MARY REICAHRD, HOST: Good morning! Young men literally dying to join a fraternity has parents and colleges searching for answers.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Plus how one city achieved a drop in its divorce rate.
AUDIO: My thought was if it can be used in commerce, then certainly it could be used for more edifying purposes in terms of helping churches serve their communities better.
Also today, the story of an unwed mom who chose to keep her baby and now helps others in similar situations do the same.
WILDER: A lot of people…they get these statistics of people that come from poor neighborhoods. But instead of…letting that define us, we can be defined by children of God…
And one woman’s beef with parts of the #MeToo movement.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, November 19th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump says he’ll “strongly consider” giving written testimony in impeachment inquiry » President Trump said Monday that he might be willing to provide written testimony to lawmakers in the House impeachment inquiry.
On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CBS’s Face the Nation…
PELOSI: The president could come right before the committee and talk—speak all the truth that he wants if he wants to—if he wants to take the oath of office, or he could do it in writing.
The president responded on Twitter, saying that even though he doesn’t like—quote—“giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”
Meantime, four more witnesses will testify publicly today. Appearing this morning, foreign service aide Jennifer Williams and Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman. He’s the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Both were on the line during President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president. Vindman later reported his concerns about a push to have Ukraine launch corruption probes.
This afternoon, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison will testify. Morrison told lawmakers in closed-door testimony that he did not believe the president did anything wrong.
Pompeo announces U.S. shift on Israeli settlements in West Bank » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a major shift in U.S. policy on Iraeli settlements in the West Bank.
He said Monday that declaring the civilian settlements are inconsistent with international law hasn’t worked.
POMPEO: The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.
Pompeo said the U.S. government is expressing no view on the legality of any settlement. He said legal questions about settlements should be resolved by Israeli courts on a case-by-case basis. And he added that broadly denouncing the settlements distracts from larger efforts to negotiate peace.
Israeli leaders welcomed the decision. But Palestinians and other nations warned that Pompeo has it exactly wrong and said the move will undercut any chance of a broader peace deal.
Trump admin delays vaping restrictions » The Trump administration is delaying a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes to further consider the impact the move would have on businesses.
President Trump announced the proposed ban in September, saying he wanted parents to be aware of what a problem vaping had become among teens.
TRUMP: We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected.
But on Monday he said he’s agreed to meet with proponents of vaping along with medical professionals who want tighter controls. No date has been set for a meeting.
The delay comes amid reports that the president has faced heavy pressure to back down on the vaping restrictions. The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, citing White House and campaign officials say lobbyists and GOP lawmakers have warned the president that the move could alienate some voters.
Report: Chinese president ordered “no mercy” in Muslim crackdown » A new report reveals that Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered officials to show —quote—“absolutely no mercy” in cracking down on Muslims. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: China has repeatedly denied that it imprisoned about 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in so-called reeducation camps.
But The New York Times published hundreds of leaked documents contradicting that claim.
One of the documents includes a script for officials talking to family members of those sent to the camps. Officials were instructed to assure them their relatives were not criminals but were held for their “unhealthy thoughts.” It said—quote—“It’s very hard to totally eradicate viruses in thinking in just a short time.”
A member of the Chinese Communist Party leaked the documents, hinting at a growing divide over the crackdown.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Bolivian cities suffer food, fuel shortages amid protests » In Bolivia, several cities are suffering from food and gasoline shortages because of protests by supporters of ousted President Evo Morales.
AUDIO: [Sound of protest]
The South American country’s interim government said Monday that demonstrators have cut off some transport routes. Officials say fruit and vegetables are rotting on trucks that have been unable to reach markets.
And Bolivia’s Interim Interior Minister Arturo Murillo says “a criminal group” planned an attack on Interim President Jeannine Añez.
He said drug traffickers with ties to Cuba, Venezuela, and Columbia were behind the plot. He said they want to turn Bolivia into a terrorist and drug-trafficking country.
Boy Scouts mortgage their ‘crown jewel’ » The Boy Scouts of America has reportedly mortgaged one of its largest and most valuable properties. It could be the latest symptom of a cash crunch caused by declining membership. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: According to documents obtained by MinistryWatch.com, the group took out a mortgage earlier this year on its Philmont Scout Ranch property. Some have called it the “crown jewel” of Scouting. The ranch covers about 220 square miles of northern New Mexico and more than 1 million Scouts and leaders have visited since its founding.
The Boy Scouts have faced financial and legal problems for the past several years. Many objected to big changes during that time, contributing to a drop in attendance. Those changes include allowing gay adult leaders in 2015 and accepting transgender youth in 2017.
