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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Heat Wave Broils U.S.; U.K. IDs 2 Bomb Suspects; Birth Control Patch Makers Sued

Aired July 25, 2005 - 19:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
The mercury is rising and there is no relief in sight. It is 7 p.m. on the East Coast, 4 p.m. in the West. 360 starts now.


COLLINS (voice-over): Dangerous heat even for July. Triple-digit temperatures across the United States already killing dozens. But hundreds of lives may be at risk. Tonight, what you need to know to keep yourself cool.

London police on the terror trail. Two more arrests and two of the four suspects identified. Tonight, who are these men? How did they build their bombs? And are police any closer to catching them?

Faith for sale. Sponsors market to massive Christian festivals. Tonight, the advertising flood. How companies use religion to sell their goods. Plus, actor Stephen Baldwin, a born-again Christian, tells us what he's doing to spread the message.

And it's the church with the nation's largest congregation, 16,000 for Sunday service. Tonight, we go behind the doors with Joel Osteen. What does he preach and why are the masses coming back for more?


ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COLLINS: Hi, everybody, welcome to 360. I'm Heidi Collins, sitting in for Anderson Cooper.

It is midsummer and therefore of course supposed to be hot. But not this hot. On one day last week, more than 30 major cities had record high temperatures. And with humidity, the heat index in countless other cities made the outdoors pretty much out of bounds for many people.

CNN's Kimberly Osias has more.


JESSICA CORTEZ, MOTHER: I think we are going to be calling it a day early just because we have had enough with the heat. KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessica and Gonzalo (ph) Cortez came to the nation's capital to see the sights. It's the first trip for 4-year-old Katie and new brother Max. But those plans got a bit derailed when the mercury soared toward the triple digits.

CORTEZ: Oh my goodness, we're boiling today.

OSIAS: So they dipped the feet, fanned their faces, sought shade along with many suffering on the East Coast, anything to get relief.

STEVE O'BRIEN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: You have to think ahead. You have to plan ahead your day and what the weather is going to -- how that is going to affect what you do.

OSIAS: The National Weather Service has a heat advisory in place in Washington. In the South, it's a scorcher, too. In Tennessee, record power demands for four straight days. And Louisville, the highest temperature on record, 105 degrees. St. Louis has endured the sizzling temperatures for one straight week. For the past two days, triple digits.

The main concern in the heat is cooling and hydration. So in many areas, they pass out water and help the homeless find shelter. Children and elderly are especially vulnerable. They may not know or recognize the signs of heat exhaustion. So parents like the Cortezes need to be extra careful.

CORTEZ: Oh, there's a nice breeze.


OSIAS: And finally, on the West Coast they have got some much- needed breezes and welcome cloud cover. No chance of that here in the D.C. area until about Wednesday, maybe. But the heat hasn't deterred these folks. They are gathering on the National Mall for what is called Screen on the Green, a free movie, and hope, hoping, hoping, hoping for that much allusive breeze -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yuck, you can see the heat. All right. Kimberly Osias, thanks.

We said this story was a matter of degrees. Here are some of them in a 360 "Download". It was 117 in Las Vegas last week; 105 in Omaha; 102 in St. Louis; and in Chicago yesterday, it reached 104, one degree cooler than the all-time record high of 105 on the same day about 60 years ago. And throughout the West, 200 cities and towns set new record highs last week.

COLLINS: Turning now to the other issue currently foremost in many minds, terrorism. A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll finds Americans somewhat more anxious than they were last month. Asked last week after the London bombings, 47 percent of those polled said they were worried that a family member might be a victim of terrorism. That represents a significant change from 38 percent who were worried in June. It's hardly surprising that more than 50 deaths in the city of London and then a botched attempt to do the same sort of damage all over again would raise people's anxiety levels.

For the latest now on where the investigation into those attacks stands, here's a "World in 360" report from CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Not explosives or fingerprints, but $3 plastic containers now among the best clues British police have to go on. All the bombs that failed to go off last week, they say, were made with containers exactly like these, the Delta 6250, manufactured in India, and according to police, sold in just 100 or so outlets across Britain.

PETER CLARKE, METROPOLITAN POLICE: My appeal is to any shopkeepers or shop workers who may have sold five or more of these identical food containers in recent months, perhaps to the same customer. Do you remember selling any of these items at the same time?

CHANCE: And with each day, it seems another piece of Britain's terrorism puzzle is found and made public. All four suspected bombers remain at large.

But now two of them have been named by the authorities. The first, Muktar Said Ibrahim, also known as Muktar Mohammed Said, he's 27, say police, and believed to be the man who attempted to blow up the London bus.

