Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Tammy Faye Bakker; Update on Missing Climbers

Aired December 15, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Tammy Faye Messner, gravely ill with inoperable lung cancer, and calling in to tell us her prognosis. We'll hear from her ex-husband Jim Bakker, too, and their son, Jay Bakker, the "punk preacher" taking on the religious right. He wants to know what the hell they're doing to Christianity.
But first, a prime time exclusive -- the wife and a sister of those missing mountain climbers. As horrendous weather and now even avalanche warnings keep getting in the way of a desperate search.

How long can their loved ones hold on?

Plus, the man who's giving them all hope -- he survived 17 days in the snow on that same mountain.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

In a little while, we'll meet Randy Knapp, who, incredibly, survived, as we said, 17 days on that mountain.

But we begin with Karen James in Hood River, Oregon.

She is the wife of missing climber Kelly James.

And also in Hood River, Oregon is Angela Hall, the sister of the missing climber, Brian Hall.

And Captain Chris Bernard, Air Force 304th Rescue Squadron, was the first to publicly talk about the letter that was found from the missing hikers.

Where was it found, Captain, and what, in essence, does it say?

CAPT. CHRIS BERNARD, 304 RESCUE SQUADRON, USAF: Sir, the letter that you're referring to was found here at the Hood River Ranger Station. And it was just one step in the climbers' process of letting people know where they were going to go climb.

And they came here to the Ranger Station, as they should, and checked in with the climbing station. And there was actually no form available and they just used a scratch paper and put it in a little kiosk out front and just let people know where they were going to be and their plan and what they brought with them.

KING: Is that fairly -- is that like a pilot posting a flight pattern, a flight plan?

BERNARD: Yes, actually, that's a good analogy. And, you know, as a rescue person, we wish more people would do this. And, so, it was a good idea.

KING: Karen, did you know that your husband Kelly had written such a thing?

KAREN JAMES, WIFE OF MISSING CLIMBER KELLY JAMES: This is standard operating procedure for him. They are very detail oriented when it comes to trips. They take their mountaineering and their climbing very seriously, planning for months. And so that was no surprise. In fact, it would be a surprise if we hadn't seen the level of detail they had left.

KING: All right, what about the notes or the letters, Angela, raises your hopes?

ANGELA HALL, SISTER OF MISSING CLIMBER BRIAN HALL: Well, it just confirms everything we know about the process that these guys go through every time they embark on climbing another mountain. And it just proves to us what we already know about them. And -- but it also, I think these notes also show their respect for the local organizations and the shelter that was provided and just their -- their preparation. And it just confirms what we already know about them.

KING: Captain...

BERNARD: I would like to comment on...

KING: Yes, go ahead.

BERNARD: I was going to say yes, for the command post and coordinating this rescue, the letter was, you know, very important because it described their equipment. You know, for instance, a couple of key things for me was that they had a shovel and bivvy sacks, plural.

So that was key to surviving in this situation.

KING: So it would tell you that they are well-equipped for what they're facing?

BERNARD: Exactly. We don't have to speculate down at the command post when we're planning for this and evaluating the survivability and those kind of things. We've got, you know, a letter, some sort of proof that says exactly what they have. And like Karen said, they were well prepared and documented it.

KING: Karen, anything further on the cell phone?

JAMES: No, we haven't heard anything further. But I take tremendous comfort in all the details to date because I have been with Kelly and the boys have been with Kelly when he climbs. And that's something he does do. He turns off his cell phone and he turns it on to save the battery power.

So what we are hearing are things that we know that he does as just, you know, he does every time he climbs. And so that's great comfort for us because we know that he has the presence of mind to do what he needs to do. He has tremendous survival skills and he and Brian and Nikko, they're smart and they're strong.

KING: Angela, do you think when they return, they would do this again?

HALL: Well, I can tell you that this is something that they are so passionate about that really no one can keep them from their adventures, that sustain them in their quest to just get the most out of life. You know, we want to keep them home with us for a while. You know, we're going to be embracing them once we bring them off the mountain and holding them really close and tight to us.

But, you know, they're going to soon be planning, you know, another adventure with the same level of detail, the same level of preparedness on the next time and, you know, they'll be doing it again on...

KING: Yes...

HALL: ... at another location.

KING: Captain, now tell me about the search. It's been many days since it started.

