MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
With the growing number of stay-home orders, where do public-health interests end and religious rights begin? We’ll talk about that with a leader of America’s largest protestant denomination.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Also a new PBS series that highlights the value of a stiff upper lip in the face of global challenges.
Plus, schools are closed, and so teachers are having to get creative to keep in touch with students.
And Kim Henderson follows up on a story about a couple facing the end of their time together.
BASHAM: It’s Friday, April 3rd. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BASHAM: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: 6.6 more Americans apply for unemployment benefits » More than 6-and-a-half million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. That doubled a record high set one week earlier amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Only one month ago, weekly unemployment claims were near a 50-year low. Since then, they’ve jumped 30-fold—with 10 million layoffs in just a few weeks’ time.
But at the White House on Thursday, President Trump said help is on the way, starting now. The Paycheck Protection Protection begins today.
TRUMP: Nearly $350 billion in loans will be available to small businesses, including sole proprietors.
GOP Senator Marco Rubio co-authored the provision of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed last month.
RUBIO: Which will allow a small business to go in and get 250 percent of their monthly payroll, which they can use and don’t have to pay back if they use it for payroll, benefits for employees, rent, lease, or utilities.
Most small businesses, independent contractors, and many non-profit groups qualify for the program.
Large employers will have more access to loans and can access a tax credit program for keeping employees on the payroll.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the economic impact payments are also on the way.
MNUCHIN: I had previously said this would take us three weeks. I’m pleased to announce that within two weeks, the first payments will be direct deposited into taxpayers’ accounts.
The economic rescue package also added $600 a week in jobless aid, on top of what recipients get from their states. And the law makes many more people eligible for benefits, including the self-employed and so-called “gig economy” workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers.
Markets rise on hopes of ending oil price war » Wall Street didn’t seem overly rattled Thursday by the unemployment numbers as the spike in jobless claims was largely expected. And at the closing bell, the markets got a lift.
AUDIO: [Sound of closing bell]
The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both gained more than two percent as oil prices rose. That came on hopes that Saudi Arabia and Russia are prepared to wind down the ongoing price war that slashed the global price of crude oil to less than half its normal value by oversupplying the market. That battle led to gas prices as low as $1.29 a gallon in parts of the United States, but hurt energy stocks.
President Trump said Thursday that he had spoken with the Saudi crown prince who had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Trump tweeted—quote—“I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more.”
Cruise ships with sick passengers dock in Florida » A cruise ship that has been floating at sea with coronavirus patients aboard for two weeks after being turned away from South American ports finally docked in Florida Thursday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had been reluctant to let all passengers disembark but worked out an arrangement with local and federal officials.
DESANTIS: We’ve worked with the local hospitals. And I know that we have one hospital that can take some of the critically ill. They have the capacity to do that. And I think that that can be done, and I think the numbers are such that it’s not going to necessarily overwhelm.
The Zaandam and a sister ship sent to help it, the Rotterdam, both disembarked passengers at Port Everglades. More than 200 people aboard the Zaandam reported flu-like symptoms.
More than 300 Americans were aboard the ships, but most were foreign nationals. DeSantis said Thursday that foreign nationals would be bussed directly to an airport tarmac to take charter flights back to their home countries.
Spain passes grim milestone, European hospitals running out of medicines » Spain passed a grim milestone on Thursday as hospitals in Europe warn they’re running out of critical medicines. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: More than 10,000 people have now died in Spain from COVID-19. That after the country had its biggest single-day spike in deaths—950 in one day.
But Spain’s health minister said overall, the data show that “the curve has stabilized,” and the coronavirus is decelerating in the country.
However, across Europe, the health crisis is far from over. Nine leading European university hospitals are sounding alarms about a shortage of supplies. They warn they will run out of essential medicines needed for COVID-19 patients in intensive care in less than two weeks and at the hardest-hit hospitals, as soon as two days.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Coronavirus forces Dem convention delay » Democrats announced Thursday that they are postponing their presidential nominating convention until August 17th. It was scheduled to happen in mid-July in Milwaukee.
It’s an unprecedented move that shows how the coronavirus is reshaping the battle for the White House.
The party had hoped that a mid-July convention would give them more time to rally behind a nominee and unify against President Trump. The GOP convention is scheduled to begin August 24th in Charlotte.
The Democratic convention delay is the latest in a wave of big events either postponed or cancelled.
Hollywood is also pushing back numerous would-be spring and summer blockbusters—a list that now includes the long awaited Top Gun sequel.
