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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Encore Presentation: Interview with Former President George H.W. Bush; Evangelists Robert Schuller and Son
Aired January 29, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight the 41st President of the United States George H.W. Bush on his urgent mission to save millions left homeless and starving by Pakistan's earthquake and more.
And then exclusive Dr. Robert Schuller, a giant among American evangelists and his son, Robert A. Schuller. Their first interview since the father passed leadership over his ministry to his son. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
On December 15th, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed former President Bush as United States special envoy to review relief and reconstruction efforts in earthquake-ravaged region of Pakistan. The president is back from Pakistan. He joins from us College Station, Texas.
I must say you look marvelous. Do you feel as good as you look?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't, Larry, to be very frank with you. I kind of jet-lagged out. It was a 21 and a half hour flight back from that region, but I feel good because I have a nice feeling inside that we're trying to help people. And I hope I can be successful in that.
KING: What's your role?
BUSH: My role, I am the special envoy for Kofi Annan. He called me out of a clear blue sky, and he said I'd like you to come to New York and talk to you about something. He sent somebody down to talk to me about it here in Texas.
And my role is really narrowly defined, and it is to help Pakistan collect on the pledges of $6.2 billion already made to them. Now, some of them are loans and some are in-kind donations, but the role is really to help bring relief. But do it mainly through collecting the pledges that have already been made.
I'm also trying to support the CEOS. There's five USA CEOS who are raising another $100 million. So in the final analysis is going to be helping Pakistan collect the money that they have coming.
KING: Why do you have to go there if the goal is to make sure the collections come in here?
BUSH: Well, it's a good question, and the answer is I wanted to see for myself the devastation. When you see something and you kind of get the tire swipe, you can be a better advocate for getting that money. And I'll tell you, I'm glad I went.
The big problem we had, Larry, the weather was so bad on the two days I was there, that we could not fly into the Kashmir area. But we did see one devastated, devastating site, and that was a camp right on the outskirts of Islamabad.
And they told me these tents, this camp is very much like the ones that are up in the mountains. So my mission was only half accomplished in terms of watching and seeing and feeling the pulse of the people. But it is tragedy, tragedy galore, and I feel good trying to help.
KING: This is one of the worst ever, right?
BUSH: Yes, I think it is, as far as Pakistan. They've had earthquakes before. But this one killed 73,500 people, just dead. And many, many other disabled.
The tragedy, and I think we talked about this with President Clinton, you and I, and that was the young people, the children. You look in these tents and they are sitting there. They are looking after them. They're getting fed.
But I mean it is devastating to think here they're miles away from their homes. Their homes are just collapsed like this on top of some of them. And the relief agencies, the U.N. organization and then the big NGOS are doing a pretty good job, but it's never enough. And I think Pakistan really needs help.
KING: Now your son, the president, has asked five top business leaders to encourage private sector donations for earthquake relief and reconstruction. They include the CEO of GE, Pfizer, of Xerox. The web site for that group is www.safewinter.org, one word.
Now what do these leaders, what do they have to do?
BUSH: Well, what they're out to do is raise new money. New money is needed. And they're going to raise it, and I don't know whether they're going to distribute it through the NGOS. I think they are, but they're just selflessly raising money.
They're doing pretty much what Bill Clinton and I tried to do and did do in the Katrina effort, and I think they're having a pretty good success. But these are busy people, giving of these times, they are what I recall being one of 1,000 points of light out there trying to help other people. So it's a clear mercy mission.
It's relief, and then eventually it's reconstruction. Right now, Pakistan's focusing on the relief effort, being sure they got warm tents, being sure they got enough food, being sure health care is there. In the long run it's going to be a huge reconstruction job. And I think their money is probably going to go to both.
KING: And is reliefweb.inc., is that a associated with that or is that a separate concept?
BUSH: Larry, you know me. I'm computer ignorant. I don't know what the hell that--I mean, I don't know what the heck that is.
KING: I don't know what it is either. They just wrote it down. Or if you don't go to safewinter.org, you can reliefweb.inc. Do you work a computer?
BUSH: I think that may--oh, of course I can do that. I'm a big email man, but I think that's the U.N.'s site for U.N. relief director. That's probably an organization.