Are there more people involved now?

BERNARD: Yes. There's actually been an outpouring of support, both with civilian rescue assets, military assets. It's -- this is overwhelming me. I've been doing this for about 19 years and been on hundreds of missions, and this is the largest outpouring of support and dedication by all the teams.

We have, besides -- you know, I'm with the 304th Rescue Squadron out of Portland. We also have Portland Mountain Rescue, the Hood River Crag Rats, both teams that operate on this rescues on a year, you know, every year. We have Mountain Wave Communications. I just can't list them all. The 1042nd International Guard out of Salem. We've got Chinooks from Pendleton.

We've had so much, it's too numerous to list and I hate to leave anybody out. But it's wonderful.

KING: how hampered are you by the weather?

BERNARD: Extremely hampered. That has been our -- that's our barrier. That truly is, you know? Right around the 7,000-foot level, you know, as I said before, that's the limit between man and machine right now. We just -- we just can't penetrate it safely. It's just not penetrable right now.

KING: What's the weather forecast? BERNARD: The weather forecast is improving. It's improving enough that, you know, the air assets and the things I'm coordinating and working with, we really feel like we're going to have a chance to get out there tomorrow and hit it hard.

KING: By the way, just for information, is the Air Force involved in things like this?

BERNARD: Yes. I -- that's what I work for. I'm a Reservist in the Air Force Reserve and this is something that we do. The rescue squadrons, there are actually four or five in the country, Reservists and Guard. And then we have an active duty component. And this is the type of thing we do.

You know, for instance, our unit recently participated in Hurricane Katrina. I think the combination of the rescue squadrons out of Florida and D.M. Arizona were responsible for over 1,000 saves.

KING: Captain Chris Bernard and Angela Hall and Karen James will remain with us.

And when we come back, we'll be joined by Randy Knapp, who, in a similar situation, survived 17 days.

Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now is Randy Knapp.

He's in Medford, Oregon.

And his experience was incredible. He spent 13 out of 17 days in a snow cave.

Before we get to your experience, you say you believe that these climbers are probably safe.

Why are you so confident?

RANDY KNAPP, SURVIVED 17 DAYS ON MOUNT HOOD: I'm just really impressed with the things that I've been hearing about them -- their experience on other mountains, the equipment that I've heard that they have with them. They seem to be very well prepared for conditions like this.

KING: Tell me what happened to you.

You -- how many of you -- how many were you?

KNAPP: Well, there was three of us. We were on a high school break at the end of the year and we wanted to spend some time on Mount Hood. So we headed out New Year's Eve of 1976 and we just started climbing the mountain. Our plan was to be on the mountain for four days, three or four days, and maybe summit a couple of different routes. And it ended up the weather closed in on us and we were on the mountain 17 days.

KING: What was they key to your survival?

KNAPP: Clearly, experience has a part to do with it. We were young, but we were a little bit experienced.

But I've got to be real straight and say it's our belief in god, the god who takes care of us. He pulled us through.

KING: What did -- what kept you -- what did you do all those days in a cave?

KNAPP: Most of the time we were wet and cold. And the thing that distracted our minds from the conditions was we read the bible. We read the bible to each other, read several accts of when David was in trouble recorded in the psalms.

And it was kind of funny that David would be in trouble, enemies surrounding him, he would pray to god for rescue and god would rescue him. And each time we read one of those accts, we just put ourselves in the place of David and we knew god would rescue us.

KING: Did you ever give up?

KNAPP: We never gave up. Our biggest concern was the worry of our families. We knew we were OK, but we were worried that our families would be distressed by this, not knowing that we were OK in our snow cave.

KING: How were you rescued?

KNAPP: We actually were able to walk out on the last day, January 16. We started hiking out. We had to hike up the mountain probably 500 feet and when we got to the area where we could turn and go back toward Timberland Lodge, we saw a group of climbers about 1,000 feet above us and we assumed they were a rescue search party.

And so we waved at them and then started down toward Timberline Lodge. And then evidently they recognized us and they radioed a Snow Cat that had taken them up. And the Snow Cat, about a minute after we saw them, came over the ridge that was adjacent to us and picked us up and then gave us a ride down to Timberline Lodge.

KING: You mentioned the fact that Kelly, Brian and Jerry's selection of a more complicated route is probably a good idea.


