updated 3/30/2004 1:26:20 AM ET 2004-03-30T06:26:20

Guests: Farah Pahlavi, Thomas Hartman, Marc Gellman, Tammy Faye Messner, Roe Messner

ANNOUNCER:  DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.

Tammy Faye Messner, the so-called mother of televangelism, she helped create three TV networks and a 2,300-acre theme park.  Then came financial scandal, divorce, colon cancer.  Tammy Faye beat them all, but how will she survive her toughest challenge yet?

The good book hits the campaign trail.  John Kerry‘s quote from scripture has George Bush crying foul.  Has the Bible emerged as a new weapon in the presidential race?  Plus, Kerry‘s Catholicism, why this presidential hopeful might not be welcome in his own church. 

Life in exile.  The shah and empress of Iran, together, they ruled Iran as a progressive Western nation until the revolution turned the clock back.  Now, 25 years after the fall of the Peacock Throne, Farah Pahlavi recalls the power, the wealth and her late husband, plus, her thoughts on the future for Iran and its neighbors. 

From Studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville. 

DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  And good evening, everybody. 

Back in the 1980s, Tammy Faye Bakker was referred to as the mother of  televangelism.  She helped build the three largest Christian TV networks in the world, including PTL, which she founded in 1974 with her ex-husband Jim Bakker.  At its peak, PTL was watched by more than 13 million households every day.  In 1978, the Bakkers build a 2,000 religious theme park in South Carolina called Heritage USA.  It was equipped with a television studio, a hotel, campgrounds, even had a shopping mall. 

But in 1980, Jim Bakker had a sexual encounter with a former church secretary, Jessica Hahn.  And that was the beginning of the end for PTL.  Ms. Hahn was paid $265,000 for her silence, the money coming out of PTL‘s coffers.  Jim Bakker resigned in March of 1987 and soon after, PTL filed for bankruptcy.  The pressures on Tammy Faye Bakker became overwhelming.  She battled an addiction to painkillers.  In 1989, Heritage USA closed its door and Reverend Bakker was convicted of 24 counts of mail and wire fraud.

He was accused of siphoning off $158 million from his ministry to pay for some called an extravagant lifestyle.  But Bakker always denied this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM BAKKER:  There was never a misuse of funds here.  There just never has been, never will be. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Jim Bakker ended up serving five years blind bars.  And while he was in prison, Tammy Faye married Roe Messner, the lead contractor for Heritage USA.  And she‘s has moved on from those PTL days.  She‘s had her own talk show.  She‘s written two books.  She‘s become a grandmother.  And eight years ago, Tammy Faye Messner was diagnosed with colon cancer. 

Well, three weeks ago, she was diagnosed again, this time with inoperable lung cancer.  She joins me here in the studio, along with her husband, Roe Messner.  It‘s so nice to meet you both. 

(CROSSTALK)

TAMMY FAYE MESSNER, TELEVANGELIST:  Thank you, Deborah.  We‘ve watched you for a long time. 

NORVILLE:  Well, I‘ve watched you for a long time.  And I‘m actually stunned that our paths never crossed paths. 

T. MESSNER:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Just reading all of that, the ups, the downs, it‘s like a roller-coaster ride. 

T. MESSNER:  It is like a roller coaster ride.  When I was a little girl, the oldest of eight kids, I used to pray, oh, God, please don‘t let my life be boring.  Well, I probably would not pray that again. 

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  Yes.  Well, it‘s funny.  The Chinese have a curse and they say, may you live in interesting times.  There‘s the sour that comes with all the interesting sweet.

T. MESSNER:  But, you know, I don‘t believe in curses. 

NORVILLE:  You don‘t look like a woman who is dealing with the most devastating diagnosis someone could get.

T. MESSNER:  Well, I believe, Deborah, that the joy of the lord is your strength.  That‘s what God‘s word says. 

And I am extremely joyful.  The lord says he will not put more on us than we can bear.  And the Bible says, in everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God and Christ Jesus concerning you.  Now, I‘m not saying God gave me cancer, but I‘m thanking him in the midst that he‘ll take and help me through it. 

NORVILLE:  But that‘s one of the hardest thing to do, because the Bible does say, in all things, give thanks. 

T. MESSNER:  Yes, it does.  But this is the will of God.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  Cancer is a hard thing to say thank you for. 

T. MESSNER:  It‘s very hard.  But you don‘t have to say thank you for the cancer.  You just say, thank you, God, that you‘re going to help me through another trial in my life. 

NORVILLE:  How scary is it?

T. MESSNER:  It‘s very scary.

NORVILLE:  The second time around, but you did battle colon cancer. 

And I‘m sure, for eight years, I beat it. 

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  Well, you really think you have, because they say, after five years, that it‘s pretty well sure that it‘s never going to happen again.

