MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Three churches in Minnesota sue state officials for overreach in issuing COVID-19 restrictions. We’ll talk to one of the pastors and his lawyer.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also today the Monday Moneybeat: finally, some really good signs on the supply side of the economy. We will talk with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen about that.
Plus, the WORLD History Book: 15 years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina slams the Gulf Coast.
And WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on thorns, thistles, and cobbler ala mode.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, August 31st. 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: Dems seeking to compel in-person election security briefings » House Democrats are attempting to force Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to brief lawmakers in person about all foreign attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.
That after Ratcliffe said he will no longer brief all members of the House or Senate about intel on election meddling.
Ratcliffe said those lawmakers who are “entitled to the briefings and classified information will still get” it—“primary in writing.”
RATCLIFFE: I’m going to continue to keep Congress informed. But we’ve had a pandemic of information being leaked out of the intelligence community, and I’m going to take the measures to make sure that stops.
Speaking with CNN on Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff responded to claims of intel leaks.
SCHIFF: I haven’t. My staff hasn’t. I can’t speak for what all the members of the committee have done or not done, including a lot of the Republican members.
He called it “another falsehood” from the Trump administration. He said the White House has other motives for halting in-person intel briefings.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden blasted the decision in a statement. He said the move—quote—“shows that Trump is “hoping Vladimir Putin will once more boost his candidacy.”
Police investigating deadly Portland shooting » Police are investigating a deadly shooting on the streets of Portland.
A man was fatally shot after supporters of President Trump clashed with left-wing protesters in Portland on Saturday.
The head of a group called Patriot Prayer said the still unnamed victim was a member of the group based in Washington state.
Police issued a plea for any information related to the killing, including videos, photos or eyewitness accounts.
It wasn’t clear if the shooting was related to the clashes between Trump supporters and anti-police protesters in Portland.
As tempers continue to flare, Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler said Sunday…
WHEELER: For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek retribution, I’m calling on you to stay away. Of course, you have a constitutional right to be here. But we’re asking you to stay away.
But acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told ABC’s This Week that, in his view, Wheeler is part of the problem.
WOLF: I think this points to a larger issue that we’ve seen in Portland for the past three months, and that is local and state officials not allowing law enforcement to do their job and really to bring this violent activity, night after night after night, to a close.
He added that even though Portland officials say they don’t want the feds in their city—quote—“all options continue to be on the table.”
Kenosha shooting suspect claims self-defense » Meantime, in Wisconsin, public defenders for the 17-year-old charged with fatally shooting two people during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin say he was acting in self-defense.
Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot one man, who he said tried to take his gun from him.
Moments later, video footage shows him running from a group of protesters. Rittenhouse tripped as he ran down the street, and someone in the crowd yelled “get him.” Two men approached him on the ground and tried to take his gun. Both were shot, one fatally.
A judge has granted Rittenhouse’s request for more time to hire a private attorney before a hearing.
President Trump tours Gulf Coast in wake of hurricane » President Trump visited the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast of Louisiana and southeast Texas over the weekend.
Trump toured the wreckage left behind by Hurricane Laura and he said he met with some residents who were devastated by the storm. The president said FEMA is working closely with both states on relief and rebuilding efforts.
TRUMP: They’ll all get it going. One thing I know about this state, they rebuild it fast. There’s no problem. And we will supply what we have to supply.
Hurricane Laura slammed the coast as a Category 4 storm last week.
Sixteen people died as a result of the storm. More than half of those fatalities came from people using outdoor generators indoors, causing carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thousands remain without power or running water, and it could take weeks to restore service.
Hundreds of movie theaters reopen » Movie theaters have reopened for business—or at least a lot of them have. The nation’s two biggest theater chains, AMC and Regal, together reopened about 300 theaters over the past two weeks.
And for the first time since screens went dark in March, a new movie has earned eight figures at the box office. The New Mutants, a spinoff of Marvel’s X-Men series, has now grossed 11 million in ticket sales.
TRAILER: It’s important we find out your power so we can help you get better. This isn’t a hospital. It’s a cage.
The newly reopened theaters have installed a host of new safety measures, including limited capacity and mask requirements.
The first big test of the public’s willingness to venture back out to the movies will come later this week. Christopher Nolan’s mind bending action-thriller Tenet was expected to be a summer blockbuster before the pandemic. It will finally hit the big screen on Thursday.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: a church in Minnesota fights for its right to meet.