KNAPP: Well, it's really only experienced climbers who will choose those routes. And since they've had, you know, experience on Mount Rainier, on Mount McKinley, I understand, and they select a route like the one they picked, on the north side, I'm confident that because of that, they know what they're doing. They know what to expect.

KING: You still climb? KNAPP: I climb a little bit, maybe once or twice a year, if I can. I was injured a few years back and so that slowed me down. But I still love being up in the mountains.

KING: All right, Karen James, does Randy's story give you more hope?

JAMES: Oh, it's a phenomenal story. And what's so great to hear about that tonight is that we know that that's exactly what Kelly, Brian and Nikko are doing. These are three men of faith. Kelly recites scripture when he climbs. We know that god is taking care of them. And it's through their faith and it's through the prayers that we know they're there, and hearing that the common experience there and that's what brought them through is what we're holding onto. And that's what we believe.

KING: Angela?

HALL: I mean, I echo Karen's thoughts on that. It -- it just reminds us that the belief that they're -- that they really are OK, I mean what we truly feel in our hearts, that they're persevering, that that is, indeed, the case.

And I just want to personally thank these men for coming forward and providing this -- giving us this story today. It was very much needed and it was very generous of their spirits to share it with us, as well as the whole HARRIS:

KING: And Captain Chris...

HALL: ... the whole world.

KING: Chris, does it give you more encouragement to carry on?

BERNARD: I think so, Larry. But, you know, as a rescue specialist -- and I know the other rescue specialists on the mountain there, you know, we don't need that in the sense that we see this all the time. And there's many times we see miraculous things. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if, you know, they get up tomorrow and crawl out of the snow cave and we pick them up on the helicopter.

KING: Randy, any quick word you want to give to Karen and Angela?

KNAPP: I just want you guys to know that there are thousands of people that are with you spiritually. We are with those climbers up on the mountain spiritually and don't give up hope. Don't ever give up hope.

KING: Karen James, Angela Hall, Captain Chris Bernard and Randy Knapp, thank you all very much.

HALL: Thank you.

JAMES: Thank you.

BERNARD: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

When we come back, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. She'll talk to me live from Charlotte about her battle with cancer.

We'll also talk to her son Jay about his new ministry.

Don't go away.


KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE in our New York bureau, Jay Bakker. He's the 30-year-old son of former televangelist Jim Bakker and Jim's former wife, Tammy Faye.

He's the pastor and co-founder of The Revolution Church in Brooklyn, New York. He also stars in the new Sundance Channel documentary series, "One Punk Under God."

We'll spend quite a few moments with Jay in a couple of minutes.

But we want to begin with Tammy Faye Messner.

She is on the phone with us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

She is Jay's mom. She's an iconic figure in the Evangelist community. She's also in the advanced stage of inoperable cancer.

Tammy, first, whenever you get too tired or a little weak, please tell us.

We don't want to carry on more than we should.


Thank you.

I appreciate that about you.

But one thing I...

KING: Tell us how -- tell us how you're feeling.

MESSNER: Well, for one thing, I feel up and down. I will feel good and if I do something on one day, then I have to be good the next day and stay home and rest. And so that I can rest up so I can do something that I'd like to do the next day.

And so that's how cancer kind of works. It kind of works so you have to rest up for your next fun-thing that you want to do.

KING: Are you able to get in and out of -- are you getting out of bed much?

MESSNER: Yes, I'm in hospice and hospice is in my home. And, yes, I am able to get in and out of bed. I do pretty much what I want to. I can't do a lot of work. That has -- I get too tired sitting home with home work and doing that kind of thing.

But I can get out of bed. I can write. I can do things like that, that -- and I can go out and be with my kids and then visit with people that come over.

KING: We've been told that you were told that the cancer is so advanced that you shouldn't be alive at this point.

How do you react to that?

MESSNER: Well, just like I did (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because it's amazing how they say I shouldn't be alive and here I am. I have -- I have a number that everyone knows about, most people, and a number -- your number, whether you're still supposed to be alive or not. And mine's 47, which is way up there. And yet I feel wonderful. I can get out and do things. And, Larry, I feel pretty good.

I really feel I'm going to beat this thing again.

KING: Have you lost a lot of weight?

