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Interview with T.D. Jakes

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Aired November 17, 2009 - 21:00 ET


Tonight, mega pastor T.D. Jakes. He prayed for President Obama on Inauguration Day.

How would he advise him now on Afghanistan and health care and hunger in America?

He preaches prosperity to millions on television.

What's he telling people without jobs, on surviving the holidays during one of the worst trying times in American history?

Plus, what do you make of all of this about Sarah Palin?


Usually he's with us by satellite, so it's great to have him here in person. In Los Angeles, Bishop T.D. Jakes, founder and senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, best-selling author. His new book "The Memory Quilt" -- it's a novel -- "A Christmas Story for Our Times." There you see its cover. It's been almost a year since you were with us. It's good to have you back.

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T.D. JAKES, PASTOR: Thank you.

KING: While you were then talking about the president president- elect -- and that was almost a year ago, how do you think he's doing?

JAKES: Well, you know, I think he's up against a tough job. I think he's -- I've been seeing some progress. I think America is hungry and (INAUDIBLE) much, much more. But it's not just him alone. And it's Congress. It's everybody working together to bring about the change that we need in this country.
It would have been nice to hear what changes Mr. Jakes was referring to.  As a prominent figure in America with such a large following, I believe Mr. Jakes is obligated to explain a little more in detail what he is talking about.  Too many leaders beat around the bush instead of laying it out where people can understand where they stand and what they are talking about.

KING: Do you think we expected too much too soon?

JAKES: Those of us that did, I think, were really unrealistic. When I think about...

KING: Do you consider yourself one of them?

JAKES: Not -- not really. Not really. I'm very -- very pragmatic in my thinking about this country. I thought that he inherited a very complicated, complex dilemma. He came into the presidency at a time that our nation was fighting two wars simultaneously, economic depravity breaking out everywhere. I knew that there would not be a simple solution. I did not expect, a year from now, to have pie in the sky.
Why would Mr. Jakes say "Those of us" and then go on to say that he is not one of them?  Rather confusing or he is excusing himself from the fray.

KING: Now, there was some -- there was some reporting earlier in this show -- I want to make sure that we're right -- that you were one of a handful of pastors President Obama has turned to for private prayer sessions on the phone and discussions of religion in general. "The New York Times" said that in March.


JAKES: Fairly true. We had prayer with him, more accurately, when his grandmother passed. And a circle of ministers were asked to come together and pray with him during that time.

KING: What was that like?

JAKES: It was just different people taking turns praying in their own way, lifting up his needs and the needs of our nation up before God. I was there from a very nonpartisan perspective. It really wasn't a political thing at all.

KING: It was right before the election, though, wasn't it?

JAKES: Yes. But it was prayer, you know. It was really just praying for -- for somebody who was facing a really tough time.

KING: And she was very close to him.

JAKES: It seemed like he was really deeply affected by it, really deeply touched by it and affected at a time that you couldn't afford to be affected, you know...

KING: Yes, the election in a couple of days.

JAKES: Exactly. Death is not always convenient.

KING: You -- you also counseled George W. Bush, did you not, prayed with him, too?

JAKES: Prayed with him, known him. He was our governor, obviously, there in Texas before he ran for the presidency. And I had the privilege of being invited to the White House off and on throughout his presidency.

KING: Now, politics aside, he's a man of deep faith, correct?

JAKES: He is -- and very open about his faith, very, very open about his faith. And that's -- that's something that has -- we've seen quite a bit in recent presidents and even in candidates. It's interesting to see that more and more people are starting to talk about their faith.

KING: Do you think it's important that a president have faith?

JAKES: I think he's going to need it. You know, the presidency is a very tough, tough job. And because our nation is primarily filled with people of various degrees of faith, I think that the American people, many are comforted when they feel it -- so that the president has faith. The bad thing about it is that the president lives in such a fish tank that when you promote yourself as a person of faith, you're scrutinized on every issue and evaluated not only by your political policies, but how does this line up with the tenets of your faith?
Why would Mr. Jakes who is supposedly a man of faith and believes the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, not just come right out and say that not only the President but everyone needs to have faith and not only that but a faith in The Almighty God Himself?

KING: You -- we have reverends, bishops, priests, fathers.

What is a pastor?

JAKES: To me, a pastor is somebody who has direct access to the membership, cares for their day to day needs, is able to provide ministry, insight, compassion and counsel.

KING: Well, then all religious leaders -- rabbis are pastors in a sense, are they not?

JAKES: Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Do you feel that -- and back to Obama -- that there's anything he should be doing he's not doing?

JAKES: Well, I think there's so much to do, you know? I'm -- I'm not sure that I'm qualified to be the one to tell him what he ought to be doing. I think that he's got his hands really full. I mean both abroad, as he begins to grapple with our relationship with China, which I think it's imperative that we begin to mend the international view of our country. It has really deteriorated. And I'm glad to see him move around internationally and solve some of those problems.

But on the other hand, we have local crises that are going on here. And he almost needs to be bionic to be everywhere that we're hemorrhaging right now.
Unfortunately no one person has to be bionic.  This country ran fine for over 200 years without anyone man having to be superior to any other man.  Mr. Jakes skirts the real issue here when he very easily could have said that all we need is strong level headed people along with the President working together to confront the issues before this country.