Plus, Kim Henderson on the joys of berry picking.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Monday morning and a brand new work week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 31st of August, 2020. Good morning to you, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. The legal ramifications over COVID restrictions are a long way from being over. We’ve reported here about Pastor John MacArthur’s stand with his church in California, Grace Community Church. Cases out of Nevada, New York, Florida, and others as well.
What’s sometimes lacking in reports about these conflicts are the reasons why the mandates are a problem to some people of faith.
EICHER: Today, a bit of a twist. A novel legal theory based on jurisdiction. In other words, challenging state officials who are making rules in areas where they lack authority to make rules.
AUDIO: [Phone rings] Hello? Pastor Darryl here.
MARY: Hi, Pastor Darryl. Mary Reichard…
REICHARD: Pastor Darryl Knappen leads Cornerstone Church in Alexandria, Minnesota. When the shutdowns began in March, his church complied, but he quickly realized many of his congregants do not have internet access. It isn’t possible for them to get on Facebook Live to watch services. The most vulnerable of his people were cut off from the lifeline of their church.
Knappen describes how his flock does things.
KNAPPEN: Well, I don’t know about other denominations, but all I know is what the Bible commands us to do. I mean, when Romans 12:10 says, “love one another with brotherly affection,” how do you show brotherly affection online? You don’t. Affection is physical. So you can’t do that from a distance. You can’t do that six feet apart. 1st Corinthians 11:33 says when you “come together to eat.” So the new Testament church ate together often. And we do that here twice a month, at least. 2nd Corinthians 13:11 says comfort one another. How do you comfort one another long distance? You don’t. It’s the intention there to show physical comfort: hold that person’s hand, put your arm around them, comfort them.
Knappen goes on to cite Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3:16 that instruct us to admonish one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
KNAPPEN: How do you admonish one another in songs when you’re viewing online? You’re not together. New Testament church requires us to worship in person, period. There’s just no, no way around that.
So for this Baptist church the state mandates interfere with its understanding of how worship is to be carried out.
Still, plenty of people disagree with this stance. Christians disagree over it, even when restrictions target religious worship in particular, apart from similar gatherings of number, duration, and space.
Others have told me it’s a terrible witness for Christians to go against the mandates. Why rock the boat?
I asked Knappen about that.
KNAPPEN: I would say to that non-believer: I hear you! You’re asking us to be very cautious about people’s physical well-being and the answer to you is we want to be very cautious about people’s physical well-being. But we are even more concerned about people’s spiritual and emotional well-being. When we see suicide rates skyrocketing, people losing their jobs and not being able to pay for their family’s food? And losing their houses—they can’t pay their mortgage. They need a place like the church where they can come and have fellowship with people, have our arms put around them. And if need be take up an offering to help pay next month’s mortgage. So they won’t be tempted to take their own life and escape all of those fears. So that makes church extremely essential.
Other states have exempted religious services from mandates: Illinois, Texas, and Ohio, for example.
So Cornerstone and two other churches in Minnesota filed a complaint in U.S. district court earlier this month. It seeks an injunction against the mandates and declaratory judgment about rights and obligations going forward. The lawsuit names Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and three county lawyers where the churches are located.
I reached out to speak to the attorney general’s office on the other side of this dispute but did not hear back. No big surprise. You typically won’t hear from the AG’s office in pending matters.
As for Knappen’s lawyer Erik Kardaal? He’s got a lot to say. Kardaal is with the Thomas More Society, a religious liberty firm.
KARDAAL: There have been some temporary successes, but the U.S. Supreme Court has kind of become stuck on this point about what standard we use during a pandemic. So what we’re exploring and aggressively pursuing is a theory that the governors don’t have the authority to regulate religious practices, particularly under the respective state constitutions. And we’re finding that there’s a lot of case law support for that.
When the government wants to infringe upon rights guaranteed under the First Amendment, it must first meet the highest level of review: that of strict scrutiny.
I asked Kardaal if that’s the standard that he’s asking the court to use in this case.
KARDAAL: No, actually not. There’s votes out there in the federal courts saying that during a pandemic we might have to use a different standard? But the beautiful thing about the way we’re arguing the cases that these governors who are out beyond their state constitutional authority to prohibit church practices and so forth, that when you challenge the governor’s order on ultra vires grounds, that is, the governor doesn’t have the legal authority to do what they’re doing to churches? Then if you win on that point, then you won the case. Because if the governor’s orders are legally unauthorized, then you never get to the strict scrutiny test or lower pandemic standard.