MESSNER: I've lost 66 pounds. I look like -- kind of like a machine that's been crashed in.

KING: Do they give you a lot of pain medication?

MESSNER: I do have a line of pain medication. I have many different kinds of pain medicine. And that's what helps me, I'm sure, obtain a, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) attitude. Plus the fact that god is with me and I really trust god.

Jim Bakker sent me a picture and the picture is of my two children and with Jesus standing next to them. And then it is a painting.

And whenever I get to where the pain (UNINTELLIGIBLE) anymore, I go up to the painting, I get a communion glass, I grab a couple of my kids or my husband or someone, and we go up there and we have communion around that painting. And I feel 100 percent better after that.

KING: Why do you feel that you're going to beat it again?

MESSNER: You know, Larry, have you ever just had that feeling?

KING: Well, I've never faced what you face, so I can't say I have.

MESSNER: It's just that feeling. It's that feeling of just knowing that you know that you know. And I just have the feeling that I'm going to come out of it again and I am going to be preaching and I'm going to be singing and I'm going to be back out on the road again for god.

KING: How does the hospice treatment work?

MESSNER: The hospice treatment is absolutely wonderful. They come here and they -- the wonderful thing about it is they bring their equipment. And so that you don't have to go to the hospice -- hospital, where it's so cold, and get all your treatments there. You can get them here at home.

And I have them at home in bed. I have my treatments for my -- I don't know what you cal them. They're just -- they're just treatments that you get through a needle. And you get that in bed. And that makes it so much better that you don't have to get out and go out in the cold and take those treatments.

KING: How is your husband doing?

MESSNER: My husband is doing absolutely wonderful. In fact -- in fact he is -- he's a strong man of faith (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I think you know that. And I think that's why, together, he and I are going to make it.

KING: Tammy Faye, again, whenever you get too tired, you let us know, because we don't want to tax you.


KING: Are you OK so far?

MESSNER: So far. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my husband. One thing I love about him, he just keeps continuing to encourage me. He continues to tell me that it's going to be all right. My son comes to visit me. He comes all the time. My daughter is here. She is part of my hospice program that I am going through. And I think at this point my voice is going out.

KING: Well, what we're going to do, Tammy...

MESSNER: And I want...

KING: Tammy, what I'm going to do is I'll hold you a couple more minutes. I don't want to tax you any more than that. We'll hold you a couple more minutes...


KING: ... and we're going to spend most of the rest of the hour with your son Jay.

MESSNER: That's good.

KING: We'll be right back on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.



KING: So you believe that there's going to be -- you're going to go to heaven?

MESSNER: I believe I am. I'm counting on it. As hot as it's been lately, I sure don't want to go to hell.

KING: You are -- I'm always amazed whenever I see you at your buoyancy and you're -- how you keep this up, you know, inside. You've got to be...

MESSNER: Inside I...

KING: Come on.

MESSNER: ... I just cry by myself. I do. Sometimes I -- I was in the bathtub the other night just -- just crying my eyes out. And just thanking god. I was just thanking god for all the wonderful things that he has allowed me to have during my run-on Earth here, you know? And thanking him for everything.

But I really was saying, you know, lord, please heal me or take me, you know? You get to the -- there are times when you get to the wit's end, but nobody sees that with me.


KING: We're going to spend a couple more minutes with Tammy Faye Messner on the phone with us. Jay Bakker will be our principle guest, the 30-year-old son of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, pastor and cofounder of the Revolution Church in Brooklyn, New York.

Jay, before your mother leaves, anything you want to say to her?

JAY BAKKER, SON OF TAMMY FAYE: I love you mom and I'll see you Wednesday.

MESSNER: I love you, honey. I love you so much. And I appreciate so much the many times you coming to see me. Larry will come -- Jay will com e and see me many times. He will be here several times a month sometimes to see me. And I'm still trying to remember, Larry, last -- Larry I'm calling him my brother's name.

KIMG: Tammy, are you -- are you afraid of dying?

MESSNER: No, no. I remember last Christmas and we were all sitting down at the bottom of the stairway. And that was the time I think I was the most afraid of dying.

KING: Do you believe you're going to go to heaven?

MESSNER: Yes, sir. Larry, you know I do.

KING: Yes, I know you do.

MESSNER: And I believe you're going to go to heaven, too.

