The World and Everything in It — September 17, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

California’s new rules for reporting abuse have changed, with disturbing implications. We’ll talk about those.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also inside politics in Russia.

Plus more from Megan Basham’s recent conversation with Pastor John MacArthur.

And WORLD commentator Cal Thomas on questions he’d like answered during the presidential debates.

REICHARD: It’s Thursday, September 17th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!

REICHARD: Now, the news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Sally slams Gulf Coast, brings catastrophic flooding to south » Hurricane Sally slammed the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama Wednesday with sideways rain, storm surges, and powerful winds.

Sally fooled forecasters once again. After making landfall a day later than expected, it hit land as a Category 2—just after forecasts had predicted a Cat 1 landfall. 

Orange Beach, Alabama Mayor Tony Kennon told reporters… 

KENNON: Twenty inches of rain or more with incoming tide, and it was just all of it coming together, created a catastrophic flooding event for us more than anything else. 

At least one person was killed Wednesday in Orange Beach. 

David Eversole with the National Weather Service said the biggest problem is that the storm crawled ashore, moving at about 2 to 3 miles per hour.

EVERSOLE: Sally is moving so slowly, so it just keeps pounding and pounding and pounding the area with tropical rain and just powerful winds. It’s just a nightmare. 

The storm’s slow progress could bring a record-setting 30 inches of rain in some spots, with heavy downpours expected in parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas later this week.

Rescuers performed numerous high water rescues Wednesday. And more than 150,000 homes and businesses lost electricity. 

Government preps for COVID-19 vaccine rollout » U.S. health agencies plan to offer everyone free immunization against the coronavirus. The government on Wednesday outlined its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Senate panel he remains hopeful that we’ll begin rolling out a vaccine by the end of the year…

REDFIELD: But very limited supply and will have to be prioritized. If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter, 2021. 

By then, there could be several different options available. Scientists are testing nine possible vaccines in Phase 3 trials around the world, according to The New York Times

Early phases would focus on healthcare workers, essential employees, and people in vulnerable groups. 

U.N. panel: Maduro regime has committed crimes against humanity » Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro regime has committed crimes against humanity. 

That according to a new report commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

An expert panel found cases of grisly torture, executions, and other crimes carried out by Maduro’s security forces and intelligence agencies.  

Marta Valinas chairs the UN fact-finding mission on Venezuela. 

VALINAS: We have reasonable grounds to believe that high level authorities within these entities, as well as political authorities, including the president and the ministers of interior and of defense were aware of these crimes.

And she said those political authorities “either ordered or otherwise contributed” to crimes that were part of a “widespread and systematic attack” against civilians.

The experts delved into nearly 3,000 cases and looked at more than 5,000 killings.

The panel said those responsible must be held accountable and the global community must ensure such crimes don’t happen again.

Panel’s report blasts Boeing, FAA for crashes, seeks reforms » A House committee issued a scathing report Wednesday criticizing Boeing and government regulators in the wake of two deadly Max jet crashes. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Staff members from the Democrat-controlled Transportation Committee blamed the crashes on what it called a  “horrific culmination” of factors. It cited failed government oversight, design flaws, and a lack of action at Boeing despite knowing about problems.

Almost 350 people died in crashes involving 737 Max jets in 2018 and 2019. 

The committee flagged problems with the Federal Aviation Administration approval process for new jetliners. And committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said lawmakers should pass new legislation to fix it. 

He said the system is—quote—“Obviously inadequate” and “We will be adopting significant reforms.”

Boeing Max jets remain grounded as regulators continue testing revamped flight control software.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Big Ten to restart football » The Big Ten will hit the gridiron this year after all. 

Just a month after voting to postpone the fall season until the spring, the Midwestern athletic conference reversed course. With COVID-19 tests that provide same-day results now available, the Big Ten decided Wednesday on an eight-week football schedule.

It will start Oct. 23 with a championship game on Dec. 19. 

The NCAA must now decide how to rank Big Ten teams, who will have a shorter season than the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 going into the College Football Playoff.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: changes to the way California alerts the public to potential abusers.