KING: Now, they -- they have yet to choose a church in Washington. They've been worshipping at Camp David, as I understand it.

Are you giving him any advice on what church to choose?

JAKES: You know, I think we have created, in this country, a very awkward situation, and largely through this past election, where it has become a little bit dangerous for a president or even a candidate to be connected to -- to a particular church. And that's -- that's really unfortunate, dangerous from this perspective. If you're going to run for office again and everything that your pastor has ever said is going to be used as a tool to unseat you, then it becomes very dangerous. And look at what happened with Governor Palin and how her faith and her life of faith was scrutinized. And also with President Obama and his -- his pastor. It has become popular to declare war on your pastor.
Why would a man of faith make such a statement?  It matters little what anyone thinks when standing up for your faith in the Bible and the Great I Am.  To put politics before God is what is dangerous and Mr. Jakes surely knows this. 

KING: Do you endorse candidates in your church?

JAKES: I do not.

KING: You do not.


KING: Speaking, by the way, of the D.C. Churches where he might choose, Catholic Charities possibly cutting services in Washington over gay marriage -- services that help homeless people, too.

What's your position?

They're going to -- they're going to -- it looks like they're going to have gay marriage in Washington.

What are your thoughts on it?

JAKES: Well, you know, I think that what we're trying to do in this country is interesting. When you bring together partnerships between the secular and the sacred, there are going to be areas where we disagree, where we all don't line up. Even within the sacred community, we don't always agree on issues.
Once again, an explanation would be very helpful here.  What partnerships is he relating too?

And what I have advised pastors to do, if they are going to provide services similar to what the Catholic Church is doing and use government resources, is that they don't bring it under the umbrella of their church. I think, you know, it's wise to set up CDCs and EDCs, economic development corporations, and merge together community leaders, as well as religious leaders that are expressly appointed not at theology, not at politics, but really at helping people.

KING: What are your thoughts about the concept of gay marriage?

JAKES: Well, you know, I -- I've been clear. I'm not supportive of gay marriage.

KING: Non-supportive?

JAKES: I am not supportive of gay marriage. But I -- I don't think that that's the real issue here. I don't think that that should stop them from serving 68,000 people who are homeless or hungry or maybe gay or disenfranchised. I know in our church, when we start feeding the hungry, we don't ask them about their sexuality. We don't ask them about their faith. We don't ask them the color of their skin. When we work with people who are infected by the virus HIV, we don't ask them how they got it. It's irrelevant.
A man of faith who says he is not supportive of Gay Marriages "but".  Mr. Jakes once again, skirts the issue of gay marriage and discusses again, the feeding of the hungry, etc.  Mr. King didn't ask him about feeding the hungry nor what questions he would ask of those who come for food.

When you really love people and you want to serve people, sometimes you can have the principles, but you cannot let your adherence to the principle become stronger than your love for people.
I for one, do have principles and have them all the time.  I will not sacrifice my faith to feed anyone without feeding them and also allowing them to know what my beliefs are at the same time.  To me that is like saying, "I will set Jesus aside for a little, while I take care of feeding these people and then go back to supporting Jesus and His Word.  We should always combine the two principles.

KING: Do you support gay union?

JAKES: Uh...

KING: Where they have -- for example, the Mormon Church which fought against gay marriage in California; nevertheless, recently in Utah, supported a concept of total equality for gays in all areas of life in Utah.

JAKES: I think for many people of faith it is a matter of semantics, in part, to a degree, because of what marriage means in the scriptures. And it's very, very difficult for secular people to understand, for those who fundamentally apply the word of God, why there is a discomfort there. But for the Christian, marriage should be a picture of Christ in the church.
Mr. Jakes sounds more like a politician all the time. Not only for the Christian but for everyone marriage should be a picture of Christ!  Sounds a lot like a compromise to me.

KING: But do you favor equality in treatment?

JAKES: Oh, absolutely. And I'm against abuse to gay people and the -- the hate crimes and so many things that we can agree on. I think the problem now is that we exacerbate what we don't agree on rather than focusing on what we can agree on.

KING: Bishop T.D. Jakes will be talking about his book. It's "The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times.

Speaking of that, did Christianity cause the economic crash?

Before you smile, that's the title of an article in "The Atlantic's" current issue. And you can read it at And we'll talk about it ahead.



JAKES: You may have to adjust your expectations to reality. And you can't be stable if you're guided by your emotions. Just find somebody with some faith and tell them I'll never be the same.


KING: His new book is "The Memory Quilt." It's his third novel. We'll be asking about it in a little while. Abortion is now part of the health care debate. The House only passed after abortion limitations were put on it. Senators were in an uproar about it, Barbara Boxer (INAUDIBLE).

What do you feel about abortion and health care?

