The World and Everything in It — December 8, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Lockdown policies in American nursing homes have hurt vulnerable people in ways politicians did not imagine.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also a Christian school in Kentucky fights back against unreasonable government restriction.

Plus The Olasky Interview. Today a conversation about political revolutions.

And a mother wraps her emotions into a Christmas box sent across the globe.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, December 8th. 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 it’s time for news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Thousands of Britons receive vaccine on “V-Day” » Today is “V-Day” in the U.K. That’s what British officials are calling the first day of its vaccination program. And it marks the start of what will soon be a massive global effort to immunize most of the world’s population against the coronavirus. 

Thousands of at-risk U.K. residents and healthcare workers today will receive the first doses of the vaccine. 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon…

STURGEON: It really is one of these moments where for the first time in a long time we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a massive logistical exercise, lots of people working really hard, but a moment to be optimistic. 

American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech jointly developed the vaccine. It could be available for emergency use in the United States within a week. 

And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he expects his country to get up to roughly 250,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of this month. Canadian regulators could approve it for use as soon as Thursday. 

Giuliani hospitalized after COVID-19 diagnosis » President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized since Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19. 

The president told reporters…

TRUMP: Rudy’s doing well. I just spoke to him. He’s doing well. No temperature and he actually called me early this morning. He was the first call I got. He’s doing very well. 

The former New York City mayor was reportedly showing unspecified symptoms when he checked into Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington.

Giuliani has traveled extensively on behalf of the Trump campaign’s legal challenge to the November election results. He has often attended hearings without a mask where some other lawyers and lawmakers have also gone without a mask.

The Trump campaign said Giuliani twice tested negative before recent visits to Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia.

Biden taps hardline pro-abortion official for HHS secretary » President-elect Joe Biden has tapped an aggressively pro-abortion California official to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Biden has tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for HHS secretary. 

In 2017, the Democrat worked to put pro-life activists behind bars. He filed 15 felony charges against two people for their undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood. 

He, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, spearheaded the prosecution of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. They alleged the activists illegally recorded conversations about the sale of body parts from aborted babies. 

But Becerra chose not to investigate Planned Parenthood over the sales. 

The long-running court case against the pair of activists included raids on Daleiden’s home, possible jail time, and thousands of dollars in fines. 

Under Becerra, HHS could work to undo pro-life regulations the Trump administration instituted such as cutting off Title X family planning funding to facilities that provide or refer for abortion.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Lawmakers inch closer to coronavirus relief bill » Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill say they’re moving closer to a compromise on a new coronavirus relief bill. 

Republicans and Democrats remained deadlocked for months. But last week, Democrats agreed to negotiate a relief bill with a price tag of just under a trillion dollars. That more than six months after House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said Monday that a bipartisan group is working hard to find a compromise.

DURBIN: There are five Republican senators who have been working night and day. Five Democratic senators as well. And it really is a superhuman effort on our part to get this together in time to help the American people as quickly as possible. 

Senate Republicans recently proposed a highly targeted $500 million relief bill. Many GOP lawmakers say they’re willing to compromise on a $900 million bill. 

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not said whether he would back a bill in that price range. If the two sides can come together, President Trump has said he will sign it into law. 

Report finds microwave energy likely made US diplomats ill » Scientists may finally have an answer about what caused U.S. diplomats to mysteriously fall ill while in Cuba. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: In 2016, U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana began reporting strange symptoms—including dizziness, headaches, and cognitive problems. 

U.S. officials initially believed that unknown attackers may have used some kind of sonic weapon against the diplomats. 

But a new report by a National Academy of Sciences committee has found that “directed” microwave radiation likely caused the illnesses. 

The study did not name a source for the energy and did not say it came as the result of an attack. But it did note that the former Soviet Union previously researched these types of injuries. 

About two dozen Americans affiliated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba experienced symptoms. U.S. and Canadian personnel also developed symptoms while in Guanghzhou, China, in 2017 and 2018. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: Christian schools in Kentucky fight to keep classrooms open.

Plus, Kim Henderson on mailing Christmas cheer.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 8th of December, 2020.

You’re listening to World Radio and we are so glad you are! Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up on The World and Everything in It: religious liberty in the classroom.

Students in Kentucky have not been able to attend school in person since the week before Thanksgiving. Colleges and preschools remain open. But students from kindergarten through high school are stuck with virtual learning.