There appeals for information, too, about this man named as Yasin Hassan Omar, a 24-year-old suspected as the bomber who tried to set off his device in the Warren Street metro station.

WILL GEDDES, SECURITY ANALYST: Any good camera really should give you a point of reference if it's going to work productively.

CHANCE: It could be the extent of police intelligence, but some analysts believe the naming of just two bombers is a tactic designed to make the other two feel they're under the radar.

GEDDES: The most likely event and rational cause for law enforcement to obviously intervene would be when these individuals either have expended their value as assets to connecting them to other members of a possible terrorist cell, or secondly, they could potentially present a greater or specific threat to the general public. In those instances, they would not want to take the risks of protracting or certainly extending surveillance for any period.

CHANCE: And there's still uncertainty surrounding possible links between last week's failed attacks and those on July the 7th which claimed 52 victims. The targets were similar -- three trains and the London bus. Both attacks, say police, designed to kill.

Police say they're looking for possible connections at a whitewater rafting center in North Wales. Two of the July 7 bombers appeared photographed on a expedition there in early June. And although the center denies it, some British media reporting last week's bombers may have been there on the same day. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Well, Heidi, this is an extremely fast-moving investigation. It has emerged over the weekend at least five people are being held in police custody for questioning in connection with the bombings on July the 21st. It's understood, though, that none of those five are the actual bombers that are still at large across the country. There's no indication at this stage as to where they are or whether they intend to strike again -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Matthew Chance, thanks a lot.

Coming up on 360 now, the gospel of marketing Jesus. How some of the world's biggest companies are teaming up with churches and religious festivals to sell their brand to Christians. We want to know what you think. Should companies like Coca-Cola and Bank of America sponsor religious events? E-mail us by logging onto our Web site,, and click on the "Instant Feedback" link. We're going to go ahead and read some of your e-mails coming up at the end of the show.

Also, still ahead on 360, a lawsuit filed against the makers of a birth control patch. Find out why they say the device caused them major medical problems.

Plus, caught on tape. A deadly shooting in the lobby of an apartment building in Washington, D.C. See how police have used the video in their investigation.


COLLINS: We have heard a lot of talk lately that violent crime is down sharply across the nation. But police say all that talk means nothing to the family and friends of one young man shot to death during a fight with an armed robber. And his final moments of life were captured on tape.

Reporter David Statter from our affiliate in WUSA in Washington reports.


DAVID, SATTER, WUSA REPORTER (voice-over): Twenty-two-year-old Sirvando Hernandez (ph) talking with his buddies at their apartment building on 15th Street Northwest. It is very early Saturday morning and the men had just returned from a late dinner. In one of the final acts of his young life, Sirvando Hernandez opens the locked lobby door to let a man in. Police now know the man is 19-year-old Malcolm Pearsall of Northwest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend opened the door.

STATTER: Luis Solito (ph) and Pablo Plemaco (ph) are two of the other men on the tape. They say Pearsall came in, took the elevator up and then walked down the stairs, pulled a gun and demanded money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me the money.

STATTER: The fourth man, Pablo Plemaco's cousin, starts fighting with the gunman, and the others join in. It appears that early in the fight, Plemaco's cousin is shot twice. The cousin is now recovering from his wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One here and one in the stomach.

STATTER: The fight continues and it's at this point we stop the tape, just before the shot that hit Sirvando Hernandez in the head and kills him. After Hernandez falls to the ground, Luis Solito and Pablo Plemaco keep on fighting. It's a violent struggle for the control of the gun. That's Luis trying to take the gun away and Pablo pulling the man's hair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend take the hair. I take the gun.

STATTER: The struggle moves to the steps. If you look closely in the bottom right of the screen, you will see another shot fired. It almost hits Luis Solito in the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the gun for my face, I turned my face. Shot. I not hear in my ear.

STATTER: Pablo Plemaco says during the fight the man bit his finger.


STATTER: More punches, more kicks, more struggling. It takes a while. But eventually Solito and Plemaco get the upper hand. Luis Solito gets the gun and is now pointing it at the man that killed one of his friends and wounded the other. The man runs out the door south on 15th Street with Pablo Plemaco giving chase.

(on camera): You could have been killed. You could have been killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He wanted to kill me.


COLLINS: Man, they never gave up, did they? And police in Washington say the suspect captured on that surveillance video has been arrested, 19-year-old Malcolm Pearsall is his name. He is charged with felony murder.

Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joining us now with some of the other top stories we're following today.

Hi, Erica.


A reporter for the Palestinian paper Al-Hayat has now named a possible suspect in last week's triple bombings in the -- at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The reporter says the suspect is Egyptian, and may also be tied to another deadly bombing in Egypt last fall. Egyptian authorities also say they are looking at whether Pakistanis may be connected to the bombings and are circulating pictures of various suspects. Eighty-four people were killed in Saturday's attacks, including this American woman you see here, Kristina Miller. According to her father, Miller's boyfriend, a British national, was also killed.