Well, what was devastating to me about it, almost more than hearing that I had cancer, was when they put “in” in front of operable, inoperable. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

T. MESSNER:  The other cancer, they could operate on and get out.  So I wasn‘t really that frightened.  Oh, they‘re just going to operate on it.  They‘re going to take it out and I‘m going to be fine. 

But one thing I learned, Deborah, is, they had to name cancer something, so it‘s just a name, the name they gave it.  They gave a giraffe the name of giraffe.  They gave dog the name of dog.  They gave cancer the name of cancer.  And I know a name that‘s above all of those names, and that name is Jesus.  And I trust that Jesus that I received into my life when I was 10 years old. 

NORVILLE:  Is that why you go on TV and talk about this, because it gives you yet another opportunity to talk about your faith? 

T. MESSNER:  Well, it gives me an opportunity to talk about Jesus, but it gives me an opportunity to tell people that God is able, no matter what situation that you find yourself in, to go forward, live one day at a time.  And keep a positive attitude.

The Bible says, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, and that doesn‘t mean just the easy things.  That means the things that aren‘t so easy, too.  I‘m scared.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  Roe, you certainly know what Tammy is going through.  You have battled cancer yourself about the same number of years ago, right?  You were diagnosed with prostate cancer?

ROE MESSNER, HUSBAND OF TAMMY FAYE:  Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

NORVILLE:  And how are you helping your wife get through yet another battle, having gone through it once? 

R. MESSNER:  Well, we have a great relationship.  And Tammy is very positive.  And I think this is going to be the greatest opportunity that she‘s ever had to encourage other people that have the same problem she does. 

NORVILLE:  And encourage them how, Roe? 

R. MESSNER:  Well, that they can make it.  You know, Tammy wrote—sings a song, the lemonade song.  If life hands you a lemon, start making lemonade. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  That was the standard on the old PTL Club.

T. MESSNER:  And, also, you can make it.  I don‘t care what is going on.  God what let it last too long.  And here I can‘t even sing anymore. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  Is that one of the—that‘s one of the real problems is it not of the lung cancer?  When you sat down, we made sure you had something to drink because...

T. MESSNER:  Because I cough and my throat goes in and out.  I have a paralyzed vocal cord as a result.  And let me tell you the exact diagnosis, Deborah.  The exact diagnosis is not lung cancer.  The exact diagnosis is colon cancer that has spread to the lungs.  So wouldn‘t you know I would get colon cancer of the lungs. 

NORVILLE:  But let me ask you about that.  When you had the cancer eight years ago, you opted for surgery.  You had the cancerous part of your colon removed.

T. MESSNER:  Fourteen inches, yes.

NORVILLE:  And you chose not to do chemo or radiation. 

T. MESSNER:  Yes.  Yes. 

I felt like I wasn‘t supposed to.  And we examined all the facts at that time, didn‘t we, honey?

R. MESSNER:  Yes. 

T. MESSNER:  And they said there was only a 15 percent chance that I needed it or didn‘t need it.  And I said, well, I‘m going to trust God with that 15 percent and I‘m not going to do it.  So I didn‘t.  So I asked the doctor this time, the oncologist...

NORVILLE:  Would it have made a difference? 

T. MESSNER:  He said, no, it wouldn‘t have made a difference.

NORVILLE:  So it was just the type that metastasized.  It‘s taken eight years to present itself. 

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  Eight years.  The fact that it taken eight years mean that it wouldn‘t have made a difference.  It would have come either way probably. 

NORVILLE:  You know what I think is so ironic is that wrote your book, “I Will Survive And You Will, Too.” 

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  Leave it to me, Tammy Faye.

NORVILLE:  It came out last fall.  There, we‘ve got it on the screen, so I don‘t have to hold it up.  It‘s a great picture.  And it‘s the travails of Tammy Faye.

T. MESSNER:  Well, it‘s sort of fun.  It‘s a fun book to read. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s a fun book, but, also, you just wonder, gosh, did you jinx it?  Do you ever think in those terms?

T. MESSNER:  Oh, I don‘t think it‘s possible to jinx anything when you know the lord Jesus Christ.  There‘s no such word as jinx in my vocabulary. 

NORVILLE:  How did you break the news to the rest of the family? 

T. MESSNER:  Well, me and my son and daughter, we‘ve had to be tough for a lot of years.  So we refuse to cry in front of each other ever. 

NORVILLE:  Do you think that‘s a good thing?

T. MESSNER:  No, but that was the way we all held each other together, was, who could be the strongest?  It was kind of a little mental game we played.

NORVILLE:  Right. 

T. MESSNER:  And so I told Roe, I‘m not going to tell the kids.  He said, oh, yes, you are going to tell the kids.

NORVILLE:  What, you were going to make him do it?

T. MESSNER:  No.  Nobody was going to tell the kids.  And so finally he said, oh, yes, you are.  And so my kids one day looked at me one day and they said, mom, get real with us.  We know what‘s really happening.  And so they knew it really in their hearts when I did.

