also, the simple joy from those who are simply glad he is finally coming home.
Later tonight, see you in church, Donald Sterling that is at a predominantly African-American house of worship. I'll talk to the pastor for his take on Sterling's ugly remarks and whether he thinks Sterling is a racist and why he invited him to his church.
Also, the remarkable story of how one church and its charismatic preacher had managed to do what few churches can. Make worship an ecstatic experience for people in their 20s.
We begin this hour tonight with the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, America's only prisoner of war in Afghanistan. Also, the political, practical, and even constitutional questions surrounding the price of obtaining his freedom. Five Guantanamo detainees meet to high level Taliban members to get him back. Was it cutting a deal with terrorists for the return of a hostage or simply doing what it takes to bring a POW home that the Obama Administration is now claiming?
Either way, Sergeant Bergdahl will be heading home. He's been treated right now at the U.S. Military Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany and that's where Nic Robertson joins us and Ed Lavandera is in his hometown in Hailey, Idaho.
Nic, let's start with you. The administration is saying they were concerned about Sergeant Bergdahl's acute health problem that's why time was of the essence on this. What do we know about his medical condition?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they still are. He's in stable condition but his condition requires hospitalization. They say that they're focusing on his dietary and nutritional needs essentially what he was eating, why was he in captivity wasn't enough so that's what they're focusing on at the moment, also his psychological recovery. That's what's being worked on as well.
He'll be questioned and talked to as well. Does he have any useful, actionable military intelligence? Those are the sort of principle questions, but it does seem to be his diet, what he's eating, his basic physical health. That's the biggest concern at the moment, Anderson.
COOPER: And Ed, you're in his hometown. It's a very tight community. It's a beautiful community in Hailey. What is their reaction there been to his release?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we simply hear, it's ecstatic. You know, Anderson, I've been coming here for five years and it struck me there are a lot of signs that were put up five years ago that said, "Standing with Bowe." or other yellow ribbons. And over the course of five years, those banners and those ribbons had -- the changing of the seasons here have taken its toll on them. They all look very weathered but they're all still there. And across many of them, signs, yellow signs that have gone up, "Mission accomplished: "Bowe is home". So this feeling of just ecstatic and overwhelming joy that hopefully they say in the coming weeks and perhaps maybe just a couple of months from now, Bowe will be coming back here to Hailey, Idaho.
COOPER: Ed, I've talked to several people who served with him, people who've been in the military, who believe he is a deserter. You know, clearly people in the town have heard that criticism, what do they make of it and what have they said to you?
LAVANDERA: Yeah, no, there's no question. They're fully aware of not only the criticism that the Obama Administration is undergoing but also the criticism of Bowe Bergdahl directly. And many of the people closest to the family at this point are just trying to deflect those questions and say, "Look, we're going to leave the politics and those kinds of discussions. And we'll leave that to the world outside Hailey." They say that they would much rather focus on setting up an environment in a place that Bowe Bergdahl will be welcome home to, to help in his transition back to civilian life and normal American life here in Idaho.
COOPER: And, Nic, he's going to be transferred eventually from Landstuhl, Germany to San Antonio, Texas to a facility there. Is it clear when that transfer is going to take place? Do they know yet?
ROBERTSON: They don't. And what they're saying is the recovery is going to go at the pace that he's comfortable with. And what doctors are saying is they're sensitive to everything that he's been through and having said that, they're only really beginning to learn everything that he's been through. Psychological recovery tries to help him regain perspective control over his life.
If you and I used to make, you know, a decision about what want to eat tonight, what we're going to do tomorrow, one of the things that doctors will be doing will be to reintroduce him to those concepts. Under captivity, those decisions weren't his to take and make. He didn't know what he was going to get to eat, he didn't know what was going to happen the next day. You know, how many times, for example, was he put through mock executions. The doctors are figuring that out and that's all going to be determined and his father described it as a deep dive coming up too fast could kill him or at least, you know, make him worse.
So that's what the doctors are saying. The pace of recovery is really dependent on Sergeant Bergdahl and that really will therefore determine just how quickly ...
ROBERTSON: ... he can make that flight back to the United States. Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Nic Robertson, thanks very much and Ed Lavander as well.
More now on the five Guantanamo detainees who are now in Qatar tonight. Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown has that angle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The men seen here in video released by an Afghan news agency were greeted as heroes when they landed in Qatar.
For years, they had been considered extremely dangerous by the U.S. government.
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't think anyone harbors any illusions about these five Taliban members and what they might do if they were transferred.