KING: Now have you reported to Kofi Annan yet?
BUSH: I'm sorry I used a bad word on your program.
BUSH: Yes, I talked to him. When I got back he called me up and I had a good conversation. We have a very able member. His staff is helping me, Colonel Kennedy, Kevin Kennedy, very well-seasoned man on international relief efforts. He's devoted much of his life to that, and I feel very comfortable with that arrangement we have with Kofi Annan's staff.
But he called up and gentleman that he is, expressed his gratitude. And I said Kofi, I don't think we've done anything for you. Don't worry, just your taking on this mission is helping. Well, I hope he's right.
KING: On January 13th there was a U.S. airstrike on alleged terrorists in Pakistan, killed a lot of innocent people, did it undercut goodwill there? What did you discover, or what are the feelings of the Pakistani leaders?
BUSH: Well, the leaders, you know, any time an innocent loses his life, why, they are obviously concerned, but the leaders are strong anti-terrorist people. Shaukat Aziz is the prime minister. He's in Washington right now, a very good man. General Musharraf, I was so impressed with him, and I had long visits with both of them on the trip.
And of course they'd be concerned if something goes awry, but on the other hand, I've heard them say or had their spokesman say they felt some bad guys were taken out in this mission. And it's tough over there. Along that border, Larry, it is very difficult.
But that again, that wasn't my mission and I'm not up-to-date on all of the details of something like that anymore.
KING: You are the former head of the CIA. What's your own read, just your read on this bin Laden tape?
BUSH: Right. On the tape?
KING: Yes, the recent released tape.
BUSH: Well, I don't really have a feeling. Again, I hate to deal from ignorance on something. I've inquired as to whether the people think it's authentic, and I think they do. I think he's, I think, he's concerned.
I'll tell you what I did do when I was over there. I stopped by Qatar, and there I was briefed by our marvelous commanding general in the area, Commander General Abizaid.
And I'll tell you something, Larry. He feels things are going much better against these terrorists. Some call them insurgents. I call them terrorists, than the impressions we get at home. He's a very intelligent Arab speaking guy, good man, and that was very reassuring to me.
KING: Do you think the media reports are wrong or they're emphasized in the wrong way?
BUSH: Well, I think some clearly are. Look, hey, I didn't come in here on a watermelon truck. I think some are, but some are not. There are some very good reporters, objectively reporting, but on the other hand I've talked to a lot of people that have come back, and they say things are a heck of a lot better than the impression they get once they've gotten back from some in the media.
So there's some media, and no question about that. But our president's strong, and he's going to stay the course. And I think's he's going to prevail. I think we are going to prevail as a nation. I think our soldiers are going to prevail.
KING: Our guest is the former president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, on his trip to Pakistan and on www.safewinter.org, where you can help, so many people, destroyed homes, destroyed lives lost in that region. We'll be back with more. Then the Schullers will join us at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with former President Bush. He's at College Station, Texas. While I know we don't negotiate with terrorists, President Bush, what's your read on what to do about the journalist, Jill Carroll, who as far as we know is still being held?
BUSH: Well, I know that her father, I think it was, made this wonderfully emotional, strong plea to the hostage holders. You're correct, we do not negotiate with terrorists and we can't or that would just open the floodgates. But I think if we'd, you know, let's pray that she gets out of there and they come to their senses.
There are other examples where people like her have been released. And I hope they'll do that. I think they're, I think they're -- when they went into Jordan, Larry, and killed those people at a wedding, many of them Muslims, it really set back this terrorist cause.
It really set back this radical approach to solving political problems by terror, and so I hope that that lesson will spill over to the people that are holding her hostage in Iraq, and that they will release her and I think that's about -- I'm sure the government has made clear that that's what they hope will happen. But you're right, you cannot negotiate with terrorists, no matter how painful it is.
KING: But it must be a very futile feeling for a president, though, isn't it?
BUSH: Well I'm sure it is. I know it's a real problem. Our president, I'm sure, feels anguish in his heart, great anguish. But not just for this, but for so many human cases of suffering and loss of life.