In Washington, D.C., Judge John Roberts under scrutiny. The "Washington Post" reports the Supreme Court nominee was listed in the 1997-98 leadership directory of the Federalist Society. That's a group of conservative attorneys and legal scholars. It was founded to counter what it calls an orthodox liberal ideology. Well, the White House says Roberts has no memory of ever joining or paying dues to the Federalist Society.

And in Florida, you are looking at live pictures now from the Kennedy Space Center. Countdown is on to the liftoff of the Shuttle Discovery tomorrow morning at 10:39 a.m. NASA may end up breaking its safety rules since it's still not sure just what caused that fuel gauge problem. They scrubbed liftoff nearly two weeks ago. If all goes well, this will be the first shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia disaster. Hard to believe it has been two-and-a-half years -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. What an awful day that was. Hope for a much, much more successful one, of course.

HILL: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Thanks, Erica. We'll see you again in about 30 minutes.

360 next, a popular form of birth control, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta examines some disturbing claims.

Also tonight, selling Jesus. Why corporations are getting religion. We'll talk with popular evangelist T.D. Jakes about the tricky mix of Christianity and marketing.

Plus, religion in the book business. We'll talk with the author of the "Left Behind" series, find out how millions find faith.


COLLINS: It's worn by millions of women, approved by the FDA and supposed to be as effective as the pill, but is a popular birth control patch killing people? Several lawsuits, including one brought today, have been filed against the makers of Ortho Evra patch. The suits claim the drug causes strokes, blood clots, even death.

Joining us from Atlanta for more is 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, what can you tell us about these patches now?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, Heidi, it is a very popular form of birth control, been around for about three-and-a-half years now, 5 million women supposedly use this patch. So pretty popular.

The way it works is this. It's basically about a one and three- quarter inch patch. You basically -- you can see it there. You actually put it on the skin's surface. And what it does over time is start to release some hormones, estrogen into the bloodstream.

Now this is a steady release of hormones, a little different than the pill, obviously, which you are taking pills at a given time. This is going to be a continuous supply of hormones. And it obviously works to prevent births.

Now, a couple of things about this. The benefit, of course, is that you don't have to remember a pill. The disadvantage is, as you already mentioned, possible blood clots and possible strokes as well. Small numbers that we are talking about here. There have been some numbers quoted in the past, very, very small. But the biggest risk, these blood clots seem to be linked mostly to smoking.

So one of the biggest warnings you will see on both the pill and the patch is that women who take these products should not smoke. That's basically what we know about the patch right now -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Well, what about these recent reports that we are hearing from the Associated Press saying that last year this patch is more dangerous, three times as dangerous, as the pill.

GUPTA: Well, you know -- and I have heard those reports, as well. One thing it's important to keep in mind here are the numbers. When we say three times, that is a -- that means a relative risk of three times more as opposed to an absolute risk. And the reason this is important is if you look at the numbers, they say one in 200,000 chance of having a significant problem with the pill, and a three in 200,000 chance of having something significantly wrong with the patch.

As you can see, I point that out, Heidi, because the numbers are important here. They're both very, very small. There are warning indicators for the patch, saying if you have had a history of heart attacks, if you've had a history of strokes, if you've had a history of blood clots, and most importantly, if you smoke, you should not take this product.

The FDA, for their part, says the product is safe and really has the same effectiveness as the pill.

COLLINS: All right. So we know the pill has been around for quite a while. But what about some of the other newer forms of birth control that are out there? And are they safe?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, first of all, it does appear that some of the newer forms are safe. There are a couple to mention. The NuvaRing, for example, this is actually a ring that after placed, releases hormones for about three weeks. That's the ring there. You can see it, it's placed and you release the hormones for about three weeks. So even less chances of forgetting to take your contraception.

There is also something known as the new IUD, intrauterine device. This is sort of a mechanical barrier. It's actually placed near the uterus and prevents sperm from ever contacting the egg. Again, the early clinical trials on these things appear that they're safe. It's worth mentioning, as well, Heidi, that whenever a new medication comes out on the market, there are often lawsuits around this. We have seen this over and over again, this maybe seeing here, as well.

COLLINS: All right. 360 M.D., Sanjay Gupta. Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COLLINS: Faith for sale. Sponsors market to massive Christian festivals. Tonight, the advertising flood, how companies use religion to sell their goods.

Plus, actor Stephen Baldwin, a born-again Christian, tells us what he's doing to spread the message.