BROWN: That stance changed Saturday when the men were allowed to leave Guantanamo Bay.
Among the detainees released are; Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, he was previously believed by the U.S. to have ties to Osama Bin Laden. He was serving as a Senior Taliban official when he was captured in 2002. Mullah Mohammad Fazi allegedly also had ties to Al Qaeda. As a Taliban army's chief of staff, he was wanted by the United Nations for the massacre of thousands of Afghan Shiites. Mullah Norullah Nori was a former governor of two Afghan provinces but told the U.S. he was not connected to the Taliban. A detainee assessment released by WikiLeaks characterized him as high risk and having high intelligence value. U.S. intelligence sources once said Abdul Haq Wasiq was second in command in the Taliban's intelligence service with links to Al Qaeda. He claimed he was arrested while trying to help the U.S. find senior Taliban figures. And finally, Mohammad Nabi Omari, the Taliban's chief of communications. He reportedly helped Al Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Tonight, all five men are now out of U.S. custody but are apparently still being watched by foreign intelligence services.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: U.S. officials won't elaborate on what exactly those assurances were and add that they were not negotiating with terrorists because Qatar officials helped secure the exchange. As part of a deal, there is a one year ban on travel for the men.
Pamela Brown, CNN Washington.
COOPER: Let's dig deeper now in the circumstances of the release including whether President Obama actually broke the law by not notifying the Congress 30 days before it happened.
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein said it would have been better to have sent an intelligence committee which the chair has been informed. Her Republican counterpoint on the -- counterpart I should say on the committee Saxby Chambliss went further saying he simply doesn't believe the administration's claim that the U.S. needed to act quickly to rescue the sergeant because he was in poor health.
Here to sort it all out, Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and a Former member of the Army Judge Advocate General Corps Michael Rosenblat.
Jeff, there are a number of voices on Capitol Hill saying the president broke the law by not giving Congress a 30-day warning on the prisoner swap, do you agree?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I do. I think the law is very clear. The law says, if you are, you, the president, are going to release anyone from Guantanamo, you have to give Congress 30 days notice.
Now, when President Obama signed that law, he put in a signing statement. He said, I believe there is an exception for exigent circumstances, for emergencies. And he says, today, this was such an exception. But signing statements are not law. Signing statements are not -- are just a president's opinion and no one said that law was unconstitutional, no one challenged it in court and the law was on the books.
So, you know, maybe he thought he had a good reason. Maybe that law is in fact unconstitutional, but it was violated and I just don't think there's any doubt about it.
COOPER: Michael, you know, the other thing that is obviously raising a lot of concern is there are a lot of people, voices especially within the military community saying, Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter. He walked off his post and that he should be held accountable for abandoning that post. Do you expect the military to in fact try to hold him accountable to put him on trial in some way?
MICHAEL ROSENBLAT, FORMER U.S. ARMY JAG: I do. I expect that the military is going to try to court marshal him in some way to make sure that he's (inaudible) on hearing this to determine how should we discharge him in service and if he would receive any punishment. I mean obviously if he was captured or returned to the base, you know, two hours after he walked off, he would have received a type of punishment he would got in a -- not additional punishment, reduction of rank or something.
So the fact that he was gone for such a long period of time, he sure is going to be mitigating circumstances surrounding his capture and how he's been treated for five years. But we're still going to take some action against him. It's just not fair for the other soldiers in the military to know that this guy walked off his base, deserted his post apparently in the middle of the night and that he can come home and receive an honorable discharge like every other soldier who served, you know, and followed their orders and the duties they were required to do.
COOPER: So what are the options here? I mean are you saying a trial would be one. What are the options that the military has to kind of punish him or figure out how he should leave the service?
ROSENBLAT: Well, there must -- I think we get him to general court marshal, general court marshal can give him any type of punishment including a dishonorable discharge. Then down from there, there'd be a bad conduct special court marshal that mostly discharge him with a bad kind of discharge, we can give him -- other than a honorable discharge, a general discharge under honorable conditions or just, you know, try to check him out of the army for misconduct.
COOPER: And Jeff, there are certainly some out there saying that the president should be impeached for this. I mean we've heard that from someone in Capitol Hill. Does it go that far?
TOOBIN: Well, I certainly don't think so. I don't think this is the kind of highest crime and misdemeanor that would amount to grounds for impeachment. Yeah, this is mostly a political process. This is part of the give and take between Congress and the president and the courts have generally stayed out of these sorts of controversies between courts and the Congress.