TRAILER: The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction. Maybe so sir, but not today.
Top Gun: Maverick now has a December premiere date. Other big releases delayed include Wonder Woman 1984, A Quiet Place Part II and the latest installments in the Ghostbusters and James Bond franchises.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the conflict between public health and religious liberty.
Plus, teachers on parade.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Friday the 3rd of April, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: Culture Friday.
According to The New York Times: At least 297 million people in at least 38 states, 48 counties, 14 cities, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are under some form of order urging them to stay home.
As these orders spread, so do hard questions spread: where do public-health interests end and religious rights begin?
But some of those exemptions contradict the directives of counties and cities.
BASHAM: Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order also carved out an exception for religious services. But his order made it clear the state is overriding any orders issued by local authorities.
Some believe Abbott included this language to address a Texas Supreme Court petition brought by three pastors. They argue a local judge’s order to close churches violates the First Amendment.
A similar conflict popped up in Florida last week. Governor Ron DeSantis made an exception for churches. But officials in Tampa did not. So police arrested a pastor for holding services. The pastor defends his actions, arguing that his church followed social distancing guidelines. Liberty Counsel has taken up his defense.
And that brings us to New York City. There, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a vivid warning.
DE BLASIO: So, I want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend: if you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services. If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.
EICHER: Closing the building permanently.
It’s time now to welcome Russell Moore. He’s president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Good morning!
RUSSELL MOORE, GUEST: Good morning. Good to be with you.
EICHER: So, on the one hand, most Christians and most church leaders view these distancing measures as very reasonable. And the vast majority are abiding by them.
On the other hand, some of these orders have been pretty aggressive. WORLD reported on a different Texas case where city officials in McKinney implied that even two church members wouldn’t be allowed to meet together.
So between something like that and the comments by Mayor de Blasio, there’s debate over the precedent all of this sets. It’s one thing to stand up for your legal rights, and then voluntarily not to exercise them versus simply accepting the idea that in the land of the free, whatever the government says goes.
How would you suggest Christians approach these competing interests?
MOORE: Well, I think that Mayor de Blasio’s comments were not well thought through and aren’t helpful to what’s happening here right now, simply because—and he doesn’t have the authority to shut down churches and synagogues and he’s not going to do that. And it actually creates a sense of fear around something that, for the most part, people are being really cooperative in working together, both in terms of civil authorities and in terms of churches. Almost every church that I know of has actually been ahead of the curve when it comes to the governing authorities and making sure that they’re not meeting, making sure that they’re going the extra mile in keeping this from spreading. And most mayors, governors, local officials have also been extremely cooperative with churches and other religious leaders. So I think those comments weren’t helpful.
But, generally speaking, I think that we have good cooperation going on in the country. The government has a legitimate Romans 13 role in making sure that it’s protecting public health and is operating, for the most part, within those boundaries. And the church has a responsibility to love neighbor and to make sure that we’re not a cause of furthering the spread of a dangerous and deadly disease. And, for the most part, I think the church is doing that. And so there’s a great deal to be thankful for in this. So, I think we have to be careful on both sides that we stay within our bounds and that we create an atmosphere of trust with one another.
BASHAM: Well, talking about an atmosphere of trust: Samaritan’s Purse has opened up a field hospital in Central Park. On Monday the mayor told a local publication he’s very concerned about Samaritan’s anti-LGBT views.
He promised to send people from his office to monitor them. New York State Senator Brad Hoylman tweeted, “It’s a shame that the federal government has left New York with no other choice but to accept charity from bigots.”
I know this falls under the heading, “don’t be surprised if the world hates you.” But Emily Belz, our reporter in New York, says people are coming up to Central Park and applauding Samaritan. Religion writer Jonathan Merritt on the other hand, says lots of people there are concerned about Samaritan’s presence.
Of course, I’m struck by the notion of “bigots” providing “charity.” By dictionary definition, bigotry is characterized by “intolerance toward those [with] different opinions,” and charity by “kindness and tolerance in judging others.”
Now, you’ve mentioned gospel opportunities coming out of this crisis, but isn’t the political and journalistic criticism of Samaritan’s Purse a reminder that opposition is at the heart of the cost of genuine gospel work?
