- Welcome to The 700 Club.
Advocates for criminal justice reform
may be getting an early Christmas present.
After weeks of delay,
the bill is now movingtoward a vote in the Senate.
- President Trump joinedfaith based groups
to support the First Step Act.
They say it brings neededchange to our courts
and our prison system.
Dale Hurd has the story.
- With a new Congresscoming in just a few weeks,
criminal justice reform is viewed by some
as a now or never proposition.
Last week, it appeared all but dead,
but now, it's on track fora Senate vote next week,
where it's expected to pass.
The First Step Act wouldreform sentencing guidelines
and prepare inmates to return to society.
Its backers say it wouldalso reduce recidivism,
when a criminal becomes a repeat offender.
Shon Hopwood served time for bank robbery,
became a jailhouse lawyer,
and is now a law professor at Georgetown.
- We know that certain programs
already can reduce recidivism
because the FederalBureau of Prisons has one,
the residential drug and abuse program,
which has reduced recidivism by 16%.
- [Dale] The presidentsupports the legislation,
as do some key Republicans.
But critics, includingSenator Tom Cotton, oppose it
because it begins rolling backmandatory minimum sentencing
and will speed up the releaseof some current inmates.
Some fear it could giveviolent criminals a pass.
The split in the GOP is one reason
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
had been reluctant to bringthe bill to the floor,
but he's now put a process in motion
that could see a vote early next week.
- We're really looking to get this done
and have a Christmas miracle.
- [Dale] Heather Rice-Minuswith Prison Fellowship
told CBN News why many faithleaders support the bill.
- Right now with thecriminal justice system,
we have some serious issues
in terms of people receivingdisproportional sentences
and people not having the skills
and opportunities they need inside prison
to really transform and come home
as good neighbors, good citizens.
- [Dale] A Justice Department report
said 70 million Americansare directly involved
in the criminal justice system.
Reform advocates say it's bad policies,
not an increase in crime,
that has led to what some are calling
an incarceration nation.
- And we see the criminaljustice system in this country
as a huge barrier to opportunity
for millions and millions of people,
particularly those whohave the least resources
and it creates a povertytrap, it makes us less safe,
and wastes a lot of resources.
- The First Step Actcleared the House in May,
and if it passes the Senate next week,
many believe it will deliverthe most significant changes
to the criminal justicesystem in a generation.
Dale Hurd, CBN News.
- Well, I certainly support this.
We need to have reform inthe criminal justice system.
The stats are just overwhelming.
We incarcerate more peoplein the United States
than any other industrial nation.
It was let's get tough on crime bills
that went through the Congress
and then were signed intolaw by President Clinton.
This is all way back when in 1994.
It's time to reform it
because we're literallyputting too many people in jail
and they're staying therefor very long periods of time
because of these minimumsentencing guidelines.
And we've taken the powerout of the court system,
away from federal judges,
to say certain cases need leniency,
And we've created a nation of criminals.
When you look at thosestats, that 70 million of us
have somebody that we know inthe criminal justice system,
you do scratch your head.
This isn't based on an increase in crime
and it's not reducing crime.
What it is is reducingthe criminal population.
So it would be really good
if this got through by Christmas.
In other news, churchesand other non-profits
may get a break from a new tax.
John Jessup has more on that story
from our CBN news bureau in Washington.
- Thanks, Gordon.
The 2017 Republican Tax Cut and Jobs Act
put more money in mostAmericans' paychecks,
but it also imposed a21% tax on non-profits
for providing employees withparking, transportation,
and other benefits.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says
new IRS guidelines onthe tax offer flexibility
and minimizes the burden to non-profits.
The new provisions comeafter several senators
urged a repeal of the tax.
Well, President Trump'sprivate former attorney
is speaking out afterhis sentencing this week.
A judge ordered Michael Cohento three years in prison
for financial crimes andcampaign finance violations.
Cohen told federal prosecutors
the president directedhim to pay off two women
who claimed they hadaffairs with Mr. Trump.
The president says he didn'ttell Cohen to do anything wrong
and that his attorneyacted on his own accord.
Cohen responded in an exclusive interview
with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.
- I did not do it toembarrass the president.
He knows the truth.
I know the truth.
- The president could faceindictment when he leaves office
and the investigations are growing.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal
quotes federal officialswho say New York prosecutors
are now looking into misuse of funds
by the president's inaugural committee.
Well, just one year afterthe #MeToo movement began,
evangelical leaders at Wheaton College
hosted a summit focusedsolely on abuse in the church.
Many survivors who are alsowell-known leaders spoke out.
Heather Sells sat down withChristian teacher Beth Moore
and others to talk aboutthis unprecedented event.
- The summit is a historic attempt
by the evangelical worldto publicly address abuse
in the church, and itis caught the attention
not just of survivors, but church leaders.
- I have been raised in the church
and I have never seen anything like today
in a gathering of this kind.
- [Heather] Bible study leader Beth Moore
kicked off the meeting,
noting a recent report on widespread abuse
within IndependentFundamental Baptist churches.
- So the question comes to us again.
Shall the church stand idly by?
I've been told by a numberof fellow Christians
I just don't readarticles like that, Beth.
- [Heather] Moore told CBN News
the church must standready for these stories.
- One of the things that Ireally want to push back on
is this thing that says I justcan't stand to hear about it.
Listen, if people can go through this,
we can listen to their stories.
- [Heather] And from the appearance here,
people are preparing.
