'This Week' Transcript: God and Government


AMANPOUR: Well, I want to ask you that. Because you heard Reverend Graham saying that in fact the church is not able to play as big a role as it used to as a public safety net. He says that the country has become too secular. The government has moved into the space where the church should be. What do you think the role of the church should be? Can it provide the kind of safety net that it used to?

SHARPTON: I think the church must set first a moral tone. And if the church does not set that - that kind of moral tone; if Jesus' message doesn't resonate during the Easter season, it is that we've got to care for the least of those. And that should be reflected in the public policies that we support.

ROBERTS, S.: And when you talk about tithing, I mean for our national identity, our national church, our national religion, taxes is a tithe. Taxes - and it's the same moral principle. That you're obligated to contribute part of your wealth to help others. So the notion that somehow tithing in the church is OK, but taxing the wealthy in a civic context I think is - is - is...

LAND: I'm not saying taxing the wealthy is - is something you can't do. But the point is we're going to have to make distinctions between those who need help and those who don't.We can no longer afford these universal programs that cover everyone from the rich to the poor.

PATEL: I think there's an awful lot of common ground here. And I think it would be useful to have the discussion on common ground. I think we Americans across the board want to make sure that we encourage work, that we reward excellence, that we expand opportunity, and that we provide basic dignity and security. The question is what's the balance between government agencies and private institutions, and what's the partnership?

AMANPOUR: I want to ask each and every one of you what do you think are the key spiritual issues of our time right now? The priorities - Dr. Land?

LAND: Key spiritual issues?


LAND: I think we need to have...

AMANPOUR: The pressing spiritual issues of your faith.

LAND: We need more - more Americans to make God serious in their lives, and - and to ask what God would require of them in their - in their personal lives, in their lives as parents, and in their lives as citizens.

AMANPOUR: Cokie, if Americans are very faithful; this is a country...

ROBERTS, C.: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... of deep faith no matter what faith. What is the most pressing spiritual issue would you say?

ROBERTS, C.: I think materialism. I - I guess I have to go with the - the Pope on that one. That it is worrying too much about things, and not enough about spirit.

AMANPOUR: And Steve, you heard Tim Keller say that one of the idols of our time that needs to be broken is the dog eat dog intense materialism. The religion of workaholism, and just dedication to success. Do you see that as an issue?

ROBERTS, S.: I do. But I think an even more pressing spiritual issue is tolerance. Our whole history has been replete with spasms of intolerance. And eventually we overcome them, and we have to do it again.

AMANPOUR: Reverend Sharpton? What do you think is the pressing issue that we face?

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