MOORE: You know, I think there’s probably not one person who’s on the ground in Central Park with Samaritan’s Purse who is the least bit concerned or occupied with these sorts of criticisms at all, because they’re laying their lives on the line in order to minister to people. So, this sort of bickering toward Samaritan’s Purse reminds me a great deal of the criticism that the late Christopher Hitchens, the atheist, had of Mother Theresea and speaking of her as an opportunist and a bigot and all sorts of other language that would not be acceptable to use here. Didn’t bother Mother Theresea. She just continued to minister to the poor in Calcutta and I think that’s exactly what’s happening with Samaritan’s Purse and what’s happening around the country. And so what we have to do is love neighbor and leave in the hands of God what that neighbor thinks about us when we do so.
BASHAM: To sort of flip the religious liberty question around, you’ve talked recently about the concern some churches are feeling not so much over what the state might take from them. But what they should take from the state: specifically in the form of forgivable loans under the coronavirus relief package just signed into law.
Why are churches worried about this, and should they be?
MOORE: Well, I think the question is reasonable. I’m a Baptist of the old school who believes completely in two separate spheres of the church and the state. I don’t think the church should be funded by the state or propped up by the state or established by the state at all. And so I’ve been the one who has said for years there should be no government funding and when there is, don’t take it because you’re going to be shackled by it. And so I think the question is reasonable, but I don’t think this is government funding.
What’s happening in the CARES Act is essentially the backing up of loans from banks. The government has an interest in doing that, in making sure that banks don’t fail or that banks don’t not lend money out. And so they can keep the kind of unemployment scenario that we’re seeing right now from becoming unmanageable. And so what’s happening now I think is no more government dictation or interference in the ministry of a church than we have right now bank interference and dictation of the church when a church takes out a loan.
So, I have said to churches—and I’ve had countless people asking me about this—I’ve said, look, I don’t want to bind your conscience and if you think that your church can’t in good conscience take a loan, then don’t. But I don’t think that a church that does is in any way violating that principle of the separate spheres of church and state. I don’t think that’s the case at all. And so I think there are many churches that are going to do that and I think rightly so.
EICHER: Let me make a fine point on that, though. There are included in this package loans you have to pay back and loans you don’t have to pay back. The latter, then, effectively a grant. Does that distinction matter?
MOORE: I don’t think that it’s aid in that case because, again, what the government is doing is making sure that the loans actually happen and the government has an interest in that. So, I don’t think that this is the same as a government grant at all. The government has an interest in making sure that these loans are free enough flowing to keep people from losing their jobs and from then being dependent upon the sorts of government services that we will have. So I don’t think that that’s any sort of direct government grant to a church.
EICHER: Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Russ, thanks so much for being with us on Culture Friday today.
MOORE: Oh, well, thanks for having me. I love your program and listen to it all the time.
NICK EICHER: A tractor-trailer crashed and caught fire near Dallas this week. The driver is OK, but the truck was a loss, and that fire shut down interstate traffic for hours.
But what makes this national news is the total loss of the precious commodity the truck was hauling. Most of it went up in flames, and the rest of it unusable after spilling out onto the asphalt.
One guess what the truck was hauling.
BASHAM: Didn’t see the story…
EICHER: The commodity was round—well, cylindrical—made of paper, and nearly impossible to find in many stores right now.
BASHAM: That is the giveaway…
EICHER: Yup, a truckload of precious toilet paper was lost in the accident.
Now they appeared to be large commercial rolls typically used in institutional settings.
BASHAM: I think we have to reprise the Seinfeld classic we did a few weeks ago!
EICHER: Let’s roll it, Johnny.
SEINFELD: I don’t have a square to spare. I can’t spare a square!
We certainly don’t have ’em to burn!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, April 3rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: PBS Masterpiece is back with a stirring war series.
Here’s what really frustrates me in a time like this, a time when we could really use some good, edifying storytelling: So little of what’s being called binge-worthy fits the bill.
Yes, I’m looking at you Tiger King. And no, I’m not reviewing you!
Other than to say this:
This series features petty, wretched people going to war over, what? Who’s less of a hypocrite for egotistically collecting big cats as trophies?
Essentially what we have here is a long-form Jerry Springer show with a true-crime narrative superimposed
Sure, it’s addictive. So is meth.
Now, maybe you cringed your way through it. After all, it’s reportedly the most popular show in the country right now. And if you did watch it, you won’t need any further evidence that neither methamphetamine nor Tiger King is good for you.
OK. End of rant.
What this moment really calls for is something grander: a tale of stiff upper lips and resilient spirits
So it seems the perfect time for PBS Masterpiece to swoop to our rescue. Premiering this Sunday is the sprawling, ambitious historical drama, World on Fire.