Plus, Cal Thomas with some advice for the first presidential debate moderator.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Thursday the 17th of September, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up today: changes to the way abuse is reported in California.

And before we get started, we should note this is a sensitive topic that’s probably not suitable for younger listeners. So now’s the time to hit pause and come back later if the kiddos are around.

REICHARD: Fair warning. 

Well, last month, the California General Assembly changed reporting requirements for abuse. This would be in some cases involving intimate physical contact between adults and minors. Governor Gavin Newsom signed it into law on Friday.

Judges in California have discretion whether to add adults to the sex offender registry. That discretion applies when victims are between 14 and 17 years old and the offender is not more than 10 years older. This discretion applies if the offender and victim are of the opposite sex

The new law extends that judicial discretion to cases of same-sex abuse.

BROWN: State Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, authored the bill. He said the changes, and I’m quoting here, “put an end to blatant discrimination against young LGBT people engaged in consensual sexual activity.” He claims the bill is about treating everyone equally.

The California Family Council is one of the groups that opposed the bill. Jonathan Keller is its president and joins us now to talk about it.

Good morning, Jonathan.

JONATHAN KELLER, GUEST: Good morning. Thanks for letting me be with you today.

BROWN: So what about Weiner’s argument? Did the existing law make it harder to fight this expansion?

KELLER: You know, it’s, number one, very disturbing for us to actually realize that in California we have this level of deference that is given to judges. California law actually was incredibly broad. It gives a 10 year age span deference to the judge. If it is a 24-year-old male having sex with a 14-year-old female, the judge was not required to automatically place them on the sex offender registry. So, in my mind, a legislator would probably want to correct that and tighten those reporting requirements, maybe not require a lifetime appearance on the sex offender registry, but certainly not allow judges to waive that requirement entirely. Instead, what we saw from the legislature over the last two years was an attempt to actually broaden that loophole and to my mind, you can call this equality, but in my mind this really is insanity. To quote the Democrat chair of the appropriations committee, Lorana Gonzales, “No 24-year-old should ever be having sex with a 14-year-old. In every case, that’s abuse.”

BROWN: This bill is obviously concerning on many levels. But your organization is particularly worried because of the activities LGBT groups use to target young people. Talk more about that please.

KELLER: Yes. I think that anybody in a normal setting would be very concerned if they saw any organization, whether it was a church, whether it was an after-school program, or a club that was advertising social encounters—dances, club meet-ups, whatever—with adults and with minors. We have multiple examples posted on our website——multiple flyers, and signup pages where they mention, Here’s a dance that is open from not just 14 to 24 but 10 to 25 year olds. It says, “Welcome to all comers, whether you’re LGBTQ or an ally.” And the idea that on the one hand we would be promoting these types of activities just saying that this is clean, harmless fun but at the same time lowering the reporting requirements, lowering the mandatory sentencing requirements for sexual contact between a 24-year-old and a 14-year-old, that seems just to be a recipe for disaster.

BROWN: Very disturbing. Both the state Senate and General Assembly approved the bill pretty much down party lines. Did it face any opposition from Democrats?

KELLER: Yes. And this is something that I think should at least give us a modicum of hope, especially for other states around the country that may be facing similar attempts to weaken and widen loopholes for sexual abuse. The positive sign was out of the 61 Democrats that were in the state Senate, the bill only received a total of 41 votes. And, remarkably, to her credit, we not only had Republicans speaking out in opposition to the bill, but State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, who is a very powerful member of the assembly. She’s the chair of the appropriations committee. She actually spoke out so strongly against it on the floor, citing not only practical policy opposition, but also her own personal feelings as a mother.

BROWN: Policies that start in California tend to percolate throughout the rest of the country. I’m wondering is California an outlier in the way it already handles registration requirements for sex offenders? Or do other states give judges similar discretion?

KELLER: I think depending on the part of the country, there certainly are different states that allow levels of discretion. My hope and prayer is that this would be a wakeup call to states across the country, and that they would use this as an opportunity to actually tighten these reporting laws, tighten these sentencing laws to protect children and minors.

BROWN: Jonathan, thank you for staying on top of this and keeping us informed. Jonathan Keller is president of the California Family Council. Thanks so much for joining us today.

