This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," April 5, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
Negotiators reached the outline for a nuclear deal with Iran, but did the U.S. give up too much?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This deal is good for the security of the United States, for our allies and for the world.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression in terror.
WALLACE: We'll have a report on the pros and cons of the deal.
And how will Congress respond?
We'll ask the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, in his first television interview since the agreement.
Then, religious freedom laws under fire, but who is really being intolerant?
Our Sunday group weighs in on the latest debate over religion and gay rights.
Plus, this Easter Sunday, the Catholic Church's take on the persecution of Christians and the fight against ISIS.
CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: It's instinctive in us to stay alive, and so everyone has a right to defend their life.
WALLACE: The archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl joins us.
And our power players of the week, the stone mason putting the national cathedral back together after the 2011 earthquake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the tippy top of D.C.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again. Happy Easter and happy Passover from Fox News in Washington.
After months of intense negotiation, six world powers and Iran have finally reached a framework agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear program. But President Obama must still make a final deal and then convince Congress, Israel and our Sunni allies of its merits.
Today, we're going to drill down into the framework. In a few minutes, we'll talk with the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, who says Congress must approve any agreement.
But first, chief Washington correspondent James Rosen with a closer look at the deal -- James.
JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, Iran and U.S. issued separate documents describing what was agreed to is sowing some confusion into what, in fact, was achieved.
According to the State Department's fact sheet, Iran will reduce its installed centrifuges from 19,000 to about 6,000, roughly the number Iran had when Barack Obama became president, and other components of Tehran's enrichment infrastructure will be constrained.
OBAMA: Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordow facility. Iran will not enrich uranium with its advance centrifuges for at least the next 10 years. The vast majority of Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium will be.
JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Our facilities will continue. We will continue enriching. We will continue research and development. Our heavy water reactor will be modernized and we will continue the Fordow facility.
ROSEN: Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would enjoy weekly and monthly access to key sites continuous surveillance at others and would have the ability to inspect suspicious sites, but not conduct snap inspections, and Iran would be able to dispute allegations of suspicious activity.
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPT. SPOKESPERSON: These elements, as we've said, have -- are the best hedge really against a covert path.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It's not good enough to smother the known facilities with inspectors. You've got to have the ability to go anywhere at any time for that unknown, newly-discovered or suspect facility.
ROSEN: Iran's foreign minister accused the U.S. of spinning the terms agreed to, saying in a tweet, "Iran/5+1 statement, U.S. will cease the application of all nuclear related secondary economic and financial sanctions. Is this gradual?"
The U.S. side maintained that sanction relief will be phased and enacted in tandem with Iranian compliance.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: If we find at any point that Iran is not complying with this agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place.
NETANYAHU: The deal would greatly bolster Iran's economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression in terrorism throughout the Middle East.
ROSEN: Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken is hitting the road as we speak, visiting five Mideast states over coming days, starting today in Lebanon, Chris.
WALLACE: James Rosen reporting from the State Department -- James, thanks for that.
Now, let's bring in the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee for his first television interview since the agreement.
Senator, I know you have been briefed in some detail by top administration officials. What's your -- and I understand it's a framework, but what's your initial reaction to what you've learned?
SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENN., FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE CHAIRMAN: Chris, I did reach out to the energy secretary and I've had three conversations with him over the last couple of days. I think it would be very difficult for anyone to ascertain at this moment, as you just reported in Iran, they're reporting sort of the mirror image opposite of what's being reported here. And as you saw, Zarif has actually challenged Secretary Kerry for presenting talking points that only intended to cause Congress to be pleased.
So, look, there's a lot of water that needs to go under the bridge here. Many, many details are unknown at this point. And so, I don't know how anyone could really ascertain whether this is something good or bad yet for the American citizenry.
WALLACE: Now, there are some key issues that both sides agree haven't been settled yet. One of the questions is how fast the sanctions will be lifted. Another one is how quickly Iran could ramp up its centrifuge program after the initial ten years.
But let me just ask you -- and I understand that you don't know all the details -- are there any red flags that you see right now? Is there anything at least at this initial point that looks clearly unacceptable to you?
CORKER: So, there are four things I would lay out. First of all, as you mentioned, how will the sanctions be relieved? Iran is saying immediate, the U.S. is saying phased. What are the elements that we're going to be looking at to alleviate those?