CLIP: What am I doing here? I’m an American journalist. I have every right. What are you doing what are you doing here, young man? A German soldier on Polish soil? I don’t think so.
We’ve had no shortage of stories set in World War II in the last few years. But World on Fire is different in how often it follows story lines away from military strategies and political leaders. Its focus is on the quiet people whose lives are impacted by those on the front lines making big decisions.
Sean Bean, for example, has made a career of playing noble, iron-jawed leaders of men, like Boromir in Lord of the Rings. But he’s equally wonderful here as a meek, working-class pacifist whose mind was shattered in World War I. His two young adult children love him, but they don’t respect him. His daughter, especially, feels he’s wrong to want Britain to stay out of the conflict. With the luxury of hindsight, we know she’s right. But we also understand why her father is committed to peace at all costs.
CLIP: Am I too soft on him do you think? What am I supposed to do? Your mom could handle him, you can handle him. That’s pacifism for you, dad. Aye. I thought you’d be a pacifist too. What with your sweetheart in the firing line. He’s not my sweetheart. He’s not in the firing line. He’s a translator, not a soldier. You think the bombs can tell the difference, do you?
The show also explores Third Reich crimes that are too often overlooked, perhaps because they strike too uncomfortably close to our own.
As we would expect, an American journalist in Berlin, played by Helen Hunt, reports on troop movements and battles.
CLIP: The world has averted its eyes to the build up of German troops along the Polish border and Hitler’s threat to take Danzig by force. The polls have bicycles, the Germans have tanks. Make no mistake, The Nazi party is a master of illusion and the greatest illusion of all is that they are seriously go Xiaoting for peace. This is Nancy Campbell, American radio international, from Warsaw.
But she also starts investigating a lead on Nazi’s euthanizing German children with Down syndrome and other disorders. Her friendship with the parents of a girl with epilepsy brings a little-seen level of nuance to the German people. Plenty of the locals she meets are evil. But others are scared and desperate, keeping quiet in the face of atrocities in the hopes of protecting their families.
The plot can veer to the soapy at times. Coincidences build upon coincidences as major characters cross one another’s paths a little too often in too many unlikely ways.
CLIP: You’re gonna have to marry her aren’t you? That way she gets papers to travel with you. I know you’ve got a girl back home but, you know what, being in love with two girls at the same time, that happens. But you’re not choosing which girl you love the most right now, Harry. You’re choosing whether to save this girl’s life or not. The game just got bigger. Did you?
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a British show if it didn’t include some tough old battle-axe in the mode of Violet Crawley dropping wry witticisms like the Luftwaffe drop bombs.
CLIP: Now then, listen to me! Listen to me. This young man is Jan. And his father is a war hero. His father died fighting that dreadful Hitler. His brother is fighting Hitler as we speak. His sister is fighting Hitler too, yes. Adolf Hitler. Any boy who attacks this fine young man must be on Hitler’s side in this war. Is there anyone of you who’s on Hitler side?
Yet for all the melodrama, compared to many other streaming, cable, or even broadcast series, there isn’t much skin or sex to speak of. For example, when an unmarried girl conceives a baby with her soldier boyfriend, the act is implied, not shown.
But Christian viewers will want to be aware that, despite the restraint shown with other characters, there is one unmarried couple we see lounging and talking in bed on several occasions. The couple consists of two men. And while the violence is relatively low for a war series, there’s considerably more language than past PBS productions.
It’s a shame, because without these drawbacks, World on Fire, would be just what the doctor ordered for home-entertainment right now. But if nothing else, it is, at least, a step in a better direction.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, April 3rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. You may remember a story back in February: we introduced you to a couple who were preparing to celebrate their last Valentine’s Day together.
Today, Kim Henderson has an update.
KIM HENDERSON, REPORTER: Last August, we got some bad news about our daughter’s car. The transmission needed to be replaced.
Our longtime mechanic, Lyn Hutcherson, wiped his hands and told us he could get on it in a couple of days. First, though, he had to go to a doctor’s appointment.
“Just the routine kind,” he assured us, knowing full well nothing is routine for cancer patients in quasi-remission. It turns out, he got some bad news of his own. News that makes a faulty transmission seem like the most insignificant thing in the world.
For the last 8 months I’ve watched as Lyn and his wife, June, let go of what becomes insignificant in the face of cancer. A career, hobbies, busy-ness. I never once heard him complain.
HUTCHERSON: The cancer is a gift. It’s given me a whole new group of people to meet.
