MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Drive-in church services have caught the ire of some governors and mayors. We’ll talk about what the First Amendment requires of government officials, even during a pandemic.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also, on the Monday Moneybeat, how to square bad economic data with good performance on Wall Street.
Plus, the WORLD History Book: Today, man-made disasters give rise to a movement.
And how we can extend grace to others as stay-at-home orders wear thin.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, April 20th. 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 the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Deal on Paycheck Protection Program extension reportedly close » House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress and the Trump administration are getting close on a deal to refill a now-empty fund for small businesses.
The Paycheck Protection Program is on hold after it reached its $349 billion spending cap.
PELOSI: The money has not all been distributed, although it has all been committed. That means there is no more money. They will have more money as soon as we come to an agreement, which will be soon.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shares the speaker’s optimism. He told CNN’s State of the Union…
MNUCHIN: I think we’re making a lot of progress. I’ve had multiple conversations all weekend with the leadership of both the Senate and the House.
The two sides are said to be closing in on an aid package of more than $400 billion. That reportedly includes more than $300 billion to refuel the depleted Paycheck Protection Program while allocating $60 billion of that cash for rural communities and minority groups. And another $60 billion will go into another Small Business Administration program called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the two sides could reach an agreement as soon as today.
Some states announce plans to begin reviving economies » Some states are now announcing their intention to slowly reopen their economies.
Stores in Texas can soon begin selling merchandise with curbside service, and hospitals can resume nonessential surgeries. In Florida, people are returning to a few beaches and parks.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said Saturday—his words—“Very productive call this afternoon with southeastern governors. We discussed each state’s plans to safely get folks back into the workplace. Told them South Carolina was ready.”
And six Midwestern states have signed an agreement to coordinate reopening after May 1st. Ohio is a part of that pact, and Governor Mike DeWine told NBC’s Meet the Press…
DEWINE: We have to come back, and that’s what we’re aiming to do beginning on May 1st. And frankly it’s consistent, very, very consistent with the very thoughtful plan that the president has laid out.
The Trump administration last week laid out new guidelines for governors to begin reviving their economies as conditions in their states allow.
DeWine has not yet detailed what the state’s initial steps will be. But he said it’s a dedicated and critical balance, adding—quote—“If we do not do this right, the consequences are horrendous.” But also noted that the economy must slowly reopen to avoid a sharp rise in things like homelessness and drug abuse.
Protesters gather to decry quarantine orders » But some people are growing increasingly impatient with social distancing and quarantine orders.
A growing number of protests have cropped up around the country. Groups staged demonstrations over the weekend in several cities, including Austin, Texas.
PROTESTERS: Let us work! Let us work!
Some accused President Trump of encouraging public protest gatherings by tweeting on Friday in all caps—quote—“LIBERATE MINNESOTA! LIBERATE MICHIGAN! LIBERATE VIRGINIA!”
All three of those states have Democratic governors. At a White House briefing a short time later, a reporter asked the president if he was concerned that protesters are gathering in a way that “health experts have said they should not.”
TRUMP: No, these are people expressing their views. I see where they are and I see the way they’re working. They seem to be very responsible people to me, but they’ve been treated a little bit rough.
Trump said he felt some states had gone too far in their quarantine orders.
But on Sunday, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said restrictions are in place for a very good reason.
BIRX: They need to really follow state and local guidelines, and they themselves need to be educated and knowledgeable about this virus. We’re not only protecting ourselves but we’re protecting each other when they follow the guidelines.
At least 13 dead after mass shooting in Canada » A man wearing a police uniform went on a shooting rampage as he drove around the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on Sunday—killing at least 13 people, including a police officer.
CPL. Lisa Croteau with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police called it “a devastating day for Nova Scotia.”
CROTEAU: What has unfolded overnight and into this morning is incomprehensible and many families are experiencing the loss of a loved one. That includes our own RCP family.
Several of the dead were found inside and outside one home in the small, rural town of Portapique, about 60 miles north of Halifax. Police began advising residents of the town—already on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic—to lock their doors and stay in their basements. Several homes in the area were set on fire as well.
Authorities said the suspect, a 51-year-old man, wore a police uniform at one point and made his car look like a police cruiser.
Police arrested the suspect at a gas station near Halifax and later announced that he had died.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said—quote—“We believe it to be one person who is responsible for all the killings and that he alone moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides,”
Police have not provided a motive for the attack, but Leather said many of the victims did not know the shooter.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: First Amendment rights for churches.