And it's the church with the nation's largest congregation, 16,000 for Sunday service. Tonight, we go behind the doors with Joel Osteen. What does he preach and why are the masses coming back for more?

360 continues.


COLLINS: Tonight, salvation sponsored. Massive Christian festivals are hot right now in the U.S. and so is the marketing. Thousands of the faithful going to these events are seeing the logos of big-name companies like Bank of America and Coca-Cola plastered up on stage alongside the preacher. That, of course, poses a lot of questions we'll try to answer tonight.

Namely, does Jesus really sell? Is this advertising helping companies or are they hurting themselves by aligning with religious groups? What happens when one of these companies sponsors an event that may go against Christian teachings? And what about these mega churches? What's really going on inside them? We'll take a look at it all.

First, CNN's Gerri Willis looks at the Christian marketing phenomenon.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is one of the fastest-growing music movements out there, jamming with Jesus. And big corporations are hoping to capitalize on the high-volume audience.

General Motors has tapped into the market in a big way. For the past three years, the company has sponsored the Christian rock band Third Day. They have already sold 5 million albums in the U.S., and the audience is growing. GM offered Christian rock fans a free sample of Third Day's music to test drive a new Chevy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dealers will tell you that they saw people coming in asking for the CD. We had some sweepstakes as a piece of this where we gave a car away later on in the program. And they just watched the traffic and give us good anecdotal feedback.

WILLIS (on camera): According to the Gospel Music Association, sales of gospel music of all genres reached 750 million last year. Now that represents about 6 percent of all music sales.

(voice-over): The relationship between corporate America and Christians isn't a new one. Even so, it took Hollywood's Mel Gibson to show many corporate marketers just how lucrative the audience could be. "The Passion of the Christ" brought in $370 million at the domestic box office, not to mention DVD and merchandise sales as well.

DAVID MARTIN, INTERBRAND: "The Passion of the Christ" was really a gate opener, if you will, in that we have a major star committing his own money, and telling the world that this is something that is not in the closet, it is a mainstream thing.

WILLIS: A success Coca-Cola has already discovered. The company has sponsored evangelical festivals like Megafest since the late 1990s and is currently the top sponsor for this year's event.

Coke says: "Events like Megafest allows Coca-Cola to connect with people who have gathered for fun and fellowship as we do with people everyday."

Marketing experts warn, however, that aligning with this particular group can be tricky. They say Christian consumers immediately sense when a marketer is simply adopting their language as a way into their pockets. Christian groups, they say, are best reached by community programs that appeal to their values. A hard sell doesn't typically work. And subtly is not necessarily the long (sic) suit of many advertisers.

Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: So exactly how is this tricky blend of Christianity and commercialism working? Earlier I spoke with two people very much in the know: T.D. Jakes, evangelical minister of Megafest, one of the country's largest Christian festivals, as you just saw; and Alison Fahey, editor of "Adweek" magazine, which covered the festival advertising in a recent issue.

I started by asking if there are risks for advertisers when they decide to sponsor religious events.


ALISON FAHEY, EDITOR, ADWEEK: The risk, I think, that is inherent in this sort of thing is I don't know many mass market brands, if any, who can claim that they are consistent with Christian values. So you can have a marketer advertising at a Christian festival and then advertising on a show that may not be up to those values. And in that they risk putting out two different messages that are not consistent.

COLLINS: Bishop Jakes, do you buy that? I mean, if you were to find that the company sponsoring your Megafest also sponsored a festival that perhaps was serving alcohol, would that conflict with your religious teachings enough so that you might cancel that sponsorship?

BISHOP T.D. JAKES, MEGAFEST EVANGELICAL MINISTER: I don't think it's any more of an issue than going to a grocery store that serves people whose values are different than mine or flying on an airplane with somebody whose values are different than mine.

FAHEY: Except for the fact that that is not necessarily promoted at these festivals. We do know what the thinkings and what the teachings are. So, you know, it is not anonymous. These festivals are Christian festivals. And while they claim to be non-partisan, you know, I think that some of the sponsors and some teachings at these festivals clearly suggest they're not non-partisan. And I think that's a danger for marketers.

JAKES: And I understand that. I appreciate that opinion. But in reality, what it is, is a meeting place, that we're not a monolithic society. There are Democrats and Republicans. There are various types of people, blacks and whites, Hispanics. We draw about 10,000 people from overseas who aren't even a part of the political process at all. It's really more about giving something back to a community that's already giving something back to them.

COLLINS: So, Alison, does he have a point? I mean, don't all these people have American currency in their wallets?

FAHEY: Well, yes, no, absolutely. They are consumers. And he is right about consumers and he is right about that. And I think that the festivals are really smart to go after marketers. I think the risk lies with marketers and making sure that their image remains consistent.