Secondly, and very importantly, the covert activities. What are the snap types of inspections we're going to be able to do? What are the processes that can be in place? Is this going to create some long dispute?
Thirdly, you refer to the -- the document refers not even in capital letters to a nuclear development program that Iran has agreed to. It's my understanding that this is actually been written out and yet none of us have been able to see that.
And I'll just stop there. Those are three of the red flags. One more I would mention, there's a process through which Iran is going to lay out their previous military dimensions, and yet it doesn't say when that process is going to begin, when it's going to end, is this going to be done by the time there's a final agreement?
So, those are some of the red flags. Again, I'm open. I know there are a lot of details that will be worked out over the next several months.
That's why on behalf of the American people, Congress needs to be playing a role. What the American people may not know right now, Chris, is there will be all kinds of classified annexes that are very important. They lay out the details as to how much of this is going to take place. And that's why it's so important that Congress play its rightful role in approving this prior to the congressionally mandated sanctions that we put in place are alleviated.
WALLACE: Well, let me -- let me get to that right now because your committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will meet on April 14th, that's just nine days from now, to consider legislation that you have already introduced.
And let me put up on the screen what that legislation would call for. The president would be prohibited from suspending, not even ending, but even suspending any congressional sanctions for 60 days while the House and Senate review the deal, but President Obama says this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it's the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse and the path to conflict will widen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, couple of questions. Will your committee actually vote on your bill on April 14th? And will you insist on congressional review?
CORKER: Absolutely, Chris.
Again, I think everyone would say that the congressionally mandated sanctions are what helped in a strong way get Iran to the table. And so, certainly we should approve this deal. We should approve what we see prior to those being lifted.
And, look, I've talked to the negotiators. No one, no one has said that Congress weighing in would have any effect on this deal. As a matter of fact, what we know is just quite the contrary. We know that during the negotiations, the fact that Congress was likely to weigh in was something that the administration, the other Western countries were able to use to ensure that this deal isn't worse than it is.
So, the fact that they knew Congress was going to weigh in was helpful in the negotiations. Certainly, the American people want to know that someone is teasing out all of the details, especially as they see Iran reporting one thing in their country and the U.S. something else here. So, look, this is the place where sober and thoughtful people to dig in. Look, I want to see a negotiated agreement. I know that a lot of water has to go under the bridge over the next 90 days.
And it's very important that Congress is in the middle of this, understanding, teasing out, asking those important questions -- just like the ones that you begun to ask this morning.
WALLACE: But, Senator, Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran said yesterday that if there is no deal or if the West backs out, that Iran will be free to continue to resume and to build back its nuclear program. And President Obama says that sanctions, the existing sanctions prior to this negotiation, didn't stop Iran from developing its nuclear program. For instance, 19,000 centrifuge centrifuges.
And then, the president said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world's major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: First of all, your reaction to foreign minister's comments about their ability to continue their nuclear program if the West backs out. And secondly, what about the president saying the sanctions don't work and if you kill this deal, we are going to end up with a war?
CORKER: So, look, there's always this straw man. As has been said, Chris, we would be better off today with the interim deal, continuing as it is today if we think that we're moving to a bad deal. One of the things that most Americans may not be aware of, but we'd be releasing about $130 billion to the Iranian government once we make this deal over time. Their economy is going to flourish.
So, again, I think to pose this straw man of a war, the fact is that Congress has a rightful role to play in this. We know that we've already played a positive role, going through this in detail and making sure that all the answer -- the questions are answered is an appropriate thing for us to do.
And that doesn't mean that there won't be a deal. We just set in place a process to insure that if there's a deal, it's a deal that will stand the test of time, that will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
WALLACE: Senator, there are some details I want to go through quickly with you, if I can, sort of housekeeping, if you will.
WALLACE: One proposal that's been floated is a non-binding vote by Congress. You could disapprove the deal, but then the president could still go ahead and suspend sanctions. Is that acceptable?
CORKER: No. No, it's not. I think the bill that we've laid out that has strong bipartisan support, Chairman Menendez, who now stepped down, Chuck Schumer supports this, Tim Kaine, who's been very active, very close to the administration, supports this.
There is strong bipartisan support for a binding vote by Congress. This is not something -- look, the president needs to sell this to the American people and Congress needs to be involved in this way.