NORVILLE:  I guess the difference between someone who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and the rest of us is, we know we‘re going to go and we‘re pretty sure we know how. 

T. MESSNER:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  Is that a comfort or is that even more difficult knowing that there‘s only so much the medical people will be able to do? 

T. MESSNER:  Well, there‘s only so much the medical people will be able to do, but God is still a God of miracles, so he can go above what medicine can do, because medicine has never healed anyone.  It‘s only God who heals.  Medicine does its work and its share, but God actually does the healing.  And any doctor I know will tell you that. 

I think this way.  A lot of people are going to go die before me.  The Bible says that it‘s appointed upon to man once to die.  And after that, the judgment.  I just have probably a little more idea that my appointment could come sooner than yours. 

NORVILLE:  Exactly. 

And yet, during that period of time, you will, I know, be going full-throttle, 110 percent.  Given the fact that you have got to deal with your treatment, but you still have many plans for your life, what‘s No. 1 on your to-do list? 

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  My to-do list is, I‘ve got a preaching engagement that I‘m going to be doing in May.  It‘s a conference that I‘m going to be preaching at, which I‘m looking forward to.  So I just don‘t stop.

NORVILLE:  And how long has it been since you were at the front of the pulpit, instead of sitting back listening to the preacher?

T. MESSNER:  Oh, it‘s been—oh, my goodness.  I‘ve been doing it for quite a long time now.  I‘m been it for about—what, how many years, Roe? 

R. MESSNER:  Well, since we‘ve been married, yes.

T. MESSNER:  Ten years, maybe?

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  Just not on TV, where the rest of the folks can see you.

And how is Jim dealing with this, your ex-husband? 

T. MESSNER:  I don‘t know.  He told my daughter, who told him.  He said, well, we‘re all getting older and you have to expect things like this to happen.  And that‘s really the truth.  We are all getting older and we do have to expect things like this to happen.  So I think that‘s a good practical way to look at it.

NORVILLE:  You haven‘t spoken to him personally about this? 

T. MESSNER:  No. 

NORVILLE:  You guys don‘t communicate? 

T. MESSNER:  Well, if we‘re in the same room, we say hello.  And we get along find.  It‘s just that there‘s no reason to, other than if happen were to happen with one of the children or something goes on with the grandkids and we end up at the same place. 

NORVILLE:  We‘re going to take a break.

When we come back, I want to talk more about your illness, but also talk about the transition.  Tammy Faye Bakker, who was at that time the cheerleader of the televangelist world, has now become the mascot for the gay club scene. 

T. MESSNER:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Kind of interesting. 

Back with the Messners right after this.

T. MESSNER:  You never know. 

NORVILLE:  You never know. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. MESSNER:  One thing I‘d like to say, Jim, I often wondered if the Gospel we preached would work for us.  And I‘m glad to stand here today to say that the Gospel that we preach really does work. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  We‘re back now with Tammy Faye Messner and her husband, Roe Messner.  She was diagnosed earlier this month with inoperable cancer that has settled in the lungs.  And you say you really want send a shout-out to your doctor, that he‘s just been the rock for you.

T. MESSNER:  Well, I want to thank Dr. Marvin Brooks (ph).  He is there at Eisenhower Hospital in Palm Springs.  He has taken charge of my treatment, which is going to begin at the Lucy Curci Cancer.  That‘s the brand new cancer center there in  Rancho Mirage.  And so that‘s helping me not to be quite so afraid, because he‘s taking charge of everything and he‘s been a friend for many, many years. 

So, Dr. Marv, thank you.  I appreciate it.

NORVILLE:  You‘ve gone through tough times before. 

T. MESSNER:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And I‘m sure nothing seemed as tough as the time.

T. MESSNER:  Tough times don‘t last.  Tough people do. 

NORVILLE:  I think there‘s a book by that title somewhere out there, too. 

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  I want to talk about the whole PTL thing.

In the introduction, we said, at the high point, there were something like 13 million people.  You guys were beating Carson at night sometimes in the satellite delivery.  And yet it all came crashing down so quickly and so publicly.  When you look back, are you astonished that you were unaware of what was going on?  Because you‘ve said many times over the years that you had no clue what was going on. 

T. MESSNER:  And I don‘t think Jim did either.  I say that before the God I serve.  I don‘t think he did either.

And I was also say before God that he was not guilty of the charges leveled against him, that he did not steal money from PTL.  And I‘m not going to try to prove it.  I don‘t have to prove anything, because that was yesterday. 

NORVILLE:  That was years ago. 

T. MESSNER:  That was yesterday.  And yesterday is like an egg that‘s been broken on the floor.  No matter how much you want to pick it up and put it all back together, you can never put it back together again. 

You cannot go forward looking in the rearview mirror, Deborah.  So I encourage people to—yesterday has to be yesterday.  It‘s a broken up on the floor.  Clean it up and move on. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, but there are lessons to be learned looking in the rearview mirror of our own lives. 