MinistryWatch reviewed BSA’s annual reports from 2012 to 2017, the last year available. They show that membership fell 16 percent during that time. The Scouts recently hiked membership fees by 80 percent. It cited the rising cost of liability insurance in the wake of sexual abuse cases.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.
COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the dangers of pledging a fraternity. Plus, digital marketing that saves marriages. This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, the 19th of November, 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: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up today: boys behaving badly.
San Diego State University suspended all 14 of its fraternities last week following the death of a freshman student. Nineteen-year-old Dylan Hernandez suffered a head injury when he fell from his dorm room bunk bed. Hours before he was at a party hosted by the Phi Gamma fraternity. Officials ruled his death an accident, but toxicology results are pending.
REICHARD: Hernandez’s case adds to a troubling statistic. Ten young men hoping to join college fraternities have died at American universities in the past three years. That’s a sharp increase from 50 years ago, when there was on average one death per year in similar circumstances.
Excessive alcohol consumption and other dangerous behavior associated with pledging rituals are often a factor.
Anthony Bradley is a professor of religious studies at The King’s College in New York City. He’s been studying this phenomenon and is writing a book about fraternities. He joins us now to talk about it.
Good morning, professor!
ANTHONY BRADLEY, GUEST: Hi there. Happy to be with you.
REICHARD: Glad for you to be here. New pledges to a fraternity often do risky and degrading rituals. That has been going on for years. What’s the draw that makes so many young men willing to do these things just to join a social club?
BRADLEY: It seems that a lot of young men are willing to actually die, to put their lives on the line to join these organizations. And there are basically five things that all these fraternities promise that a high school student wants when they go to college.
First, they want acceptance. An 18-year-old young man wants to be accepted and included in a group of other guys. Number two, they want friendship and fraternities promise that you’ll get your best friends here. Fraternities also promise social status. If you join the frat, your social status rises. You move from being a loser to a winner. Fraternities also promise, fourthly, fun. If you spend time with us, you will have a lot of fun. And then lastly, networking. If you come to the fraternity, we’ll get you connected with alumni. And so what happens is that these young men are willing to put their lives on the line for the purpose of getting all of those benefits of being in a fraternity.
REICHARD: And those things are valuable. Anyone would want to have those things in their life. What do you think is contributing to making this problem worse in more recent years?
BRADLEY: We’ve seen an escalation in these incidences of kids dying, hazing, alcohol abuse, etc. and much of this can be actually traced back to the 1978 film Animal House. That film single-handedly is credited with changing the fraternity culture on colleges in the 80s and 90s. So, the middle school and high school guys who watched that movie in the late 70s lived that out in the 80s and 90s and it’s escalated. Secondly, you have a group of young men who are younger millennials. They’re now sort of generation Z. They’ve been completely coddled as children. So what does that mean? They don’t know what boundaries are. Why is that? Because they were over-parented. That is, adults were always around them. They never got to do free-range play, parent-free play, and they never tested the boundaries of what was too much. So, you get a group of guys who don’t know when to say when, coupled with this image of what fraternity is like. And then you add onto that alcohol, which undermines and disrupts reasoning capacity, and you get the mess that we’re in today.
REICHARD: A toxic brew is what you’re talking about there. Some of these young men come from church going families. What can churches and Christian families do to interrupt this cycle?
BRADLEY: I think that for Christians who are sending their children to universities that have fraternity culture and their sons and daughters are interested in, it’s important for parents to know that the greek culture that existed when they were in college no longer exists. I think secondly, you have to send your children into these organizations, if they’re interested, fully aware of the risks. The risk of being exposed to alcohol abuse, the risk of being exposed to hazing, the risk—especially if you are a girl—the risk of being exposed to sexual assault, the risk of being exposed to possibly dying, and typically what we find with adolescents as they move into early adulthood is they have a fear of saying no. And so parents need to embolden their children to actually say no and realize that they’re not going to miss out by saying no and get rejected by the group.
And so one of the questions is why is it that these students are so eager, even the Christian kids, why are they so eager to follow the rules of the group? Well, because they have a fear of being left out. So if you’re afraid of being left out of the group, you’ll actually compromise your morals and your ethics and even your faith principles and commitments in order to be in the group. So Christians should actually be free—and this is I think why the church is so important—to be freed up to bravely say no and to not fear being rejected by the group because, as a Christian, you have a better group. You have God’s people. That’s a deeper, richer, more inclusive group to be a member of. And so if you get rejected from this Greek culture, there should be—hopefully, Lord willing—Christians on the campus that can give you all the things you think that you’re going to get—acceptance, friendship, social status, fun, networking—that Christians should be providing these things for other Christians. The extent to which we are quite vigilant about providing those things on college campuses will make fraternities and sororities less appealing.