I've seen and talked to some of the soldiers in the hospitals. I've seen them comforting families. We've all seen that on the television, and it takes a toll on you.
But he's a strong man. He's a principled person, and I don't believe you'll see him negotiating or authorizing negotiations with these terrorists. It's just not going to happen, in my view.
KING: What are your thoughts? The president spoke on it very strongly this morning, on this interruption of phone calls between people in the United States and people overseas who might be involved with al Qaeda?
BUSH: Well this may surprise you, but I support the president, because you know, we -- we've gotten -- we've gotten a little forgetful, Larry about 9/11. And I think if one call is intercepted that can guarantee against another such plot or make another such plot fail, it's worth it.
And he spelled out what they're trying to do in listening and it's not like they're invading everybody's homes, some guy in Des Moines talking to somebody in Reno. That's not what this is all about, so I'm supportive, and I think a lot of people say, "Well, you're pounding or impugning our civil rights. You're not giving -- you're invading our privacy."
It's a very narrow band that's being used, and I think the president's pretty darn clear on it. And fortunately, the country seems to be backing on him from what I've seen.
KING: Do you think the new -- sorry, go ahead.
BUSH: No, I was going to say there's a case, Larry, where a lot of people in the press, you know, condemn that, without knowing the facts. They totally condemn what the president has authorized, and yet I find that the American people, at least of course, maybe they don't speak to me like they would to you, but I think that they're in support of this, when you phrase it.
If you think you can abort an attack on the United States, you're on some family in the United States, by doing this. Is it worth it or not? And look, I'm 82, almost, 81 and a half, and I would say yes, it's certainly worth it.
we've got to be respectful of rights, you've got to be careful, but the president had legal advice that he relies on, and I think he needs support of the American people. KING: You think the Iraqi constitution's going to work? Do you think that government's going to work?
BUSH: It's a huge step forward. I mean, I remember about a year ago, the naysayers were all saying, couldn't believe it was getting this far. But I hope so. I hope it's inclusive, and I hope that all of these different groups, including the Sunnis, are represented. But you know, I don't know, Larry. I don't know near enough about it. I do know that General Abizaid, who I talked to -- I just felt so lucky to have that private briefing by him -- feels confidence that things are going pretty darn well there.
KING: Only a former president could say he feels lucky to talk to a general. One would think if you called him, he would return the call.
BUSH: Well, not if you're former. I mean, heck, you're good about it, but a lot of guys will say put him on hold, you know. I'm not looking for any day in the sun, Larry. I'm very happy. Barbara's here with me tonight, so is our dog. They're both sitting here and we'll go off and have a nice, quiet evening in College Station, we'll continue to try to help on tsunami.
We'll continue to try to help on the Katrina. I'll try to continue my mission on Pakistan, and you know, there's great satisfaction in thinking that you can maybe help other people. That's where I am at this stage in my life.
KING: And you're doing a great job with it. We'll take a break and come back with more moments with former President Bush and then we'll meet the Schullers. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.
KING: We're back with former President Bush and we'll be repeating those Web site numbers for you. Some other questions about Pakistani relief. What about preparing for a State of the Union message? How much time does that take? What is it like?
BUSH: Well, I guess it depends on the president, and I don't know how much it takes this president but we did spend a lot of time in preparation. You practice, and then hope it goes well, but there's no questions and answers, so it's more saying what you, getting your speech which you want and then getting it down so you appear to the country as being natural about it.
I mean, perhaps I wasn't the best at that, but I think the president has done them very well, and I expect we'll get a good one this time.
KING: Is it a nervous night?
BUSH: Yes, oh, yes, it really is, Larry, because you got the whole country looking at you, and it's very nervous. Did I ever tell you about the time my mother told me when I was vice president, and she said George, I saw in front of the whole country, but I noticed something. And I said, what did you notice mother? She said, I noticed you were talking to Tip O'Neill when Ronald Reagan was talking to the country.
I was vice president. I said, he started it. You know what you tell your mother? You gotta' do that. The other thing she told me, you got to smile more. I said Mom, he's talking about nuclear annihilation. I'm not going to be grinning up there.
No, it's a nervous time, but this president has been through a lot and he'll handle it well.