Kardaal told me he’s been busier than ever these days, and not only because churches are asking for help. Small business owners losing their shirts because of the extended shut downs…
KARDAAL: Then legislators and churches, then voters. This week on behalf of parents of schoolchildren who don’t have their public schools open. And then we’re looking at a lawsuit on behalf of landlords. They’re all rooted in the idea that the governors are exceeding their jurisdiction in response to the pandemic. And they should be working with state legislatures to have a more reasonable response to the pandemic than going it on their own. It’s a very un-American thing to do.
I asked Kardaal the same question I asked his client: Why not just do as we’re told, and witness in that way? Or is he thinking about this in another way?
KARDAAL: I think that people need to be better at political theory. And I think Christians need to be open to the idea that they need to engage in processes to improve government performance. And so this one single lawsuit, what we’re saying is the churches are going to engage the court to get better government performance so that the government isn’t criminalizing religious practice and the way it is. And if the governor in this case is operating without legal authority, ultra vires, well, of course the governor’s executive orders should be treated as if they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on.
Pastor Knappen told me his people are fearful, and yet that’s what he guides them to do: follow their conscience. And observe what’s going on around you.
KNAPPEN: I just had dinner with one the other night, and her employer said to her, I see that your church, when you come together to worship, you’re not wearing masks. And the employer did not tell her that she would be fired, but there was strong implication that that was highly, highly discouraged. I mean, it reaches into our worship. That is painful. That is fear.
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: Back at the end of March, just as COVID had begun to squeeze the American economy, new claims for unemployment benefits hit a completely unprecedented level: almost 7 million Americans filed.
The long-time average had been in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million. The highest-ever pre-pandemic number recorded was about 700,000. So thinking about 7 million—that’s 10 times the previous record high.
In the weeks since March 28th, the number of new claims for jobless benefits continued at historic high levels, but with 7 million as a starting point, it dropped consistently week-after-week with the exception of July. Now the number has settled back to about 1 million. Still about four times higher than the pre-COVID level.
Those receiving continuing benefits—not new claims but continuing—that number reached a peak of 25 million Americans the week ending May 9th. For three months, the number has tapered down, falling by more than 10 million, to where it sits today at 14.5 million.
Pre-pandemic, to give you a comparison, the continuing-benefits figure was largely below 2 million. So, we still have a long, long way to go on the jobs front.
Financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen joins me now. David, good morning to you.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning, Nick. Good to be with you.
EICHER: David, new report on sales of durable goods, up more than 10 percent.
Durable goods are just what they sound like: big-ticket items designed to last a long while, not your typical consumer goods. Durable goods sales is a strong predictor of future economic growth. So that’s a positive.
EICHER: But paired with that, David, my eye fell on a closely watched sign of business investment that grew almost 2 percent July over June and maybe as importantly not the percentage increase but the real level is now very close to where we were back in February. Non-defense capital goods, this is a supply-side indication…
BAHNSEN: Oh, it’s huge, yeah.
EICHER: Yeah, a very good sign.
BAHNSEN: It’s huge. Basically the business investment metric that I’ve talked with you quite a bit about that we’re watching so closely is so far continuing to outperform our expectations. I continue to have concern as to where the number will end up going. But there’s no question that new goods orders, durable goods orders are all bouncing back. Of course they were bouncing back off of levels that were extremely low. But they are getting back to pre-COVID levels even on an absolute basis. And the reason it’s so important is because from a sustainability standpoint you need to have business investment that is going to be leading the way to new activities, new ventures, new technologies, new productivity that will be the economic engine in the future.
EICHER: I want to ask about the Federal Reserve news. Basically to say it as briefly as possible, it looks like zero interest rates as far as the eye can see. No more sort of preemptive strikes by the Fed to try to head off price inflation—by which I mean no interest-rate rises to try to put the brakes on inflation. Can you explain the central-bank policy announcement?
BAHNSEN: Yeah, I believe very strongly that they haven’t announced anything whatsoever. This is a total repeat of what everybody has to have known to be the case for 12 years now, if not longer. But it’s OK, though, because it’s also never going to happen. The Fed is incapable at a will of just merely by stroke of a policy whim creating 2-and-a-half or 2 percent inflation, for that matter.
All the Fed can do is create asset price inflation by putting excess reserves on the side of bank account shelves where it finds its way into the stock market or into real estate or other risk assets.
So, I think what the Fed has done this week is doubled down on an honesty about what they see their role as, which is a role they didn’t elect. It was elected for them by politicians and, if I can be totally honest, it was elected for them by the people. The people demanded all kinds of programs. The politicians gave it to them. We don’t have the money for them and now we’re looking for the Fed to figure out a way to pay for it. That, to me, is the story of what’s happening in the American economy and it’s going to take decades for it to play out.