REICHARD: Anthony Bradley is a professor of religious studies at The King’s College in New York City.
BRADLEY: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: marriage marketing.
When you look something up on the internet, it doesn’t take long for ads to follow. Need a new coffee maker? You’re sure to start seeing promotions for the latest models on just about every website you visit. And that’s not a coincidence.
NICK EICHER: Businesses and organizations use digital marketing to target purchasing decisions. But could marketers use the same technique to influence behavior? One organization thinks it can. And it’s using digital marketing tools to target one of the most important decisions a married couple can make.
WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has our story.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: In the 1980s divorce rates in America reached a record high. Half of all couples called it quits. Since that peak, divorce rates have steadily dropped. Today about 40 percent of couples divorce. That’s mostly because more couples wait until they’re older to marry or just don’t marry at all.
J.P. De Gance believes broken families and hurt kids are behind a lot of society’s problems. That’s why he started the the Culture of Freedom Initiative—now called Communio.
DE GANCE: I became interested in and trying to figure out how to get upstream and, and really apply a lot of the strategic tools and tactics and apply them to strengthening marriages, strengthening families.
The strategic tools and tactics De Gance had in mind are modern marketing strategies—digital marketing in particular.
DE GANCE: My thought was if it can be used in commerce, it could be used in politics, then certainly it could be used for more edifying purposes in terms of helping churches serve their communities better.
To test out how digital marketing could possibly strengthen marriages and families, Communio partnered with the Philanthropy Roundtable. That’s a network of conservative donors. In 2016, they launched a campaign in Jacksonville, Florida—a city of nearly 900,000 people in Duval County.
Their hypothesis? If digital marketing could connect couples with relationship resources—marriages could be saved.
Communio partnered with brand strategy and marketing data firms. They analyzed the products recently divorced couples had purchased. Then they contrasted those products with things married couples were buying. Communio could then target ads to “at-risk” couples based on what they were buying. It could also identify people struggling with anxiety, financial stress, and substance abuse.
That’s called predictive analytics.
DE GANCE: And so anybody who, who looked like they were at risk for divorce in the county got quite a number of digital messages over that time period.
People saw Communio’s ads 28 million times over three years. Communio could then tell local churches what marriage programs and resources couples were looking for based on which ads got the most clicks and views.
Richard Albertson is the founder of Live the Life, a Florida marriage ministry. Live the Life’s job was to help area churches learn how to implement marriage ministries on limited budgets.
ALBERTSON: Most churches have a pretty good vision for marriage. But as far as teaching couples the skills of how to have a healthy marriage, most churches don’t do that.
Live the Life helped churches identify how they can help and then launch those ministries. Over three years, 50 local churches and more than 40 local nonprofits joined the campaign. Some started relationship education programs, held date nights, or taught financial classes. Others sponsored weekend getaways and evangelism outreaches.
ALBERTSON: The idea is you’re teaching the churches how to provide skills-based programs on the ground.
De Gance says this unique supply and demand model worked: Increase marriage resource supply while increasing demand through marketing. Here are some stats: From 2016 to 2018, nearly 60,000 people attended marriage enrichment programs. That jumped from just 300 people a year before the campaign.
In that same time frame, divorces in Duval County declined by a quarter. That’s compared to a 10 percent decline in the rest of the state and a 6 percent decline across the country.
Brad Wilcox directs the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. He analyzed the county’s divorce rate drop and controlled for variables that would make Duval County different from other places.
WILCOX: And so once you can control for all of those things, you still find a distinctively large declining divorce in the Jacksonville area compared to other counties in the United States. A decline of divorce by more than 20 percent is pretty striking. It does suggest that the efforts conducted with churches and other nonprofits… probably has something to do with this pattern.
The whole campaign cost about $5 million. But Communio’s J.P. De Gance believes it can be duplicated for less in the future. He plans to test that theory in other cities soon.
De Gance says the Jacksonville initiative revealed the power of digital marketing. But the real difference maker was the local churches couples met at the other end of an online ad.
DE GANCE: Ultimately our entire theory of change is based on one key assumption, which is life changes through personal relationships. And everything that we’re doing is trying to help a church scale the number of life- changing relationships that can exist in their congregation and in their community. But at the end of the day it still comes down to the face-to-face.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
NICK EICHER: If you’ve ever taken your cell phone outside of the country, you may already know that roaming charges can stack up pretty fast.