And I want to thing that I never understood—and my grandma used to watch your show. 

T. MESSNER:  Oh, I know.

NORVILLE:  One of the things I never understood was you all could sit there and say, we have no idea how any of this going on and yet live as high on the hog as you did.  You had to wonder where the money for the cars and the estates and all of that was coming from. 

Well, Deborah, you...

(LAUGHTER)

R. MESSNER:  Let me answer that for you.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  And, Roe, you were the builder.  You built Heritage USA.

R. MESSNER:  I built it, $158 million.  All you got to do is just go down there and look.  All the buildings are there.  They‘re standing, sitting in the weeds.  The money is all right there.  There‘s no missing money anywhere. 

NORVILLE:  But there were his and hers Rolls-Royces.

T. MESSNER:  Oh, no, there wasn‘t.  No, there wasn‘t. 

R. MESSNER:  No, there wasn‘t.  No, there wasn‘t. 

T. MESSNER:  You believe the newspaper.  Deborah, shame. 

R. MESSNER:  That‘s not true at all, no.

T. MESSNER:  That was not true.  Not half of it wasn‘t true.  More than half of it wasn‘t true. 

(CROSSTALK)

R. MESSNER:  No, all that stuff was spread by Jerry Falwell.  None of it was true. 

NORVILLE:  You talked about this past winter when you were on this WB show called “The Surreal Life.”

T. MESSNER:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  I want to play the clip and then ask you what that was all about.

T. MESSNER:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  This is “The Surreal Life” starring Tammy Faye Messner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE SURREAL LIFE”)

T. MESSNER:  I had a dead person on my back for a long time and I carried that man on my back until one day I heard a voice inside me say, Tammy, lay him down.  Just lay him down.  I‘ll take care of him.  And one day, I unstrapped that dead body from my back.  I laid that body down.  I said, God, he‘s not a part of me anymore, and I lived. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Wow.  The dead body was Jerry Falwell. 

T. MESSNER:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  What was the deal?

T. MESSNER:  Because it hurt so bad.  When you‘re hurt that bad by somebody that you formerly loved an trusted—I still love Jerry today.  I don‘t know that I would trust him again, but I still love him.  I have forgiven him. 

NORVILLE:  You feel that he turned on you and the ministry?

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  Yes.  And you carry that around all the time. 

And he didn‘t care that I was carrying it around.  It didn‘t hurt him at all.  It was killing me.  And I wish people that are hurting so bad and carrying unforgiveness on their back and all the people that have hurt them would just unstrap that and lay it down and walk away, because people that have hurt you, they are glad they hurt you, obviously.  And they don‘t know and they don‘t care that you‘re suffering.

NORVILLE:  And they don‘t spend another five minutes thinking about it. 

T. MESSNER:  And they hope that you‘re suffering.  So don‘t do them the satisfaction of suffering.  Lay them down and walk away and be free. 

NORVILLE:  And when you‘ve done that, have you found that doors have opened?  I know you‘re going to say yes.  I‘m so curious about “The Surreal Life.”  There you were, a woman who became famous preaching the Gospel on television with a porn star, a “Baywatch” babe, a rapper.  It was the most eclectic collection of people and there you were.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  And you actually became sort of a den mother to them. 

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  Hi, Vanilla Ice.

I did.  I became—Erik Estrada kind of became dad and I became mom of “The Surreal Life.”  It was the greatest experience I have ever had in my life and will thank God always for it.

NORVILLE:  What made it so great? 

T. MESSNER:  Because I made it.  I made it in a life that I was totally unaccustomed to. 

NORVILLE:  You lasted.

T. MESSNER:  I lasted.

NORVILLE:  What did you learn about yourself? 

T. MESSNER:  I learned that I‘m one tough old broad. 

NORVILLE:  Getting out of your comfort zone. 

T. MESSNER:  I was tossed way out of my comfort zone, thanks to this guy, who will not allow me to stay in my comfort zone.  He said, Tammy, get out there and let your light shine.  But I‘m the one who is having to get out there. 

NORVILLE:  And you pushed her to do it.  You thought this was a good thing for her to do.  Why? 

(CROSSTALK)

R. MESSNER:  Right. 

Well, it would be good exposure for her and she could encourage a lot of people with her testimony. 

T. MESSNER:  And he wouldn‘t let down.

NORVILLE:  But you saw it more as a Christian witness opportunity. 

R. MESSNER:  Right.  Exactly. 

NORVILLE:  Than a professional television personality opportunity.

T. MESSNER:  And I saw it as torture.

(LAUGHTER)

R. MESSNER:  The Christian community, they don‘t minister to the world, so to speak.

NORVILLE:  Right. 

R. MESSNER:  And this is a great opportunity. 

NORVILLE:  To get the message in front of other people. 