More than 1,000 individuals attended
or live-streamed the event.
40 faith based groupsalso watched remotely.
Conference speaker andchurch consultant Nancy Beach
says she sees a desireby many ministry leaders
to learn more.
- I do think the fact that somany people are streaming in
and many organizations are doing that
is a sign that there's a needand there's a call for help.
- This has been an issue in our churches.
It's not just the Catholics.
It's not just Fundamentalists.
They have all been in the news lately.
It's also evangelical churches
and we gotta address somecultural issues within the church.
- [Heather] The summit putan emphasis on pastors,
calling for greater accountability.
- I would say an unaccountable pastor
is both unbiblical and unhelpfuland can even be dangerous.
I think pastors need to be
in accountable community with others.
- I also think that whatwe're exploring here
is as much an abuse ofpower as it is sexual sin.
- [Heather] Perhaps the biggest message:
survivors must be heard.
- When they become thepriority for us, for all of us,
for all of us in leadership,in servant leadership
and lay leadership, whateverit may be, that's health.
- For many, churches getting involved
in an event like this isan important first step
and it might just signal to survivors
that change is possible.
Reporting in Wheaton, Illinois,Heather Sells, CBN News.
- An important story.
Thank you, Heather.
Well, Israel is respondingto terror attacks
in the West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces
arrested dozens of Hamasactivists in overnight raids.
This after a pair of deadly shootings
that killed three Israelisearlier this week.
One of those victims, ababy delivered prematurely
after the mother was shot.
Hamas is believed tobe behind the attacks.
A historic site in Israelnow is safer for tourists.
The IDF announcing this week
that more than 1,500landmines had been cleared
near the site revered as theplace where Jesus was baptized.
CBN News Middle EastBureau Chief Chris Mitchell
brings us that story.
- This is Qasr el Yahudon the Jordan River,
the place many believeJohn baptized Jesus.
It's also thought to be thearea the children of Israel
crossed over to the Promised Land
and the site where Elijahascended to heaven.
Israel's side of the baptismal site
opened to visitors in 2011,
but the 250-acre area around it,
known as the Land of theMonasteries, remained off limits.
This area is strewn with mines
and other explosive devices
remaining from the Six-Day War and beyond.
Because of security concerns,
the area was marked and fenced,
and access to the church's properties
has been restricted since the 1970s.
- We are working here almost one year.
In this monastery, weworked here three months.
It takes us time to clean the area,
clean for mines, clean for mortars,
clean for booby traps.
- [Chris] Seven churcheshave property here.
Three monasteries havealready been cleaned
and CBN News toured two of them.
The Franciscan chapel was built in 1956
and belongs to the Vatican.
The Ethiopian monastery was much larger
and had a bakery and guest house.
- Every millimeter of this site
is checked at least by three people
and by two different actions.
So as you understand,it's a very dangerous
and difficult job.
- [Chris] Marcel Avivleads the Israel agency
responsible for this type of operation.
It's working with HALOTrust, the world's oldest
and largest humanitarianmine clearance charity,
to clean this area.
- When we will finish all the job here,
those lands will be given to their owners,
and the owners are the churches.
- [Chris] During the Six-Day War,
this church-owned landcame under Israeli control.
It became an easy target
for the Palestine Liberation Organization
to attack Israeli soldiers.
Eventually, the monks abandoned the area
and explosives were spread all around.
Israel has maps of the mines,
but according to supervisor Moshe Hilman,
many have shifted over the years,
and there are other challenges.
- And it was here full of battling.
It was a firing zone,it was irrigation zone.
The monks have a smallfarm in this monastery
so it's take us time to clean.
- [Chris] Some 800,000 people
visit the baptismal site each year,
and that's expected to triple
once the monasteries are back.
- I hope that this gardenthat was left 50 years ago
will be green again, andall of us will be happy
to visit here and tosee this amazing area.
I hope it will be.
I'm sure that it will be.
- [Chris] Chris Mitchell, CBN News,
Qasr el Yahud, the Jordan Valley.
- Gordon, as Chris just suggested,
I imagine that site will become
an even more populartourist attraction now.
- Well, it was openedup just a few years ago.
I've actually held a baptismalservice at that site.
There's another one closer to Galilee
that is a little bit safer,
aren't any mines strewn around it,
but this one is theone that, historically,
has been recognized as the place
where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
And at that point,
the Jordan is actually just a small stream
and you get this warning,
if you go too far into the Jordan River,
well, you've crossed overto the nation of Jordan
and we're not gonna let you come back
and, by the way, they might shoot at you.
So it's not exactly a safe environment.
And when you drive to it,you see all these warnings.
Don't get off the road
because there are all these mines around
so it's one of those whereyou're dead to your own life
and you're risen in the new life
if you're gonna get baptized there.
It's a dangerous area.
It's good to see Israel cleaning it up.
It is a sign that relationsbetween Jordan and Israel
are getting a lot more peaceful
than they have been in decades past,
and so yay, this is a good thing.
And when you go there, yousee not just structures
that were built in the 1950s,
you see ancient structuresthat are centuries old
on both sides of the river.
So not just on the Israeli side,
but also on the Jordanian side,you see a lot of churches,
so this has been the recognizedsite for a long time,
going all the way back to the Byzantine,
so this is the place.
I encourage people to go'cause it'll change your view
of how the Bible came into being.
It'll change your view about the baptism.
And it's a wonderful place,if you want to be baptized,
to go for that service as well.