WALLACE: All right. Let me ask you the second question. The White House has said that the president would veto the kind of legislation you're proposing. If he does, you don't need 51 votes or even 60 votes, you need 67 votes, which means 13 Democrats to override his veto.
Do you have 67 votes?
CORKER: Well, I don't know whether we have 67 votes or not, just with cosponsors and if every Republican supports it, we'll see how that all shapes out. But we've got 64 or 65 that we're aware of today if that were the case.
I talked to a number of Democrats over the weekend, and I think there are many more that are considering this.
Look, I think the American people want the United States Senate to go through this deal. They understand this is one of the most important geopolitical agreements that will take place during this decade. This is an appropriate place for us to be.
If the president feels like this is something that's good for the nation, surely he can sell this to the United States Senate and the House.
WALLACE: Finally, sir, I've got about 30 seconds left, the formerly top Democrat on your committee, Senator Bob Menendez, who you mentioned, of New Jersey, has taken a very hard line on a deal and, in fact, cosponsored your mandatory congressional review. He has just been indicted on bribery charges.
Do you believe there is any connection between his opposition to the president on this and on Cuba and the fact that he's been brought up on charges?
CORKER: Chris, I can't -- I don't know what's going on behind the scenes. I know that Bob Menendez has been a very good partner on foreign policy issues. He's been very constructive. I'm sure that he will continue to be. As to the motivations of Justice Department, I just would have no way of knowing.
WALLACE: Senator Corker, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for coming in and talking to us today. And we'll follow what happens with your legislation, sir.
CORKER: Thank you, sir.
WALLACE: Up next, our Sunday group joins the conversation about this interim deal with Iran.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the agreement? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We hope that their leadership takes the right decision, but the deal we'll accept is they end their nuclear program.
JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: None of measures include closing our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that.
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPT. SPOKESPERSON: We absolutely made no concessions on your bottom line, and that is the only thing that's important here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama setting a tough marker for a nuclear deal with Iran during a 2012 presidential debate, but Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and State Department spokesperson Marie Harf putting very different spin this week on the framework deal that's actually been agreed to.
It's time now for our Sunday group: syndicated columnist, George Will, Mara Liasson from National Public Radio, Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.
Well, as we say, President Obama started out with a firm red line, if you will, that Iran must end its nuclear program, we're obviously a long way from there. George, there are obviously concessions in any negotiation. Did President Obama and the West give up too much or is this a reasonable deal?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, what was given up that really matters was given up a while ago, that is they conceded the right to enrich, the capacity to enrich and the possession of some low enriched uranium.
This deal comes in the fourth quarter of an Obama presidency that has been characterized in foreign policy by four failures: the failure to leave a stable Iraq, the failure of the Russian reset, the failure to advance the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, and the failure to suppress the proliferation of al Qaeda emulators and franchises, if you will.
So we went into this with a kind of asymmetry of urgency. The president wanted to stop the Iranian bomb, but he really wanted a deal that could be presented as revolutionary for the whole region. The Iranians wanted to lighten the sanctions, but they really want a nuclear weapon. And I think that's the asymmetry that defines this process.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions for the panel and we got sharply different reactions on Facebook.
Bill Farro asked, "Why would anyone who had Iran struggling because of the embargo take such a weak stance in negotiations?"
But Mary Ann Arlotta writes, "Kerry did the best he could. There is no way Iran will give up this program."
Juan, how do you answer Bill and Mary Ann?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think it's in so much about concessions, especially to Bill's question. I think this really is about commitments. And what we got here is Iran was forced to the bargaining table by the sanctions. And remember, the sanctions, Bill, the sanctions are imposed by an international committee, not the United States alone.
So, unless you have the whole group, plus I might add, places like Japan, India, Pakistan, not buying oil from Iran, if that broke down and just U.S. sanctions would not have been sufficient to continue this and Iran would have continued building their nuclear weapons. Right now, I think the estimate it would take three months for them to have breakout capacity, to have nuclear weaponry under this current deal, it looks like it would be about a year. And you have a 15-year time frame in terms of inspections which are unprecedented.
So, I think it's -- there were some concessions as you say, but this to me, and I might -- you know, if you're saying, Juan, you tend to be more Democratic than Republican. Take a look at "The Wall Street Journal". They're saying it too, this is a useful deal.
