MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Abortion advocates have an ally in the Biden administration, judging by its swift action in undoing pro-life policies.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also the National Association of Realtors adopted a rule that guides what realtors may say on and off the job.
Plus, a suggestion for how to improve our communication during these divisive times.
And commentator Kim Henderson on what the Christian must guard against in times of trouble.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, January 26th. 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: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. coronavirus cases, deaths continue to fall » Coronavirus deaths and cases per day in the United States have dropped over the past two weeks.
President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC’s Today Show…
FAUCI: I don’t think the dynamics of what we’re seeing now with the plateauing is significantly influenced yet—it will be soon, but yet—by the vaccines. I just think it’s the natural course of plateauing.
On Monday, California lifted regional stay-at-home orders. Each county will now make its own rules. The shift will allow churches and restaurants to resume outdoor operations and some other businesses could reopen.
But the Biden administration is urging Americans not to let their guards down. The country is averaging about 170,000 new daily cases with more than 3,000 people still dying each day.
Meantime, some governors say getting vaccine shots out to people in their states is no longer the problem, it’s just a matter of supply. Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis…
DESANTIS: So our capacity far outstrips what we’re being given by the feds. We were told weeks ago that we would start to see increases now and we haven’t seen it. We’ve been very stagnant.
On Monday, President Biden said he expects that sometime this spring, any American who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get it. And he added…
BIDEN: By summer, we’re going to be well on our way to—heading toward herd immunity.
The president heard there at a White House news conference.
Biden signs multiple orders including reversal of transgender military policy » Also on Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Biden has signed multiple new executive orders.
One of them will reverse a Pentagon policy on transgender service members. The order removes gender dysphoria as a reason for denying enlistment or reenlistment in the military.
PSAKI: And for those transgender service members who were discharged or separated due to gender identity, their cases will be reexamined. President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service.
Biden also signed an order aimed at getting the federal government to buy more products from U.S. manufacturers.
Also, as expected, he signed new travel restrictions for people traveling from parts of Europe and South Africa where new strains of the coronavirus are currently spreading.
U.S. Senate confirms Yellen as Treasury Secretary » Senators voted last night to approve the president’s pick for Treasury Secretary, confirming Janet Yellen.
AUDIO: They yeas are 84. The nays are 15…
That made Yellen the first woman to hold the Cabinet post.
In the run-up to the vote, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said she’s more than qualified.
SCHUMER: Janet Yellen, of course, is no stranger to this chamber. She’s been confirmed by the Senate no fewer than four times.
The 74-year-old Yellen also served on the Federal Reserve board. President Obama later picked to Chair the Federal Reserve, winning confirmation in 2014.
Yellen also served under former President Bill Clinton, chairing his Council of Economic Advisers.
SCOTUS dismisses suits charging Trump illegally profited from presidency » The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether former President Trump illegally profited from his presidency. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The high court said the cases in question are now moot since Trump is no longer in office.
Some claimed the fact that both domestic and foreign officials paid to stay at the Trump International Hotel and patronize other Trump businesses violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
The action was the first in what could be a steady stream of orders and rulings on pending lawsuits involving Trump. Some cases will be tossed out now that he’s out of office. But other proceedings that had been delayed because Trump was in the White House could resume.
The high court ordered lower court rulings in the emoluments clause cases thrown out as well.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Voting machine maker sues Giuliani » A company that makes many of the machines used in voting booths around the country is suing the former president’s personal lawyer for defamation.
Dominion Voting Systems filed the suit on Monday against Rudy Giuliani. It seeks more than $1.3 billion in damages.
The company says Giuliani spread baseless claims that its voting machines either malfunctioned or were manipulated and that they could be to blame for President Trump’s election loss.
The lawsuit states—quote—“Giuliani’s statements were calculated to—and did in fact—provoke outrage and cause Dominion enormous harm.”
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: support for abortion returns to the White House.
Plus, Kim Henderson on the battle within.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 26th of January, 2021.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: pro-abortion policies.
Advocates for the unborn have hailed the Trump administration as the most pro-life in history. They expect the next four years to be quite different.
WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: When former President Donald Trump took office four years ago, pro-life advocates weren’t sure what to expect.
Mallory Quigley is with the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life adovcacy group.
QUIGLEY: We did not know much about his position, how he would govern. What we knew we were wary of.
So pro-life advocates asked Trump to commit to protecting preborn babies. He agreed.
QUIGLEY: He committed as a candidate to protecting the Hyde Amendment, which stopped taxpayer funding of abortion, to advancing the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, to appointing only pro-life Supreme Court justices, and to defunding Planned Parenthood.