T. MESSNER:  Well, and it was so wonderful.  I fell so in love.

In fact, I showed you the bracelet, “The Surreal Life” bracelet, that I made up with everybody‘s name on it and what reminds me of them.  And I look at this bracelet and I pray for every one of those kids.  Every time I glance down and see a name, that‘s the one I pray for that day. 

NORVILLE:  You have a sense of humor about yourself, don‘t you? 

T. MESSNER:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Where does that come from?

T. MESSNER:  Oh, my goodness.  My mom was funny.  My grandma was funny.  My dad was funny.  We‘re all just funny people.  We just kind of think of life in the funny lane. 

NORVILLE:  Have you been able to laugh?  You‘ve been the late-night joke lady for God knows how many careers.

T. MESSNER:  I laugh with them.  I think that “Saturday Night Live” is one of the funniest things I‘ve ever seen, is when they push the button and there‘s mascara.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  We got the tape.  We got the tape.  We got to roll it.  We got to roll it. 

T. MESSNER:  I laughed harder than anybody else.

NORVILLE:  That tape, it was too short.  We could have seen more.  So you loved that? 

(CROSSTALK)

T. MESSNER:  Oh, my gosh, I thought it was wonderful, because I‘ve never worn mascara that has run down my face.  Have you guys never heard of waterproof?  But that wouldn‘t be any fun, would it?

NORVILLE:  Of all the things that you‘ve been involved with, frankly, sitting on the sidelines, as I have, and I know others have wondered the same thing, why did you never do a cosmetics deal? 

T. MESSNER:  Nobody ever asked me.  It‘s their loss. 

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  So you‘re out there if somebody wants to ask. 

And, finally, I really want to ask you about the whole idea that Tammy Faye Messner who has been so closely associated with the Christian Gospel, is now so closely associated with members of the gay community. 

T. MESSNER:  I‘m glad you asked me that, Deborah.

NORVILLE:  You did the show with Jim J., who is openly homosexual.

T. MESSNER:  Yes.  Hi, Jim J.  I love you.  And I do love Jim J.  He wants to go through my first chemotherapy with me.

NORVILLE:  Some people would see that as a real dichotomy that doesn‘t fit well. 

T. MESSNER:  And they‘re wrong because God is the God of love.  God loves everyone.  We‘re all made out of the same old dirt.  There‘s not one of us any better than another.  We‘re all just old sinners saved by God‘s grace. 

And when I was going through the worst moments of my life—and I‘m going to cry and I‘m not apologizing—but it was the gay community, not the Christians, that surrounded me with love and cared for me, and took care—and did everything for me.  They came to my aid, and where the Christians wouldn‘t associate with me anymore.  And I will always love them for it.  No one could ever take that love.  How can you not love someone who is so full of love? 

And this is a community that is so full of love and compassion for other people.  And what I‘m trying to do, Deborah, is, I‘m trying to put my arms around the gay community and the heterosexual community and say, hey, you don‘t have to understand each other to love each other and to care for each other. 

NORVILLE:  Do you think gay marriage should be legalized? 

T. MESSNER:  Well, we agree to disagree on this, the gay community and I, because I think it‘s a man and woman thing.  I just can‘t get it any other way in my head, you know?  But that being neither here nor there, it has nothing to do with my love for them and they know that. 

NORVILLE:  Interesting.  And they were there when the community you would have thought would be there weren‘t. 

T. MESSNER:  They were there when I thought that the community that would be there was not there for me.  And I‘m so grateful.  But I‘ve received thousands and thousands of e-mails.  It‘s an unbelievable thing that‘s happening to me right now.

And the thing that is helping me through this the most is the fact that people are righting and say:  Don‘t give up, Tammy.  I‘ve never prayed before, but I‘m praying for you. 

NORVILLE:  Well, we thank you for being here. 

T. MESSNER:  Thank you for that.

NORVILLE:  And we wish you good luck with your therapy. 

T. MESSNER:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  And Tammy Faye Messner...

T. MESSNER:  I‘ll come back when I‘m well.

NORVILLE:  Come back when you‘re—we know you‘re feeling good now. 

You keep coming back.  It‘s good to see you both, Roe Messner as well.

T. MESSNER:  Thank you, really.

NORVILLE:  And if you‘d like some more information about the fight against cancer, just contact the American Cancer Society.  Their toll-free number, 800-ACS-2345.  That‘s 800-227-2345.

And coming up a bit later in the show, the exiled empress of Iran, Her Majesty Farah Pahlavi. 

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, we know Americans lust for wealth and that sex sells, so do more Americans prefer treasure or pleasure? 

But next:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The truth shall set you free. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Kerry, Bush, and the Bible, how religion is heating up the race. 

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry has ignited a firestorm by introducing the Bible into the campaign.  Speaking this weekend at a church in Saint Louis, Kerry departed from his prepared text to praise the worshipers while citing a Bible verse to criticize leaders who have faith but no deeds. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?  Because it‘s also written, be doers of the word and not hearers only. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Well, Kerry‘s comments have the Bush campaign up in arms. 