EICHER: In November, Danville Christian Academy went to federal court to challenge Governor Andy Basheer’s school shutdown order. The school argued that according to its religious belief, “its students should be educated with a Christian worldview in a communal in-person environment.”

The trial court sided with the school, meaning kids could return—but that didn’t last. A federal appeals court put that order on hold just after the Thanksgiving break.

REICHARD: Joining us now to talk about the legal arguments in the case is Steve West. He’s an attorney and writes about religious liberty issues for WORLD Digital. Good morning, Steve!

STEVE WEST, GUEST: Good morning, Mary! 

REICHARD: Well, the school, Danville Christian Academy, made a religious liberty argument to overturn Gov. Bashear’s order. Could you outline the basic legal argument? 

WEST: Sure, Mary. School attorneys argued that in-person instruction, all together in one place was essential to their Christian faith—basically, that worship and education are inseparable. So they say they can’t live out this belief in a virtual setting, much as some argue they can’t worship as God intended by watching a livestream at home. 

REICHARD: Sounds familiar. It reminds me of the lawsuit in Washington DC by Capital Baptist Church. Didn’t they make a similar argument?

WEST: They sure did. That church didn’t livestream, as church leadership believed that the Bible required in-person worship. Just like in that case, here Danville Christian Academy agreed that the state had a compelling interest in health and safety of students, teachers, and parents, but it said the state failed to use the least restrictive means of meeting that interest—particularly when colleges and preschools were able to have in-person instruction. Judge Tatenhove agreed. He said, “If social distancing is good enough for offices, colleges, and universities … it is good enough for religious private K-12 schools that benefit from constitutional protection.”

REICHARD: Those are the elements of the highest standard of court review, called strict scrutiny. The government needs a compelling reason to infringe first amendment rights, and must do it in the least restrictive way possible. That’s the lower court analysis, in favor of the school.

But the appeals court didn’t agree. What did it say?

WEST: The appeals court deferred more to the governor. It cited a Supreme Court case from 1990 called Employment Division v. Smith. That case said that are generally applicable and neutral don’t require strict scrutiny. Those rules only need some rational basis to justify them. So for the appeals court, it was enough that the governor had some reasonable basis to issue his order. And he did—he wanted to reduce the spread of a serious virus. End of argument.

REICHARD: But the Supreme Court is reconsidering that doctrine in a case this term.

WEST: It is. In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case argued before the Court last month, Catholic Social Services is asking that Smith decision be changed. There the city shut out an adoption agency because the agency abided by its religious beliefs to certify only married, heterosexual couples for foster care. The city argues it’s requirement to work with everyone is a neutral law that applies to everyone. Yet in practical terms, its negative affect falls on the religious. 

REICHARD:  That’s the same argument made by Kentucky to keep Danville Christian Academy locked down, right?  It applies to all schools and is therefore neutral in application?

WEST: Exactly. But here’s the thing: to win a First Amendment challenge like this, you need to show that religion is explicitly targeted. For example, in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case there was evidence the State of Colorado was openly hostile to baker Jack Phillips’ religious beliefs. That’s one reason the school in Kentucky asked the Supreme Court early last week to step in quickly and let the kids go back to school until the case can be heard. We’re still waiting on that ruling.

REICHARD: Well, these religious school battles are playing out across the country. Where else have schools challenged closure orders?

WEST: California, for one. Religious parents, teachers, and schools there have also challenged closure orders. They agreed to drop their lawsuit in late October after a federal judge said religious schools could reopen while following state guidelines. Yet we can be thankful that many states have allowed not only religious schools but public schools to have in-person instruction. It’s also a great opportunity to educate the secular public and governmental officials that religion is vital in the lives of many people. And that’s protected by the First Amendment.

REICHARD: Steve West is an attorney and writes about religious liberties for WORLD Digital. You can read his work at Thanks for joining us today!

WEST: Always a pleasure, Mary.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: lockdowns in nursing homes.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Of the nearly 300,000 Americans who’ve died from COVID-related illness, 40 percent of those deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, housing the most vulnerable. To try to contain the virus, most nursing homes have now been in lockdown for nine months.

REICHARD: That’s a long time to go without visits from loved ones or even get together with people living in the nursing home. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: 19-year-old Mackenzie Olson is a certified nursing assistant. She works in a nursing home in Macomb, Illinois. 