EICHER: I want to end on politics, now that the conventions are over, strange as they were—virtual conventions—and I do find polls interesting. But I’m more interested in how investors read the polls. You’re really good at sussing out what the financial markets are saying about the political horse race both for the White House and the Congress. What’s your sense now as the campaigns begin in earnest?
BAHNSEN: Yeah, I think that you’re right that with the conventions done that now you really enter official campaign season.
But, you know, to be honest with you, I believe that we’re going to have a lot of volatility in the months ahead because I think it’s going to be a tight election. And the part that I am most surprised by is that there’s not a lot of measurement in the market right now for the perception of or the expectation of enhanced volatility after the election.
And I really do believe we have a pretty good chance of an uncertain outcome on election night. And I would think that if you’re going to have a couple weeks or, God forbid, a couple of months of recounts and maybe lawsuits and contested results, I would think that would cause the market to have a lot of elevated volatility post-November 3rd. But we’re not seeing that priced in the options market right now.
So, perhaps the market doesn’t really buy it. But, you know, it’s going to be a closer election than we thought it was going to be a month or two ago. It’s still certainly an advantage Biden, but I think there are a number of reasons to think that President Trump has a path—and more important to me from a vantage point of markets—I think that there is plenty of reason to think that the Republicans could keep the Senate, which really neutralizes a lot of market concerns.
EICHER: David Bahnsen, financial analyst and adviser. Thank you.
BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, August 31st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Before we get to the WORLD History Book, Nick, I heard we are running low on pre-rolls.
As you know, those fun messages from listeners we use to introduce the program?
EICHER: Yes, we have gone through the special graduation announcements, which was a great idea to give graduates a little recognition they weren’t able to enjoy because of the COVID lockdowns.
But now we need to get back to normal.
REICHARD: Yeah, in more ways than one!
EICHER: Right. So, back-to-normal prerolls, please. Just “The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us.” Give your name, where you live, what you do, and whatever creative variation on that basic theme and end with “I hope you enjoy today’s program.” You know the drill.
REICHARD: If you haven’t recorded one yet, it’s easy. Just go to worldandeverything.org and look for the “Engage” tab at the top of the page. Under that, you’ll find a link to “Record a preroll.” Click on that for the instructions. Engage. Record a preroll.
EICHER: Well, next up on The World and Everything in It: The WORLD History Book. Fifteen years ago, one of the most damaging hurricanes to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast comes ashore.
But first, the maiden flight of the first U.S. airship and its demise two years later. Here’s Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Since the end of the 19th century, the idea of “lighter than air flying ships” filled the imagination of a handful of inventors—including German Ferdinand von Zeppelin—who’s name is still most associated with rigid airships.
Zeppelin designed his first dirigible in 1874, but it wasn’t until 25 years later that German investors fully embraced his concept. Zeppelins became popular attractions in Germany leading up to the Great War.
In World War I, the German military used rigid airships to bomb England. And at the Treaty of Versailles, the Allies demanded Germany hand over all remaining airships and cease construction of new ones.
Both England and America started working on their own designs. After a series of deadly accidents, England gave them up, but the U.S. military kept at it.
On September 4th, 1923, the U.S. Navy unveiled the U.S.S. Shenandoah for its maiden flight. It was longer than two football fields and weighed 36 tons.
The girders were built from an aluminum and copper alloy, and covered with cotton. Inside were a series of large balloons made of cattle bladders. The Shenandoah was the first rigid airship to use helium rather than hydrogen, making it much safer than its predecessors.
On September 2, 1925, the Shenandoah departed for a good will tour of the Midwest. It was scheduled to fly over 40 cities with stops at various state fairs.
Over Ohio, it encountered a squall line and caught a rapid updraft. The gas bags expanded beyond their pressure limits and failed. The ship fell out of the sky. Fourteen crew members died in the accident.
The U.S. Navy didn’t abandon the program, but went on to build a successful series of other rigid airships and blimps for recognizance and aerial deployment. It used the ships into the late 1930s.
Next, a couple quick items—this week marks the anniversary of broadcaster Paul Harvey’s birth, September 4th, 1918. At the peak of his career, he spoke to a daily audience of more than 24 million listeners:
HARVEY: Our nation wasn’t carved out of the wilderness. Our nation was hoed, and hammered, and chopped, and sawed out of the wilderness by barehanded men who asked for nothing…
And 47 years ago this week, scholar and novelist, J.R.R. Tolkien died at age 81 on September 2nd, 1973. Here’s an excerpt of an interview about his Lord of the Rings trilogy:
TOLKIEN: The man of the 20th century, whether he believes them or not, he must have gods in a story of this kind. But he can’t make himself believe in gods like Thor, Odin, Aphrodite, Zeus. God is supreme, the creator, outside, transcendent.
