Culture Friday: Evil in the shadows

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s Friday, the 30th of August, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. An unusual exception in federal court this week.

Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking and abuse case was to be dismissed, not for lack of evidence, but for lack of a defendant. Epstein, of course, died in an apparent jailhouse suicide. Nevertheless, before dismissing the case, the judge permitted nearly two dozen accusers to have their voices heard. 

Now, courts typically dismiss charges like these without a hearing. But U.S. District Judge Richard Berman not only held one, he let the women speak in open court before a defense chair that sat empty.

This is outside the courtroom.

AUDIO: There was no conviction because the defendant is deceased, and yet this court felt the victims should be heard. 

I was searching for words, but all I could say was a meek, ‘No, please stop.’ I cried myself to sleep that night. 

I want to thank the judge for letting us speak. Um, having some closure. 

It’s not how Jeffrey died, but it’s how he lived. 

All I’m going to say is today is a day power and strength. 

I was recruited at a very young age and entrapped in a world that I didn’t understand, and I’ve been fighting that very world to this day, and I won’t stop fighting. I will never be silenced.

BASHAM: For two-and-a-half hours, 16 women testified that Epstein sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14.

We also heard about Epstein’s enablers, his recruiters, those who brought the girls to him. We heard the women insist this matter must not die with Epstein.

It is Culture Friday. John Stonestreet is here. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

EICHER: John, good morning.


EICHER: What about Epstein’s enablers? The human heart is depraved, but when depravity builds a network like this, there seems no limit to the depths people can descend.

STONESTREET: That’s exactly right. I mean, this was an example of hidden evil. It wasn’t well-hidden. Apparently, a lot of people knew about it, which brings up another side of how evil flourishes. And that’s what we’ve seen over the last several years when it comes to sexual abuse, that people who were victimized into silence and were kind of burying in a very deep personal way this sort of abuse and then weren’t heard and so this evil was allowed to stay under the radar. That’s how evil flourishes. 

And then that word enabler is such an important one because one of the things that it does is it helps us understand that the biblical perspective on—that evil is not something out there. 

I’ve just been kind of reminded over and over and over of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s words when he said, the line of evil runs not between groups of people or nations or civilizations but right down the middle of the human heart. 

And what motivated these people to allow other people to be so deeply hurt? And we can look at that kind of enabler thing on so many different levels, when you talk about moms who stand by and allow dad to abuse children, or you talk about elders and deacons that we’ve seen in churches who stand along and enable the bad behavior over and over and over. And then, you know, it’s kind of like there’s this moment of reckoning and everyone goes, man, that was really, really bad. What were we thinking? 

And that’s the way evil works when it’s allowed to hide, when it’s allowed to be kept in the shadows, and when there are people willing to allow it to be kept in the shadows, then evil touches not only more and more people, but at a deeper and deeper level.

EICHER: Here’s a story where someone chooses specifically not to be an enabler. 

Planned Parenthood employee Mayra Rodriguez reported numerous problems at the abortion business, among other things: that an abortionist falsified a patient chart, that someone left the medicine room unlocked and the door open during business hours, that a supervisor failed to report an abortion performed on a minor made pregnant by an adult—which is a violation of state law, by the way. 

But sometime after these reports, Rodriguez got fired for allegedly having narcotics in her desk. So she sued for wrongful termination, and won a $3 million judgment against Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Here’s Mayra Rodriguez in an interview with ABC 15 KNXV in Phoenix.

RODRIGUEZ: My main goal here is to care about women, that women do get the best care possible, wherever they choose to go.

You never know who the next pro-life hero’s going to be, but it seems lately that that hero used to work for Planned Parenthood.

STONESTREET: Yeah, and I don’t know that I would call her a pro-life hero because clearly that’s not where Mayra Rodriguez’s commitments lie, but it clearly is basically a hero uncovering, again, what we were just talking about—evil that’s allowed to remain in the shadows. 

And that’s been the story of Planned Parenthood and every abortion clinic, that because this is an untouchable thing, and that this has become an untouchable organization, that they aren’t regulated. They aren’t inspected. That these things go for years without being properly—without any sort of proper oversight. 

And, you know, good for her for being a whistleblower and being willing to say it. But the real story here is not the fact that she got $3 million. Although, anytime $3 million comes out of the hands of Planned Parenthood, that’s good. 

But that this is a systemic problem in Planned Parenthood. And we’ve seen Planned Parenthood systemically being willing to stretch the law to the extent of breaking it when it comes to the sale of fetal body parts. And doing kind of accounting juggling so that federal funds, which are not supposed to go to abortion, still goes into these centers where abortion is both not only performed and recommended but where it is the central budget item and the central revenue generator of the clinic. 

We know that this is systemic from other people who have left Planned Parenthood. We certainly know that from Abby Johnson and we also know that from—which it wasn’t a Planned Parenthood clinic, but the extent to which abortion clinics go unsupervised, we know from the Kermit Gosnell story in Philadelphia. And we also know this from the firing of the former president of Planned Parenthood after, essentially, trying to take them more in a medical direction, no, we’re an abortion provider and that’s when the chairman of the board stepped in to make those provisions. 

So it seems like Planned Parenthood is extremely vulnerable. I certainly hope that they’re extremely vulnerable on every level, but this is just another example. When evil is allowed to remain in the shadows, when there’s not exposure, when things are not accountable, then, yeah, that’s the human heart. That’s the human condition. And it can go to extents that shock us all. And that’s what we see behind the doors of Planned Parenthood and from Jeffrey Epstein.

EICHER: Let’s talk about a piece of public opinion polling that got a lot of attention. It’s by The Wall Street Journal and it has to do with American values and the generational changes we’re hearing about.

The Journal reported, and I’ll quote: “The values that Americans say define the national character are changing as younger generations rate patriotism, religion, and having children as less important to them than did young people two decades ago.” 

This, as I say, got a lot of attention, but the survey results really square with observed experience…

STONESTREET: I think it’s an interesting survey, especially alongside a survey of young people in Britain that was released a couple weeks ago talking about the meaninglessness that a majority—I think it was actually almost 9 out of 10 British young people—feel. Now, we’re talking about two groups of people, but we’re talking about something that’s a clear trend in Western civilization, which is these central institutions that create a sense of belonging and ownership and responsibility that give us visions of what life is and life that’s worth living. That stuff is gone. 

Everything from the mediating institutions that supported the social fabric to just the basic idea of kind of a unifying understanding of truth, that there is such a thing as a True North that we can orient ourselves around. When all of that’s gone, then what does one live for? What does one believe in? 

What does it mean to be a patriot or a father or a son or anything like that? And we’ve seen all of those words be kicked around and redefined and thrown up in the air in pretty dramatic ways over the last several decades. And so it can’t be a surprise. 

And it’s pretty clear that Britain precedes us by a couple decades in a lot of areas and this is one of them.

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

STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) Attorney Gloria Allred, center, flanked by two of her clients, speaks during a news conference after leaving a Manhattan court where sexual victims, on invitation of a judge, addressed a hearing after the accused Jeffrey Epstein killed himself before facing sex trafficking charges, Tuesday Aug. 27, 2019, in New York. 

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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