OLSON: My shift consists of getting all the towels and linens passed out to each of the rooms, making the beds, cleaning the beds, helping people with showers, getting them ready for bed at night after supper… 

It’s hard work, but Olson likes helping the elderly residents.

OLSON: You would want this care done for your grandparents or your parents.

But Olson says this year with COVID-19 lockdowns, residents need more than physical care. They need friendship. For much of this year, Olson’s nursing home hasn’t allowed outside visits. 

OLSON: Unless they’re on hospice or end of life care. There’s no family members allowed in the building.

The home does allow window visits—where a resident and family member can see each other through a closed window. 

OLSON: And then you can talk through the phone or FaceTime. 

Mackenzie Olson says while that’s a nice option, talking on the phone just isn’t the same as a hug from a grandchild or a child holding their hand. Many residents haven’t gotten that physical contact in months. 

OLSON: Some of them it’s really, really, really hard because they have a lot of kids, or a lot of grandkids, and they’re so used to them calling and visiting like, multiple times a week. Some of them don’t understand, or they can’t remember why. So it does get really hard, especially when they get emotional. 

Nursing home residents are also engaging with others in the facility less. 

In an October survey of nursing homes in more than 30 states, half of residents reported not participating in any organized activities. Things like exercise, art classes, or church services. 

That loneliness is taking a toll on their physical and mental health. 

Dr. Jim Avery is a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. He also works in hospice care and nursing homes. 

AVERY: We’re seeing increased anxiety, we’re seeing loneliness. We’ve had an increase in pain medications, an increase in sleepers, so we’re seeing more insomnia. We’ve seen an increase in antidepressants. I remember seeing one patient and he basically said this, if the virus doesn’t kill me, the loneliness will. 

Dr. Avery says poor mental health leads to physical ailments. Issues like weight loss, muscle weakness, and pressure sores.  

AVERY: When you see more falls, more weight loss, more rehospitalizations and increase in pressure ulcers, and you see people on more pain medications, you are definitely going to see other related deaths.

An Associated Press study found that long term care facilities have had a 15 percent increase in non-COVID related deaths compared to last year. That’s about 40,000 excess fatalities. 

Elderly care advocates also worry the isolation has left nursing home residents vulnerable. 

Daniel Musto is long-term care ombudsman for the state of Utah. His job is to investigate reports of abuse and neglect. 

MUSTO: We’ve seen a drastic reduction in our case numbers. 

Last year, his team handled 700 cases. This year, the caseload has dropped to 450. 

Musto says that’s because when visitors are kept out of a facility, fewer people can observe what’s going on. 

MUSTO:  In a normal situation, you would have family members, friends, church. You know, the Ombudsman, many people out there with eyes on the situation and concerns over their loved ones. So, I think the caseload primarily went down because of decreased visitation, honestly.

Musto says, at the same time, nursing home staff are stretched thin. That means there’s more chances for neglect. 

MUSTO: They’re running on short staff, and they’re just trying to make ends meet and get the residents’ needs met. But sometimes it’s a lot more difficult when you don’t have the manpower you need.

This fall, the federal government encouraged nursing homes without COVID cases to resume visits and scheduled activities. But now as infections in nursing homes rise, many facilities are once again restricting in-person contact.

But not from everyone. 

John Schneider heads Nursing Home Ministries, an organization that sends chaplains into long-term care facilities. He says during lockdowns, his team has reached residents online. 

SCHNEIDER: We have chaplains that live stream services from their homes. They’ll play music, we have some chaplains that have created just some beautiful photography videos…

This fall, as lockdowns relaxed, Schneider got to resume in-person visits. Now as many facilities are going back into shutdown…Scheider says more nursing homes aren’t ending chaplain visits. Instead, they’re recognizing spiritual care is just as important as physical care. 

SCHNEIDER: They said we see that you are part of the essential care of these people, and we definitely want you to keep coming. So I think that’s that’s happening and we’re hearing that elsewhere as well.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Life sometimes imitates art and sometimes it happens inside an airport parking garage.

If you’ve ever seen the 2003 movie Elf, you might remember the scene where Buddy the Elf meets his biological father for the first time.

It’s a silly film, but star Will Farrell makes this a touching moment.