JAKES: Well, you know, the thing about it, I think that the health care in this country really needs to be overhauled. And I'm glad that we're having the conversation about it in this country right now. I would hate to see abortion derail and divide our country at a time that we have millions of people who are dying of leukemia and diabetes and -- and other diseases because they can't get the care that they need.
Whatever happened to standing up for what a person knows is right with God and His Word?  How does Mr. Jakes think Jesus would reply if asks the same question?  I am sure that Jesus would tell all of us that there is a better way to overhaul the Healthcare System without killing millions of children in the process!  Makes a person wonder what Mr. Jakes is really truly willing to stand for when concerning the Bible?

And I think when you add abortion onto the ticket, it's going to be a point of division. It's back to politics as usual. It's divisive of our nation. I think as we go along, however, we will continue to improve and enhance the health care and eventually it may become a -- a point of discussion.
How sad a statement!  Division of the Country?  I do believe Jesus would rather us stand for Him than for Man!

KING: Do you agree with a woman's right to choose?

JAKES: I'm -- I -- I support the right to life, you know. That's -- that's my position on it.

KING: You're against abortion?

JAKES: I'm against abortion, personally. I'm against abortion. And I think that one of the things that's important to me -- for me, life begins at conception. My understanding of it makes me believe that life begins at conception.

The great thing about this country is that we have so many diverse people. And I respect other people's views who see it differently from what I do. I'm not narrow minded.

But that -- that's my opinion about it. But I would hate to see that stop us from getting health care to people who really need it.
Re-read the two comments above.

KING: And we've got a jobless rate in double digits, pastor -- millions unemployed, thousands of family trying to avoid foreclosure.

What do you say to them?

JAKES: A lot of things. I know them. They're in my church. They're in other churches. They're in our cities. They're all around us. I think these are tough times like we -- this generation has not seen. Certainly, our parents and grandparents did.

I say keep the faith. We're a strong people. We're a resilient people. We're a resourceful people. This is a time for us to bind together -- for families to bind together, people to reach out to people who are in need and to respond to that need in any way that's possible to make life better for them.

KING: You're a very wealthy man and you -- there's no denying that. You make a living selling God.

Is it hard to tell people...

JAKES: Whoa, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

KING: You don't make a living...

JAKES: I don't make a living selling God, so let's rephrase that.

KING: All right.

JAKES: God is not for sale.

KING: How do you make a living?

JAKES: I make a living a lot of ways. I produce movies. I work for Sony. I work for Simon Schuster. And I pastor.

KING: All right. You're well off, though?

JAKES: Yes. Yes.

KING: But not -- not selling God.

JAKES: No, no. No.

KING: Oh. We'll take that back.

JAKES: Yes, take that back.

KING: But is it hard for a wealthy person to preach well in bad economic times?

It should be for as Jesus said.  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.

KING: Might someone in the congregation say what do you know what I'm feeling?

JAKES: They might that if they didn't know me. But I spent years digging ditches and putting in gas lines to feed my children. One time things got so bad for me that I was running a lawnmower service to cut grass, to keep my utilities on. Sometimes when people see you at one stage of life, they define you by one sliver of your life. It's like somebody coming in at the end of a movie and evaluating the whole movie by the last -- the last part of it. I've lived my life a lot of ways.
I would ask this simple question?  What is wrong with running a lawnmower service to make a living?  I would imagine that there are many many people in congregations all over the country who cut grass for a living and pay their tithes and offerings to the church.  Mr. Jakes makes it sound like it belittled him to have to do such a thing.  Maybe that is what is wrong with people who have so much money.  They get to where they think they are above such things as manual labor or to have such a menial job.

KING: We mentioned the fact about Christianity causing the crash. That's a headline from an article in the new edition of "The Atlantic" magazine.

Here's a short part of it. The author writes that: "America's mainstream religious denominations used to teach the faithful that they'd be rewarded in the afterlife. But over the past generation, a different strain of Christian faith has proliferated, one that promises to make believers rich in the here and now. And it's known as the prosperity gospel. Claiming tens of millions of adherents, it fosters risk taking and intense material optimism. It pumped air into the housing bubble and one year into the worst downtown since the Depression, it's still going strong."

We've linked this article to my blog at

What do you make of that concept?

JAKES: You know, it's a funny thing. I'm old enough to remember when religion focused on the hereafter and that was the total focus. And they were criticized for that. They said that we were so heavenly minded, we were no Earthly good.

There are those that go to extreme views about prosperity. But I thought that the article did not interview the people that it mentioned to get their perspective on it. I was briefly mentioned in the article. And I don't -- I don't consider myself a prosperity preacher. And...

KING: You're not a prosperity gospel?

JAKES: No. No. That's not my gospel. My good news is that he rose from the dead.

But I do believe that, to those of us who work with people to encourage them and to give them hope, it's not a negative thing to encourage them to be all that they can be. To say that The Potter's House, for example, focuses on how to make people rich means you don't go there, because if you went to our church, we taught debt management. I wrote an op-ed about unfair practices in banking long before the crash came along. We teach people how to get out of debt. We did encourage people for home ownership. We also encouraged them to go back to school.
The problem with this statement is that when Mr. Jakes teaches people to be all they can be, he includes the prosperity gospel in it.  The Bible clearly reminds us that "our reward awaits us in Heaven" not here on earth.  To teach otherwise is nothing short of the "prosperity gospel".

KING: Are you offended by the article?

JAKES: Not at all.