COLLINS: So their bottom line is not money? I mean, don't they just want the cash?

FAHEY: Well, Bishop Jakes says it's a community service, I think that the marketers look at it as marketing.

JAKES: I would certainly agree. What is very, very important for us is make sure that just because we're people of faith that were not discriminated against considering that we're still consumers. Our dollars are still worth the same as our secular counterparts.

Megafest drew over a three-day period, 560,000 people according to Georgia Dome. And when you bring that volume of people there, it's very, very important that we're treated equally. And I think that the issue for us is to make sure that we're not discriminated against because we have Christian values.

COLLINS: Bishop T.D. Jakes, we appreciate your time and Alison Fahey, your time as well, tonight. Thanks.

JAKES: Thank you. COLLINS: For the rest of the hour, our look at selling the faith continues. And we want to know what you think. Should these big companies be sponsoring religious events? E-mail us by logging on to our Web site and click on the "Instant Feedback" link. We'll read some of your e-mails coming up on 360.

Also ahead, Stephen Baldwin. The Hollywood bad boy found a higher calling. My interview with the born-again actor coming up next.

Plus, the last days of Earth: The rapture. It's the basis for the wildly popular "Left Behind" series of books. We'll talk to the author, Jerry Jenkins.

And finding religion on a grand scale: The home of the mega- church and what makes Joel Osteen one of the most popular Evangelists in the country.



STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR & DIRECTOR, "LIVIN' IT": I thought it was fascinating that there was this youth culture of skateboarders who loved Christian rock-n-roll music. And yes, they had a couple tattoos and this and that, but they loved Jesus Christ.


COLLINS: Actor Stephen Baldwin first gained attention as the brash, younger brother of movie star Alec, but he quickly made a name for himself with memorable roles in films like the "Usual Suspects." Despite the fame and the fortune, he says there was something missing in his life: God.

A few years ago, he became a born-again Christian. Baldwin now combines his faith and career as the director of "Livin' It," a movie about extreme athletes who live out their Christian beliefs. Stephen Baldwin talked with me earlier.


COLLINS: So, Stephen, I understand that 9/11 played a big part in you becoming born again. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

BALDWIN: After 9/11, I kind of had this shift in my thinking saying, OK, well something just happened in my life that I thought could never happen. So that means now that the impossible in my mind is now possible and if that's true, anything is possible. And if anything is possible, well, Jesus could come back tomorrow.

COLLINS: I think everybody kind of knows you had a reputation in Hollywood of being a bad boy.

BALDWIN: I don't know what you're talking about.

COLLINS: There were drugs and alcohol at one point. Was that a tough transition to make for you?

BALDWIN: Into sobriety or into faith?


BALDWIN: No. Well -- well, I wouldn't say tough. I would say that for me, the faith thing was, I said to myself, I don't really believe this is going to be as awesome as it's supposedly could be.

COLLINS: You went in as a skeptic.

BALDWIN: Oh, absolutely. I went into this thing saying, OK, God, you're in trouble, because here I come and I'm challenging you to really reveal yourself to me.

COLLINS: You do explain yourself as the kookiest Christian out there though. Do you think you scare other Christians?

BALDWIN: Well, probably. Yes. But you know, my thing is, is that I'm really just so focused on what I'm doing now and I really believe that there's a new movement and a new revival coming to the youth culture in America, because there's just so many of them out there that a lot of folks don't know about.

I've been to all the biggest Christian festivals that are the rock-n-roll Christian festivals all last year, some of them this year. Et cetera, et cetera. And for me, these kids are this new breed of born again that's coming that I think is just going -- it's going to be the next really massive revival in America.

COLLINS: So they may see you as the cool Christian guy instead of kooky. In fact, that you bring up this great point about your DVD. I want to go ahead and play a little bit of it called "Livin' It" and this is some of the kids talking Jesus. Then we'll talk on the backside. Listen to this.


VIC MURPHY, "LIVIN' IT": Nothing compares to the relationship that I have with Jesus. There's nothing that even comes remotely close to how awesome it is to know God.

SIERRA FELLERS, "LIVIN' IT": Like you can be comforted by so many things in this world, like drugs, alcohol, girls, partying. It all comforts you for a little bit, but Jesus Christ is the only eternal comfort that you'll ever have.


COLLINS: What do you hope to achieve with it?

BALDWIN: What I hope to achieve is really basically just change the way the youth culture thinks about faith. And the way we can do that is by really radically changing with the times. That's what I think really that the Evangelistic outreach in the country -- in this country particular, really hasn't done as radically as maybe I'm putting forth. But, if I was wrong, then we wouldn't be having the success we're having.