But Congress can call hearings. Congress can call witnesses. Congress can pass new laws that are tighter, have greater sanctions. But, you know, as far as I'm concerned, the facts are the facts and if this law stays on the books, it should be followed.
COOPER: Michael, you know, there's obviously also been a lot of criticism about the exchange, one US soldier for five Gitmo detainees. Do you agree with those criticisms? What do you make of this?
ROSENBLAT: Yeah, I think America has to get its soldiers back and I understand the criticism of exchanging five soldiers or five prisoners for one American soldier. But we as United States need to get our prisoners back whether he abandoned his post, you know, lawfully or not, I think it's important for us to always bring our soldiers home whether it's, you know, lawful or not or whether, you know, it's another issue. But ...
COOPER: So for me the idea that ...
ROSENBLAT: ... for thousands of years.
COPPER: The idea that he abandoned his post, that should not in any way sort of negate the idea of not leaving anyone behind.
ROSENBLAT: In my view, right, I mean he's still an American, he still -- he might have done something wrong and violated the law or the orders, you know, the general orders to stay in his base but we still should bring him back.
COOPER: Michael Rosenblat, good to have you on. Jeffrey Toobin as well, thanks very much.
A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you like.
Coming up next, voices on both sides. The debate over the circumstances of Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance including those, some troops included, who believe he's a deserter point blank. I'll talk with the long-time friend of the Bergdahl family as well who's waiting for Sergeant Bergdahl to come home.
COOPER: Well, we touched on the top for broadcast the device of Bowe Bergdahl's release is proven to be. There is obviously joy in his home town and his family. There's relief around the country that an American captive is safe. There's questions as well, practical ones, about the wisdom of making a deal, any deal to get him back and then there is the political dimension which as we're seeing is considerable.
More in that all now from Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's a good day.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT FOR WASHINGTON: Welcome news for Bowe Bergdahl's parents. Their son, America's only known prisoner of war, was released by his Taliban captors and coming home to Idaho.
JANI BERGDAHL, MOTHER OF RESCUED SOLDIER: Five years is a seemingly endless long time but you've made it.
TAPPER: But new details coming to light about how Bergdahl's freedom was both lost and regained complicate any plan's ticker tape parades.
These are the faces of five mid to high level Taliban prisoners smiling as they are released from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl.
Though trading for hostages or prisoners of war is not unprecedented in American's history, this latest swap has opponents.
MIKE ROGERS, MICHIGAN REPRESENTATIVE: You've sent a message to every Al-Qaeda group in the world that says that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn't have before.
TAPPER: The Obama Administration defends the deal. DENIS MCDONOUGH, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFFF: The United States of America does not leave our men and women in uniform behind ever.
TAPPER: Bergdahl is currently in Germany where his physical and mental health are the priorities. One of his first tasks is relearning English.
BOB BERGDAHL, FATHER OF RESCUED SOLDIER: I hope your English is coming back and I want you to know that I love you. I'm proud of you. I'm so proud of your character.
TAPPER: His parents' joy not withstanding more than a dozen soldiers who served with Bergdahl call him a deserter.
They tell CNN he purposely left the observation post. An Afghan child told some of them he saw an American soldier that morning walking by himself.
On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel deferred questions about how Bergdahl came to be in enemy hands.
CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm not surprised that there are still questions and until we get the facts, exactly what the condition of Sergeant Bergdahl is, we can't go much further and speculating.
TAPPER: Soldiers on the ground at the time tell CNN that insurgents were able to take advantage of the massive military undertaking to try to rescue Bergdahl with IEDs placed more effectively an ambush is more calculated.
At least six Americans were killed in that effort over the following weeks. Troops on the ground tell CNN, Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen, Private First Class Morris Walker, Staff Sergeant Kirk Curtiss, Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, Private First Class Matthew Martinek, Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey. For their parents, this moment will never come.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Bob and Jani, today families across America sharing the joy that I know you feel.
TAPPER: Many soldiers are furious. The Facebook page Bowe Bergdahl Is Not A Hero was started by one of Bergdahl's former squad leaders. It has nearly 6,000 members.
A petition to punish Bergdahl for going AWOL was started hours after his release.
People who served with Bergdahl want answers if not a court marshal for desertion. But defense officials tell CNN that the sergeant will likely not face punishment, instead he may be promoted to staff sergeant later this month.
Jake Tapper, CNN Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: There's really a lot of bitter feelings but also great joy especially in Hailey, Idaho that's where friend and former roommate Sherry Horton is waiting for Bowe Bergdahl to come home. She joins us tonight.