JAKES: Not at all.
He should be if he truly understands the teachings of Jesus.  Today very little is taught about the hereafter.  The majority of teachings are about living your best life now.

KING: The Fort Hood tragedy, Sarah Palin and your calls are coming up.

We'll talk about the book, too.

Back in 60 seconds.


KING: Harry Connick. Jr. is Saturday night. Tonight, it's Bishop T.D. Jakes.

Here let's divert a little and talk about "The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times."

Why do you write fiction?

JAKES: You know, sometimes it's entertaining and still inspirational. I think sometimes it's easier to look at somebody else's life and get inspiration from it than -- than our own. I wrote this particular book because I knew that these were hard times and I knew that people were dealing with tough things.

And it's an easy way to encourage them. It's an uplifting look at a woman in the church who's named Leila that I use as a backdrop to talk about her -- the many vicissitudes that she faced and how she was able to learn something from making quilts and from reading scriptures.

And we deal with her children and her disappointments and -- and the things that happened in her life in a way to encourage people throughout the Christmas season.

I think it's going to be a great Christmas, even for those who have had to move and relocate and do different things. And all of us have had to tighten our belts in one way or another.

KING: What does -- part does the quilt play?

JAKES: The quilt plays a very significant part, because if you think about making a quilt, it's made from discarded material that is probably worthless.

KING: Right.

JAKES: But when you put it together, it becomes quite valuable. Quilts, if done right, can be quite expensive. And as Leila makes the quilt, she begins to realize that if you look at one aspect of your life isolated, it might not look like much. Like this season in somebody's life might not be the way they want is to be. They may not -- their marriage might not be going right. Their family might not be going right. But you can't look at life in segments. You have to sew it together.

I believe that all things work together for good.

KING: And it's a memory quilt.

JAKES: Yes, a memory quilt.

KING: The book is "The Memory Quilt." It's now on sale everywhere.

Still to come, the death penalty and terrorists -- what's faith got to do with them?

Stick around.



JAKES: Some of you that are depressed, you are depressed because you are expecting something that is not realistic. This is the place where love heals the hurts and achings in his soul. This is the place where David feels safe at last. And if you are determined not to be anything, get out of the way and let the sister behind you step up, cause she's been praying for a chance for several years.
Certainly sounds like prosperity gobbly-gook to me.


KING: One other thing in the abortion area, Bishop Jakes. If -- since a health bill is so necessary, reform is so necessary, if it did include payment for abortion, would you ask people to vote for it?

JAKES: I don't ask our people to -- to vote.

KING: Would you support it?

JAKES: Would I vote for it?

KING: Yes.

JAKES: I don't think that would let me deter me from voting for it.
A horrible response from someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus.  As stated above, to allow the killing of millions of babies just to get better healthcare is disgusting.  When you think about it, it sounds rather selfish don't you think?

KING: Have churches been affected by the recession?

JAKES: Hugely. In an amazing way.

KING: Less contributions?

JAKES: Lowered contributions. Some of them are seeing higher attendance. It depends on the area you live in.

KING: Higher attendance?

JAKES: Higher attendance, less contributions. And some are getting lower attendance. It depends on the demographics. If you're in Detroit or Cleveland or areas that are hard hit, the churches are hard-hit, too. The church is no more than the people that are in it.

KING: Yes.

We have a Twitter question: "What does T.D. Jakes preach more -- why does T.D. Jakes preach more about prosperity and material things than having a relationship with God?"

Is that true?

JAKES: First of all, it isn't true. The first time I found out I was a prosperity preacher, I read it -- until -- nobody thought that until the...

KING: But you talk about prosperity?

JAKES: No, not -- not largely.

KING: You don't?

JAKES: I do mention it. It's a part what -- what I preach. But it's not a focal point -- less -- less than about maybe 5 percent of my sermons are about it.
Mr. Jakes has convinced himself of what he thinks he is instead of what he actually is.  I have listened to many of Mr. Jakes sermons and read many of his writings and they seem to have a common thread which includes prosperity and be all you can be while here on earth.

KING: Should money and materialism have anything to do with the church?

JAKES: It has something to do with the people. It has something to do with every part of our life in society. But it's not a focal part of my ministry.
Mr. Jakes must have forgotten that the Church is the People.  Materialism is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.  Why would Jesus teach otherwise if it was so important to us here in the now.  Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had.  Was this not the true understanding of what Jesus taught so that we would receive our reward later in Heaven instead of now?

As I was saying, what has been a focal point for me was ministering to hurting people. In almost every tape, that has been -- I did a message called "Women That Are Loose," which really exploded around the nation and it dealt with women who had been abused and been assaulted and been through domestic violence and to say that there was a way out. And my ministry actually exploded.

Sometimes when people learn who you are by reading an article or hearing an interview and that's what they know of you, you can be put in a box that really doesn't fit you.

KING: Maybe you have an image that's unfair.

JAKES: Well, it just isn't that one aspect. I'm not crying about it. I mean people...

KING: Because here's another question, Twitter: "I do not have luxury possessions, such as nice cars or homes. Am I not good enough? Does God favor you more than me?"