CLIP: So I’m here now. I found you, daddy. And guess what, I love you, I love you, I love you!

Well, a big fan of this movie was able to meet his biological father and the reunion happened at Logan airport in Boston. And so he reenacted that scene—complete with elf costume.

The audio’s not great, but you’ll get the point.

AUDIO: I love you, I love you, I love you!

The father hadn’t seen the film so he didn’t get the joke. But the significance of the moment was not lost.

He embraced his son and said, “Oh my son, my boy!”

Here’s life that’s way better than art!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 8th. This is WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you’ve joined us today. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the Olasky Interview.

Today, a conversation with author and professor Daniel Chirot. 

He was born in France during World War II, and Chirot’s family was able to evade German roundups of Jews. The family arrived in the United States when he was six, and over a 50-year academic career, he’s studied tyrants and their ideas.

EICHER: He wrote a book that was a runner-up for WORLD’s Book of the Year in the category of Accessible History.

It’s titled You Say You Want a Revolution? Radical Idealism and Its Tragic Consequences

In this excerpt of his conversation with WORLD editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky, Daniel Chirot outlines the stages of political revolution:

MARVIN OLASKY: Let’s start with the common history of people like Lafayette and France, Modesto and Mexico. Kerensky. And Russia, Bakhtiar and Iran. What are these people have in common?

DANIEL CHIROT: Well, they’re liberals. And they were optimistic about the prospects for the revolution, in which they were leaders at first. They underestimated the anger and real rage of some people in their societies that strengthened the far left, and in some cases, of course, extremists on the far right. But they were also in a way naive, they didn’t realize the ruthlessness of the extremists. 

OLASKY: So you mentioned four revolutionary stages with let’s say, Russia as an example. Liberal reformist, then idealistic but brutal Leninism, and then even more deadly Stalinism, and then the slide into corruption and loss of fervor. That seems generalizable, it tends to happen all over.

CHIROT: Yes. The liberal first stage is very promising. But then the extremists take power. And once in power, they try to impose solutions that their societies don’t really want. And so they have the choice of either using greater force, or else abandoning their ideals. And in the cases that you just mentioned, the solution they found was to just impose force. And it’s a disaster for the societies. And eventually, they become more corrupt, and everything falls apart, but it can take a very long time.

OLASKY: So typically, the incompetence of the old regime creates chaos. Moderate liberals are prominent. At first, they don’t grasp the situation, and they fail to quiet discontent. And then things get worse. Is that the typical pattern?

CHIROT: Yes, it is. And, one of the real tragedies is that in all of the major revolutions from the French Revolution, in a sense, even the American Revolution which had a somewhat different outcome, they could have all been avoided, if the regimes in power had been willing to make some concessions. 

What happens is that the regimes, the conservative regimes and power, suppress dissent, and who gets suppressed most successfully? Liberals, because they’re out in the open and they get pushed aside. And that allows the more secretive extremists to organize themselves for an eventual takeover of power. So the tragedy is that in every case, moderate reform could have worked, and it’s resisted, and that leads to the tragedy.

OLASKY: So in France, for example, in the 18th century there are big economic problems, then there’s enormous debt. The aristocracy doesn’t budge. And then you seem to have, you almost have fake news developing at that point where, where people start hearing all sorts of rumors and believing them and then that leads to further collapse.

CHIOT: Yes, That’s right. Fake News wasn’t invented in the 21st century. Quite the contrary. It just was disseminated more slowly. In France, really the most responsible people for the revolution were the members of the aristocracy, and of the high church, and they resist a tax reform. And tax reform would have been possible. France was not really that poor country. It was just that the conservative aristocracy, holding on to its privileges, refusing to allow tax reform, ruined the monarchy. 

So in Russia, after the attempted revolution that failed in 1905, all sorts of reforms would have been possible, but they were rejected by the Tsar and the people around him. And so when a moment of crisis came, namely World War One, their incompetence and the failure to have enacted reforms before it destroyed the entire system.

So the same thing happened in Italy, when Mussolini took power, it was conservative forces that were afraid of moderate reform who turned to Mussolini, because they thought that he could destroy the left. And he did. But of course, again, with a catastrophic outcome. So and that is a fairly common pattern. 

OLASKY: And it seems that both liberals and conservatives repeatedly underestimate the revolutionaries. 