And a campaign spokesperson took exception to Kerry‘s use of the scripture, saying—quote—“John Kerry‘s comment at New Northside Baptist Church was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack.”

Senator Kerry‘s Catholic faith is now also under attack from his own church.  It seems some of his political positions don‘t line up with church teachings and the Catholic leadership is not happy about it. 

Joining me now to discuss the role of religion on the campaign trail are Father Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman, who together speak as a team around the country on the role of religion in modern society.  They are known as the God Squad. 

Good evening, gentlemen.  Nice to have you with us tonight.

FATHER THOMAS HARTMAN, THE GOD SQUAD:  Good evening, Deborah.

RABBI MARC GELLMAN, THE GOD SQUAD:  God bless you, Deborah.

NORVILLE:  Are you surprised to see John Kerry being criticized for quoting as he did in the church pulpit the other day? 

HARTMAN:  Well, the interesting thing is, usually, in spirituality, you‘re encouraged to be aware of the world you live in, to be critical of the world you live in.  So there‘s nothing wrong with reading scripture, coming up with values, and then saying, in general, this is what we have to do to improve society.

If you feel as if though there are too many hungry people or too many homeless people, as an example, you might say, we‘re not doing enough for the poor.  But what disappoints me is that one candidate would then link it to another person personally, because, in the Bible, it says, you‘re not the judge.  God is the one to judge.

NORVILLE:  And yet, Rabbi Gellman, it seems that there‘s so much talk these days in particular about scripture and faith issues in mainstream discourse that we haven‘t seen in a long time, not the least of which is because of “The Passion of the Christ.”  Is it unthinkable that we should have the same conversation in the political discourse that is going on?

GELLMAN:  Absolutely right.  I think it‘s fine to have it in the political discourse. 

What people forget is that we did have an extraordinary time in the 1960s when Martin Luther King Jr., who, a lot of kids in their classes, they don‘t even realize that he was a Baptist minister.  And the fact is, he was a religious man who had a political agenda.  He wasn‘t a politician who happened to have some religion stuck on to him.  It was a profoundly religious message that King brought to this country, that racial discrimination is not just politically unwise, that it is a sin. 

And there‘s a power to religious language that is very, very important for the public discourse.  And I don‘t think we‘ve seen it since the ‘60s, since King, when we‘ve had a long range of secular leaders.  But when you see a politician for whom religion isn‘t a decoration, for whom faith isn‘t just some kind of political spin, but is really part of the core of their being, it‘s absolutely clear on the right and on the left. 

Jimmy Carter was clearly a man of deep faith, Ronald Reagan, clearly a man of deep faith, George Bush, clearly a man of deep faith.  And you have to really ask yourself, where do these religious motivations come from?  And I take Senator Kerry at his word that religion is also an important part of his life and a reason why he was able to survive in Vietnam. 

So, my judgment is that, over time, other time, it‘s very clear when you‘re really talking to someone who believes what they‘re saying. 

NORVILLE:  And it‘s interesting that you bring up the Reverend Dr.  Martin Luther King, because so much of the civil rights movement was led not only by Dr. King, but by others who were ministers, the Reverend Joseph Lowery being certainly one of the prominent individuals who used the pulpit as a place to preach political change. 

Why are we fearful of seeing politics and religion intersect in 2004? 

GELLMAN:  Well, I think it‘s because the media was very comfortable with the message that Martin Luther King was conveying, because it was congenial to the message that the media wanted to lay out in the country.

But now, increasingly, as religious voices are speaking with great eloquence for conservative points of view, it‘s very difficult for people to give that opinion the same dignity and the same rights that they were freely willing to give the Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  And no one ever said, Deborah, when Dr. King was speaking, I don‘t remember anyone ever saying, you know, he‘s violating the separation of church and state because he‘s arguing from his pulpit that racial discrimination is a sin. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, but he wasn‘t an elected official, and that‘s a big difference. 

Father Hartman, there‘s this interesting thing going on now where the archbishop of Saint Louis actually said in January if John Kerry presented himself in his cathedral for mass, he wouldn‘t offer the sacrament of communion to him.  Your comments.

HARTMAN:  Well, that‘s a very—it‘s a very controversial situation that the church faces, because when we have a major Catholic politician going for a major office, the bishops are concerned that if they do not agree with a pro-life stance in the most central issue, whether a person lives or dies in abortion, then, are they entitled to receive the Eucharist?

And that decision, the bishops and the pope has gone along the line of politicians have to stand up not only to say that they believe in Catholicism, but they have to follow through in their negotiations with other senators and congressmen. 

NORVILLE:  But John Kerry has pretty much echoed the other JFK who dealt with this 44 years ago in saying, if elected, I would be a president who is Catholic, not a Catholic president. 

HARTMAN:  And that also happened with Mario Cuomo and Geraldine Ferraro.  And it points out that there are two sides to a person‘s life.  One is their religion and the other is their job or their family life. 