KELLER: Thanks. My pleasure.

MYRNA BROWN: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Russian politics.

Moscow’s international escapades have caused some global heartburn in recent years. In 2014, Russia took over part of eastern Ukraine and illegally annexed its Crimean peninsula. The following year, it deployed troops to Syria to prop up that nation’s corrupt regime.

MARY REICHARD: And in 2016, Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election led to investigations and concerns about more interference in this year’s election. The Kremlin has stirred up trouble around the world, but what is going on inside the country? 

WORLD correspondent Jill Nelson reports.

JILL NELSON, REPORTER: Russian political activist Alexei Navalny has been battling his country’s corrupt leadership for nearly a decade. Four years ago, the BBC asked him how much money is being sucked out of the Russian economy each year.

NAVALNY: For corruption, I think it’s at least something about $50 billion a year. 


Navalny isn’t afraid to point fingers during interviews and in the videos he posts online. But as many Russians have learned, battling the country’s oligarchs is dangerous business.

On August 20th, Navalny fell ill during a domestic flight on a Russian airline. Two days later, he was flown to Berlin, where doctors put him into a medically-induced coma. They say he was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Clinics in Switzerland and France have confirmed that diagnosis.

David Satter is a Russia expert at the Hudson Institute.

SATTER: They may have thought that that Navalny would die on the plane and under those circumstances obviously he would have never left Russia. He would have never been taken to a German Clinic, there would  never have been an objective assessment of what happened to him.

Satter says the Russian authorities have a history of bluffing their way through criminal activities. They count on Western powers to eventually forget the crimes.

SATTER: All of our presidents have been very anxious to overlook Russian crimes and President Trump also shows that tendency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Kremlin will look into Navalny’s poisoning, but Satter has little faith in an honest investigation.

SATTER: When one crime is committed, the Russians offer some type of absurd explanation and then we move on.

Russian doctors claimed Nalalny had an upset stomach.

Navalny was Putin’s number one critic and had been arrested 13 times. And he worried about being poisoned. Many government critics have mysteriously disappeared or died.

And the 67-year old Russian president seems determined to stay put. In July, Putin orchestrated a referendum that allows him to stay in power until 2036. 

But Satter doubts he’ll last that long.

SATTER: I kind of think it’s unlikely simply because I think the ground will begin to move under his feet. And It’s hard to hold onto power that long. I mean things happen. Look at what’s happening in Belarus.

AUDIO: [Protests]

Millions of Belarusians publicly protested the results of August’s presidential election. Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus for 26 years and has Putin’s backing.

AUDIO: [Protests]

Similar rallies are taking root in Russia. In the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, protests are in their third month. Federal authorities arrested the region’s popular governor for what many say are trumped up charges of murder. Putin hand-picked his replacement.

This is also a region where Protestant Christians and other religious minorities face persecution. Putin has used his support for the Russian Orthodox Church to boost his popularity. But non-Orthodox groups don’t share that same nationalist identity, and the Kremlin is cracking down on religious groups and individuals it views as a threat to its power base.

Pasha Stolyarov is the director of an apologetics ministry in Saint Petersburg.

He says the country’s 2016 anti-missionary law requires government certification for all public activities, and it isn’t an easy process.

STOLYAROV: So it’s quite tricky how to follow all those rules and that’s why many churches quite downshifted their official activities on the streets.

In the past year and half, 142 people and 17 religious organizations faced charges under the law. Most of the cases ended in a guilty verdict. Russia also deported 10 foreign nationals for violating the broadly defined law.

Stolyarov says the combination of the anti-missionary law and coronavirus restrictions have forced ministries to pursue online opportunities. Russia currently has the fourth highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world.

But there’s some good news: Online ministries are flourishing. Stolyarov says his church has reached a large number of people through virtual services and small group meetings. And an online apologetics course he teaches usually draws about 10 or 15 people. But this year…

STOLYAROV: You know, more than 80 people signed up for this course. And I was like, ‘Woah!’

But online ministries also face challenges.

STOLYAROV: Even there the government is trying to control what people are saying and technically listening very intently to most popular preaching there and controlling what people are saying for example about other religions, especially the Orthodox Church. 