WALLACE: That is the perfect segue to Jason Riley, because, in fact, I was a little bit surprised "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, which was generally no fan of President Obama, I thought was surprisingly mild in its reaction to the deal, saying that there were useful limits on Iran's nuclear infrastructure but that enforcement and inspections need to be stepped up.
So, the question I guess is, Jason, can this deal be saved?
JASON RILEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I'm skeptical. I'm very skeptical. It is all about the enforcement. Iran has a perfect record of violating every inspection agreement. And I don't think that these snap-back provisions are -- they're easier said than done.
WALLACE: Let's put it quickly what the agreement says snap-back, I never heard this before, is their sanctions would be lifted, but if there's any violation then they, quote, "snap back".
RILEY: Right. But we're farming out the inspections to U.N. officials. Once those sanctions are lifted, you're going to have companies in Asia and Europe going in to cut deals with Iran. And then there will be tremendous pressure to keep those deals in place, snap-back provisions or no snap-back provisions, because there will be an economic interest from those countries to keep that business going.
So, once we lift these sanctions, I think it will be very hard to get back to where we are now. I would also add that, you know, neither President Obama, or the Iran foreign minister mentioned that the Fordow facility was built secretly underground, which, of course, is where you build a facility when you have peaceful means in mind for how it will be used.
So, I don't think, again, that we can expect Iran to keep up its end of the bargain here. They have no -- we have no reason to believe that they will do so, based on their history.
WALLACE: Meanwhile, we -- I want to talk about another foreign policy development this week. We had this horrific attack by terrorists on -- deliberately targeting Christians at a college in Kenya, and meanwhile the civil war in Yemen just continues to spiral out of control.
I want to play a clip from President Obama from just a little bit more than six months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the front lines is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mara, do White House officials acknowledge that their lighter footprint counterterrorism strategy isn't working?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, yes. I mean, George listed all the foreign policy failures. I can't remember if Yemen was in there or not. But it is certainly one of them. The world looks like it's on fire and ISIS and its imitators are growing, and not necessarily in Kenya but in a lot of places in the Middle East, Iran is part of this conflict and seems to be growing stronger everyday.
So, that's a real challenge for the White House. I mean, what is it going to do about this? It's not a matter of root causes, economic -- you know, lack of economic opportunity. More and more this looks like a religious war, going and indiscriminately killing people who are of the other religion. And it's a huge problem.
WALLACE: The question I'm asking is that -- I don't mean it as gotcha, but they had a strategy which was the kind of lighter footprint.
LIASSON: They adjusted that lighter in Afghanistan. Remember, they were going to pull out faster, more troops. They've agreed to keep about as many troops as their military advisers wanted to.
So, I do think there's a kind of adjustment. I don't know what they do in places like Yemen where they're literally falling out and had to pull out their counterterrorism troops. But they are adjusting and the footprint is getting a little less light.
WALLACE: George, I was also struck by President Obama's statement this week about the terror attack many Kenya. Let's put this up on the screen. He condemned a terror attack, quote, "where innocent men and women were brazenly and brutally massacred."
He never once mentioned the fact that it was Christians who were deliberately targeted.
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. These innocent people were guilty in the eyes of their killers of being Christians, but this is of a piece with the administration's mincing vocabulary as it kind of tiptoes on egg shells to avoid saying there is a religious -- irreducible religious dimension to this conflict. They tried to avoid this but the facts keep rearing their ugly heads.
WALLACE: Juan, how do you explain that? On the one hand, your attackers are clearly Islamic radicals, violent Islamic radicals. They don't want to say that. And when it's Christians who are the target, the president doesn't want to say that.
WILLIAMS: Well, he should say it, because it's pretty obvious. I don't think there's any getting away from the religious dimension. You look at what ISIS has done when they beheaded those Coptic Christians, if you recall, Chris. And remember now where they have a situation where they had been pushing Christians out of Iraq, you know, kind of ancient homeland of Christianity.
I don't think there's any question. Let me say this, these radical violent Muslim extremists also kill Muslims in greater numbers than they kill Christians. So, you have to take that into account. In the case of Kenya, I think it's quite clear, they want to foment a religious war as Mara was saying in Kenya because most of Kenya is Christian.
So, they see it a way to destabilize that society, delegitimize the government and create the kind of anarchy that they see.
WALLACE: But if it's a religious war, it might help to acknowledge it's a religious war.