Quigley says Trump did everything within his power to tick off that list and more. Like becoming the first sitting president to attend the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
QUIGLEY: When you take a look back at what the Trump-Pence administration has accomplished, you see that over the last four years, they really have set the standard for future pro-life administrations.
The standards for the new administration are very different. Pro-abortion advocates expect the Biden-Harris administration to undo nearly every one of the pro-life policies from the last four years, starting with the Mexico City Policy.
Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have used the Mexico City Policy to bar foreign family planning organizations from using U.S. aid to finance abortions. By repealing it, President Biden will clear the way for American tax dollars to pay for abortions in other countries.
Then there’s the Title X program. It gives grants to clinics that serve low-income and uninsured patients. In 2019, the Trump administration said clinics in the program can’t refer patients to abortion businesses or perform abortions. A thousand clinics, including many operated by Planned Parenthood, left the program.
President Biden is expected to repeal that rule as well.
Carol Tobias is president of the National Right to Life Committee. She expects the Biden administration will also make changes in federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration. Its regulations currently restrict who can get chemical abortion pills.
TOBIAS: The FDA does have limits on the abortion chemical pill, how late into the pregnancy it can be used, whether or not you have to see a doctor before you can get the prescription for that pill.
Tobias expects officials to relax those requirements. She also predicts Biden’s FDA will relax regulations around using tissue from aborted babies for research.
TOBIAS: The Trump administration was very firm that U.S. tax dollars were not going to be used to fund fetal tissue research. I fully expect the Biden administration to change that as well.
Pro-life advocates also predict President Biden will roll back Trump-era protections for employers who don’t want to provide birth control for employees.
And he has vowed to support Democratic congressional efforts to overturn the Hyde Amendment. It keeps federal dollars from paying for abortions.
Carol Tobias says that’s a big shift for the new president.
TOBIAS: For many years, we had Democrats in Congress who would support legal abortion, but they were willing to say tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it. I would have put Joe Biden in that category. Well, when he started running for president, of course, he changed that position.
But while pro-life advocates are discouraged by the changes in policy, they take comfort in a few bright spots. Mallory Quigley at the Susan B. Anthony List notes the Trump administration leaves behind lasting change at the federal courts.
QUIGLEY: The nomination and confirmation of three prolife Supreme Court justices, more than 200 judges to the lower courts, really has transformed the judicial branch in a very positive, exciting way.
And Carol Tobias says pro-life states won’t stop pushing legislation that protects the unborn.
TOBIAS: There will be bills dealing with abortion pill reversal, protecting babies who have developed to the point where they can feel pain, protecting babies from being killed through a dismemberment abortion, heartbeat bills, requiring that a woman be given an opportunity to see an ultrasound of her unborn child before she gets the abortion.
And pro-life advocates say the culture is changing too. Susan Pierce operates Silent Voices, a pregnancy counseling center in Southern California. She points out the number of abortions in the United States keeps dropping.
PIERCE: I think that the pro life movement is growing and will continue to grow. Despite the Biden administration. They can’t force people to have an abortion that don’t want them.
And while pro-life political action is important, no matter who sits in the Oval Office, the work of loving mothers, fathers, and babies is ultimately what will make the difference.
PIERCE: But my focus and the focus that you can take is, there are women out in your community who are pregnant, and not sure what to do. And they’re scared and they feel alone and isolated. And you can come alongside that woman and help her make a choice for life.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: free speech for realtors.
Or not, in this case. In November, the National Association of Realtors adopted a revised ethics rule that bans so-called hate speech. And not just in the real estate office. The policy covers agents on and off the job, opening them to punishment for anything they say, any time, anywhere. The one time where location, location, location doesn’t matter.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Well, as you might expect, that caused quite a stir among agents across the country, especially Christians. WORLD Digital reporter Steve West wrote about this recently and joins us now to talk about it.
Good morning, Steve!
STEVE WEST, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary.
REICHARD: Let’s start with the rule itself. What does it prohibit and what are the consequences for breaking it?
WEST: Well, it’s pretty straightforward in what it says. This is a new ethical rule for realtors. It says they “must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” So, pretty comprehensive.
REICHARD: Also sounds pretty vague.
WEST: Right. Neither hate speech nor harassing speech is defined. So, for example, a pastor who I corresponded with in preparing the article said that he might suffer consequences if he preached on the biblical view of marriage, or at least he wondered that. And it wouldn’t be far-fetched for someone out there to view his comments on same-sex marriage as hate speech.
REICHARD: No, it wouldn’t. Let’s say a complaint is filed and the realtor is found in violation. What happens?