KING: I'll see you there.

MESSNER: I'll see you there. I will.

KING: Tammy, be well, Tammy Faye. Hang tough.

MESSNER: And I may be back to you soon one of these days there.

KING: Love to see you come walking into this studio. Tammy Faye Messner, god bless you.

MESSNER: Bye-bye, Larry, and god bless you.

KING: With us on the phone is Jim Bakker, Tammy's ex-husband, and we've had them on together after they each remarried. Jim, how do you feel about all this?

JIM BAKKER, TAMMY'S EX-HUSBAND: Well, good to see you again. I haven't seen you in quite a while.

KING: Yes, I know.

JIM BAKKER: And seeing Tammy Faye there tonight, she is quite a lady. I admire her strength and everybody here is praying for her. We had prayer for her yesterday on our television program across America, around the world, and it's -- it's sad to see this strong woman down in bed because she is a power house, and she's got a lot to give. I admire her. I admire her for -- she has come through so much and I've seen god raise up people that -- in the last stages of cancer and your -- the cancer disappears. So, we're not giving up. No one's going to give up.

KING: Even though you're divorced, you still think of her often?

JIM BAKKER: Well, she's the mother of my two fabulous kids. And, by the way, it was so good to see Tammy Sue. She is staying right by her mom.

KING: I know.

JIM BAKKER: That daughter is something else. And she's right there. She is the nurse. She's the one staying with mom all the time.

And Jamie Charles is somebody I'm proud of. I was just with Jamie in New York. He invited me up to preach in his bar, so that was the first experience preaching in a bar with Jamie Charles. That's where he holds his church.

KING: I'm going to ask him ask him about it right now. Jim, thank you so much. Best of luck. Hope to see you soon.

JIM BAKKER: Thank you.

KING: Jim Bakker. And now we're joind by Jay Bakker who stars in the new Sundance Channel documentary series "One Punk Under God."

Tell me about this church of yours?

JAY BAKKER: Well Larry, every time I come on your show it's family counseling time. You know, maybe have another career after this.

Well, our church is called Revolution. We've actually been around for almost ten years. We started -- or actually a little longer than ten years. We started in 1994.

And a few years ago we were look for a place and a bar opened their doors to us. And we found out that it was just a really good common ground for people to meet, especially people who have been hurt by church or, you know, feel like they've fallen through the cracks. Or have always been kind of scared of being judged. A bar is somewhere they're comfortable.

So I've always been kind of comfortable in a bar. So it's kind of a common ground for us to, you know, to sit and talk.

KING: Is your mother's illness very difficult for you?

JAY BAKKER: Yes. It's the hardest thing I've ever been through. It's hard because even seeing the footage of her and seeing how healthy she looked because she's down to 60 -- I think about 68 pounds right now.

And it's just, you know, my dad used to call her the unsinkable Molly Brown, and it's really hard to see her this weak. And, you know, everything we've been through, nothing has prepared me for this.

KING: Was the divorce difficult for you?

JAY BAKKER: Yes. The divorce was very difficult. You know, it was -- it was -- well, because it was on television, so you would go to school and people would all know exactly what was going on or think they knew what was going on. And, you know, my dad was in prison, so automatically my mom became the bad guy, you know.

And it was a tough time. But we all made up, and are moving on with our lives. Roe (ph) and Lori are great people, and I'm glad to have them a part of my life.

KING: Why did you decide to become a minister?

JAY BAKKER: I decided to become a minister because -- well, first of all I thought god hated me. But then one of my friends started to tell me that I was full of it. I won't tell you full of what. And he was like, he's like, you're trying to earn your salvation. And he started telling me about grace and god's unconditional love.

And when I started to read the bible really for myself for the first time rather than listening to Sunday schoolteacher or preachers, I realized how much god loved us no matter who we were and what we did and the forgiveness of god. And I was like, we've done something wrong here.

I saw what my family went through and what other preachers went through and other families have gone through for not being forgiven or restored for making mistakes. This is so contrary to what the gospel says and who Jesus is and was that I feel like I need to go into the ministry to show this part and say where do we go wrong? Why have we gotten so far off track? Unfortunately a lot of preachers would say I've gotten off track. But to me it's just the basic message of Jesus, you know, the red letters.