WILLIAMS: I mean, if you think it will have some kind of strategic value. In the president's mind, not my mind speaking here, but I think in the president's mind, you don't want to say to the Muslim world that this is a war against all of Islam.
WALLACE: Well, I don't think we ever would say that.
WALLACE: We haven't ever said that.
Jason, let me finish with you. Going back to this question of Iran, there is some talk at the White House perhaps you make a deal with Iran and this begins to open up a new chapter, there's more engagement, there's less isolation. It will change Iran's behavior. The flip side of it is, we're going to be giving them billions of dollars more, as Senator Corker mentioned, which only boosts their economy and their ability to be a bad actor.
RILEY: Well, I think one way to look at this in terms of whether we conceded too much is to look at who is chairing the agreement and who is not. Why are our adversaries more excited about this deal than our strategic allies, like France and Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Sunnis and the Arab states, as well as Israel?
WALLACE: All right.
We have to take a break here. But when we come back, the firestorm of a religious freedom bill in Indiana and Arkansas raises questions over who is really being intolerant. Our Sunday group debates that.
Plus, a dismal jobs report has experts wondering how strong is the economic recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, R-ARK.: This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial, but these are not ordinary times.
GOV. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.: It's a fix of a bill that through mischaracterization and confusion has come to be greatly misunderstood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Two Republican governors in full retreat this week over religious freedom bills they supported and then had to rework after protests, the measures would allow discrimination against gays. And we're back now with the panel. Jason, what is your take away from the retreat, if you will, that -- first of all, about the whole debate over religious freedom and the fact that the governors, as you saw here of Arkansas and Indiana after first saying they were going to sign these bills then had to insist that they be reworked before they did -- were finished with them.
JASON RILEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, both sides are claiming intolerance here. But I think only one side is really guilty of hypocrisy. And that's what I see going on here. Hillary Clinton who opposed gay marriage until two years ago is tweeting about Indiana's intolerance. The Democratic governor of Connecticut who banned state employees from traveling to Indiana even though Connecticut has essentially the same law in place. So that's what I think is going on here. It is the height of hypocrisy, positions held just a few years ago by Democrats are now considered anti-gay and bigotry in place.
WALLACE: Juan, let me pick up on that because the initial push was that these laws and the people who supported them were being intolerant, the idea that a private business could discriminate, let's say, against participants in a gay marriage, that that was intolerant, but you began to hear a push back later, especially this week, that to insist that someone do something that violates their moral conviction, that that's intolerant. How do you balance those two?
WILLIAMS: I think it's very hard to balance because, you know, someone who has religious beliefs myself, I want them to be respected. But I do think we're a nation of laws. And we are not a nation of religious beliefs. Everyone in our country can have their religious beliefs, but you have to come back to civil laws and liberties. And as such, I don't think there's any question that if the law specifies that you are open for business, whether it's gays or blacks, that under our laws, public accommodation laws, et cetera, that you have to treat people equally and fairly. That's the basis of our understanding.
Now, I will say in response to Jason, there's been a tremendous shift in the terms of American public opinion, and that's why I think you see people who two years ago may have had one position, I think President Obama says he's evolved on this issue, I think much of America has evolved and changed on this issue and that's why you see corporate America taking the lead in this fight, by the way.
WALLACE: Jason, let me just pick up on this conversation between the two of you. I think it would certainly agree that if somebody came in to the baker, you know, the proverbial baker's getting a lot of business as baker, that and said, you know, an interracial marriage and we want a cake. I think you would say that that's outrageous the idea that he would not participate in an interracial marriage. Why is that any different than the same sex marriage?
RILEY: We have antidiscrimination laws in the book, we have public accommodation laws in the book and there's no indication that there's any pattern of courts allowing these laws, these religious freedom laws to trump those laws. I think this is a straw man. This is being gemmed up. And there's no reason we can't handle them on a case by case basis like we've been doing. But I do agree with Juan that there's an evolution in the country particularly among young people. Which is why you see some division, even on the right about how to proceed with these cultural wars, so to speak. This is very much a generational issue. And with the GOP out there looking at the next presidential election, wanting to appeal to younger voters, there's some indication that, you know, we've got other issues to talk about. Hilary is deleting e-mails. Obama is cutting deals with (INAUDIBLE) over nuclear weapons. Let's talk about those things, those unite the party. They don't want to talk about it.
