Culture Friday: Keeping families together

MARY REICHARD, HOST: From member-supported WORLD Radio, this is The World and Everything in It for Friday, March 23rd. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

It’s Culture Friday and time to welcome John Stonestreet. John is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.

EICHER: John, I want to start today with the story of mother-and-child reunion: In Chicago last week, a Congolese mother and her 7-year-old child reunited after several months apart in U.S. detention.

Quick background on what brought about this reunion. Why it was necessary.

As I say, the two are from Congo, they’re Roman Catholic, and they fled that country fearing religious persecution. When they arrived here late last year, American immigration authorities placed them in detention — and by law, they’d have to stay there during the asylum-review process.

This detention policy is not new. President Obama started that, but President Trump’s administration appears to have added this provision aimed at discouraging migration. That is, to separate the children from the parents.

It’s not official. But the Department of Homeland Security announced in December that it was considering this family-separation policy. It’s not been formally announced, but it appears it’s in effect — certainly in the case of the Congolese mother and child, and apparently there are hundreds of others.

So the ACLU sued and succeeded in this one case in backing down DHS, because the government allowed the reunion last week. But the legal challenge to the policy is ongoing.

John, I don’t have to tell you the immigration issue is a hotly debated topic. But bring a Christian worldview analysis to this particular aspect of the issue.

STONESTREET: Well, immigration and asylum and who gets allowed into the country, I mean, these are very hotly debated and I think difficult questions to answer.

This is not a question of who immigrates or who is granted asylum, this is a question of what do you do when they come. But separating families… I cannot get there from a Christian worldview at any place. I can’t get there from humane treatment. In the case of this Congolese mother and daughter, she was 7 years old sent across the country. There’s no cause for this other than kind of … I guess you call it a deterrent of some kind. But that’s not what immigration policies and asylum policies are for. Strengthen borders, make the decisions when they come, but there is no need at all for this sort of unnecessary harm to a mother and a child.

I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch evangelicals who have stood up for the family against redefinitions of marriage and parenthood, who have stood up for a biblical understanding of the centrality of the home, the sphere sovereignty of family over church over government or against church-state and government and so on. I mean, we’ve all talked about those things now for years. Are we going to apply it here in this situation where it goes against the candidate or president that the majority of evangelicals supported at least according to polls? I mean, look, this is one where the Christian voice needs to be unanimous. We need to stand up and say, no, this is not a good policy, it’s not one that can be tolerated in the sense of national security interests and anything else. Splitting up families is not the way to go.

EICHER: On Tuesday this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that pits the state of California against a group of pro-life pregnancy care centers. The question is, is the state within its proper authority to require those centers to tell women who come to them for help where they can get free or low-cost abortions?

I can tell you my colleague Mary is going to spend a lot of time today going through all the arguments … and she’ll report in detail on Monday. But we did have a reporter at the court this week and what we heard was that the court seemed very skeptical about this California law.

Assume you heard the same, but there’s a lot on the line here, you’ve said this case may be the most-important, far-reaching case from a cultural perspective. Why?

STONESTREET: I do think this is an important case. I’m not going to say at all that it’s more important than the Masterpiece Cakes. Both of these are extremely important because they have to do with cases or issues that government has chosen to become personally invested in. In this case, the abortion industry. The amount of money that goes from the government to Planned Parenthood, California as a state has decided that this is a public health issue for them. This goes to another step, in fact, which is essentially saying that you have to be compelled to say things for the state and that includes if you don’t agree with it.

And it was interesting, I did get some inside the courtroom reports from — particularly one friend who was — heard the oral arguments and he didn’t find very much, if any, support from the Supreme Court justices, an awful lot of skepticism, really, on two counts. The first one was the hypotheticals. This is one of the things the Supreme Court does is say, okay, what if a pregnancy care center just wants to put up a billboard that says, “Choose life,” and then have their name of their center … if this is one of those unlicensed facilities, they have to have a disclaimer in 13 different languages letting people know — 13 languages! And the California attorney hemmed and hawed 3 times until I think Sotomayor, as I understand it, got a little frustrated and he admitted, yes, that on a billboard with two words there would have to be a disclaimer with 13 different languages. I mean, it’s just… That might be considered extreme. And then the argument, is this really a law for the public welfare or are you just targeting this group with whom you disagree?

So, it didn’t look good for the state. Of course, you never can predict what the Supreme Court will do, but there seemed to be a great deal of skepticism on this.

EICHER: One last thing, John. We learned that a week from tomorrow — the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday — is the scheduled funeral for world-renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, who died last week at age 76. The services will be held at Great St Mary’s, the University Church, in Cambridge.

And yet this thoroughly secular man, a professed atheist, you have said, was very much a worldview thinker. In the short time we have left, talk a little bit about the important questions Hawking raised during his career.

STONESTREET: You know, I might even say it a little differently, Nick, not that Hawking was a worldview thinker, but that he proved that all of us are worldview thinkers. That we can’t avoid these ultimate questions. But Hawking… He talked about the fact science was going to be able to solve every problem. This is clearly a philosophy. He also said that once we get those answers we’ll have, quote-unquote “the mind of God.”

He said he believed — in terms of destiny that disabled individuals should have the right to doctor-assisted suicide. But then he said they shouldn’t. When you start fiddling around with morality, well, that’s no longer science. Now you’re into philosophical categories. And he cheated, basically. He said that the scientific categories were all there were and yet he was using that to answer very clearly non-scientific questions.

And I think that’s really what we see is a brilliant mind… I was stunned, I got pushback on Facebook for calling him brilliant because he didn’t believe in God. I can say he’s a fool and brilliant. The Bible says he’s a fool, but he was brilliant. His mind was unbelievable and we’re inspired by the fact he overcame this incredible disability for so many years. And when was the last time you had a pop culture icon from a theoretical physicist. I mean, this is pretty amazing stuff and yet he peddled in worldview. That’s ultimately what he did. He peddled a philosophy of scientism and he did so in — by pretending to find absolute scientific certainty when he wasn’t actually using the scientific method. And, you know, there’s a little bit of me that wants to say, if I can respectfully, is cheating again, having a memorial service at a church. The church that he undoubtedly would have believed deluded people on a weekly basis. So, I find that interesting as well.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, thank you.

STONESTREET: Thank you, Nick.

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