KING: Would you say that you're part of the liberal sect of Christianity?

JAY BAKKER: Well, I definitely say I'm a little bit more liberal than probably most, yes.

KING: You, for example, in your church would you marry gays?

JAY BAKKER: If the laws passed, yes.

KING: You favor there being a law, though?

JAY BAKKER: Yes, I do. I think they deserve equal rights just as much as anybody else does. And I think it's -- it's such a big social issue right now, it's something that really needs to be looked at and I think passed.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, talk at your views on the evangelical movement in this country, about Ted Haggert and others; where the church has gone wrong, about hypocrisy. We'll also include some phone calls. We're with Jay Bakker. This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Monday night, on this program Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Robert de Niro. We'll be right back.


MESSNER: I love you.

JAY BAKKER: I love you so much.

MESSNER: Have a safe trip home. Lord, take care of Jamie. Line the highway with angels. Be with him I pray...

I think it's extremely important for Jay to reconnect with his father. And I think every boy needs their mother to hug and love on them and tell them everything's OK. But they need their dad to be proud of them.




JAY BAKKER: A bar called the Masquerade, which is one of the biggest clubs here in Atlanta.

I do want to remind you, buy something at the bar, tip your waiters and waitresses.

I've always wanted to say that in church.

You know, there are some people who probably say, well, I just think Jay Bakker is leading people straight to hell.

If you feel like you don't pray enough, you're not committed enough and you're not spiritual enough -- well, if you are -- we have no judgment, we're not going to persecute you, we're here just to love on you.


KING: Jay Bakker is our guest. Do you have a reality series?

JAY BAKKER: Well, some people call it a reality series. It was...

KING: What do you call it?

JAY BAKKER: Well, Sundance calls it an observational documentary series, so I don't know if that's reality series denial or not. I really don't care what you call it. But it was done in a very documentary way. All the guys who were involved were all documentary filmmakers. I think some of them would have liked to put this in a two-hour content rather than six parts, but it seems, you know, for the Sundance Channel to make more sense if it was six parts.

KING: What's your take on the fundamentalist church, the evangelicals in America?

JAY BAKKER: Well, I think we've gotten a little off track. I think there's a lot of great evangelicals out there too. I mean, we've got people like Tony Compola (ph), who is amazing, Peggy Compola (ph) who is amazing, Brian McClaren (ph), Philip Yantzy (ph), Jim Wallace (ph). And so I think there's a lot of great progressive thinkers out there right now, but also there's some of the guys who are kind of old school and still worrying about fictitional characters being gay and pointing the fingers at people, and almost creating a moralistic club, you know, that you have to be very moral to be in our private country club. And to me, that's kind of sad, because Jesus said to whom -- whomever will come, you know, all have sinned, all fall short.

KING: Yes, and the gay area, do you know why they're so adamant against the gay concept?

JAY BAKKER: Well, I mean, I know the arguments. I know the scriptures. And the scriptures are very -- you could argue on them all day. I believe they've been taken out of context, and I don't believe that, you know, we've researched enough of the background on those scriptures.

But I think it's also that we, as Christians sometimes, we're getting the idea that we have to do something in order to be accepted by God. And that if we're not telling other people how to live or we're not trying to live a certain way, that God doesn't love us.

I think we get caught in this idea of pleasing God rather than trusting God. And I think once you learn to trust God, it's a lot easier to please God. And I think what we do is we put the cart before the horse.

KING: What's your read on the Ted Haggard scandal?

JAY BAKKER: I feel really sad for him and his family. It's unfortunate that these type of things have to happen. I think these guys get into such a place where they don't have anybody they can talk to or anybody they can go to. And so they just make huge -- they get this secret life going.

I felt like he should be restored, not asked to leave the church or kicked out. And I thought, you know, to me it's sad when we have a decision between restoring and forgiving someone or just letting someone go. Instead, we let them go. And Christians seem to sweep their fallen ministers under the carpet. You know, we are known as the only army that shoots their wounded, and to me, that's just -- it's so contrary to the gospel. It just really contradicts what Jesus talked about.

KING: Our guest is Jay Bakker. We'll be taking your calls and lots more questions for him. First, let's check in with Anderson Cooper, who will host "AC 360" at the top or the hour. Anderson, what's up?.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, lots to talk about tonight. A new note gives new hope for the families of the missing climbers on Mt. Hood. Now, the note gives clues as to what the men took with them on their ascent. The question is, do they have the right gear to survive and do they have enough of it?