So, Sherry, I know this got to be incredibly exciting time for you, for everybody in Hailey. Talk to us about the moment when you found out that your friend was really coming home. I know you called and spoke to his mother.
SHERRY HORTON, FORMER ROOMMATE AND FRIEND OF LOST SOLDIER: I did, about 11:00, 11:30 on Saturday. The phone just started going crazy and I picked it up and one of my friends said I just heard the craziest news on the radio that Bowe has been released.
And of course before I got super excited, because there's been so many talks and so many rumors about the talks and everything. I did call his family to confirm. And his mom answered the phone just super over the top excited. She was crying and all she could get out for the first little bit was it's true, it's true.
So it was -- after that kind of all sink in and my whole house went crazy and then everybody started kind of piling out of their houses and in the town so that we could all kind of talk and celebrate.
COOPER: Well, I know his parents obviously have been working overtime behind the scenes trying to push to keep his cause alive. What does that involve?
HORTON: Well, his parents have been a big part of that. They are the ones that have been making the trips to Washington. But we've been doing every year, the community has put together a rally where we have motorcycle groups, POW/MIA motorcycle groups from all over the country that come in.
Last year, I think we counted 1,100 motorcycle groups where we have just a big rally with We Planted a Tree every year at this rally to symbolize every year that he was in captivity. And it's just a nice way for the community to get together, show support and still bring awareness to the situation.
COOPER: You know Bowe, I mean you meet him -- I understand when he came into your ballet studio where you worked, what's he like?
HORTON: He is a great guy. He did. He -- one of my dancers was a family friend of his and he had a sword fighting class right before her class and he just stayed to watch what was going on in ballet class. The next thing I know, I had a male dancer which is in small town Idaho is a wonderful thing. I got to put on a lot more productions and have a more, you know, the girls got a lot more experience partnering with the gentlemen.
COOPER: Did you know anything about his dissolution with the war -- his apparent dissolution with the war, did he ever expressed that to you? HORTON: He did not express that to me. We talked about other stuff in the time between everything. We would chat about other things, you know, we're best friends so we chat about a lot of the silly things that as friends chat about relationships and everything.
He is very much, you know, he kept himself a lot and a lot of his thoughts. And I grew up in an army base so he might have thought that it wasn't necessarily the place for him to talk to me about it because I might be coming from a different, you know, mind set than he was.
COOPER: Right. You know, there obviously has been criticism of him by some -- especially even some who served with him in the same unit. How does the community deal with that? I mean is the community kind of dismayed by some of the criticism of him or -- how do people feel?
HORTON: We, you know, everyone in the community not -- I mean -- well, not everyone because obviously I can't speak for everybody. But we knew there were some articles while he's been gone. The whole general feel of the town is that they were just happy he's back.
We're happy that he is out of captivity. Right now, we just want to celebrate the fact that he is alive and well or as well as he can be and show support for the family and let them know that we're behind them for whatever they need to do to make sure Bowe on his uphill battle has what he needs.
So the community has kind of bonded together to show support and, you know. And the unified thing, we can deal with all the other stuff later. Right now, we're just so happy and thrilled to have him back that that's really our focus here.
COOPER: Well, it's a great town. I've been there many times and he's lucky to have you as neighbors and friends. And, Sherry, thank you so much for talking with us.
HORTON: Great. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, as always, you can find out more in the story and others at cnn.com
Up next, the latest on Donald and Shelly Sterling's very public battle over the sale of Los Angeles Clippers.
And later, I'll talk to the pastor who invited Mr. Sterling to his predominantly African-American church this past weekend. Plus, he may look and sound like a rock star but he's 100 percent Pentecostal preacher for the following that's hard to reach young people.
COOPER: A quick recap for the latest in Donald and Shelly Sterling's Saga.
Mrs. Sterling has worked out a deal that will let her keep her ties to the Los Angeles Clippers even after the sale of the team is complete. She'll have a type of owner amortized position presumably allowing her to attend games in the arena as you know Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for life for making racist remarks.
Earlier tonight, his attorney told me that Mrs. Sterling didn't fully disclose why she wanted her husband to see the doctors who recently declared him mentally incapacitated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX BLECHER, DONALD STERLING'S ATTORNEY: I think Shelly induced him to do these examinations without disclosing to what she was really doing and the theory that, "Gee, why don't we go get an examination, maybe you could use some medications or something."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The attorney says that the idea that Donald Sterling is mentally incapacitated is ridiculous. That's one thing. There's also this. Over the weekend, Mr. Sterling accepted an invitation to a predominantly African-American church service in South Central Los Angeles. There were cameras rolling out by surprise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Invitation or not, to some, it looked like a publicity stunt an attempt by Sterling to improve his image after his racist remarks that were caught on tape. The invitation came from Reverend J.B. Hardwick and he joins me tonight.