WILLIAMS: And I just quickly say before we let our friends in that, in fact in Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court said that in some cases where you have a family-owned business with strong religious beliefs that you can take into consideration their faith with regard to providing contraception to women. And what we've seen in Indiana is different than Connecticut and these other states, because they would say it's not just a matter of government having to have a high bar in terms of putting any pressure on a religious belief, but individuals and corporations could now go to court and say we're protected by the same kind of provisions.
WALLACE: We could continue this conversation and I'm sure we will, but let's turn to the economy and some really disappointing numbers on the economy this week. Here they are. Only 126,000 jobs were added in March. That's the weakest hiring in 15 months. Labor force participation dropped to 62.7 percent, matching the lowest since 1978. And the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta estimates first quarter growth at zero, zero percent, flat. George, what's going on here?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, for the second year in a row they've blamed poor quarterly growth on insufficient global warming, that is on winter, on an unusually cold winter. Let your mind go back to November last year. There was job creation of 321,000 jobs and the administration said this is a miraculous achievement and a harbinger of things to come. It wasn't a harbinger and it wasn't miraculous. During the Reagan recovery there were 23 months of job creation over 300,000. Reagan had a month of job creation of 1 million and this was at a time when there were 75 million fewer Americans. Now, never mind zero growth. We are now being told really that two percent growth may be the new normal. If so, that's a disaster because every day, today, yesterday, tomorrow, every day between now and 2030, 10,000 more baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. If we have two percent growth, the crisis of the welfare state, the crisis of the private sector being able to throw off the revenues, to pay the bills for the promises we've made to ourselves becomes impossible.
WALLACE: Just tell again that the labor force participation stat that you have, if it were what it was at the beginning of the Obama administration.
WILL: If the workforce participation rate today were as high as it was on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated, the unemployment rate in this country would be 9.7 percent, we wouldn't be complaining about the bad recovery because we wouldn't call it a recovery.
WALLACE: All right, let's talk about the bad recovery, Mara. How concerned are they at the White House with those latest jobs numbers? Do they think it's more? Because one of the things I was talking about, was we really had bad weather in the northeast in March and what do they think it says about the recovery?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, I think they are concerned. And it says the recovery can't seem to get any lift off and stay there. I mean, one of the big things that Barack Obama said in the State of the Union address is it's time to turn the page. The recovery is growing. Unemployment is down. Deficit is down. Now it's time to talk about other things. How to get growth more broadly shared, inequality, all sorts of things like that. We don't even have growth now. I think this does shift the big economic debate in the country back to just getting growth. Because you can't talk about it being more widely shared if you don't have it.
WALLACE: But you've got to think with the divisions between the Republican Congress and the White House is nothing that they -- the president talks about job stimulus, things like that, nothing he proposes is going to get ...
LIASSON: No, absolutely not. Nothing is going to happen ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he worse than ...
LIASSON: I don't think that they expect that, though. I do think what they were hoping to do was at least lay the table for 2016, get the kind of themes and frame the debate the way he wanted to, not necessarily pass things through Congress, with the exception of a few little things like trade, maybe, maybe some corporate tax reform.
WILLIAMS: That's what I was going to say. I think it's even worse than that. Because I think your Congress is talking about sequestration. They cannot pass the kind of infrastructure support the highway trust fund bill. So, essentially Congress is not contributing to this. And I would add that there are lots of people, George, in our society that over time are reaching that baby boomer age you're referring to, and I think that's part of the labor force participation equation.
RILEY: I think this president is perfectly happy with this supposed new normal. I mean this is someone who looks at the social welfare states of Europe, with their higher unemployment rates and lower productivity than we have here, and sees them not as cautionary tales, but as models for us to emulate. He wants more entitlements. He is willing to trade for that lower productivity, less labor participation rate for this cradle to grave entitlements and so forth. More social spending. Yeah.
WALLACE: You know, Jason, one perhaps good piece of news that comes out of all this is that the Federal Reserve had been kind of shaking the cage talking about that they were about to or shortly going to start lifting short-term interest rates and everybody thinks now that Fed Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen may have to hold off because of this.
RILEY: Well, that was always the question with her, whether she would take away the punch bowl when it was time to do so. But to tell you the truth, Chris, if 25 or 50 basis points, it's economy is that fragile that we would be tossed back into recession because of that, we're in much worse shape than the White House is acknowledging.