Plus, Trillia Newbell on extending grace during a crisis.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Monday morning and a new week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 20th of April, 2020. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Well, we’re taking a break from the Supreme Court, but to be fair, they took a break from us first. The court did agree to hold arguments in the remaining cases remotely and we’ll have the audio for you as I get it.
EICHER: That’s news. The high court’s never taken that kind of step before.
REICHARD: Right, it has not. Desperate times, desperate measures.
But these are not exactly uncharted waters. The lower federal courts have been doing remote arguments already.
EICHER: So one of those cases in a federal trial court is on our docket for today, because, again, we’re waiting on the Supreme Court and because the case is a critical First Amendment case.
REICHARD: Yes, before I get to that, I should mention that last Thursday, churches in Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee filed lawsuits in federal court because public officials singled out churches in their shelter-in-place orders. Some of which excluded places like malls, restaurants, and libraries.
EICHER: We should note that those churches have the backing of the U.S. Department of Justice. Because Attorney General William Barr took a strong position against the actions of these local officials.
REICHARD: He did, and that led the mayors of Greenville, Mississippi, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, to reverse course to allow drive-in church services.
And then on Saturday, a federal judge in Kansas issued a temporary restraining order against Governor Laura Kelly’s restrictions.
Today, the case I’m going to walk through is a similar dispute still going on in Louisville, Kentucky.
EICHER: Yes, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear in mid-March banned all “mass gatherings” in the state. Nothing necessarily controversial about that, because at first he said it didn’t apply to drive-in church services, so long as they complied with CDC guidelines on social distancing.
But then the week before Easter Sunday, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer took the governor’s order to mean drive-in services are banned, and he warned those churches to stop.
The church’s lawyers sent a letter to the mayor pointing out he couldn’t do that.
REICHARD: Nobody responded, so the church requested a temporary restraining order against the mayor. Judge Justin Walker granted it.
Now, that brings us up to last Tuesday.
And I was able to listen in on the telephonic hearing last week.
Judge Walker started out with this:
WALKER: On Fire Christian Church et al v Greg Fischer et al 320-CD-264. Even though we’re doing this over the phone, this is a courtroom, so the rules of our federal courtroom are in place. That means no recordings.
I did press the stop button!
What Judge Walker is trying to decide is whether to make his temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction.
That’s a court order made early on in a lawsuit that would keep the city from banning the drive-in services, while the ultimate outcome of the case is pending.
To be clear, I reached out to the mayor’s office for comment. Didn’t hear back.
I did speak to the church’s lawyers at First Liberty Institute. One is Kentucky lawyer Roger Byron.
Here’s a portion of our conversation.
Roger, I think the judge here was very careful in his questioning. He kept asking over and over to the other side, the mayor’s defense counsel and the city’s defense counsel, was it illegal for the mayor to tell the church not to have a drive-in service? Roger, talk about that aspect.
BYRON: Well, the mayor, like all government officials is doubtless doing the best he can, but he needs to understand that the Constitution provides a limit to what he can do. It provides a limit to government power. And he cannot disfavor religious groups or churches or religious people, cannot target them, for disfavored treatment, even in a pandemic. When religious activities, when the religious people are complying with social distancing guidelines and the CDC’s guidelines, their activities cannot be prohibited.
Judge Walker asked whether what the mayor said could be heard as a threat. Why is that so important?
BYRON: Well, there is no evidence that this virus or any other virus is somehow more contagious in a church parking lot than in a restaurant’s parking lot. And anytime that a government wants to prohibit or restrict religious exercise, particularly in a way that targets religious exercise but does not restrict other activities, non-religious activities that are essentially the same thing, the government has to overcome a very, very difficult hurdle to do that. Under federal law, under the First Amendment, the government has to meet what is called “strict scrutiny.” And it has to provide a compelling reason that allowing that particular church or that particular group to continue to do its religious activity somehow works against a compelling interest the government may have in keeping the church from doing that. And the government also has to show that its restriction is specifically and narrowly tailored to achieve the government’s interests.
So the threat is in singling out one group over all other groups doing the same activity as far as gathering and still keeping to social distancing guidelines. OK.
One of the things both sides agreed on: this is a fluid situation, the CDC guidelines change everyday, and people have to understand them and adjust their behavior. No such thing as 100 percent compliance. The human factor. So Judge Walker kept coming back to what is the limiting principle here, to keep government from running over basic rights.
For example, a parade was allowed to go on in nearby Butchertown, east of downtown Louisville. How are we to understand that?