Pastor, Donald Sterling came to your church, why did you invite him to come and what was it like?
REV. J.B. HARDWICK, PASTOR, PRAISES OF ZION BAPTIST CHURCH: A little while ago, some friends of Mrs. Sterling, I have met them and I was invited to visit him and that's how it all started about some weeks ago.
COOPER: So you hadn't met Donald Sterling or you didn't know him up until about two or so weeks ago, correct?
HARDWICK: That's right.
COOPER: And why did you decided to invite him to your church?
HARDWICK: I passed a congregation in South Central Los Angeles and I was watching television one day and I noticed this man carrying a load of burden and my heart just went out to him. And I have decided to meet with him and see if I can encourage him as I would any other soul that I was in contact with.
COOPER: Did you have any concern about the comments that Mrs. Sterling had made either on that recording? I'm not sure if you heard the recording or public comments he made to me about Magic Johnson. Did you have any concern?
HARDWICK: Yes. I have -- we deal a concern about the comments, that's not something that I condone but I can understand. When you are burdened or disturbed as a human being, you have a right -- I won't say all right but you -- sometimes you say things that you really don't mean. And I think that's what happened in his case.
COOPER: Do you believe his remorse for racist? Do you believe he is racist?
HARDWICK: No, I really -- after talking to him and looking into his background I don't -- I really do not believe he's a racist. And I think that just like so many of us, we lost our cool, we lost our sense of thinking and we said thing that we regret at times. I firmly believe that.
COOPER: I want to play just something that he said to me in an interview. This was an interview on camera about two weeks or so ago. This is not the recording that started this whole with that he made with this woman, V. Stiviano, this is an interview he made in front of the camera some of what he said to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STERLING: That's one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people and some of the African-American -- maybe I'll get in trouble again. They don't want to help anybody...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And then he went on talked about Magic Johnson that somebody who in his words has aids and has never done anything for African- American. So are those comments which you feel were made under duress in some way or stress?
HARDWICK: Yes, I do feel that way. And each of us will -- I will use the street term, we loss our cool at times and said things we will regret. And he said himself it might get him in trouble. So I look at the scriptures, the bible and I have a great deal of belief in the word of God. And I just can't teach him as being a person who carry hate continuously in their heart.
COOPER: Just lastly, I do have ask. Donald Sterling told me, you know, he is giving a lot of money to a number of organizations, a number of African-American groups over the years that he donates money to. Has he made any donation of any kind to your church or you expecting him too?
HARDWICK: No, I'm not expecting him money. I never discuss with him. When he entered our worship he said to me, he said Reverend, I would like to do something to help the people in this community with you. That's the only time anything we discuss about financial. He just voluntarily said that I haven't given any thought.
COOPER: Thank you Pastor. I really an honor to talk to you.
Up next, look at the possible future of faith in America? How one church leader is drawn huge crowds of the young and wait in line to get in, as if it's a rock concert. Be right back. COMMERCIAL BREAK
COOPER: Welcome back. When we say hipster church, is by not the first idea that comes to mind, that's what makes our next story some intriguing. We're pretty confident you've never met a pastor like Carl Lentz, unlike so called traditional in church across American. His church which he founded with his wife brims with 20 and 30 something every Sunday.
They wait in line to get in. In this, what makes it all the more surprising is this is happening in New York City, in the last place perhaps you'd expect to find it. Poppy Harlow reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPPY HARLOW: The music, the light, the crowd, it looks like a rock concert. And the lines around the block are enough to make many night club envious. But this, this is church. And some New Yorker can seem to get enough of their unlikely pastor Carl Lentz.
LENTZ: I will not say that I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I take to look at my life. I realize there's nothing left (inaudible).
HARLOW: With his leather jacket and body ink, Carl Lentz looks more like rock star than a head of a Pentecostal church.
LENTZ: Since the Lord is my shepherd and I lack nothing.
Hustles, on three. One, two three, Hustles.
HARLOW: But his is 35 year old basketball fanatic. A walk on at (NC) state who calls himself the Unofficial Chaplin in for the New York Knicks is a pastor, the lead pastor of a church, Hillsong NYC.