And John Kerry is saying, I‘m going to continue receiving communion.  I believe in the lord and I‘m following what I believe is right as a legislator.  So I think we‘re going to see a lot of dialogue more and more as the pope has taken a strong stance on this and the bishops have also taken a strong stance. 

NORVILLE:  Well, and I think we‘ll see the voters weigh in, too.  Just how much religion will they want to see on the campaign trail remains to be seen. 

But, Father Tom Hartman, Rabbi Marc Gellman, I hope you‘ll be with us throughout the coming book months to talk more about it. 

GELLMAN:  Absolutely.

HARTMAN:  We‘d love to.

NORVILLE:  We‘re going to take a break.

When we come back, a member of the former ruling family of Iran, she survived a violent Islamic revolution.  Now, 2.5 decades after going into exile, Her Majesty Farah Pahlavi tells her personal story.  The wife of the last shah of Iran joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  If you had to choose between more sex or more money, which would you choose?  The answer when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  We just had to ask tonight, which would you rather have more of, money or sex? 

Well, actually, we didn‘t think up the question.  The author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” Robert Kiyosaki, He conducted a poll asking Americans, which would you rather have more of, more sex or more money?  Well, the results might surprise you.  Two-thirds of the folks said they‘d rather accumulate than fornicate.  Now, you can interpret these results any number of ways?  Have we grown so greedy that we are less needy for sex?  Has the economy gotten so bad that extra treasure means more than pleasure?

Or maybe there are just more of us who simply are tired.  We baby boomers are getting up there; 20, 30 years ago, that poll might have gone a different way.  Now maybe demographic realities are catching up with us.  As America gets older, it seems we lust more for the color of green than for the other one.  Well, maybe, if the economy gets booming again and those retiring funds start to look a little fancier, we‘ll be able to relax and reorder the priorities. 

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, she lived an idyllic life and then everything changed.  Former Iranian Empress Farah Pahlavi on her life in exile and the Iran she and her children left behind—when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  It‘s been 25 years since the shah of Iran and his family were forced out of their country by the Ayatollah Khomeini‘s Islamic revolution and into a wandering exile, which ended with the shah‘s death and his wife and children adrift far from home.

In the years that passed, the Empress Farah Pahlavi and her children settled in America.  They watched the continued turmoil in their country from afar.  And now the empress has written her memoirs, “An Enduring Love.”  It‘s centered on her marriage to the shah and her survival in the years her life was torn apart. 

Joining me now from Los Angeles is Her Majesty Farah Pahlavi.

And good evening.  Thank you for being here. 

FARAH PAHLAVI, AUTHOR, “AN ENDURING LOVE”:  Thank you for having me. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s my pleasure. 

You dedicate your book to the people of Iran.  When you look at what‘s happened to the people of your country, how do you look at what has ensued in the last 25 years? 

PAHLAVI:  Well, it has been the most difficult part of my exile, because when you think that after we left what happened to our country, to our people, and what happened to the Middle East and also the rest of the world. 

When I imagined that if my husband had not left, Iran was going to be one of the most progressive modern country of that part of the world and even compared to some countries of Europe.  And when I think that after we left, the Soviet invaded Afghanistan, then the Taliban, the Iraq-Iran war, the Gulf War, and now unfortunately all the problem in that area. 

NORVILLE:  Do you think that, had your husband not become ill, the situation would have gone differently? 

PAHLAVI:  Well, that, and especially the revolution.

Unfortunately, many people were fooled by the false promises of Ayatollah Khomeini that promised paradise and opened the door to hell.  And I‘m sure that, if we had stayed in Iran, if that turmoil did not happen, the area would have been much better off than it is today. 

NORVILLE:  And yet there are some who say that your husband‘s regime was also very, very strict, very, very repressive, the police agency, the Savak, that was certainly noted for some of its very, very cruel tortures in trying to maintain order and keep the peace.  And some would say that gave rise to the fundamentalists. 

PAHLAVI:  Well, we have to put ourselves in the context of that period.  I frankly believe that, with the problems we had in Iran, we didn‘t need such a horrible revolution. 

Iran, in comparison to many countries of that part of the world, was much better off in any sense and much more freer.  And when I say context of the world, it was during the Cold War.  The role of the Savak was very much exaggerated.  Like any police of the world, they served for the stability and the security of the country.  But, unfortunately, some of them committed acts, which is regrettable and not defendable.  And let‘s not forget that, in those days, many terrorists were trained in camps in Libya, in Lebanon, in Cuba. 

Three of our prime ministers were assassinated by Muslim fundamentalists.  Twice, they attempted the life of my husband and kidnapping me and my son by the Muslim fundamentalists.  And American officers killed and assassinated in Iran. 

NORVILLE:  When you look at what‘s gone on in our your country, it‘s difficult for you because you‘ve had to watch it from afar.  What have you and your children missed the most, being away from Iran, in their cases for more of their lives than they were actually ever in the country? 