BYRON: Well, as I think we’ve said, the First Amendment requires that religious activities and religious people be treated the same way and have no additional restrictions placed on them than non-religious activities. And so if the city can allow a parade to run through town with, you know, with people out on the sidewalks or people interacting with one another watching a parade, certainly there’s not a problem with people sitting in their cars in a parking lot outside a building, listening to one man speak to them and pray with them.
One thing I think people wonder about: the government says these are essential services, and these over here are not. Is Easter service essential?
BYRON: The convictions of many people of faith are that they must gather together corporately, as well as they can under the circumstances in order to worship God. And, uh, the First Amendment protects their ability to do that. So if, if people are allowed to gather together in a parking lot for secular reasons or any other reason, then folks are allowed to gather for religious reasons. If that gathering is just as safe or even safer as, as is the case here, than gathering in a parking lot for non-religious reasons.
Judge Walker ordered supplemental briefings, due tomorrow. I could hear the other side making side huddles to answer the judge’s questions, and it didn’t seem to be going as well for them as for the church.
The judge no doubt wants to resolve this Kentucky dispute sooner rather than later. And if you want to read his strong words in the temporary restraining order, we’ll put a link in this transcript.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: The Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: Looking in the rearview mirror economically, we see the first bit of detail on the impact to retail sales. That’s an important figure, as it’s one big component of a category called personal consumption expenditures. PCEs represent the biggest slice of Gross Domestic Product. What we spend on goods and services accounts for about 70 percent of GDP, and retail sales is a key indicator of what’s to come. For March, it was down, almost 9 percent. It’s the biggest month-on-month decline since the government started keeping records back in 1992.
Industrial output, this is mining, manufacturing, and utilities, that was also down in March about 5-1/2 percent. Bear in mind, these numbers are for roughly half a month of economic lock-down. April, that’s going to be a full month, and likely a grimmer set of tables and charts.
And yet, now two weeks in a row of strength on Wall Street. Joining me now to talk about it is financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen.
David, good morning.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Well, good morning. Good to be with you, Nick.
EICHER: Well, let’s talk about what seems a mis-match here in the data. Strong positive performance on Wall Street, and that in light of the bad economic data that we saw for March, variously from the Commerce Department, the Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund, even from the housing market. How do you square that?
BAHNSEN: Well, I hope that we can continue covering this subject every week because I think it is one of the most important things for people to understand and the need for understanding this will last for a long time: Markets are forward-looking discounting mechanisms. And economic data is backward-looking reporting mechanisms.
So, to the extent that the data that we’re getting right now in the economy is backward-looking to how awful things were in March, you had a stock market that was going way down in March. And it was going way down because it knew, boy, the economy is going to get really bad.
And the economy is going to be bad in April as well and right now what you’ve seen is the market in a very complex manner—it isn’t as binary as just economy good, will be bad, or economy bad, will be good. There’s varying moving parts to it. However, what was getting priced in in March is now believed to be more severe than will end up being the case, and the markets have had to adjust.
So when we talk about the market being better, it’s right now about 5,000 points off of its closing bottom. Back in late March it hit 18-19,000 and now the Dow’s at 24,000. But it is still over 5,000 points lower than its highs from earlier in February where the Dow was getting very close to 30,000. So, it’s kind of in that in-between point and there’s something sort of metaphorical about that. I think that’s appropriate.
EICHER: Did anything jump out at you in terms of the retail sales report or the industrial production report or the housing index or the projection by IMF that the United States would have an overall 2020 GDP almost 6 percent lower? Did any of that strike you in particular?
BAHNSEN: Well, yeah, the industrial production struck me because there’s no way it’s actually that good. It showed a number that was auto manufacturing was down 25 percent but ex-auto it was only down 4-5 percent and there’s some lag effect there. It’s going to be way worse than that. The jobless claims number did get better by about 1.2 million. In other words, 1.2 million less new applications for unemployment in initial weekly jobless claims. So you were at 6.8 two weeks ago. 6.6 last week. And then 5.2.
I think that all of it is going to get worse before it gets better. And yet the really, really two crucial interventions into these numbers are A) when the economy can get reopened. The second intervention is the stimulus.
EICHER: Let’s talk about the president’s outline on Friday. Kind of a federalist approach to reopening the economy, that’s intervention “A,” as you say. But intervention “B,” the stimulus, the news there is that the Paycheck Protection Program, that $350 billion fund, is fully distributed. It’s in the economy, and there’s need for more, but we have a political snag. How worrisome is that to you?