KING: Any word, have you talked to Gerald Ford? He's still in the hospital with pneumonia.
BUSH: I haven't. A person in my office talked to I believe Gerry Ford's chief of staff and I'm concerned, because I thought he'd be out, but he's such a good man, such a decent man and I don't like the longevity here. I don't like the length it's taking but I've been told recently it's not life threatening.
KING: You've gotten very friendly with Bill Clinton, is his health OK?
BUSH: He looks good. He's like that energizer bunny, all over the field, not just on Katrina or tsunami but on a lot of other projects, and I've enjoyed working with him. We got huge differences on a lot of things and maybe, Larry, as the campaign of '06 and certainly '08 come into focus, there will be more differences. Maybe there will be some strains in there, but heretofore, it's been great, and we know we've got political differences but we also think that there's something, in this instance, that transcends partisan politics, and that's trying to help somebody else.
KING: Do you think his wife might well be the candidate in 2008, the opposition?
BUSH: Put it this way, I think she's got it in her mind. I'm not about to try to -- I can't, Larry, come on, I can't predict that kind of thing.
KING: How long does this project continue, this Pakistan relief? The Web site is www.safewinter.org. How long is this expected to go on?
BUSH: I think it will go on a long time because there are a lot of pledges out there. There were 6.2 billion, something like that. As I say, some of those pledges, the Pakistani people can't get their hands on it to bring immediate relief. So it will go on through certainly through the relief period, which will get through this harsh winter, and then I think it will continue on through the reconstruction period, and that could take a long time. My mission, as a special envoy, is a one-year mission, I think.
KING: How bad a winter do they have there? BUSH: They're terrible and this one is just about the coldest winter of all and the devastation from the Winter, I mean just the agony from the Winter is terrible, because they're living in tents. A lot of them without any kind of heating in there, and they're at high altitudes.
It's just ghastly what's happening there, but that's all the more reason to keep at it and to try to get the recovery and relief that they need. And Pakistan's a good, strong ally to the United States. That's what I was trying to work it in in there but I just don't want to leave the impression talking about that border incident that this is disruptive of relations in some way.
I mean, Pakistan itself has been the victim of terrorists. Musharraf and Shalkot Aziz, the president and the prime minister, have both been attacked there by car bombs, so they know something about terrorism, and they appreciate the fact that we're trying to get terrorists and do something about it.
That has caused problems, as I say, along the border. The border is rough as it can be, but I see reports that sound this will break off relations. That's crazy. They're strong allies and we're strong allies to them.
KING: Congratulations to you and Barbara, your wedding anniversary on January 6th, 61 years.
BUSH: Doesn't seem like a day over 60, Larry. I told you that last year, didn't seem like a day over 59. No, she's doing great, she really is, and she's awfully supportive of everything we're trying to do. And the relief thing, she's doing it with great compassion.
KING: Before you leave us, an old friend of yours is here. I know you've prayed with him. He's coming on following you, Dr. Reverend Robert H. Schuller who yesterday turned over the Crystal Cathedral to his son, Robert A. Schuller. They're both here.
Anything you'd like to say to them, Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, he knows my boy but I don't know his, but I wrote him a letter. I didn't know he was going to be on your program but either yesterday or the day before that he'll get because I have great respect for his ministry. He stayed out of some of the most flamboyant approaches to religion. He's offered comfort and shared his faith with so many. I salute him. I think it's a wonderful thing that you're introducing the nation to his son.
KING: Want to say something to the president?
ROBERT H. SCHULLER, REVEREND: I remember praying with you in the Oval Office about three hours before the, they were threatening to kill the second Navy man. Remember that?
BUSH: Oh, I do, sir. We had many lovely encounters.
R. H. SCHULLER: Yes, and we respect you and love you. You're a great guy.
KING: Thank you so much, President Bush. Always good seeing you and I know the Schullers appreciate that very much.
BUSH: Good luck, Larry.
KING: You, too. Again the Web site is www.safewinter.org.