JAKES: Absolutely not. And see, I'm not on the side they think they're on. The question is a great question, but they're sending it to the wrong guy. I work over in Third World countries where there's great faith and some of those people are hungry and -- and starving. I don't define faith by materialism. I absolutely do not.

KING: What keeps him going -- what keeps you going when times are terrible, that belief remains?

JAKES: I know what kept me going. I knew that God had not forgotten me. I knew that he was there with me. I did not define my relationship with God as a Santa Claus just to give me what he needed. I do believe that God blesses his people. I certainly do. But all of those blessings are not always material all the time. He blessed me with healthy children. He blessed me with a loving wife. He blessed me with health insurance. There's a lot of ways to be blessed.

KING: God is a what to you -- a spirit, a being, a what?

JAKES: The bible says God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. I accept that.

KING: Do you believe you're going to be with him some day?

JAKES: I'm with him now. He's with me now. A relationship doesn't begin in the hereafter. It begins right now.
Mr. King didn't ask Mr. Jakes if he had Jesus living inside him now, he as him if he was going to be with God someday.  I cannot believe anyway than to believe that Mr. Jakes thinks he has Heaven here on earth and is not willing to wait until after the Judgment to receive his reward.  There is an enormous difference between a relationship and actually being with God someday.  A person may have a wonderful pen-pal relationship with someone but they are not "with" them.  Heaven awaits us later.  A relationship is something we have now with our Savior.

KING: What happens in the hereafter, do you believe?

JAKES: For a believer, to be absent in the body is to be present with the lord. I don't believe that I am my body. I live in my body, but I am much more than my flesh. I believe that, as a Christian, I have eternal life with God. But that -- that relationship begins now. That's not something I'm going to get, I have that now.
Not a very good explanation of the Hereafter.  This explanation focuses on the here and now instead of what Mr. King actually ask him.

KING: Do you ever doubt it?

JAKES: Absolutely.

KING: You do?

JAKES: You have doubts. One of the -- one of the great lines that I love in President Obama's book that he did before he was president, "The Audacity of Hope," as he wrestles and grapples with faith, he says that he does not -- he finally learned that the presence of doubt does not mean the absence of faith. I think that's a very powerful line, because the presence of doubt does not mean the absence of faith. Faith just rises above the doubt and conquers it.

KING: The book is "The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times."

More with T.D. Jakes after this.


KING: Program note. One of the mystery figures in the whole Michael Jackson episode, Dr. Thome Thome, you've heard the name. He'll be here Thursday night exclusive, Thursday night.

Our guest is bishop T.D. Jakes. His new book is "The Memory Quilt." All right. The massacre at Ft. Hood, a terrible tragedy, your own state of Texas. You counsel any of the victims?

JAKES: I have not. We had prayer in our church, because our church is affected. We're not that far from the base and we're affected directly and indirectly. I have been to Ft. Killeen and worked with the chaplains as well as the troops down there.

KING: The alleged shooter is a Muslim. What does a Christian pastor say to his parishioners about Muslims? Do you ever talk about them?

JAKES: No --

KING: You don't?

JAKES: No, I don't downgrade anybody's faith or religion. I just preach what I believe. But I don't think that you can define anybody's faith by extremists, no more -- I would not use him as a barometer to define the Muslims no more than I would the KKK to define Christianity.
Once again, Mr. King did not ask him if he downgraded anyone's faith or religion.  He ask if he every talks about Muslims.  Mr. Jakes should be teaching his congregation that the Bible is the only TRUE faith and that all others are deceived.  Mr. Jakes goes out of his way to make sure he doesn't offend anyone even to the extend of backing away from anything which may be controversial.

KING: Unfortunately you know people take it out on them.

JAKES: They do that and it's unfortunate because the Muslim community were one of the first to speak out against this behavior. Any time you put people in a box, whether they're preachers or black people or anybody and say all of these people think this way, you've done a great injustice.

KING: The president spoke at a service for the victims at Ft. Hood. Here's some of what he said.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy, but this much we do know. No faith justifies these murderous and brazen acts. No just and loving god looks upon them with favor. For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice in this world and the next.


KING: Did the president strike the right note there with the reference to faith?

JAKES: Well, you know, for me, my focus is not on the killer. It's on the families. It's on the children. It's on the mothers who are left behind. If I were in that situation and got an opportunity to speak to them, it would be to encourage them. I've been on the bases where -- it's a different world on those bases. Those people are coming and going. They deal with a different level of stress. Then to have to face this on top of it, I know it's a devastating time.

KING: Are you an opponent of war?

JAKES: No. I think that there are times that we have to fight for what we believe and we have to protect our country, just like you would protect your family. I think there are times that we have to fight to protect what we believe in.

KING: Army suicide rates have set another record. You ever had to counsel someone who wanted to commit suicide?

JAKES: Absolutely.

KING: What do you say? What brings them back from the brink?

JAKES: First of all, you know something, you'd be shocked to find there are more people amongst us who grapple with suicide than you would ever believe. Whether you're dealing with soldiers or dealing with stressed-out --

KING: Depression is a national calamity.