BAHNSEN: Well, worrisome that they’re not going to replenish it? No worry at all. They’re going to replenish it no matter what. The politics of not replenishing it would be absolutely catastrophic. What’s worrisome to me is what pound of flesh the Democrats are going to get out of the Republicans as they’re holding it over their head to get it replenished.
As we’re talking, it looks like they’re moving forward with another compromise bill. And a couple of the things that House Republicans said they would not do are already now being discussed as being part of it. So, yeah, I think they’re going to add another $250 billion to the $350 billion that they are doing for small businesses through the paycheck protection program, which is by far been the most successful part of the CARES Act. 4,600 banks giving over 1 million loans that have funded at an average loan size of just about $200,000, 70 percent of the loans $83,000 in size going to over 1 million borrowers to keep the people on their payroll. And the SBA, which last I checked is a department of the federal government, somehow got all this done in less than two weeks.
So, you don’t hear me compliment bureaucracies or agencies of the federal government very often, but I have to give credit where it’s due. They got this done rather efficiently with an awful lot of media noise suggesting otherwise.
EICHER: Let’s talk about the reopening real quick. I find it interesting the president vacillated a bit over time. First suggesting a federalist approach and then saying, “I have absolute authority.” Then settling on federalism, state-by-state…
BAHNSEN: Look, I don’t want to sit here and be praising of the president or overly critical. If I had to be one right here, it would be very critical because no one can deny it was utter incoherence this week to say “I have absolute authority” to tell states when they can open and not open and just a matter of days later totally reverse on that. But, the point should be made, if you’re going to take a wrong position and a right position in the same week, you may as well end up on the right one. [Laughs] And that’s what he did. And so I’m happy with the way it’s settled. Yeah. It’s a federalist solution.
It sets a blueprint. That’s what the market wanted. It’s what the people wanted. It’s what a lot of governors wanted. Some kind of sequencing. Some kind of semblance of structure. I think you have that now. But then, of course, you got to get the implementation. Striking that chord is going to be really important.
EICHER: David Bahnsen, financial analyst and advisor. David, thank you so much.
BAHNSEN: Thanks for having me, Nick.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, April 20th. We’re glad to have you along with us today. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Today the stories of two oil spills, the birth of the modern environmental movement, and how the word “classic” became synonymous with Coca-Cola. Here’s Paul Butler.
In 1969, an underwater oil well sprung a leak off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, spilling more than 3 million gallons of crude oil over two months.
Response to the accident gave rise to the modern environmental movement. It also inspired Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and anti-war activist Denis Hayes to start Earth Day—first commemorated on April 22nd, 1970. Audio here from a CBS television Earth Day special with Walter Cronkite:
WALTER CRONKITE: Good evening. A unique day in America is ending as a day set aside for national outpouring of mankind seeking its own survival.
Millions of school kids, college students, and community members gather across the country to celebrate Earth Day. But many of the speakers are far from optimistic. Here’s biologist Barry Commoner:
BARRY COMMONER: The heavens wreak, the waters below are foul. Children die in infancy. And we and the world which is our home, live on the brink of nuclear annihilation.
Over the last 50 years, the environmental message has often remained negative. Air pollution in the 70’s, endangered species in the 80’s, deforestation in the 90’s, and global warming followed by climate change the last 20 years.
Calvin Beisner is a Christian environmentalist and takes a more positive view. He calls Christians to care for the earth—to fulfill the God-given mandate to steward and keep the garden God has given—but he resists the temptation to give in to the pessimism of the modern environmental movement.
CALVIN BEISNER: God has said that all of the various cycles on which life depends are going to be sustained by his providential care from now until God ends heaven and Earth themselves in the last judgment. Now that too, I think, is contrary to fears that man-made climate change could bring an end to the various different climate cycles on which we depend and on which other forms of life depend for our thriving.
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD: “I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
Next, a soft-drink company takes a risk and changes its century-old formula.
After conducting thousands of blind taste tests, Coca-Cola discovers more than 50 percent of consumers prefer the taste of their biggest rival: Pepsi.
On April 23rd, 1985, Coca-Cola unveils New Coke.
COKE COMMERCIAL: There’s never been a better Coke! Introducing the greatest taste discovery in a hundred years…
While the updated cola formula has some initial positive press, it soon becomes clear that loyal customers don’t like it. Don Keough, president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola Company:
DON KEOUGH: Let me read you a few letters. Here’s one that starts “Dear Chief Dodo. What ignoramus decided to change the formula of Coke?”