We'll introduce to you young Mr. Schuller, you know the father, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. H. SCHULLER: Lord lead me to the person you want to speak to through my life today engraved in gold senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was yesterday, as Reverend Robert H. Schuller, on your left, founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, host of "The Hour of Power," turned over the pastorship of that cathedral to Robert A. Schuller, who succeeded the father as now senior pastor.
Robert H. Schuller celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ministry in 2005. On New Year's Day of 2006 he announced that he would be stepping down. And that occurred yesterday, bittersweet?
R. H. SCHULLER: Yes.
KING: What was it like for you?
R. H. SCHULLER: Well, I think it was a fast relief to think that I made it through 50 years and lived through it.
KING: But you were quite emotional there.
R. H. SCHULLER: Oh, I was, that was quite emotional and excuse me.
ROBERT A. SCHULLER, REVEREND: It still is.
R. H. SCHULLER: Oh, yes, it still is. You know, I have said to people I have six children, one son, four daughters, and a church.
KING: Did you want this job?
R. A. SCHULLER: I've been called to this job, and...
KING: What does that mean?
R. A. SCHULLER: I know that God wants me to do this job, and from the time I was born, I know I needed to do this job. So do I want to? I'm not sure that's the right question. I think the correct question is, do I need to? And is it the job that I'm supposed to be doing? And the answer is yes.
KING: Why are you stepping down, Robert?
R. H. SCHULLER: Well, I'm stepping up, actually. I started retiring after the first year, 50 years ago, and after the first year, I retired from cleaning toilets, haven't cleaned one since. The second year, I retired from opening my own envelopes, and I haven't opened them really since.
And I'm retired from something every year, and this year, I have retired from being the senior pastor of the church board in the reform church in America, because every time I retire I step up to something that I think is bigger and more important.
KING: What's your next one?
R. H. SCHULLER: My next one is to create a Crystal Cathedral foundation, which will be so endowed that no matter how valuable this 40 acres of land is and no matter how much it costs to maintain the gardens and the flowers, that it will never, ever be sold because it's preserved by a special foundation.
KING: What portion of the Protestant church is your church?
R. A. SCHULLER: What portion?
KING: Not by portions. Portions is the wrong word. What is it, Methodist? Is it...
R. A. SCHULLER: We're the Dutch reform church of America.
KING: That's the old one.
R. A. SCHULLER: Well, it's our forefathers who came...
KING: Where did I come up with portions?
R. A. SCHULLER: It's our forefathers who came to the United States years ago, and they called it New Amsterdam. And then later it was called New York. Exactly, and so that's our history. We go back a long ways.
KING: How many churches like yours now in America?
R. H. SCHULLER: Not many. I think about 1,000 are members of the reformed church.
KING: Is yours the biggest?
R. H. SCHULLER: Yes, we are the largest. The largest for hundreds of years was Marble Collegiate.
KING: So you will be hosting the TV show now?
R. A. SCHULLER: I will be. My father will be on the TV show as well. So he's not going to... KING: Can't get away from it.
R. A. SCHULLER: No, he just won't disappear. He's like the Eveready battery. He just keeps going and going and going.
KING: Is this intrinsic to you? By that I mean, is it so much a part of you that when you say calling, that you have to do it? It's almost like it's not a decision?
R. A. SCHULLER: You know, I have always that I was going to go into the ministry, and so when I went to college, I knew that I was there just to get a piece of paper, so I could go to seminary. And I went to seminary so that I could be ordained and be in the ministry. And so that's what I did.
And when I graduated from seminary, I was installed and ordained as a minister in the Crystal Cathedral. I was there for a few months, and felt like I couldn't really do what I needed to do. I was 23 years old at the time, and I really believe that God wanted me to preach on a regular basis on Sundays.
So I asked my father if he wanted to retire. He wasn't quite ready. And the truth is I knew I needed to leave the Crystal Cathedral, and I started a church about 35 miles south. And that church is still there called Rancho Capistrano Community Church, and I was there for 20 years.
And I would preach about 51 Sundays a year, because I would preach at the local congregation there, and then I would preach, I started off preaching about two Sundays a year in "The Hour of Power." And then it became four and eight and ten. And about 20 years later I was preaching probably about 12 to 15 Sundays a year.
KING: How good is he?