JAKES: It's a crisis, young people and everybody. And it is the death of hope. That's why when people accuse you of being a perpetrator of hope; they've accused you of something positive. We need hope. Without hope, we face suicide, destruction, degradation. And I think it's very important to remind people that when you take your life, you've taken your tomorrows. My, how my life has changed over the years. I wouldn't have seen my children. I wouldn't have met my wife. There's so many good things that can happen tomorrow. And if you cash in the chips over the tragedies of today, you throw your tomorrows around.

KING: Do you believe it's weak or guts?

JAKES: What?

KING: Is it weakness or guts to take your own life?

JAKES: I think it's both. I don't deny the fact it takes a certain courage to do it. But it's weak from the standpoint that ultimately you have given away something that's not yours to give, not even your own life.

KING: A call from Boca Raton, Florida. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question would be is how do you keep your own personal faith in light of Ft. Hood, 9/11, the holocaust, with the everyday atrocities that we come across?

JAKES: You know, it's very, very important. My faith, to me, is not challenged by those things. My faith is a personal intimate relationship with Christ. I don't believe that that relationship is based on everything going right and going well. Calamities have been happening all over the world for years and years and years. We have a media today that brings it right in your living room. A steady diet every day can destroy anybody's faith. But I don't eat that all day. I spend time in prayer. I spend time with my kids. I spend time looking at sunsets. I spend time holding my grandbaby.

KING: Doesn't it bring you doubt when you see a holocaust? Don't you say why, god?

JAKES: No, I don't say why, man? I don't say why, god.

KING: God could have stopped it.

JAKES: Yes, he could have stopped it but he didn't do it. There's a different between -- he could have stopped anything. But the reality is sometimes we make the mistake of blaming god for things that we need to question human behavior. I really do believe that.

KING: It's easy to say he couldn't do it but he chose not to do. Why didn't he choose to do it?

JAKES: Anger or depression needs somebody to blame. Sometimes god is easy. He's available.

KING: Patrick Swayze's widow is here tomorrow along with his brother, Donny. We'll talk about the Dirty Dancer's final day and the legacy he left all of us. That's Wednesday night on LARRY KING LIVE.

We'll get to Sarah Palin and more politics with our bishop friend after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The undisputed center of the stage this week is Sarah Palin.

MATT LAUER, TALK SHOW HOST: The latest on Sarah Palin, her political --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah Palin's new book "Going Rogue" out today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin made a big stop on her book tour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During all her appearances, Palin will talk about how the media won't leave her alone.

KING: You cannot have a discussion today without a discussion of the lady from Alaska. It's all over the news. What do you think of her?

JAKES: I think she's an intriguing person. She's captured the fascination of America. I can't find anybody who doesn't either love her or hate her. She doesn't leave you in a neutral position. But I personally think she's a fascinating person.

KING: Recent polls say most Americans don't think she's qualified to be president. They like her, but they don't think she's qualified. So how do you explain this kind of fascination?

JAKES: Hopefully, you can love someone for their charisma or be intrigued by their background and not necessarily think that their expertise rises to the level of being the president of the United States. But I think she's an intriguing person because she brought that folksy sort of presence to the stage in a way that we had not seen heretofore. She was woman. And this past electoral process was amazing. We had Hillary Clinton running for office. We had Sarah Palin. We had the first African-American. There were a lot of firsts going on. And she was intriguing.

KING: She also on the recent cover of "Newsweek" and is not happy about the photo. Here's what she told Barbara Walters. Watch.


BARBARA WALTERS, TALK SHOW HOST: Have you seen the cover of "Newsweek"? It's a picture of you in shorts. From the photograph that was taken for "Runner's World" magazine. How do you feel about this showing you like that on the cover?

SARAH PALIN: I think it is so cheesy. Had I known then that a picture of me in shorts would end up on the cover of "Newsweek," I would not have allowed "Runner's World" to profile me. I think that's -- for me personally, it's a wee bit degrading. "Newsweek" should be more policy oriented, more substance oriented than showing some gal in shorts on the cover.


KING: Well, the obvious question is, she did pose for the cover in shorts. So she's charging sexism. Is it sexism if she posed?

JAKES: Interesting question. You know, I kind of got the feeling from listening to her that she's a bit bruised from the whole process that she's been through. I kind of understand that. People who live in the spotlight really do get burned by the light. Then sometimes they, rather than shy away from it, turn it on even brighter. I think in some ways she writes the book to kind of set the record straight in her own mind or at least the way she sees or wants to be seen by the American people.

KING: You like her?

JAKES: I don't really know her. I don't really know her at all. I was just fascinated, as most Americans were, by watching her. But I've never met her.

KING: Has Carrie Prejean become the poster girl for religious conservatives?

JAKES: No. I don't think there is a poster child for religious conservatives. The misnomer that the church is facing today, even amongst conservatives, is that they're monolithic. You get a bunch of conservatives in the room, we'll argue just as good as anybody else will. We're all over the place --

KING: Do you have consider yourself conservative?

JAKES: On some things. On other things, I am not at all. It just depends on the issue, especially when it comes to conservative about politics. There are some issues that I'll line up very much with conservatives. There are other things I think conservatives are really missing the ball. And when you take a person and you have make them fit within a box, which we have to do for an article or an interview, you really do it at the expense of cutting off some of the sides and angles of our unique nuances.