And our last entry today is from 15 years ago, August 28th.
NAGIN: An emergency evacuation order is hereby called for all of the parish of Orleans…
It’s a Sunday morning and Hurricane Katrina is barreling toward the U.S. Gulf Coast. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin calls a press conference:
NAGIN: The national weather service has indicated that Hurricane Katrina will likely affect the Louisiana coast with tropical force winds, and heavy rainfall by this evening. Governor Blanco and I have each declared a state of emergency.
After the press conference, the city opens the Louisiana Superdome as a “refuge of last resort.” 20,000 people accept the offer.
WEATHER CHANNEL COVERAGE: What we’re looking at is lots of wind, the power is out, we’re getting some pretty good gusts of wind right now…
The storm hits at dawn on Monday morning. Heavy rains, high storm surges, and broken levies submerge New Orleans in flood waters 10 feet deep—completely covering many homes.
More than 1,800 people die as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The storm damage is estimated to be more than $125 billion. Aid and relief is slow in coming and many blame the federal government.
All that was set aside however for a few hours during the National Day of Prayer service two weeks later. President George W. Bush.
BUSH: The destruction was beyond any human power to control but the restoration of broken communities and disrupted lives now rests in our hands. Americans of every race and religion were touched by this storm, yet much of the hardship fell on citizens already facing lives of struggle. The elderly, the vulnerable, the poor. And this poverty has roots in generations of segregation and discrimination that closed many doors of opportunity. As we clean away the debris of the hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book, I’m Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, August 31st. 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. It’s berry-picking season. WORLD commentator Kim Henderson knows all about that.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Blackberry picking at our place was exceptionally good this year, and I now know the secret to it: Have your land logged and let the remains go for a summer or two. The result will be vines galore.
Lest anyone doubt how prolific is my blackberry patch, allow me: one afternoon I simply stood at the edge of a field in shorts and flip flops and filled half a bucket. That, as any berry picker of any consequence knows, is not the norm. The norm is fully-cloaked and shod in your husband’s best snake-stomping boots, inching your way toward the center in hopes of gathering a handful.
This year our vines were dotted with magenta-colored fruit at eye-level, ground-level and every other level as far as the eye could see. That’s why I picked with determination, the kind that results in jam jars and a good many Christmas gifts for the men in my family (who are generally hard to buy for).
Blackberry picking, however, is not easy. It is the “thorns and thistles” work of Genesis 3. Wild blackberries ripen on briars, in case you blueberry pickers don’t know. And, yes, I have heard of the thornless varieties of blackberry plants, though I cannot imagine the pluck without the plight. Surely some things are best left alone.
There is, after all, a certain nostalgia associated with berry picking. It is similar in nature to hanging a load of laundry on a backyard clothesline or churning ice cream by hand. To do such things these days is a defiant decision to remain on an old path, but the joys of berry picking go beyond nostalgia. Experts tell us that picking can help you turn off your brain in a very good way.
It seems that there’s a network of neurons located in our brains (the Reticular Activating System, or RAS) that’s responsible for detecting environmental stimuli and then reporting findings back to the brain. The RAS is always scanning for patterns, and when it detects a repetitive one like “reach, pick, drop; reach, pick, drop” the RAS calms the brain and allows it to veg out.
Now you know why an activity like berry picking can be relaxing.
But I don’t tell my compadres that. I tell them to put more berries into their baskets than into their bellies (as they try to lick away the evidence). And to pass on past-prime ones. And about my only sure-fire redbug defense. I’m not sure my son-in-law understands the seriousness of the issue.
Then I tell them that I’ll make a cobbler when we’re done, if they’d like.
Yeah, they’d like.
And after an hour of turning our backs on the world and gathering in what God has given, we come to the table hot, dirty, and hungry. Briars have left their mark on some, and only time will tell how we fared against the redbugs. But as we enjoy the fruit of our labors—cobbler a la mode—life is sweet. Berry sweet indeed.
I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: We’ll take you to Kenosha, Wisconsin, for a report on the rioting and violence that followed the police shooting of a young black man, Jacob Blake.
And, we’ll visit Lake Charles, Louisiana, to find out how Christian aid groups are helping local people recover from Hurricane Laura.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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