We are also going to bring you what Donald Rumsfeld said on his last day of office.

Plus, the three new bombshells that are rocking the Duke lacrosse rape case.

We have a very busy hour ahead, Larry. It starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

KING: That's "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific right ahead. And we'll be right back. Don't go away.


JIM BAKER: My son at 16 was the one who tried the most to get me out of prison. He wrote every -- the president, the senators, he called president -- he called the White House, he called every major Christian leader in the world.

MESSNER: Larry, I would like to say something. We lost Heritage USA. I didn't care about me and I didn't care about Jim, but I asked God what's going to happen to my children. And I felt in my heart, God promised me, I'm going to take care of your children. And the most wonderful thing in my whole life today is that my children are serving the Lord.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Jay. It just clicked. I knew I belonged. You know, I didn't feel like I had to jump through hoops and meet expectations.

JAY BAKKER: We're trying to do the right thing. We're trying to listen to our convictions, what God is saying to us. We're doing the best we can. And if that's not good enough, you know, oh, well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And honestly, you're the best thing that happened to Christianity.

JAY BAKKER: Well, I wouldn't say that.


KING: Jay Bakker is our guest. Let's include some phone calls. Silver Spring, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. An thank you. Jay Bakker, this question is, how are your beliefs any different than any other Christian religion?

JAY BAKKER: Well, I don't know how much they're different. I think I'm just different from other people, maybe. We just try to love people where they're at and accept people where they're at. And it's really the message of Christ.

What we're called -- I don't feel like we're called to judge people, especially people outside of the church. And so we don't do a lot of that. We're just, you know, seeking -- seeker sensitive, just trying to open our doors to everyone and love them just the way they're at.

We don't really have a hidden agenda to be like, we've got to save these people or things like that, because I really feel like God has called us to build relationships and friendships. And I just don't think you can have a real friendship with some sort of hidden agenda. I mean, wouldn't it hurt you if you found out one of your close friends was being your friend so they could win you to this or get this or do that? It's kind of a, you know, just love people where they're at.

KING: Marysville, Washington. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I wanted to know where a is church is around my location like yours?

KING: Now she's out -- is your church expanding or only in Brooklyn?

JAY BAKKER: Well, we do have one in Atlanta. And we do have a church in CharLotte right now. She could e-mail us if she just goes to and we could probably help her find a church in her area.


Do you have any problem with the religious right and the mix with politics?

JAY BAKKER: Yes. To me it just seems like it hurts religion more than it does politics. I think Tony Compolla (ph) says it's like mixing manure and ice cream together. It doesn't really affect the manure, but the ice cream gets mixed up.

You know, that's kind of how I see what happens when religion and politics get mixed.

It's just sad to me that I feel like one group can claim Christianity. And I honestly don't think that god is a Republican or a Democrat. And I think what our job is to love people compassionately.

KING: "One Punk Under God," by by the way, airs Wednesday nights on the Sundance Channel. It's available for purchase as well on the Internet from -- iTunes, right?

JAY BAKKER: Yeah, the night after it airs it will be on iTunes for $1.99.

KING: Do you have a family, Jay?

JAY BAKKER: I have a wife, Amanda, and a cat, Pedro.

KING: Do you want a family, do you want children?

JAY BAKKER: Not right now. My wife just started medical school here at NYU. So we're a little bit busy. But maybe down the road we would like to adopt.

KING: Do you feel withdrawn from the standard church?

JAY BAKKER: A little bit. When -- I came out as a gay affirming pastor all of my speaking engagements were pretty much canceled right away. And we lost a lot of support. And that was really hard because I feel as Christians we're called to love each other as ourselves. You know, Jesus say love god with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. And it's strange to me that we can't agree to disagree on certain issues and that we cut each other off and, you know, to me it's like we're supposed to be the ones who are tolerant and loving of one another but instead we have kind of devoured one another. And I think we've got to get back to the point where we can start to have discussion, you know, at least talk and be civil to one another rather than saying, well, if you don't believe exactly the way I do, then I'm done with you.

KING: Wouldn't that be very different from your mom and dad, that faith, your faith?