KING: By the way, do you pray? That's for the audience. I don't have to ask the bishop that. That's a quick vote question. Go to Cast the ballot. Back in 60 seconds.


KING: He also wrote "Reposition Yourself and Making Great Decisions." This is his 17th book and novel "A Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times." Do you have fun making little figures do what you want them to do when writing fiction?

JAKES: Yeah, I think it is fun.

KING: A lot of control power there.

JAKES: Yeah. It's almost like weaving, telling a story and making it fit together. Then let the editors rip it apart.

KING: If you had to say the message of this book is, what would you say?

JAKES: I would say that the best part of Christmas are in our memories and in our families and the simple things and that we need to put them all together and enjoy and be warmed by the quilt of our memories during the holiday season.
Even though this book is fiction, no mention here about the Birth of Christ as our coming Savior.  I would rather be warmed by the knowledge that Christ was born and I have a Savior!  Mr. Jake's explanation sounds too much like more earthly rewards.

KING: Are quilts still big?


KING: Are they around a lot?

JAKES: Yeah.

KING: Are quilt stores?

JAKES: They've upgraded from back in the day where you flipped them over and the back side had all the strings hanging off of them. Now they're really fancy and some of them go for very high prices. But most of them are made from discarded material.

KING: Have we lost a lot of the meaning of Christmas?

JAKES: I think we have. I think we have. Not certainly from a sacred perspective. We almost want to wash Christ out of Christmas.

KING: Everybody says we have, but nobody does anything about getting it back.

JAKES: I don't think we know how to get it back in a society that's trying so hard to be even-handed. But even from the secular perspective, it used to be about families and friendship and love. It's not about money. It's not about the size of the gift. In some kind of way we've gotten far from what really matters in this country.
If Mr. Jakes truly believes this then why not mention in his explanation and book about Christ being born and becoming our Savior.  That may be just the step needed to get someone back to the real meaning of Christmas.

KING: The book is "The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times." Back with our bishop after this.


KING: Back with T.D. Jakes in a moment. First let's check in with Anderson Cooper, he'll host AC "360" at the top of the hour. What's up tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, tonight a lot of controversy and confusion growing over the new mammogram guidelines. We're going to have a debate between a doctor who is part of the task force that changed the guidelines and a doctor who says the new guidelines are outrageous.

Also a special "360" investigation, killings at the canal, the army tapes. Did U.S. soldiers commit murder in Baghdad or was it a case of battlefield justice? We've obtained nearly 24 hours of interrogation tapes. We'll show you some of them tonight.

And Sarah Palin making the media rounds. Her book is out across the country. A new interview with Barbara Walters with some surprising answers. We're also going to look at the book and her message. Are they fact or fiction mostly? We're keeping them honest. Tonight those stories, a lot more ahead on "360."

KING: That's Anderson Cooper 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific. Back to Bishop T.D. Jakes. Let's take a call. Beverly Hills, California. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Bishop Jakes. First of all, I'd like for you to know I enjoy you every Sunday. I tape you and then watch you every Sunday. But my question is, I attend a church in Los Angeles and recently the pastor of our church has come under fire for a large scandal. And while many of us are in the church, we are talking -- the parishioners are talking on the phones during the day and at night about the whole situation. Is it true? Is it not true? But my question is, how does one cope and deal with a pastor that's going through something like that? It's affecting all of us. And we don't know we don't know what to do. We don't know what to say. It's like we've been punched in the stomach. I just wanted you to tell me how does one -- how do I get through this?

JAKES: You don't.
You don't?  What kind of answer is this?  You can get through this and every issue when you have God, Christ and hte Holy Spirit as your help.  I am appalled at his answer!

KING: Good question.

JAKES: One of the things that really breaks my heart is that church has not done more to provide a place for pastors to be restored and be renewed. It would be like being a physician and not being able to go to the hospital.

KING: What is does the parishioner do when the pastor does something wrong?

JAKES: There is a lot I have to know. Has the pastor been sat down?

KING: Generally. She said scandal.

JAKES: Your faith is not in the pastor. Your faith is in Christ. And you have to keep your eyes focused on him and look to the lord. I would stay off the phone. I would stay away from the gossip, the people who are calling and discussing it, is it true or not true? I would get away from it.

KING: It's natural, though.

JAKES: It's natural to do it but I think it's wise to get away from it. But we need, Larry, in this country a way for pastors to be able to get out from under the fire and get some help. Get out of the pulpit when they need to and get restored, get counseling, get help when they need it.

KING: The D.C. sniper was executed last week.

JAKES: Uh-huh.

KING: Do you believe in the death penalty?

JAKES: I think that there may be times when it is appropriate. But I'm very, very reluctant. You know, we have had a DAA in Dallas that has done a great deal of uncovering. He has gotten national attention. He brought up something that I suspected for years. First of all, minorities are often disproportionately.

KING: Absolutely.

JAKES: People don't have the money. They don't have the resources to get the counsel they need.

KING: Rich people don't get executed?

JAKES: Precisely the point. And I think it's a travesty in this country that we have this going on.