R. H. SCHULLER: Good.
KING: Just good, not great? Just good?
R. H. SCHULLER: Well, I know one thing. I'm sure he's called by God to be the second senior pastor in the history of this church. I know that. And I know that I can listen to him, and I listen, not by trying to, but I can't avoid listening to him.
KING: What makes a good pastor?
R. H. SCHULLER: I think a good pastor is somebody who is honest and humble and has a really caring heart. I get some nice compliments, but what people like, as I care about, and it shows.
KING: Can't fake it?
R. H. SCHULLER: No, you can't fake it.
R. A. SCHULLER: I don't think it's possible. R. H. SCHULLER: No.
R. A. SCHULLER: The only way you can fake it if you write out your sermon ahead of time and you make sure you have the opportunity to go through everything, but I was basically taught to speak from an outline.
And when you're speaking from an outline, and you just have a few points there that you're going to speak on, then what happens is the message comes out of your heart. As opposed to necessarily out of your head, and you can't fake a heart.
KING: This is quite an occasion. It all happened yesterday. When we come back we'll include some phone calls for Reverend Robert H. Schuller and Reverend Robert A. Schuller. What a night. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. H. SCHULLER: When I would see Uncle Henry for the first time, he was tall, slim, very straight in posture, and he saw me in my overalls and bare feet, smiling.
And he came and ran up to me in his opening line, as he ruffled my hair, he said, so, you're Robert, are you? You're going to be a preacher when you grow up. I said, yes, Uncle Henry.
That night, I added in my little prayer, make me a preacher when I grow up, and I added that line to that prayer, I do believe, probably every night of my life for the next 20 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The Schullers are with us. Their program, "The Hour of Power" is the fourth longest running weekly -- consecutive weekly show in America. The three ahead of it are "Meet the Press," "60 Minutes," and "Face the Nation." They're the longest running non-sponsored program and they are seen around the world. Before we go to phone calls, what are your thoughts over Pat Robertson's remarks over Ariel Sharon?
R.A. SCHULLER: I think that...
KING: You don't have to be diplomatic, you can just say what you feel.
R.H. SCHULLER: Well I'll say, I think it's awful. It's non- Christian. It's terrible.
KING: Were you surprised?
R.A. SCHULLER: You know, yes, I'm surprised. I'm surprised that he says those things, and it's -- it's sad that he says those things.
KING: Is he interpreting the Bible wrong? Because he quotes...
R.A. SCHULLER: Yes.
KING: ... He's saying it's from the Bible. This is my land, I shall take it back. Is he interpreting it wrong?
R.H. SCHULLER: I do not interpret it the way he does. And if I thought he was interpreting it right, I would agree with him. So I'm saying I think he interprets it wrong.
There are two views of interpreting the Bible in America, that every word is literally the truth without qualification, and then the other view is, it's called plenary inspiration, which holds that all religious truth taught in the Bible is true from God, but each word is not necessarily interpreted literally.
KING: You're in the latter group.
R.H. SCHULLER: I am.
KING: You are as well? Is the Dutch Reform Church generally in the latter?
R.H. SCHULLER: Yes.
R.A. SCHULLER: To Victoria, British Columbia, hello.
CALLER: Oh, hi.
CALLER: Hi, my question is for both the Schuller reverends.
CALLER: I'd like to know what your position is on gay marriage. I'm not actually a Christian but I was wondering what your positions are.
KING: Fair question. Father, first.
R. H. SCHULLER: I am addicted to excellence, totally committed to excellence. That's where I'm coming from. It's a different position on this and any time there's a controversy, choose the interpretation that is more excellent.
And I feel that heterosexual marriage is the more excellent way, and it surely is approved holy by the Holy Bible, and it holds so many more possibilities, the possibilities of having children of both the mother and father, the male and the female. I think it's all very important, and...
KING: ... What then does the church offer to those homosexuals who want to be together? R. H. SCHULLER: Well, we hold the view -- I'm a conservative here. We hold the view that practicing sexuality should be within commitments of loyalty and faith and trust, and so we do not approve or launch --
KING: So not even a state, a union?
R. H. SCHULLER: No, no.
KING: You share the same view?