PAHLAVI:  Well, you know, for my children especially, they wish they were older and they have enjoyed really the country then. 

But for me, above all these things, the situation of our country, which was one of the cradle of civilization and which has given so much to the world in philosophy, in science, in beauty, in poetry, in architecture.  And, today, unfortunately, it has become the center of international terrorism and religious fundamentalism. 

And when I think of what happened to all those people who served Iran and their assassination and the situation of Iran today, the youth who are addicted, the prostitution, the economy, the condition of women, and, of course, this is the most difficult part.  In exile, I always say that you are like on a raft in the middle of the ocean with no port.  You are away from what is familiar, what you touch, what you see, what you smell, and what you taste. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s terrible, the situation in Iran right now.  Something like 30 percent of the people there live below the poverty line.  And yet it‘s been one of the countries that President Bush has named as being part of the axis of evil. 

Does that enable the rest of the world community to rally around and try to come in, in some kind of diplomatic way to assist the people of Iraq (sic), or do you see it as something that is counterproductive to helping the plight of the so many poor people in that country? 

PAHLAVI:  No, I believe that really the Islamic regime is evil, not Iran. 

And the Iranian people have shown in the last so-called election that the majority of them, they don‘t think that this government is legitimate.  And the Islamic republic doesn‘t have any more messages to deliver.  And the Iranian people, especially the youth, which have been -- 70 percent of our population is below 30 years of age.  They want freedom.  They want democracy.  And they want a secular government, because the Iranian people have tasted this regime.

And they want the separation of religion from state, and because religion has regressed in Iran because of all they have done in the name of religion. 

NORVILLE:  And yet as much as you‘ve watched the people suffer, you‘ve watched your own family suffer.  And I‘d be remiss in not bringing up the death three years ago of your youngest daughter.  Do you believe it was related to the exile and watching what happened in your home country? 

PAHLAVI:  Well, I believe so.  I always say that Leila is in a way also like so many other young Iranians inside and outside of Iran, a victim of this revolution. 

Leila was very young when we left.  And losing her father and losing her land and hearing what has been said about him and written about him, of course, it was very difficult for her to stand that, to support that.  But today, I always say that we cannot change the past.  But we can shape the future.  I hope the free countries of the world will support this freedom-loving Iranians, not for the sake of Iranians only, but for the sake of the Middle East and for the sake of the rest of the world.  And we have to save all those Leilas which today in Iran are forced to go to prostitution or begging in the streets. 

NORVILLE:  I know, with the publication of your memoirs, Your Majesty, it gives you an opportunity to talk about this in great detail.  And we thank you for coming on the program tonight to do so.  We wish you well. 

PAHLAVI:  Thank you so much for having me. 

And I want to thank my compatriots in Los Angeles, which made me feel at home. 

NORVILLE:  Oh, indeed. 

Well, thank you very much.  Again, the book is called “An Enduring Love” by the Empress Farah Pahlavi.

When we come back, a juror‘s hand signal causes a ruckus at the trial of an accused corporate crook, but at least she showed up to serve.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Finally, tonight, you‘ve probably heard the judge in the Tyco case refuse to declare a mistrial despite the apparent OK sign that they say one of the jurors flashed the defense table on Friday. 

Now, that juror, juror No. 4, described by one local newspaper in New York as Ms. Trial, is reportedly the lone holdout for acquittal.  Well, evidently, things are getting pretty testy in the jury room.  One note from the jury called the atmosphere in there poisonous.  Not surprising, I guess, considering these folks have spent the better part of the last six months listening to sometimes mind-numbing testimony about whether two top Tyco execs filched $600 million from the firm. 

Look, most people would rather go through a root canal without novocaine than get stuck on a lengthy trial.  But the good news is, most of us see jury duty as our civic duty.  The surveys tell us that about one in five jurors don‘t even show up for their summons.  Of course, juror No. 4 did show up, for better or worse. 

Now a local New York paper has identified her by name and then called her—quote—“a paranoid socialite” and—quote—“a batty blue blood.”  You got to wonder if the person at the paper has ever served on a trial.  Our judicial system relies on people like juror No. 4 and her 11 colleagues to thoughtfully consider the evidence, even the mind-numbing stuff, and ultimately reach a just decision, whatever that decision is. 

But you‘ve got to wonder.  After putting so much time in, would a juror risk the entire trial and her own hard work by flashing hand signals in court? 

Send us your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.  And thanks to all of you who e-mailed me while I was gone.  And a special thank you to Dan Abrams, my colleague who held the fort down for me while I was on vacation with my family.

Be sure to join us tomorrow night.  We‘ve got a couple who are doing what a lot of folks in this country are doing, living together without being married.  But Melissa Sheridan and John Finger do so in North Carolina.  Guess what?  It‘s illegal there.  That‘s tomorrow.

“SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” next.

END   

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