WALLACE: So, anyway not out of the woods yet. Thank you all, panel. See you all next week.
When we come back, the Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl joins the debate over religious freedom. And what do you think? Where is the balance between religious conviction and perfection from discrimination? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and use the #fns.
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WALLACE: A look at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on this Easter Sunday. When we invited the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl for a conversation this week, I expected to ask him about the pope's trip to the U.S. this fall and for his Easter message. We did discuss that, but there was also breaking news to cover about the debate over religious freedom laws and that savage terror attack on Christian students in Kenya. Your imminence, Happy Easter and welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: Chris, thank you. And Happy Easter to you. It's a pleasure to be back.
WALLACE: The archdiocese is now involved in your own version of the religious freedom debate, much like what we're seeing in Arkansas and Indiana. The Washington D.C. City Council recently passed a measure that says "religious institutions can't discriminate in hiring someone who doesn't follow your teachings on birth control and abortion." And another measure that says "religious affiliated schools must treat gay groups like any other." How do you balance religious freedom versus gay and reproductive rights?
WUERL: I think what we want to do is make sure we're using the same measuring rod for everybody. If we talk about discrimination, then we also have to talk about discriminating against the Catholic Church, its teachings and its ability to carry out its mission. I think at the heart of this is the ability to recognize everyone. Everyone has the dignity of who they are. But how they act now touches others. And no one should be forced to follow the actions of another and accept the actions of another. Our schools should be free to teach. We don't believe in abortion. And we need to be free to teach that.
WALLACE: So, let's take the classic case that we're hearing about this week, the Christian baker who is being asked to make a cake for a gay wedding and doesn't want to do it. Is he being intolerant or is it intolerant to demand that he make that cake?
WUERL: That's where we have to take a look at the word discrimination. Is it being used in the same way for both instances? I wonder if across the board we're not seeing different measuring rods being used when it comes to issues that we're facing here, for example. Why would it be discrimination for a catholic university to say we're not going to allow a gay rights or an abortion rights group to have their program on our campus? And it not be discrimination for that group to insist that the catholic school change its teaching? If we use the same measure, I think we'll find a way of lowering the decimal level and finding a way to recognize the dignity of everyone and at the same time recognize the freedom and the rights, especially religious liberty of everyone.
WALLACE: Let me switch to another very difficult subject this Easter weekend. Christians are being hit across the Middle East and in Africa. In Kenya, the al Shabaab terror group killed 147 targeting Christians. In Libya, ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians. In Syria, they kidnapped 200 Assyrian Christians.
Cardinal, ISIS talks about conquering Rome, their phrase. Is Christianity under attack at this moment?
WUERL: I think it's fair to say that. When you look at all of these incidences, I think they're all directed at Christians. What just happened in Kenya, I'm told what I heard on the media was that those assassins went in and they separated the Christians from the Muslims and killed the Christians. This is something that the whole world should be shouting out about, the whole world should be rejecting this.
WALLACE: But you know, shouting out and rejecting isn't enough. And I want to ask you about that because Pope Francis says that it is, quote, "lawful to stop an unjust aggressor. So, what do you do in the case of ISIS? Is it moral to use force? Is it a just war to stop ISIS?
WUERL: What the Holy Father said I think is absolutely true. It's also common sense. Everybody knows that you can defend yourself against an aggressor. All you have to do is try even with a child to smack the child. The child's hand is going to go up to protect itself. Why? It's instinctive in us to stay alive. And so everyone has a right to defend their life. What's happening with ISIS, what's happening with this idea of a caliphate, is simply taking intolerance and hatred and violence to a new institutional level. And, yes, everyone has a right to defend themselves. And institutions have a right to defend themselves.
WALLACE: On a much happier note, the Holy Father will be visiting the U.S., including here in Washington in September. I know it's early, but do you have a sense of the message that he hopes to bring to this country?
WUERL: I think what we're going to hear from him is something we've heard over and over and over again and that is we need to recognize no one is perfect. God loves all of us the way we are. God forgives us. And God asks us to love one another. The great commandment love God and love your neighbor is echoed over and over and over again in the teaching of Pope Francis. But I think what people see and why they're so attracted to him -- and I'm told he has the highest popularity rating of anyone -- I think one of the reasons for that, Chris, is we see in him not just the message, but how you do it. The way in which he lives, treats people, responds to people, says I think to many people says to me, he sounds and looks a lot like what Jesus would have sounded like.