COLLINS: And speaking out. I mean, you've sold more than 100,000 copies of this DVD.

BALDWIN: Yes. We're right around 100,000 copies in the distribution of the DVD.

COLLINS: Where do the profits go?

BALDWIN: The profits go to the Louis Palou Evangelistic Association. It's -- they own the whole reality. They own the ownership of the trademark of the name "Livin' It". And the skate ministry that I work with that tours the country right now is just a little offshoot of the larger Evangelistic outreach which is Louis Palou, which is having a huge festival October eighth and ninth in Washington, D.C. this year that is going to be amazing.

My thing really only attracts about two to 6,000 kids every weekend. A Louis Palou festival attracts between 300,000 and 500,000 people in a two-day period. So, it's just a smaller version of what's going on.

COLLINS: Well, Stephen Baldwin, we appreciate your time here tonight.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Thanks.


COLLINS: Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us now with some of the day's other top stories in our cross-country roundup. Hi, Erica.

HILL: Heidi, I know you definitely feeling it. We're feeling it here in Atlanta. All you've got to do is step outside in much of the country and you'll feel this dangerous heat wave we've been suffering through. In the West and the East Coast, temperatures dancing around the 100 degree mark. They passed it this weekend in Chicago for the first time in six years. And of course, another downside to that heat, already 21 deaths in the Phoenix, Arizona, area from the heat and more have been killed elsewhere.

In Fort Knox, Kentucky, an Indiana National Guardsman has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of an Iraqi police officer. Corporal Dustin Berg had been facing a murder charge, but pleaded guilty to a lesser count. He will spend 18 months in prison and will receive a bad conduct discharge from the Army.

In Los Angeles, California, a photographer who threatened to sell topless photos of actress Cameron Diaz has been convicted of attempted grand theft, perjury and forgery. John Rutter took the pictures of Diaz in 1992 and had admitted he told Diaz to pay him $3.5 million or he'd sell them. Rutter now faces up to six years in prison. And in Florida, where they are expecting a little taste of the desert -- you see that right there? That's actually a massive dust cloud from Africa making its way across the Atlantic; almost making its way there now and it may cause really amazing sunrises and sunsets.

You are looking at right now, I believe, a shot from our affiliate WFOR in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We're going to be keeping an eye on this. Sunset there, Heidi, just around 8:10. A little after 8:00 tonight. So, the skies should hopefully really be lighting up in just about the next half-hour or so for the folks in Fort Lauderdale and of course, the surrounding areas.

COLLINS: All right. We'll wait to see that. All right, Erica, thank you. See you again in 30 minutes.

360 next. One man on the mission, Joel Osteen, and the success of his mega-church. Why do millions flock to hear him? Tonight, we go inside the ministry for answers.

Plus, awaiting the rapture. Jerry Jenkins, author of the "Left Behind" series, stops by to discuss his doomsday prediction.


COLLINS: For many Americans the biggest TV star doesn't come from Hollywood, he hails from Houston. His name is Joel Osteen. And in the world of televangelists, he is king. As the leader of the largest church in the country, Osteen preaches the gospel on a massive yet surprisingly personal scale. We wanted to know what the secret is to his success, and why millions put their faith in him.

CNN's Rick Sanchez went to Texas to find out.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Think of it as part Broadway musical, part self help seminar, and part Jesus. And while some traditionalists may call it Christianity light, there are more than enough supporters to make this the fastest growing church in the entire country. Expected revenues, $77 million from a congregation of 30,000, most of that in regular offerings, the balance from television and book sales.

Welcome to Lakewood Ministries, where this Sunday morning, I found myself among those who often drive great distances and fight traffic, maneuver a maze to park, and walk half a mile in some cases, just to attend church. The obvious question, why?

(on camera): Well wouldn't you want to go to a place that may be a little easier to get to, you don't have to fight with 7,000 people to hear the -- why do you come here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I just enjoy it here.

SANCHEZ: Once inside, you realize this is anything but your traditional church. Instead, the feel is that of a rock concert or basketball game.

(on camera): In fact, it's from this vantage point that I really start to get a sense of how true that really is. I'm sitting in the first row of the church. My photographer, however, is all the way in the back, seemingly about a block-and-a-half away, in an arena that used to be the home of the once world champion Houston Rockets.

PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN: But my message to you is you don't have to dread part of your life and enjoy the other.

SANCHEZ (voice over): By the time Pastor Joel Osteen is ready to deliver what he calls his message, every seat in the lower bowl is taken and more than half are gone in the upper deck as well. That's 12 to 14,000 people for this one service alone. More than many stadiums get for a Major League Baseball game, and three more services every weekend when Joel Osteen himself, is the main attraction.

