Culture Friday: Preventing sexual abuse

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, the 14th of June, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Today, we’re at the halfway point of this year’s Spring Giving Drive, yet not quite to the 50 percent mark on the support we need to raise.

But hey! My hockey team needed to go all the way to Game 7 Wednesday night to meet its Stanley Cup goal. So I think maybe we’re in for a thrilling finish!

REICHARD: I think so, but I don’t know if I can handle the stress of watching the days slip by!

But I’ll tell you what I have enjoyed is hearing motivating messages this week from our colleagues here.

What we just heard today was great!

Then earlier in the week, Mindy Belz talked about how much it means for us to have the resources to go where the news is.

And Anna Johansen talking about how WORLD donors have made her dreams come true, to have the opportunity to work professionally as a truth-telling journalist.

EICHER: J.C. Derrick was great, too, with that encouraging story of how WORLD is a true community: talking about the man who overcame some adversity in his life, got his education, and then got a boost from a fellow listener who heard his quick story introducing the program one day, and then offered a helping hand to find him a job.

I love hearing how WORLD folks look out for one another, and when you support WORLD, you’re helping build that kind of community.

REICHARD: Oh, and let me just say, Kim Henderson has such a remarkable way with words. I just wrote down what she said on Monday: “I think WORLD … is in the business of providing catalytic moments. Whether by page or by podcast, WORLD shakes us out of our stupor by telling us the truth.”

Isn’t that good? And she says, let’s not wait until “someday” to make a gift, do it now.

It’s dramatic, as you say, Nick, to win Game 7. But I’d love to see us wrap it up today or this weekend, but well before the end of the month.

So if you can, would you head over today to

EICHER: We’re grateful for your support.

Well, it was an interesting week in Congress with the political tangle over the Hyde Amendment.

You probably know what that is, but if you don’t: This is the longstanding legal protection that bars direct federal funding for abortion. It doesn’t stop money to Planned Parenthood, of course. But in the accounting books at least, under the Hyde Amendment, taxpayer funds cannot pay for abortion procedures.

Democrats control the House, and they don’t like the Hyde Amendment, most of them don’t. But they’re going to have a hard time getting rid of it without forcing a spending showdown that could lead to a government shutdown. This may be an issue Republicans will go to the mat for and they do have the ability to stand in the way of a Hyde Amendment repeal.

So far, Democratic leaders in Congress haven’t shown sufficient enthusiasm for that fight.

Where you are finding enormous enthusiasm is on the campaign trail, the presidential candidates.

Even Joe Biden, as we reported a couple of days ago, a longtime supporter of the Hyde Amendment, has now flip-flopped and come out in support of federal funding for abortion.

The political environment is very different today. And Biden’s change is Exhibit A. But here’s Exhibit B. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, another leading Democrat for president.

Listen to this discussion on how being pro-life is so beyond the pale, that it’s ethically no different from being a racist. This is in an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board.

GILLIBRAND: I think there’s some issues that are, have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable. Imagine saying, um, that it’s okay to appoint a judge who’s racist or antisemitic or homophobic, telling, asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America. I think that we are, we’ve, we’ve, I don’t think those are political issues anymore. And we believe in this country, in the separation of church and state and I respect the rights of every American to hold their religious beliefs true to themselves, but our country and our constitution has always demanded that we have a separation of church and state and all these efforts by President Trump and other ultra radical conservative judges and justices to impose their faith on Americans is contrary to our constitution and that that’s what this is. And so I believe that for all of these issues, um, they are not issues that there is a fair other side. There is no moral equivalency when you come to racism. And I do not believe there’s a moral equivalency when it comes to changing laws that deny women reproductive freedom.

John Stonestreet is here now. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and John, good morning.

STONESTREET: Good morning, Nick!

EICHER: I have to admit, when I first heard about this, I thought somebody might be overplaying it. But the newspaper posted a video of Senator Gillibrand, we heard what she said.

This seems to be of a piece with this new push we’re hearing about—not that abortion is a sad reality, but instead an affirmative moral good. Shout your abortion, in other words.

STONESTREET: You know, when I first heard about this, I thought it was exaggerated, too. And then I thought, ‘Well, maybe if she was kind of in the middle of the interview and she was just lost because she had done so many and she was tired and she mistakenly said this, kind of thinking this is what you say when it comes to LGBT issues.’ You know what I mean? Just kind of superimposing one issue’s stance on another issue’s stance.