CHIROT: Well, it’s because we like to think that other people think like us. That’s a common human failing. And it’s a particular failing, not among those who have the most extreme ideologies, but normal middle of the road, decent people. 

I mean, anyone who read what Lenin had to say, understood that he was utterly ruthless. He said, so. So did Hitler. So did the Ayatollah Khomeini, and yet, their supporters, or many of their supporters who are not so extreme, said, “well, that’s just politics. I mean, no one really believes in doing such extreme things.” But they did. 

And so I think that’s a common fault. And when we see that in this country. We hear some extremist voices and those who are more in the center say, “No, that’s just, that’s just politics. I mean, we’re all decent people, no one really do anything like that.” But they’re wrong.

REICHARD: To read more of this interview with Daniel Chirot, check out the December 5th issue of WORLD Magazine. We’ll include a link to it in today’s transcript at

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. The U.S. Postal Service delivers billions of pieces of mail every year. That includes Christmas packages to members of the U.S. military serving overseas. 

Commentator Kim Henderson knows all about that.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: To the nice lady who witnessed my near meltdown at the post office a few years back, I’d like to offer an explanation.

You see, it was the first time I ever had to put Christmas in a box and mail it across the international dateline to a loved one who was living tomorrow while I was still living today. Yes, I know people have been sending packages to other hemispheres for years, but it was my first time so there was this learning curve, you know? And trying to pack everything in those military boxes you pointed to in that kiosk was tougher than I thought, especially the miniature LED Christmas tree. Then there was the gift from his grandparents and the candy his sister made and that photo book I stayed online until four in the morning trying to figure out.  

So when you asked that hazmat question regarding perfume and I asked if that meant cologne, too, and you answered in the affirmative, well, we both knew what that meant. You passed me some scissors and I removed the triple cologne set I had carefully selected during the Black Friday rampage for my son and his roommates, Valdivia and O’Shea.

(In the military, it’s always last names. I’ve learned that, just like I’ve learned about airmail restrictions. On the gift tag, though, I actually wrote their first names. I figured even a Marine wants to be known by his first name at Christmas.)

Anyway, I sucked up the meltdown I could feel brewing within me and culled that gift from the box. You watched me do it. Those three would just have to leave the aromatherapy for later.

And I might very well have lived my whole life without knowing much about mailing to an APO/FPO or the whole military thing in general if my son had not enlisted. I would still be calling the members of every branch “soldiers” and looking at pictures of recent boot camp graduates in our local paper and wondering, “Why in the world did they do that?”  

I’m glad I’ve been enlightened.

And one of the important arcs in my military-mom learning curve was mailing some very important Christmas packages while a November calendar still hung on our fridge.

So nice lady at the post office, thanks for helping me through that near meltdown. I thought you’d like to know that when our son FaceTimed us that Christmas, their room was lit by an odd green glow that only LED lights can provide. Yep, it was his tiny Christmas tree, the one you watched me squeeeeeze into what was left of one of those boxes. That tree stood proud right below a strand of silver tinsel some cologne-less Marines, 7,000 miles from home, draped between their closet doors.

I think they and all the other far-away loved ones receiving packages that were christened at your counter would want me to tell you thanks, and have a very merry Christmas.   

I’m Kim Henderson.

Before we move along, let me add just one more “thanks.” 

Thank you for making it possible for me to do this work.

And by “me,” of course, I mean our team here at WORLD. 

You hear the music in the background. That’s not me. That’s our production team.

That I was able to record in a closet and upload the file, that’s not me, either. That’s having the necessary equipment I’ve been supplied with.

That I seem to be able to speak and speak and speak without error, that’s not me. That’s a skilled editor who fixes it whenever I stumble over a word and have to do it over. You don’t hear that part.

I think you get the idea: teamwork!

WORLD is a team and you’re part of the team, too. This is WORLD’s December Giving Drive.

This is a really crucial time when we refuel for the mission ahead.

And what an important mission! Would you take a moment and visit and make a gift to help us keep the work going strong?

I’m Kim Henderson and I’m grateful for anything you can do to support sound journalism, grounded in God’s Word. Thanks so much.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: A Biden administration’s climate policy will be very different from President Trump’s approach. We’ll talk about it on Washington Wednesday.

And, World Tour.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: 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.

Just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 

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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