OSTEEN: Are there areas in your life that you are not really enjoying? If so, make some changes.

SANCHEZ: Osteen's message attracts tens of thousands because, according to his mother, it sells.

(on camera): What is the attraction, do you think?

DODIE OSTEEN, MOTHER: I think it's because he gives people hope. He doesn't beat down, beat them down and say there's no hope for you. You're a sinner.

SANCHEZ (voice over): And the target of that message may be the key to Osteen's success -- a target which is increasingly male. Men, who welcome the spiritual guidance on how to improve their lives, but only if it comes via state of the art sound system with jazzy graphics, while they're seated in comfortable seats.

Osteen is neither political nor controversial. And when we caught up with him, he didn't apologize for being a minister who's also a self help guru.

(on camera): Are you the first one who's come along and taken both and kind of married them together?

OSTEEN: I've never thought about it until now. I don't know if I'm the first one, but I just think that people respond to it. And I don't know if I'm doing anything new. Maybe it's just, you know, I'm my dad 40 years younger, and it's just a different generation.

SANCHEZ (voice over): A generation that seems to want its church experience to be high impact and deeply personal. A far cry from the experience Osteen's father offered, when he founded the church nearly five decades ago in an abandoned feed store.

(on camera): If CNN could somehow go to heaven and do an interview with your dad, John, what would he say?

OSTEEN: I think my dad would say, I'm proud of my son, I'm proud of my daughter-in-law, I'm proud of my family. It's awesome that you kept it going and just gone to new heights.

SANCHEZ: Kept it going? Kept it going?

OSTEEN: I know. But you know what, my dad would be --

SANCHEZ: He had 6,000. You have 30,000.

OSTEEN: I know. My dad would be thrilled.


SANCHEZ: Here's what's interesting about Joel Osteen, when you look at this situation that he's in. He no longer is taking any money from the church, despite the fact that he is, without a doubt, the main attraction at that church. Instead, all the income he derives nowadays, he derives from his book sales and his appearances. In the end, it's a winning formula. He's taken religion, taken Christianity, puts it in a glitzy area, and also helps people with their everyday lives.

He says people just keep coming to get through the rest of the week. And I think his mother said it best. She says, Rick, it sells -- Heidi?

COLLINS: So -- But, Rick, converting an NBA stadium to a church, how much does it really cost?

SANCHEZ: Ninety-five million dollars, and it's a note, by the way, that they're still paying. And he says once in a while they call him the smiling preacher, but he has a little anxiety about that.

COLLINS: Understandably. All right. Rick Sanchez, thanks.

Let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: Hi, Heidi. Of course, we'll have the latest from London and why it is that police shot and killed a 27-year-old electrician who was simply on his way to work. How did they get it so wrong?

Plus, you're going to meet this woman. The story of a beautiful young girl who came to New York with dreams of starring on Broadway, but ended up as one of the highest paid escorts in the city. She charged $2,000 an hour. Who paid it? What do they get for that money? And what does she think about her life now? It's a fascinating story. I was surprised by most of what she had to say and you probably will be, too. We'll be back with you at the top of the hour.

COLLINS: Paula, we'll be watching. Thanks.

ZAHN: Thank you.

COLLINS: 360 next, Armageddon in print. The author of the "Left Behind" series on his faith, and how his books have reached out to millions. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Earlier, we told you how corporations are doing well in the Christian market. Well, Christian books are also selling well. The "Left Behind" series and "The Purpose-Driven Life" are examples of Christian books making it to best-seller list.

In a moment, you'll meet Jerry Jenkins, a co-author of the "Left Behind" series, but first, we're going to introduce you to the driving force behind "The Purpose-Driven Life." His name? Rick Warren.


COLLINS (voice-over): He may not look like a superstar, but he has the marquee value of one. Rick Warren is the hottest pastor in the country.

RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, "PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE": The easiest thing to do in the world is lose your focus. Most people are not purpose- driven. They're pressure-driven.

COLLINS: The 50-year-old Warren brought evangelism into the mainstream marketplace, all without a TV or radio ministry. He's done it with a book called "The Purpose-Driven Life," which has topped best-seller lists alongside "The Da Vinci Code" and "The South Beach Diet."

WARREN: You want me to sign the book for you?


WARREN: Oh, sure.

COLLINS: Warren calls it the anti-self-help book.

WARREN: The thesis is that we were made by God and for God. We're not going to know our purpose by looking within.

COLLINS: Instead, he says, we have to help others. A message that's clearly catching on.

Every Sunday, as many as 16,000 people flock to his church in Southern California to hear him preach.

WARREN: It's time to grow up. You need to choose God.