Because, you know, that’s one of the differences between this issue of the “culture war” and the LGBT issues is that when it comes to abortion, disagreement never meant bigotry. We’ve never really heard that sort of language consistently from the other side.

So what’s happening?

I think, well, the observably obvious thing that’s happening is that the Democratic party has moved further to the left on social issues than ever before. And now it’s beyond this—we want to have this available to—that this is what belongs in a polite society and really everyone will agree. And, look, again, I don’t think any of the other candidates are going to be foolish enough to say with Gillibrand has said. I think that’s a dealbreaker for her.

But I do think we’re going to see in policy, we’re going to see in kind of the alternate preservation of the abortion rights from those on that side, that there’s really no room for dissent, especially within the party. And, of course, that’s already kind of been the case for awhile. But I also want to say this: I do think that when you see this sort of language change happen in a movement and on the other side of a movement, I think that’s a good sign for our side of the movement.

EICHER: Let me move out of the world of politics and into some important business inside the evangelical world. The Southern Baptists held their convention this week and the issue of sexual abuse in churches was in the forefront.

Let’s listen to what SBC president J.D. Greear had to say about it.

GREEAR: What greater lie could we ever tell about the gospel then for us not to be doing whatever it takes to make our churches also safe places for the vulnerable where they can flee for refuge. Jesus said that for whoever caused a little one to stumble, it would be better for that one to have a millstone hung around their neck and cast into the sea. What could cause a little one to stumble more in their relationship with God than having those who represent God, not lay down their lives for them, but abuse them? And how would Jesus feel about leaders who sit idly by when it happens, not taking the necessary and uncomfortable steps to ensure protection?

Let me bring in one more voice into this, a sexual-abuse survivor, Rachael Denhollander. She’s also a lawyer and advocate for abuse victims. She served on an SBC panel on the subject and let’s listen to her. This is from an interview on PBS. She’s talking here about a constitutional change that allows the denomination to examine abuse claims and churches that mishandle the claims.

DENHOLLANDER: And this is critical because that provides greater transparency, greater accountability, and it puts the framework in place as we’ve never had before for being able to deal with these claims. The curriculum that has been put together to help equip churches on the journey towards understanding abuse and being able to both prevent and respond to it is a critical first step. That being said, against survivors and advocates who are aware that this is a first step, only the frame and the foundation is going to be only as good as what’s built upon it. And so my hope is that as the SBC moves forward, they will build upon this solid frame and foundation.

Time will tell on this, but, John, do you agree this is a critical first step?

STONESTREET: Well, it is a first step and I think the SBC has done an awful lot to kind of come to a reckoning on this issue. Of course, you know, you’re talking about a very diverse denomination and you’ve got, also, some very, very loud voices from the fringes in that denomination that are even condemning this sort of first step.

But, look, it has been and I certainly have been following this from afar and I think those within the denomination and those that are kind of observing from without agree that this is a critical step that, look, just like you can’t be an SBC church and fudge in your beliefs on the deity of Jesus Christ, the reliability of Scripture, the substitutionary atonement, some of the kind of classic fundamentals of the faith that the SBC has endorsed and re-endorsed and re-embraced over and over and over.

And certainly have done this on sexuality when it comes to LGBT issues, sexual identification, and orientation. But this needs to be in the same category as this. You can’t leave these things unaddressed. You can’t move perpetrators around from church to church to church. You can’t avoid legal ramifications of abuse. You can’t leave victims isolated and hung out to dry and still be “one of us” in the SBC.

For them to say that, I think, that is a really important first step. So I think Rachel’s line that it’s a great foundation but if nobody builds on this foundation, you know, then it’s just kind of a document. It’s like a strategic plan that you take and you put in the file drawer and you don’t pull out until three years later when you’re supposed to have a new strategic plan. And I think that’s the real fear that many in the denomination have. And the question that many outside the denomination have.

And, you know, there’s an interesting parallel here with the Roman Catholic Church and their attempts to reckon with these things. On one hand, they have this kind of centralized authority and a voice from on high that the SBC doesn’t have. On the other hand, again, these strong networks of diversity within the denomination itself or what the church itself —it’s very similar. And that’s where it can very easily be frustrating. These attempts to reform can be frustrating and the attempt to protect people. And that’s what’s going to have to go. And, I guess, we’ll see and we’ll pray that it does because the victims certainly deserve no less. And I appreciate Rachel’s leadership on this on so many levels. Mainly because she is trying desperately to prevent this from happening to another generation.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. John, thanks!

STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in St. Louis. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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