AUDIO: There was an error in processing your call. Please power down and turn off your phone.
Right, if only they could’ve, they might’ve.
Here’s what happened.
A group of scientists in Russia decided to use cell phones and text messages to track the migration patterns of eagles.
Great idea, except for a couple of flaws in the plan.
While flying within Russia, the eagles’ messages wouldn’t go through. So they stacked up. And the eagles, no respecters of borders, migrated into Pakistan and Iran, where the messages did go through, including four-months-worth of undeliverables.
You can see the problem. The roaming charges were devastating. It was so bad, the costs exceeded the budget for the study.
The good news is, the researchers turned to the public, who proved more than sufficiently generous to keep the experiment going.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Tuesday, November 19th. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It, and we’re glad you are! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next, one college student mom’s decision to choose life.
According to the research group Planned Parenthood got started back in 1968, the Guttmacher Institute, unintended pregnancy rates are highest among women who fall into these categories: low income, between the ages of 18 and 24, a member of a minority group, and cohabitating with a partner.
Carolyn Wilder was a college student who could check all of the boxes.
REICHARD: But despite her background and upbringing, Wilder is thriving. She says the birth of her son is the best thing to happen to her.
We go now to South Carolina where WORLD Radio Intern Michelle Schlavin has her story.
MICHELLE SCHLAVIN, REPORTER: At the end of a quiet neighborhood sits a long brick house. Carolyn Wilder stands in front of the garage. She waves and gives a wide smile.
AUDIO: [Car door shuts] WILDER: Hey girl…How are you?
Wilder is wearing a grey and black patterned blazer and black high heels. She had an interview earlier. Like most twenty year olds, She’s going to school and applying for internships. But before everything else, she’s a mother.
Inside the house it’s dinner time. Princeton, Wilder’s 14 month old son, is anxious for his momma to feed him.
WILDER: Hungry, hungry? Eat, eat, eat. I know, mommy wash her hands.
Wilder opens the double door fridge and pulls out a homemade chicken pot pie. After warming it up in the microwave, she tests the temperature before feeding Princeton. His lips smack in approval.
AUDIO: [Princeton eating]
The mother and son live with Jana and Bob Dailey. She calls them Nana Jana and Pop Pop Bob. They met at church.
WILDER: She’s just like a mom. She treats me no different than her kids. So, I love her. Especially ‘cause I never really knew what that was like.
Wilder was born in New Orleans. She was taken from her biological family at four and placed into foster care. She moved from home to home.
WILDER: I had a pretty rough childhood…I was raped at 5, so by the time I was 10 or 11, I didn’t really have a sense of identity…
At age 10, Wilder was adopted by a woman in South Carolina. Her new mom provided every material need, but she could be abusive. Wilder remembers being hit across the face with things like pot holders or extension cords.
WILDER: I actually tried to kill myself. I overdosed on pills…it was pills of Tylenol…I was tired of going through what I was going through, you know, not even her, but my whole life.
During recovery, Wilder lived in a short-term hospital. It was a free place to stay and eat, and safe from abuse.
While there, she met another troubled patient.
WILDER: I was broken and he was broken and I had him and he had me and that was all we had.
They became engaged and started living together. At 18, Wilder discovered she was pregnant. A local Christian pregnancy center advertised “Free Baby Clothes” so she stopped in. Women watch videos to learn about their pregnancy. In exchange they get to pick out baby necessities.
She also began reading the Bible. Convicted, Wilder explained to her fiancé they could no longer sleep together. Looking at her growing belly, he failed to see the point in stopping now. Wilder held firm, and he left.
WILDER: Everything that I knew was attached to him. I didn’t know anything about God. I wasn’t trying to either…I was trying to figure out what I’m going to do with this baby.
Wilder felt alone and afraid. And she didn’t think she could raise a child on her own.
WILDER: So, my first thought was abortion, this is prime time. You know, I’d never thought about aborting the baby, but I have no money. I’m like basically homeless without him.
Planned Parenthood was willing to “take care of the problem.” Friends and family also doubted her ability to be a mother.
WILDER: I watched my brother say, you’re not going to be anything but like your mom. You need to give your baby away because you’re going to be just like your mother, you’re going to be an unfit mother just just like your mom was.
The last thing Wilder wanted to be was “like her mother.” Or mothers. She was close to making a deadly decision.
But Wilder began looking back on her life with new eyes. She started attending meetings at the clinic and going to church.
WILDER: It’s really crazy how God works because that church family, you know, grew to be my church, my support system.
With their encouragement and help, she is figuring out the daunting load of school, work, and being a mother.