COLLINS: The question is, is he creating a blueprint for spiritual growth, or just a massive marketing machine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three dollars, unless it's your first time. And then it's free.

COLLINS: In groups outside his church and online, Warren sells purpose-driven journals, videotapes, music CDs, even clothing.

Got purpose? Got cash? The stir the book has spawned has some publishing insiders scratching their heads.

M.J. ROSE, AUTHOR, "THE HALO EFFECT": Publishers never saw this coming, but even if they had seen it coming, there's very little they could have done to create this kind of marketing buzz.

WARREN: Peace only comes from doing God's will.

COLLINS: The book has sold more than 20 million copies, but Warren says he is not surprised by the success.

WARREN: This is becoming a catalyst that's helping churches come alive. That happened not because of some overarching marketing or strategy. It happened because God decided to use it.

COLLINS: And Warren sees no signs of the purpose-driven movement letting up.

WARREN: I think there's a spiritual hunger in people, and I'm very optimistic about the future.


COLLINS: Many readers might not find the "Left Behind" series to be all that optimistic. The books speak of a cataclysmic event, the rapture, and the fierce war of Armageddon.

The latest book is "The Rising," and despite the apocalyptic scenario, millions are finding faith within the pages.

Earlier, I spoke with one of its authors, Jerry B. Jenkins. He joined me from Colorado Springs, Colorado.


COLLINS: What is the moral of this story? What message are you trying to send to non-believers through your books?

JERRY JENKINS, CO-AUTHOR, "LEFT BEHIND" SERIES: Well, our message is that we believe that Jesus is coming back some day, and that he's going to snatch all the true believers away in an instant. And we realize that that can be an unpopular message in a pluralistic society, and we also realize that not everybody will agree with us. But we just want people to know what evangelicals think and what they believe, and we believe people should be ready.

COLLINS: Are non-believers reading your books?

JENKINS: They are. We realize that with more than 65 million sales, that a lot of our readers are general market readers, and a lot of our sales come from general market stores. And we get letters from people all the time, saying that they've never been exposed to anything like this, had no idea that the biblical prophesies talked about the things that we are writing about. And we've heard from more than 3,000 people that actually tell us they've become believers through reading these.

COLLINS: Why do you think it's so popular, considering it deals with a pretty frightening subject for many people, the apocalypse?

JENKINS: That does still tend to astound us after 10 years of the series being so popular. I think that whether people would call it this or not, there's a God hunger on the part of the society. They buy books by the pope and the Dalai Lama and the Eastern mystics, the inner healing gurus, and they hear about fiction based on Bible prophesy, and I think that fits that same hunger.

COLLINS: I want to take a moment to read a part of a review, if you wouldn't mind. It's in the "Washington Post," and here's what one of them says. "For those who care about protecting freedom of religion, there is cause for alarm in the bullying certainties of 'Left Behind's' pulpit fiction."

And another one from says this: "It's an alternate universe in which conservative middle Americans are vindicated against everyone who doesn't share their beliefs -- especially liberals and Jews."

How do you respond to those?

JENKINS: Those are clearly written by people who have not read these books. It's just amazing to me sometimes how somebody will pick up on a small slice of a sentence and make a review out of it, and then others seem to copy-cat.

We realize that this is an unpopular message. We are not stupid. We know that we live in a pluralistic society. I have many dear friends who don't agree with me on this. And if they choose to believe another way, I don't dislike them, I don't look down my nose at them, I don't condemn them. I still love them and care about them and associate with them. So, we are just grateful that we have the opportunity to espouse what we believe.

COLLINS: Jerry Jenkins, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

JENKINS: Thank you.


COLLINS: Time now for viewer e-mail. We asked for your feedback on whether companies should sponsor religious festivals.

Merle from Calgary, Alberta wrote: "Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple for a reason. It is not right to link sales with the message of the gospel."

Shelly in Springfield, Virginia, sees it differently. She writes: "Companies using religion to see their brand is just fine, because it's OK for Ben and Jerry's to politicize their ice cream, and OK for Budweiser to propagate addiction while sponsoring Anderson Cooper's show. At least religion is non-addictive."

And Irv and Faith in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania write: "Using religion to sell products is a disgrace. My wife and I will not patronize any company that sponsors religious activity. It is callous manipulation of people and commerce."

And Mike in Pennsylvania: "I think it's perfectly acceptable to market to the Christian audience. Christians are consumers and smart marketers. They will recognize a targeted demographic and reap benefits."

Send us your thoughts any time. Log on to, and click on the "Instant Feedback" link.

I'm Heidi Collins. CNN's prime-time coverage continues now with Paula Zahn. Hi once again, Paula.

ZAHN: Hi, Heidi. Thanks so much.