Satter says Putin and his corrupt entourage are driven by a desire to hold onto property and power. They use nationalist and religious slogans to rally public support. But he says their methods aren’t timeless.

SATTER: You can’t forever preserve power on the basis of lies, propaganda, corruption, intimidation.

And the effect of that intimidation could already be weakening. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny says once he’s recovered from his assassination attempt, he intends to return to Russia and continue his work.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jill Nelson.

MARY REICHARD: Well, here’s something you wouldn’t expect. 

A sheriff in Knox County, Tennessee sent out a lookout notice for …a tiger! 

Listen to this 911 call.

AUDIO: I’m out with a tiger cub. Do what?! You heard correctly. It’s a tiger cub.

Animal experts said it was probably a bobcat mistaken for a tiger. But then, more reports of a tiger came in.

AUDIO: It’s like right across the road from our house. I think I spotted a tiger in my backyard.

The sheriff’s department, animal control, the state wildlife agency are all looking for the cat. So far, it hasn’t turned up. 

Experts say if you’re ever face to face with a tiger, back away slowly, but don’t run. 

Cats like a good chase.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Thursday, September 17th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio, and we’re so glad you are. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown.

Last week, Grace Community Church lost the latest round in a dispute with California authorities over pandemic shutdowns. An L.A. County judge temporarily barred the church from holding indoor services. Pastor John MacArthur has voiced skepticism over the seriousness of the coronavirus. And he’s vowed the church will continue to hold services despite threats of fines and jail time. True to his word, he defied the order and preached to a packed sanctuary this past Sunday.

MACARTHUR: We’ve been forced to address sort of rare events so to say, things that so dominate our society that everyone is aware of them…

REICHARD: A month ago World’s Megan Basham spoke with Pastor MacArthur about why he believes pandemic restrictions merit civil disobedience. She also asked about his opposition to the #MeToo and social justice movements. 

Today, in Part 2, Megan asks Pastor MacArthur what idea he thinks poses the greatest threat to the church today.

MEGAN BASHAM: Your good friend RC Sproul, he spoke frequently about the consequences of bad ideas. So, what idea do you think has had the worst consequences for the church in, say, the last decade?

MACARTHUR: Pragmatism.

BASHAM: Can you expand on that a little?

MACARTHUR: Yeah, pragmatism simply says, Whatever works is what is right. Whatever works is what we need to do, but if we’re starting from the point that somehow we have to convince sinners by our methodology, or they’re not going to come to the gospel and believe and be saved, then we’ve got to create something that gives the sinners what they want. And that’s what pragmatism has done. 

It has recreated the church into a sinner-friendly church. I mean, that kind of language has actually been used. So, you know, the sad reality of that is that you cannot—by any human method—overcome the inborn depraved resistance to righteousness that every sinner possesses. They are both unable and unwilling to come to Christ.

The natural man understands not the things of God, and to try to offer the natural unconverted sinner what the natural unconverted sinner wants in his depravity, as if it were what God wanted to give him, is an affront to God. It’s a form of heresy. It’s a deviation. It’s another gospel. 

So what’s behind the shallow, superficial kind of approach is this pragmatic philosophy that over the last 20 years has taken root in the church. You can’t preach grace until you’ve preached law. The sinner can’t be saved from anything until he understands what it is and the urgency in which he stands before God, headed for eternal judgment dawns on his soul. So great theology understands that. Sound theology understands that. But the church is so loaded with pragmatism. People think they’re successful if they draw a crowd of people who are hearing what they want to hear, even in their unconverted state. And then it even goes beyond that and very often makes them feel that they’re Christians because they have some nice feelings about Jesus.

BASHAM: Well, you know, you bring up that nice feeling and it’s funny because it seems like when you read some of the issues that people have with your preaching, it always comes down to tone, you know? Do you want to talk a little bit about tone and complaints about tone? 