He’s talking about people he met at doctor visits, and during rounds of chemo and radiation.
HUTCHERSON: It’s given me a chance to visit with them, to witness to them, to tell them that God loves them. You know what, where’s the in here at very, very worst is temporary. We can’t get too bad here that He’s not going to make it better later, if we want him to.
When Lyn realized he had just a few months to live, his time in God’s word took on new importance.
HUTCHERSON: Isaiah chapter 55 says, “For the Bible is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and it divides the heart and soul.” That book is alive, it’s active and it’s growing me every day. Because my life is wrapping up right now doesn’t mean that I’m not going to stop growing.
It’s been 7 weeks since I interviewed the Hutchersons. June kept her promise to make sure this chapter of their life together closed gently. She’s been with him 24/7, trying to get him to eat. Sitting beside the special bed hospice delivered. Staying up with him through the night.
Early Wednesday morning, April 1st, June texted us to say Lyn died at 5:37 a.m.
People long for their lives to have some sort of significance. Watching Lyn and June these past months, I realized sometimes the most significant thing we can do is finish well.
HUTCHERSON: I’m not afraid, I’m unconcerned. I’m perfectly at peace with this… it’s going to be OK.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER: Up next on the World And Everything In It: Teacher Parades! They’re happening in communities all over the country. Teachers who haven’t seen their students in weeks because of coronavirus are hosting road trips and spreading love through their student’s neighborhoods. WORLD reporter Myrna Brown tagged along on one through her neighborhood.
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: It’s a sunny, spring day and I’m parked at W. J. Cooper Elementary in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
VOLUNTEER: Are we ready Cooper! Yay!!
This is the largest elementary school in the county. Teachers say it’s also the school with the biggest heart.
KRISTA PRUEHS: Being a teacher, it’s all about relationships and it’s hard not seeing those kids face to face every day…
Krista Pruehs teaches fourth grade. Because of the coronavirus, schools across the nation are closed and teachers like Pruehs are teaching online.
TEACHER: Put your flashers on!
But this afternoon, instead of computer screens, educators are sitting behind steering wheels. A line of more than 100 teachers zigzag through the parking lot. Engines purr as the Cooper Elementary “Tigers” get ready to roar during the school’s first teacher love parade.
PAUL WILLIS: Alright, here we are Cooper Tigers. I’m going live right here at the school…
As the school principal spreads the word on social media…
GEORGE KASHELLA: We’re going to pull out. We have A, B and C are the three routes.
…an assistant principal lays out the plan. Three different routes of balloon-covered vehicles to caravan through nearly 50 neighborhoods.
TEACHER: C will be leaving first. C!!! [Screaming and car honks]
As the first group of teachers take off, with horns, cowbells and sirens blaring, I quickly head to my car so I’ll be ready to fall in when the next route begins.
AUDIO: [Car door shutting]
We make our way down a busy two-way street, then we hang a left into our first cul-de-sac. Waiting on porches, peering out of windows and sitting on sidewalks dozens of moms, dads, and students are ready with hearty cheers and clapping.
The love fest on wheels continues for the next two hours. With one hand steering and the other recording, I manage to throw out a few questions from the road.
MYRNA TO MOM: Why is this special?
MOM: Because we feel loved and we feel missed!
After rounding corners and climbing what seems like countless hills, I pull over in the last neighborhood to listen to a group of moms and their children still beaming from the experience.
KITTI RAU: Oh it was just amazing! To see all of those teachers coming down, honking and waving. Oh my gosh, it was like 4th of July.
MYRNA TO KIDS: Did you see your teachers? Yes!
JESS FOUTS & KITTI: The teachers are the heroes. Absolutely. They’ve been the heroes this whole time.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
NICK EICHER: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Our thanks to our teammates: Joel Belz, Myrna Brown, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Mary Reichard, Jenny Lind Schmidt, Sarah Schweinsberg, Les Sillars, Cal Thomas and Emily Whitten.
I should mention, too, that social distancing has changed the way we gather some of our stories. This week we had a number of interviewees record themselves and their environments to help our reporters strengthen their stories.
So we’d like to thank Heather Kimbrough,
and Eric White for their outstanding production assistance.
MEGAN BASHAM: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz stay up late to get the program to you early. J.C. Derrick is managing editor and Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief.
James 5:16 tells us that the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power.
I hope you’ll spend time in the Word with fellow believers online this weekend. And know that we’re praying for you.
Go now, in grace and peace.