R. A. SCHULLER: I do.
R. H. SCHULLER: But we have had -- I want you to know we've had homosexuals as members of our church the past 40 years.
KING: Don't they feel left out?
R. H. SCHULLER: No, they do not feel left out, but they know I'm not going to use my energy to try to promote the gay liberation movement because I don't want to talk somebody into a viewpoint that is less than excellent where you don't have a chance of having all the kids together and Thanksgiving and then the grandkids and all that.
KING: Even though they might turn out to be homosexual.
R. H. SCHULLER: Oh, sure, they might.
KING: Do you attack it?
R. A. SCHULLER: No, we do not.
R. H. SCHULLER: No, we do not.
KING: Do you feel for those who are put in a different position by society?
R. H. SCHULLER: Yes.
R. A. SCHULLER: Yes, absolutely.
R. H. SCHULLER: Yes, yes, and that's why we are well-known, I think, in the gay liberation movement. They respect my commitment to our historic viewpoint, the classic historic Judao-Christian viewpoint. They also respect the fact that I do not add to their problems, which they all have, as we all do, by intentionally embarrassing and shaming them.
KING: We'll be right back, don't go away.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Schuller graduated seminary in 1950 and ordained by the reform church. Two weeks later, he married Arvella Dejan (ph). They planned on a conventional life in conservative Christian reform churches, like the one in which they grew up. But God had a different plan. The church they would build would defy all convention. Robert Schuller would soon be preaching to cars at a drive-in theater.
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KING: We'll be back, we go to -- no, we are back. I don't know where I am. We go to St. Louis, Missouri. You do this long enough, it will get you, man. Hello, St. Louis, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, how are you?
KING: I'm OK, I think.
CALLER: My question is for both Mr. and Mr. Schuller. You just spoke of striving for excellence. What is your standing -- obviously the U.S. and the Bush administration is striving for excellence in our support in the horrible tragedies that have occurred in Pakistan.
But as an American, and as a Christian-American, I really feel like there has been little, and a huge lack of support by the Bush administration in our own country, in areas that have been absolutely devastated. What is your response to that, and what do you think a solution is for our government to actually respond to us?
KING: Let young Mr. Schuller start.
R.A. SCHULLER: Well what's encouraging for me is that there's been a tremendous outpouring of churches who are participating in helping in every way they can.
We have seen that since Katrina has hit. So that's encouraging to me. And I think that's what's really important. That's where our excellence comes through. Now, the government needs to come through. There's no question about that.
I think it hit with such magnitude, with such unprecedented, historical catastrophe, that they were just blindsided, and haven't been able to get caught up.
So I don't think there's -- I'm confident that if Bush can say hey, I want it done now, he would, but I just don't think they have the means to do it right now.
KING: You see empty places for people to live and they're not being used.
R. H. SCHULLER: I don't think you can blame that on Bush.
KING: No, but how do you answer the question?
R.H. SCHULLER: I don't think I have an answer, except to focus on what we do. Everyone has a role to play. And in tragedies, someone has to pick up the dead bodies. Someone has to bury them. Somebody has to help the wounded so they'll survive.
Our role as a ministry has been unchanging in the 50 years I've been in it, and in 36 years now on television. That is our role, is to always be positive, and encourage the people so they will be empowered themselves to get through it. Week after week after week for 36 years people can tune in the hour of power and I'm not going to take political sides. That's not what I'm about.
I'm like a doctor in an emergency room in a county hospital on a Saturday night.
KING: When you see a tragedy do you ever doubt God?
R.H. SCHULLER: Oh, no, I don't doubt God because he's the first man -- the first power that comes to the scene.
KING: But he could have prevented the scene.
R.H. SCHULLER: I don't think necessarily so, because without eliminating free will among human beings.
KING: But free will had nothing to do with a hurricane. Free will with a hurricane?
R.H. SCHULLER: It had something to do with the people that chose to live there.
KING: You blame the people that chose to live there?
R.H. SCHULLER: I'm not blaming them. I'm saying we have to think -- a family is wiped out in a hurricane, and they came to live where they wouldn't be hit by a hurricane. I was a victim of almost a hurricane. We were wiped out in a tornado. We got in a car, and we ran away and we saved our lives. We lost everything.