MACARTHUR: Well, I was introduced at the Christian Booksellers Convention by a very famous charismatic pastor who happened to be a good friend. And he introduced me by saying, This is my friend, John MacArthur, who is much nicer in person than he is in his sermons. And I love the guy. He was my friend. But there’s a sense in which my job is to be truthful. I don’t want to be harsh. I don’t want to be unloving, but I also know the most loving thing I can do is tell the truth. There’s an urgency in my preaching. I’m not defending myself. 

I’m sure there are times when I come across in an unkind way or an ungracious way. I wouldn’t try to defend myself with that. But there’s an urgency in proclaiming the truth. There’s a passion in proclaiming the truth. There’s a divine compulsion and that’s what drives me to say what is true. And people will ask me—this is not uncommon—does it bother you to offend people? And my answer is, look, if I offended someone personally, that bothers me a lot. If the truth offended someone, I’m thankful because I’m in the business of offending sinners to the point that they are so offended that they honestly will take a look at themselves and see if there isn’t something very dire and very serious that they need to consider. 

So, look, I’m in the business of offending sinners. I’m even in the business of offending saints because the Word of God confronts sin. It just confronts sin all the time. Rarely do we have a communion service when I don’t read somebody’s name and say they wouldn’t repent. And you’d say, well, doesn’t it empty the church? No, because there are characteristics of the true believer. They love God. They love his word. They love his church. They love his people. And they love his law.

There’s a hunger and thirst after righteousness. And so that’s not the offense of the people of God. They come. They fill up this church to be confronted in a godly way and be called to holiness week after week. And they build friendships around that pursuit of holiness that really I think should define a church. I get it. That’s offensive to unbelievers. That’s its nature. And I remind people all the time, that there never was a kinder, gentler, more meek, loving person than our Lord Jesus Christ. And they nailed him to a cross.

REICHARD: That’s Pastor John MacArthur talking to Megan Basham. We’ll link to the first part of their conversation in today’s transcript. 

MYRNA BROWN: Today is Thursday, September 17th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

WORLD Commentator Cal Thomas now on the need for some pointed questions in the upcoming presidential debates.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: When I heard that President Trump sat for 18 interviews with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post my first reaction was, why?

Maybe the president thought he could persuade the man to like him. The evidence that Woodward, along with his Watergate partner Carl Bernstein, ever “liked” a Republican president is thin to nonexistent.

The president now claims Woodward conducted a “political hit job” on him. Why would he have expected anything else?

As to the content of the interviews, Woodward got almost nothing. 

But predictably, Democrats are trying to turn the interviews and Woodward’s forthcoming book, Rage, to their advantage. The problem for them is that they said little or nothing about the coronavirus early on and many took positions opposite the president’s. They now claim they were ahead of the pandemic curve.

Those with short memories should be reminded that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged people on March 11 to eat out and visit movie theaters, just weeks before the city became ground zero for the virus.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Chinatown on February 24 where she urged people to patronize shops and restaurants, in spite of growing fears about the virus.

Joe Biden opposed the president’s order banning travel to China. He has also claimed to have “sounded the alarm” about the virus in January, which various fact-checkers have noted is not true.

As the Trump-Pence campaign has noted, Biden held “dozens and dozens of events in January and February” and never mentioned social distancing, personal protection equipment, ventilators, the need for temporary hospitals, or travel restrictions.

It’s one thing to re-write history, it’s quite another to make it up.

Dr. Anthony Fauci denied allegations by some Democrats that the president distorted his warnings. It was Fauci who initially played down the seriousness of the virus because, as he later explained, he wanted frontline medical workers to acquire protective gear ahead of the general public.

I eagerly await the presidential debates. Chris Wallace will host the first one on September 29, if it happens. I hope he will hold both Biden and the president accountable for their misstatements, factual errors, and memory lapses.

The virus should never have been politicized. As many have noted it does not discriminate between political parties or candidates. Now that it has become political, like everything else, it is fair to ask those who wish to maintain, or obtain power, why the public should trust either candidate to deal with it going forward.

I’m Cal Thomas.

MARY REICHARD: Tomorrow: John Stonestreet returns for Culture Friday. 

And, we’ll tell you about a new documentary that’s part political drama, part coming-of-age tale.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Mary Reichard.

MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

Jesus said: In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; He has overcome the world.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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