KING: Why not then do away with it?

JAKES: Well, there are cases -- there may be cases where it is appropriate. I'm not sure. But what I am sure about is that many, many people who go to trial cannot afford a lawyer for representation. What Craig is doing is he pointed out through DNA testing is that many of these people were -- they were totally innocent, spending 20, 30 years in prison.

KING: You have to assume some people are innocent have been executed? 200 have been released already.

JAKES: Here's the problem. When you get it wrong with the death penalty, you can't take it back.

KING: Khalid Mohammed, the accused master minds of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will be tried in a federal court in New York. Former Mayor Giuliani is not happy about it. The current Mayor Bloomberg is very happy about it. What do you think?

JAKES: Well, I can understand why there would be some concerns about it. I mean New York has gone through so much. And to be in the spotlight again, I think I would be concerned about retaliation. But I think there is some need for us to seek some kind of justice.

KING: And that's when a crime occurs?

JAKES: That's exactly where the crime occurred. I think there is a need for them to be closure to the people that have been left just dangling wondering will there ever be a resolution? When we started the war in Iraq --

KING: Terrorism in New York surrounding the trial.

JAKES: I worry about that. You know, I worry about that. And I certainly hope that we heighten security if we're going to do that and that we protect the citizens of New York. They've been through enough.

KING: 1 in 6 Americans is hungry tonight. Pastor Jakes and I will talk about what role the church plays in helping next.


KING: Thanksgiving is a week away. 1 in 6 Americans are hungry. There will be relief organizations, churches, and many others will give these people a turkey and then they'll go back to being hungry on Friday. You know, not that people are doing that, it's very nice. What does the church say about hunger?

JAKES: You know, I know what our church does. We go out and gather the homeless up every week and feed them, let them shower, do job fairs for them, try to help them find apartments and that sort of thing. I'm not saying that it's nearly enough. But we're doing what we can.

KING: Should any American be hungry?

JAKES: No. And I think it's every American's responsibility to wipe it out. I really, really do. The church can't do it all. You have to realize the church is working with 10 percent of a few people's income and the government is working with 33 of everybody and they can't do it.
As a rich man, Mr. Jakes should be parting with some of his millions and helping all he can instead of telling us that it is every American's responsibility to wipe it out. I  cannot understand how a person who has millions can say anything to anybody when they have all this money instead of using it for good.  He talks about what his church is doing but he should also be doing more.  There is nothing wrong with making money but it what you do with it that makes the difference.

KING: You wanted to make a church about 30,000 people attend, right? What sort of swine flu precautions do you take? Do they all shake hands with each other?

JAKES: They do. Through the recent things we're doing, I have seen many, many more people coming with the little antiseptics. It's very important in big crowds.

KING: Do you worry about it? Have you had cases in your community?

JAKES: Not widespread. We've had some but it's not as widespread as you might think. And I'm glad.

KING: We have a Twitter question. How do you prepare your sermons?

JAKES: First, when I study, I very seldom study for a sermon. I study to feed myself. Out of the wealth of things I read, I get a sermon. I do have an outline. I do have a formula.

KING: You don't print it all out?

JAKES: I do. I just don't use it. Once I print it, I don't work with a manuscript like some preachers do. But I'll have an outline of that; once I write it, it generally sticks to my head and I can do it on my feet.

KING: One more call. Santa Fe Springs, California. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Larry. I'd like to ask Bishop Jakes, what are your aspirations for the future and where do you see yourself 20 years from now?

JAKES: You know, that's a very interesting thing that I've been grappling with. I think I moved to a degree from destiny to legacy. I'm more concerned about who's next, the perpetuation of our faith and our community. And I think I'd like to coach -- I'd like to be on the corner of speaking to young men and young women and saying watch out for this. I did this right. I did that wrong. You know, I'd like to be a coach 20 years from now.

KING: What is the hardest part of being a pastor?

JAKES: I think the realization that the needs are greater than you're able to respond to.

KING: So you fail a lot?

JAKES: Absolutely. If the goal is to be there for everybody and the crowds grow, you will fail. But I think that's by god's design. I think the goal ought to be not to give the people you but to give them him. But we love them so. We want to give them us. And we eventually have to learn that if you do that not only will they be disappointed, you'll be exhausted. You, your family and wife and kids need your time as well.

KING: You're in Dallas. Do you see the Bushes?

JAKES: I have not seen them since they got back home.

KING: I would imagine one day they'll drop into your church.

JAKES: That will be nice.

KING: Have you seen Ross Perot?

JAKES: Not in church. But at the restaurant. We both like to eat.

KING: We asked about you. Did you ever think of retiring?

JAKES: Yes, I do.

KING: How old are you now?

JAKES: I'm 52. Not now. Not now. But I think there is a point that you need to back away.

KING: Are you in good health?

JAKES: Yes, I'm in excellent health. I feel 100 percent. But I think there does come a point that you need to back away and let some younger man get the wheel and encourage him.
Why not bring the younger man along with you instead of backing off? After all, two ministers of the true Gospel is better than one.

KING: Thank you, Bishop. Always good seeing you.

JAKES: Thank you, Larry.

What are your thoughts on this article?