JAY BAKKER: I don't think so because I think I got a lot of it from my parents. You know, my mom was reaching out to people with AIDS in '82 and '83. And my parents always taught me to love people and be tolerant of them. So I don't think it's that different.

KING: You don't?

JAY BAKKER: No. Because, you know, my parents were never really involved in politics or anything like that, either. They were -- I think where they got off track is where they had to raise so many funds in order to keep their ministry and it got to the point where the funds were kind of raising money was dictating who they were and their message a bit that they weren't able to -- they had to compromise a little bit, and I think that's what got to them.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with Jay Bakker. Don't go away.


JAY BAKKER: I try to be respecter of time but sometimes, you know, I'm there to preach. I want to give them their money's worth. People I drive crazy, they can get up and leave.


JAY BAKKER: I'm not as bad as my dad. I mean, my dad has preached for three hours straight before. And you're just like -- and we're all like. You know, people are like, as soon as he would like, let's pray, people are like running out. You know what I mean, something.



KING: We're back with Jay Bakker, the 30-year-old son of former televangelist Jim Bakker and Jim's former wife Tammy Faye, both were with us earlier. And of course, our prayers are with Tammy Faye and a very tough hour in her life.

some churches take the bible literally, very literally -- what it is says, that's what -- do you believe that? JAY BAKKER: Not completely, because I think we've had so many poor translations. And unless we're doing really, really indepth studies do we know what the word is saying. And I think there's, you know, in the old testemant that were stories to explain what happened, rather than being this literal text.

I found it very interesting that I saw Billy Graham in "Newsweek" actaully say a similar thing.

So I think a lot of people are being open to seeing the Bible in new ways. I mean, I do believe it's the word of God, but I also believe it was written by men.

KING: Do you ever question your belief in god?

JAY BAKKER: Yes. I have. I have wonder, you know, am I just getting in the family business? You know, why am I doing this? And there's been times where I wondered if I ever believed. And I've actually sat down with my congregation a couple of years ago and said, I'm fighting my faith in god right now, you know.

And even as my mom's been sick, I didn't really fight me faith. But I was feeling very angry at got. And mom was like, don't be angry at god, you need to lean on him. And that really helped me a lot, because that's what I did.

KING: What keeps your mom going?

JAY BAKKER: She's a fighter. She is -- she is 68 pounds of pure steel, you know. I mean, it's just like she is just amazing. And I think what kaeps her going is her faith in god and her love for shopping. You know, we have to go to Target every other day.

KING: Is it -- one other thing. Is it hard to look at her losing so much weight?

JAY BAKKER: Yes, it's very hard. It nearly breaks my heart when I hug her. I can feel her bones. But she's beautiful. My mom is so beautiful to me. And, you know, people have said so many mean things about my mother in the past. And, you know, I really don't give a damn, because I love my mom. And she is just a wonderful, beautiful woman. And she has encouraged me not to give up, because a lot of people have told me, oh, you should give up. You're a heretic. Oh, you shouldn't preach.

You know, there's been so much mean stuff said in like chat -- chat lines on the Internet lately about me. But it's my mom who is, like, don't let the bastards get you down.

KING: You're not kidding. Jay, thanks so much for joining us.

JAY BAKKER: Thank you so much for having me, Larry. It was great.

KING: Continue to give us -- give her our love to her.

JAY BAKKER: Definitely, thank you.

KING: And thanks to all of my guests tonight. And our prayers are always with the one and only Tammy Faye Messner.

We'll of course keep you posted on her condition.

A couple of reminders, for more on Jay Bakker and what he's doing, watch Carol Lin's interview with him Sunday night at 10:00 on CNN. And read his story titled, "What The Hell Happened to Christianty." It's on

And Monday night, my guest will be none other than Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro and Matt Damon. Yes, Angelina Jolie does -- she'll address the latest reports on her and Brad Pitt.


KING: By the way, there's a -- someone called me today, are you going to get married? I just need to know. I'll wish you lots of luck. Someone said you're planning a Christmas wedding in South Africa.


KING: You just blew it.

JOLIE: Thank you for your support if I was, but I'm not.

KING: You're not getting married in Christmas -- nah.


KING: That's Monday night, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro and Matt Damon.

And now, my man Anderson Cooper and AC 360 -- Anderson.