WALLACE: There are, on the other hand, some church practices that some American Catholics are not happy with. People who are divorced, unable to take communion, the status of gays in the church, the pope has seemed to try to move the church forward on some of these issues and some top officials in the church have pushed back. Will this pope be able to move the church?
WUERL: I think what he's doing is already calling everyone at every level in the church to look at two things. The teaching, which never changes, and how we live that teaching, how we apply that teaching and how we try to make the best of the situation in which we find ourselves. He keeps saying, and this is a beautiful part of his ministry, he keeps saying, go out, meet people where they are, and accompany them on their journey so that perhaps all of us could get a little closer to where we all need to be. And I think that's the beauty of his ministry. I also think that's the secret to why so many people find him so inviting, so welcoming. He's saying you can, you can do better. You don't have to start with being perfect.
WALLACE: Finally, your eminence, we would love an Easter message from you to our audience.
WUERL: Thank you. As we know, Easter is the great joy of hope, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but for the whole world, it's a sign of hope. We can do better. We can have a better world. We can build a better community. We, who walk with the risen lord, know that. And the call to everyone else is let's never give up hope, that we can really have a better world.
WALLACE: Your eminence, thank you so much. It's always a great joy to have you here. Happy Easter.
WUERL: Happy Easter to you as well. Thank you.
WALLACE: Please come back.
WUERL: All right. I will.
WALLACE: Up next, our power player of the week making Washington's National Cathedral whole again.
WALLACE: It has become the nation's house of prayer, where they held a day of remembrance after 9/11 and the state funeral for Ronald Reagan. And now they are putting it back together. Here is our power player of the week.
JOE ALONSO, NATIONAL CATHEDRAL HEAD STONE MASON: I started hearing this - what I thought were explosions. I didn't know the whole thing was going to collapse.
WALLACE: Joe Alonso is talking about the earthquake that hit Washington in 2011 and the damage it did to the National Cathedral.
ALONSO: The energy of that quake traveled up through the masonry walls and then all these slender carved elements, that's what shifted and fell and rotated.
WALLACE: As the headstone mason, he leads the team putting the cathedral back together. Two months ago, they finished phase one, repairing the stone and mortar of the ceiling inside. Now comes the hard part.
ALONSO: All of these are going to have to be dismantled.
WALLACE: A ten year, $22 million project to fix or replace intricately carved stones that weigh tons on top of the cathedral. Alonso took me up the central tower 300 feet.
(on camera): Wow. This is a view I've never seen.
ALONSO: Welcome to the tippy top of D.C.
WALLACE (voice over): It certainly is. An extraordinary vantage point to see the sweep of our nation's capital. But the view of the tower is not so good. The tops of three of the four pentacles fell off, as for what's left ...
ALONSO: It's separated. It's the big chunk of stone that joins this to the pinnacle, sheared off back here. Another two or three seconds of earthquake, we would have lost a tremendous amount more stone.
WALLACE: One thing that struck us was the remarkable craftsmanship of carvings no visitor will ever see.
ALONSO: That's the whole thing. You know, this cathedral, right? Built for God's glory.
WALLACE: Found below in the workshop, they're creating new treasures and fixing old ones.
ALONSO: We lost three of these finials, they fell off and were destroyed. This was the only one that survived.
WALLACE: Joe Alonso thought he had finished building the cathedral back in 1990. When he helped set the final stone on an 83-year construction project that was Washington's longest.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
WALLACE: For the next 21 years, he worked on maintenance until the earthquake hit.
ALONSO: We all of a sudden got back into construction mode. I mean, construction and big-time restoration.
WALLACE (on camera): How do you feel about this cathedral?
ALONSO: Oh, it's become a part of me. I mean, so many -- I met my wife here.
ALONSO: I literally, I got, you know, blood and sweat, no tears yet. But blood and sweat in between the lime stone.
WALLACE (voice over): Which is why making this building whole again means so much to him.
ALONSO: And the cathedral is the ultimate place for a stone mason to be in. This cathedral needs to be put back together the way it was. This could be here forever. And knowing that I had a part in it and the generations before. You know this isn't going anywhere.
WALLACE: Today is the first Easter Sunday since the earthquake without any construction inside. So worshipers will be able to see the full grandeur of the National Cathedral. That's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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