Pepsi makes light of the controversy in a summer ad:
PEPSI COMMERCIAL: They changed my Coke. Something wrong with it? I don’t know, but they sure changed it. They could have asked. They could’a. I stuck with them through three wars and a couple dust storms, but this is too much…
Within three months, Coca-Cola brings back the old formula and markets the drink as “Classic Coke.”
DON KEOUGH: …what we didn’t know is how many thousands of you would phone and write, asking us to bring back the classic taste of original Coca-Cola. Well, we read, and we listened, and you know the rest.
Classic Coke sales soar. New Coke sales are good as well, but never great, and Coca-Cola eventually stops making the product altogether in 2002. Though the beverage giant re-released New Coke last year as part of an ad campaign promoting a popular Netflix series set in 1985.
AUDIO: [COKE THEME MUSIC]
And finally, 10 years ago today, April 20th, 2010.
NEWSCAST: The U.S. Coastguard is searching for 11 missing workers…
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. The fire rages for two days before the rig finally sinks. Due to the extreme depth of the well head on the ocean floor, British Petroleum, Halliburton, and Transocean struggle to cap the underwater geyser.
NEWSCAST: Breaking news tonight. They can’t stop that oil spill into the gulf of Mexico…
Eventually the oil on the surface spreads over 38-hundred square miles of the gulf of Mexico—an area roughly the size of South Korea.
NEWSCAST: Officials are now calling this a spill of national significance…
The U.S. federal government estimates nearly 5 million barrels of oil spill into the gulf before BP successfully stops the flow—106 days after the explosion.
In the 10 years since the accident, clean-up efforts, fines, and reparations have cost British Petroleum more than $65 billion.
Up and down the coast, evidence of the spill still occasionally washes ashore as ball sized tar-babies, but tourism has returned, and wildlife refuges and fisheries are making a slow but strong comeback.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book, I’m Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, April 20th. Good morning! You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we are glad you are! I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Families with young children unexpectedly at home these days need an extra measure of grace. Here’s WORLD commentator Trillia Newbell.
TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: The sound of the movie Inside Out plays in the background while my young daughter kneels on the floor, drawing on a sketch-pad lifting her head slightly from time to time to glance quickly toward the television.
My son sits at the kitchen table, reading through one of his many books, wondering whether or not he’ll ever get to meet his buddy at the park again.
These are the scenes of a typical summer’s day. But it isn’t summer. Right now my kids are out of school. They’ve been out since March 6th, and we just learned our school district will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
In a minute I will get them started on a thrown-together but earnest attempt at homeschooling. It’s mostly meant to keep their minds busy with something besides screens.
For some stay-at-home or homeschooling parents, this might feel a bit like business as usual. But for those of us who work part-time, full-time, or send our children to school, this change affects almost every aspect of our daily lives. These changes also can tempt many of us to compare, fear, and disparage one another for our different approaches to handling this crisis.
The moment the safer-at-home orders began, so did the advice. Moms took to social media to share a highlight reel of their daily routines—many comical.
But after about two weeks of this, I began to see evidence of people wearing thin. The once-whimsical article became a burden, even a threat. The mom who shared her productivity was now seen as someone attempting to shame the mom who simply struggled to get out of bed.
There’s a possibility that those sharing their ideas could very well be attempting to lay a heavy burden on parents who aren’t able to maintain as much structure. Maybe they’re trying to post. But, more likely, I imagine the people giving tips and ideas genuinely want to help.
Ultimately, we can’t fully know the motives of others. What we can control is our responses to them. We can learn to think the best of our neighbor. Whether it’s creativity or administration, that person is reflecting the creator God.
And God gave us good gifts, too. We’d hate it if someone thought the absolute worst of us just because we are using the gifts God gave us.
We can also learn when it’s time to unplug. For some, social media and blogs aren’t often bothersome. For others, these things tempt us to envy, anger, and a host of other sin.
Here’s the thing: no one has to engage in it. If it’s a temptation—flee.
Right now, more than any time I’ve ever known, may be the best time to extend grace to everyone. Give your neighbor the benefit of the doubt. I’m not going to add any pressure on myself, but I’m not going to judge my brothers and sisters who might.
We are all just trying to do our best. May that draw us all together in this common fight.
I’m Trillia Newbell.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Social distancing is especially hard on people who struggle with mental health issues. We’ll find out how some are getting through the isolation.
And, we’ll meet a school bus driver who’s still on his route, even though classrooms are closed.
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 Apostle Paul while in prison urged us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we’ve] been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”
Go now in grace and peace.