LENTZ: If you've run from church your whole life, this is like the organization but we meet in a club and we're going to sing the songs you used to sing in and we're not going to preach a message you're think you're going to hear.
HARLOW: You take issue when people call this religion.
LENTZ: I do. You can be religious about being a car thief, you can be a religious, you know, criminal but we have a relationship with God.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Come on somebody that is worth of Pentecostal (inaudible) something.
HARLOW: This is the American branch of Australian mega church Hillsong, which goes some 75,000 members in 12 countries. LENTZ and his wife Laura started Hillsong NYC three years ago after meeting at the churches bible college in Sidney.
LENTZ: And I gotten in my, you know, proverbial knees one day and said, Jesus, I may give this a shot with you in charge. LAURA LENTZ: We have to try to create a place that is safe to people that like home of people.
It's not for everyone and that's OK and that's the great diversity and the beauty of the house of God, the church.
HARLOW: On an average Sunday some 6,000 followers whore in over the days five services.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just leave like filled with Holy Spirit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't feel judged that all really lack in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when I came here I found what I was looking for, I found god.
HARLOW: You found God?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Simply and plain, yes. He's presence is here, it's phenomenal
HARLOW: The church baptisms are carried out here in a time square hotel swimming pool.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel so amazing, I feel new.
LENTZ: This narrow day to Jesus, some people are rolling right by it...
HARLOW: Watch Lentz preach and you'll see his veins pop out of his neck. He is intensity silences the entire congregation.
LENTZ: Jesus is here.
HARLOW: Whether or not you agree with his message, there is no denying Lentz is magnetic.
LENTZ: And you cannot find hope, this has to be your moment to say, "Let me try that chief shepherd that has never failed anybody. Let me give the creator a shot at my life. Let me give the...
HARLOW: Is Carl the next the next Brian Huston, the next Bill Austin?
BRIAN HOUSTON: Could will be, could will be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could will be at complaining, Moses is already praising.
HARLOW: Bryan Huston founded in Hillsong 30 years ago in Australia with his wife Bobbie.
Or you can turn that people are coming for them more than for the message?
HOUSTON: Not really, I've seen the same response all over the world. People learning up for church in London, (inaudible) even in Parish, you know. Kind of obviously, you know, he's magnetic, selective guy, I mean this tattoos were a problem but big victories.
HARLOW: You are like the tattoos?
HOUSTON: There like...
LENTZ: They're stickers. They're not great. Thanks Bobbie (ph) for bringing that up.
I'm going to walk down this (inaudible). Bucket list.
HARLOW: He seems to revel in the spotlight. But Lentz would prefer you focus on his preaching rather than his wardrobe. He says he's been blocked from visiting inmates because prison stuff thought he look more like a criminal than a cleric.
LENTZ: It's so funny when people make comments about the way the we look almost like it's -- they don't mean to be judgmental but it's like I always say, "What should we look like?" You're implying that there's an outfit I could ware that would bring peace to you. The whole point of our faith is to come exactly as you are.
Jesus loves you. He died and rose again so you could have light.
HARLOW: You've got to admit that the way you dress, the tattoos, the way you look gets people talking and is that a bad thing?
LENTZ: No, of course that's not a bad thing.
HOUSTON: It's important. I mean no wonder why they're call it a hipster church.
LENTZ: Yeah, I'm not a hipster. You need to know. Hipsters are...
LENTZ: Yeah. First of all, let me explain you what a -- a hipster is someone who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
HARLOW: Where, yeah.
LENTZ: Who has much better beard and runs for Brooklyn.
HARLOW: Well Hillsong draws crowd, it also draws skeptic.
BRETT MCCRACKEN, AUTHOR OF HIPSTER CHRISTIANITY: Any time a church can, you know, get people on the door, it's a good. But I think the problem and the questions I have is if we're getting them in under the guys of like a cool experience or a cool club type experience, is that going to sustain them?
HARLOW: Brett Mccracken is the author of Hipster Christianity when church and cool collide.
MCCRACKEN: Whenever a pastor or a celebrity pastor becomes the draw. It's a destruction from Jesus and that should be the draw.
LENTZ: You guys know your bible still works mid wing?
MCCRACKEN: I don't know that the accouterments and the big lights and sound and music and style of the church is going to transform a young persons life in the long run.
HARLOW: Some might say this is Christianity light?
HARLOW: Is that fair?
MCCRACKEN: I don't even know what they meaning by that. They try to say everything from shallow teaching to emotional music. I don't buy any of it.