KING: But you don't blame God for the tornado?
R.H. SCHULLER: Of course not.
KING: You're not?
R.A. SCHULLER: No, I don't blame God for the tornado. There are historical catastrophes that will always happen, and the fact is that every single person on planet earth will die. So in 50 years from now, it's a sad thought to realize, but there'll be six billion people who are going to die in the next 100 years, and that's a reality.
The question isn't how do we die. The question is how do we live? And our ministry is about helping people live, and be ready to die when the time comes because we don't know how we're going to die. It might be -- it could be cancer. It could be a hurricane. It could be a number of things. But the real question is how are we going to live?
R.H. SCHULLER: That's why we focus on empowering with faith. Human beings, to take a positive rather than a negative reaction to the hardships.
KING: Well said. We'll be back with some more moments. Don't go away.
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ARVELLA SCHULLER: As the drive-in services continued, I found them very, very meaningful. There was something there that was just electric, and beautiful. People would come out of their cars just to meet each other. We would go to the different cars and say hello, and there was a real comradarie. It was amazing how we became a community. We became a church. We cared for each other.
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KING: It was quite a day yesterday for Reverend Robert H. Schuller when he turned over the Crystal Cathedral to his son, Robert A. Schuller. Let's go back to the calls. Orange, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I just have a question and a comment, please. I'd like to know why you all charge for your Christmas and Easter play. Some of us can't afford it, you know, and I think it's kind of turning people away from the message, and you know, I desperately like to take my children to see it but I'm a single parent and it's very difficult to --
KING: Why do you charge?
R.H. SCHULLER: We charge because we cannot take offerings of people. The tithes and offerings that you send us and use that money to put on a play. It has to be self-supporting.
KING: What about people who don't have money?
R.A. SCHULLER: Well, we have several different price ranges, so they can go for $10, and a $10 ticket is not, isn't any more than a movie.
KING: Are these very special plays?
R.A. SCHULLER: Yes, they are.
KING: You do at Christmas?
R.A. SCHULLER: Christmas and Easter. We have live camels that walk through and we have -- it's quite --
KING: You can get a $10 -- R.A. SCHULLER: Correct.
KING: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry? KING: Yes.
CALLER: I can't believe I got on. I want to first of all, thank you, Father Schuller. You have been an inspiration in my life. I went through a lot of tough times and that's really one of the things that first inspired me was your book, "Tough Times Never last But Tough People Do." I have an autistic son, and teenager, need I say more, and now I'm a Catholic school teacher, and you have brought me back to God.
There were times in my life where I had crises and you pulled me through them and I want to say thank you so much for that. I also want to say congratulations to you, Robert.
R.A. SCHULLER: Thank you.
CALLER: For taking over your father's ministry. I know it's a big job but you are very well-trained and it should be no problem for you.
KING: Do you have a question dear?
CALLER: Yes, my question is that, I was wondering, you know, Father Schuller, had written so many inspiring books. I was wondering if you, Robert, would follow in his footsteps and inspiring us and any chance of you coming to Edmonton, Canada?
KING: Any going to Canada?
R.H. SCHULLER: We have an office in Vancouver and been broadcasting across Canada over 25 years.
KING: Are you going to write a book?
R.A. SCHULLER: I've written 12 books, actually.
KING: You keep turning them out.
R.A. SCHULLER: I do. I'll keep turning them out, you bet.
KING: A few seconds left. You ever think of opening a Crystal Cathedral East?
R.H. SCHULLER: No, weather wouldn't allow it. The kind of building can only last in Orange County.
KING: Very special.
R.A. SCHULLER: What we're going to do is open the church so that we can break down the geographical boundaries because the church is people, and so you say East, it will be east, south, north, west everywhere.
R.A. SCHULLER: Thank you. R.H. SCHULLER: I want to thank you for being so respectful of faiths, even if you don't embrace them, you treat them with great respect. That comes through and I honor you.
KING: Thank you. Reverend Robert H. Schuller and his son, Reverend Robert A. Schuller. Earlier, President George Herbert Walker Bush.
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