WILDER: Everything in life that’s worth doing or worth having is always going to be hard…A lot of people, they give these like statistics of college students and they get these statistics of people that come from poor neighborhoods. But instead of…letting that define us, we can be defined by children of God…
Wilder sees the pain of her past as a blessing. She shares her story without hesitation. Speaking up is her way of honoring the Lord and the miracle of being a mom.
WILDER: Hey, I did it… And let me tell you how it, God brought me out. He needs more people like that in this world because you can’t be open, if you can’t be relatable, nobody is going to be touched.
Wilder recently accepted an internship with A Moment of Hope, a pro-life ministry in Columbia. She shares her testimony with girls who are in a similar life situation and considering abortion.
WILDER: I’m young, I’m black..But like I’m a mom, you know, I care for my baby just like any other 30 or 40 year old mom…it’s hard, but every time I wake up, like every single time I wake up, every time I do it all over again. And I wouldn’t change it…if, if like I was only supposed to be in this world to be a mom. I love that. That’s a pretty darn good job.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Michelle Schlavin reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Tuesday, November 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. In about 20 seconds we’re going to have a commentary on an adult topic, so if you have young children around, you might want to hit the pause button and come back later.
REICHARD: The topic involves Christian comedian John Crist. No doubt you’ve heard about the scandal by now: A man who made millions of fans satirizing evangelical culture admitted to inappropriate encounters with women.
In some ways, the details are depressingly familiar. But WORLD Radio’s Megan Basham says there’s actually something very different about it.
MEGAN BASHAM, COMMENTATOR: As Christian leaders have continued to comment on the John Crist story, an implicit message behind their words has begun to feel troubling to me.
“There are victims here, and our concern should first go to them,” one prominent pastor wrote. “Hoping this is a part of his victims finally getting some justice,” tweeted an author and activist in #ChurchToo movement—a spin-off of the #MeToo movement.
Other articles linked Crist to revelations of ministerial abuse. Many offered prayers for his victims’ healing. No comment from any preacher, teacher, or theologian I saw said anything to suggest the women who accepted Crist’s advances were anything other than victims.
In fact, Charisma magazine refused to even name any of the women involved—even though they were all adults, at least 21 years of age. Some were married.
Crist wasn’t anyone’s employer. He wasn’t anyone’s pastor. He held no authority over the women in any way.
He simply used his fame to persuade women to give him sexual favors. Sometimes he also claimed he loved or wanted to marry them.
Let’s be clear. By his own admission, Crist sinned grossly. If the allegations are true, he also behaved in a predatory manner. Neither the women’s ages nor their marital status does anything to lessen Crist’s guilt. It was wrong for him to sext with these women, exchange explicit photos, and have sexual encounters outside of marriage.
But neither does his guilt remove theirs.
When pastors or Christian publications issue blanket characterizations of the women in the Crist case as victims of “emotional manipulation” or “gaslighting,” they’re doing what the Scribes and Pharisees did. They’re fashioning new rules based on the world’s wisdom not the Bible’s.
Jesus encountered several women who’d engaged in unlawful sexual acts in the New Testament. It’s reasonable to suppose, based on their culture and backgrounds, they’d all experienced some form of abuse at the hands of men.
Yet Christ never pretended this absolved their guilt. He didn’t tell the adulteress of John 8 or the woman at the well to “go and be ‘emotionally manipulated’ no more.” He didn’t tell the religious leaders of Luke 7 that the woman washing his feet was the victim of a system that unjustly penalized women more than men. Though it did.
Christ’s compassion recognized the women’s suffering. His holiness acknowledged their sin.
Martin Luther once said human nature is like a drunk on a horse. If he falls off one side, the next time he’ll make sure to fall off the other.
Can we not embrace an abuse-reckoning in the church that is long overdue without unbiblically suggesting women aren’t also accountable for their wrongdoing? Can’t we run toward victims without running away from preaching God demands obedience from us all, regardless of our gender?
I would hate for my daughters to hear from our pastor a message that implies: “When you’re adults, you don’t have to answer to God for your own decision to sin if someone deceived you about their feelings.”
One Christian radio host wrote to the women of the Crist story, “This isn’t your fault. There’s freedom from shame.”
She’s partly right. There is freedom from shame. And women, no less than men, need to hear that it can’t be had without acknowledging our own wrongdoing so we can turn to the one who offers forgiveness.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow on Washington Wednesday, the impeachment inquiry. I’ll talk with Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center about why the court of public opinion remains deadlocked on President Trump.
And our regular weekly World Tour.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Psalmist says, “for You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you can join us again tomorrow.