LENTZ: Even when your bank accounts says zero, we have Jesus, we're going to be all right. No fear.
LENTZ: I've heard the other critical bents of like, well if have a lot of people coming, you must be doing something wrong, and which is the weirdest concept in history. But wherever Jesus went there were absolute throngs of people trying to get to him.
HARLOW: And throngs of people try just to get in to Hillsong.
LENTZ: Our goal is not to turn some cultish thinking in the New York City like, can you come to our church, we're going to change you. That's an arrogant premise.
HARLOW: Have people said that to you that this is cultish?
LENTZ: For sure...
L LENTZ: Yes?
LENTZ: Even though it's most preposterous allegation in history.
HARLOW: Can you see where that might be coming from?
LENTZ: Only because people are uneducated on what is a cult is. A cult is when I tell you what to think and if you think any different, you're gone. That's a cult. We preach the opposite. Actually I usually go home and question what I preach. You should look it up in your own bible.
HARLOW: But getting American use to read a bible is more and more difficult. A 2012 Pew study found one-third of American adult under 30 have no religious affiliation, a big jump from past generation.
LENTZ: Sometimes they say like, "Your church is filled with young people." I say, "No, it's not. We just actually have some."
HARLOW: Are criticizing the traditional, typical what where we picture this church?
LENTZ: I'm not criticizing. I'm just calling it what it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christianity should be about unbridled contiguous joy. But religion has hijacked the fundamental ingredient (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: (inaudible) talking big time crowd. She's also talked to some major celebrities and managing to raise millions in the process. Where the money going? And part of Poppy Harlow's report, still ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before the break we introduce to past to Carl Lentz, the man of the cloth, who is challenging preconceptions about what a preacher should look and sound like. He's fashion links toward jeans and leader jackets, he's service and sound like a rock concert at times. Hillsong NYC which Lentz and his wife founded in the heart of New York has drawn an unlikely flock and young and often trendy and some big time celebrities as well. Of all the attention the churches balance sheet is exploding. Here's is part two of Poppy Harlow's report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAWLOW: Hillsong Church is drawing in the crowd and making big money. One reason, they're Christian rock band Hillsong united. With 40 million album sold according to church founder Brian Houston.
Some news reports have (inaudible) the churches worth at 50 million to 100 million. Are those number right?
HOUSTON: They would be on the whole pack, because plenty could build the Catholic church of course.
LENTZ: You can make out to check the Hillsong Church.
HARLOW: (inaudible) is encourage, credit cards accepted.
Some people might look at and say, "Well they live in a very cool neighborhood, nice place on the river, you know, that sound what I pay church with."
LENTZ: If you go down that road you simply cannot poor enough for some people. Well you can drive that car but not that car. But we're never going cater to that mindset or people try to tell us how to live.
HARLOW: As Pastor Carl Lentz's star rise, a hosted of celebrity have gathered around him.
HARLOW: Do you care about having celebrities in your congregation? LENTZ: The goal of our church is from the nameless to the famous. Our church should have celebrities we believe because we're trying to reach everybody. That's one of our goals.
HARLOW: There's Justin Bieber who tweeted, "I broke down today after one of Lentz's sermon." And Lentz baptized NBA megastar Kevin Durant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: I'm working on the (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: We wanted to know where Lentz falls on social issues and politics.
LENTZ: My thing is that Jesus transcends politics. So whether I'm right wing, left wing, Democrat, Republicans.
HARLOW: You're going to tell us?
LENTZ: No, it wouldn't be any fun. Some Christians say, you can't be even a Democrat and even follow Jesus. That really bugs me.
HARLOW: Some of his positions are clearer than others. Don't get drunk, no sex before marriage.
Are gay, men and women welcome in the church?
LENTZ: Absolutely. We have a lot gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do.
L. LENTZ: It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live, it's -- that their journey.
HARLOW: Every article I've read about you guys says you decline to discuss gay marriage.
LENTZ: Yes, it's a misquote because I do discuss it, just not the way people want me too. When it comes to homosexuality, I refuse to let another human being or immediate moment dictate how we approach it. Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today was widely prevalent. And I'm still waiting for someone to show me the quote were Jesus address it on the record in front of people. You won't find it because he never did.
HARLOW: But people are finding Hillsong. Some 3,000 just turned up for one of the churches first event in Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Hillsong at L.A. is on its way. It's...
HOUSTON: You know, the funny thing about Hillsong, whether its music or at churches, is that we seem to do well with other people struggle.
HARLOW: So will we not see you in the bible belt (ph)?
Houston: I really have (inaudible) where we're called to be.
HARLOW: Lentz says he doesn't dream of building a mega church or becoming televangelist.
LENTZ: Success is not having a big church, a big portfolio, a lot of money, nice cars. Prosperity for us is simple knowing Jesus and having the right to repent from the sinful life and cling to that cross everyday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you guys for waiting. We didn't expect to be a capacity already of course.
HARLOW: But he is redefining church for some.
LENTZ: What's going, you need to hear this whether you like it or not. God is your shepherd whether you like it or not. He has never failed anybody and his not going to start with you whether you like it or not, you need to hear it. He is going to lead you into something better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Poppy Harlow joins me know. Joining from the (inaudible) I'd never -- I'd hear about him but I haven't actually seem him (inaudible).
COOPER: They seem to be focusing on big cities, is that right?
HARLOW: Absolutely, I mean they've said themselves you're not going to see this in the Bible belt. They believe that his works in New York City and where seeing proof of it. I was shock the first time I went that there was lines around the block. They couldn't even let some people in. People would wait outside for hours to get into the next service.
L.A. they're already doing well. I think we're going to see this pop- up in big cities across America, proof and then putting. I mean there in 12 major cities around the world. So yes, I think their working where a lot people have these conceptions that big churches don't work.
COOPER: And I'm not quite sure I understood his answer on gay marriage...
COOPER: ...or same sex relationship. I mean...
HARLOW: Did you think it sounded like none answer?
COOPER: Well, no. I mean, I thought interesting he said, you know, Jesus never said anything about it, which, you know, is really an argument that has been made before. You don't hear pastors saying that very often. But he does say that, but... HARLOW: He don't.
COPPER: ...does he -- do we know if he preaches about or.
HARLOW: So we haven't heard him preach about it, I certainly haven't been at every ceremony. But we reported this out for months. We haven't heard him preach about other than saying everyone is welcome here and the discussion about homosexuality gay marriage as a private one to have.
An interesting thing that he told me in our discussions is that this is where he and the church stand right now. Their young, I mean he's in his -- this is a young church, three years old in New York City. And he did -- he said that that may change over the years. And I think as we see the discussion about gay marriage, gay rights progress in this country is going to be very important and interesting to watch where their stands becomes. If they do choose...
HARLOW: ...to take an public stands on that.
COPPER: All right. Poppy Harlow, thanks so much specially on your report.
COPPER: Coming up, breaking news the arrest of an FBI fugitive describe as armed and dangerous. The accused are having explosives at home. Plus a new search effort in the disappearance of three year old Madeleine McCann back in 2007. Police are now focusing on, next.
COOPER: What more happening tonight, Susan Hendricks does at 360 board. Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS: Anderson we start with breaking news on the search for a San Francisco a man accuse of having explosive materials at his home, apparently is over. An FBI sources telling us that this man Ryan Chamberlain is now in custody.
The block near his home was close for 15 hours over the weekend. As investigators searched and cleared the area. Also breaking tonight regarding the NFL, Dan Marino and 14 other former pro foot players are suing the league for financial compensation for game related injuries.
The lawsuit accuses the NFL of dangerous practices including knowing that repeated concussion would likely lead to brain injury and other illness that denying that connection. And the NTSB says the black boxes have been recovered from the wreckage of the private plane crush that killed all seven people onboard including Lewis Katz, the Philadelphia newspaperman who once own the New Jersey nets.
And the devils pilots we're trying to take off Saturday night north of Boston when the planes crush through a fence and down embankment and cause fire. At 360 follow now, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman who was convicted of violating a chemical weapons treaty and eligibly trying to poison a woman who she accused of having an affair with her husband. Now, the justices ruled that the government over step it's authority in prosecuting Carol Anne Bond. The case will now go back to lower course.
Police investigating the 2007 disappearance of three year old Madeleine McCann will soon start digging in an area close to where she went missing in Portugal. Scotland Yard reopened its investigation last July after a two year review of the original investigation.
And Spain's King Juan Carlos has announced he is stepping down after nearly 40 years on the throne with the country in the midst of deep economic crisis. In a statement of the King said, "It is time for a new generation to take over." So Crown Prince Felipe will succeed his father. His wife, Princess Letizia, one of the Europe's most glamorous royals will now become queen and she was once a journalist in Spain, a reporter and an anchor there. Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Susan, thanks very much. That does it for us. We'll see you again 11:00 p.m. Eastern for another edition of "360." "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.