WEST: Well, the organization has to investigate, even if the complaint’s ultimately found frivolous. And if they find a violation, the penalties can range from a fine of up to $15,000 to being kicked out of the group. And while realtors aren’t required to belong to the organization, being expelled could end their access to the Multiple Listing Service, or the MLS, a computerized database of properties. And that would likely be the end of many realtors’ businesses.
REICHARD: You mentioned the pastor, but how have other realtors reacted?
WEST: Not surprisingly, no one I spoke to wanted to go on the record, but judging from their comments to me and others I viewed on Facebook, a lot of realtors are concerned about how the rule reaches into their personal lives as well as its possible misuse. For example, by a vindictive, disappointed buyer, or an envious fellow realtor, or, in the case of the pastor that I mentioned, someone looking to make a point.
REICHARD: This is a First Amendment violation in principle but not in practice right, because the National Association of Realtors is a private organization?
WEST: That’s right. The First Amendment only applies when the government restricts speech, but it’s important to note that when this kind of rule is passed it has a chilling effect on speech in general. People will self-censor out of fear of retaliation or even just disapproval. Speech, whether it’s protected by the First Amendment or not, needs to enjoy wide protection.
REICHARD: You quoted UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh in your story. What did he compare this to?
WEST: Yes. He compared it to what happened in the McCarthy era after WWII. If you were thought to be a communist sympathizer, you could be blacklisted by employers; rendered unhireable, basically.
REICHARD: Some of us might remember a similar situation involving lawyers. The American Bar Association proposed a broadly worded ban against potential harassment and discrimination. There’ve been some recent developments in the legal challenge to that, right?
WEST: That’s right. A federal court struck down a Pennsylvania ethics rule that was similarly worded to this one, saying its vague terms would “continuously threaten the speaker to self-censor.” So that’s helpful. Other organizations will try to get on the bandwagon, so those affected will need to be vigilant.
REICHARD: Steve West is a lawyer and writes the Liberties newsletter for WORLD Digital. You can sign up to get your weekly copy at WNG.org. Steve, thanks for joining us today!
WEST: My pleasure, Mary.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Calling all hunters seeking novelty! You may want to head to Oklahoma if a bill filed last week passes.
Representative Justin “J.J.” Humphrey wants to open up a new hunting season for large, furry, ape-like bipeds taller than the average man.
Yes, an official Sasquatch hunting season. You know, Bigfoot.
Humphrey’s district includes heavily forested mountains near the Arkansas border, where a Bigfoot festival happens each year.
So the bottom line is this: Humphrey says selling state hunting licenses and tags could help boost tourism and that in turn boost state coffers.
Always an angle.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 26th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
If you’re on social media, maybe last year you noticed how many people began moving from the big tech providers to smaller start ups. Concerns over privacy, ideologies, and censorship—some of the reasons for the move.
EICHER: But when Amazon kicked Parler off its servers a few weeks ago, WORLD’s Paul Butler began wondering about a more reliable social media platform. One insulated from big tech control. He found one. Turns out, it’s been around for awhile, and it encourages greater harmony and connection among users.
PAUL BUTLER, CORRESPONDENT: It’s a Saturday morning. I’m on my phone, scrolling through my news feed. I just got an alert that there are messages awaiting my attention.
AUDIO: [HEADING OUT FOR THE MAIL]
I put on my shoes, go out my front door, and down the steps to retrieve them.
AUDIO: [MAIL BOX OPEN]
SCHULTZE: When somebody receives something from us, that’s handwritten by us, then they feel like we actually have a deeper desire to serve them, to connect with them.
Quentin Schultze is Communication Professor Emeritus at Calvin College. He’s a fan of handwritten notes and personal letters.
SCHULTZE: If there’s something very personal, that’s encouraging, complimentary, it makes a huge difference.
For years, he’s observed how social media exploits our desire to be an influencer. We measure success in numbers of followers.
SCHULTZE: Communication is not about sending and receiving messages. Communication is about connecting with each other. So communication is fundamentally about creating relationships.
During these particularly divisive times, Schultze believes one way to build relationships—instead of tearing them down—is returning to the practice of writing notes to each other.
SCHULTZE: Handwritten notes are tremendously powerful today, because they are so personal. Very few people will take the time to get a card or a piece of paper and write a note and send it to someone, it just does not happen much. And if you compare that to sending off a text, or an email, or even calling someone on the phone, there’s much more time, effort, commitment. And then finally, there’s more personality we come through personally in a handwritten note, because nobody has our handwriting.
Note writing comes with many other benefits.
WARD: Oh, man, right now, I mean, I’m no sociologist, I’m no counselor, but we all know that mental health is something that’s on all of our minds…
Wes Ward is executive pastor at Gospel City Church in Granger, Indiana. He says right now, isolated people yearn for personal touch. A handwritten note is one way to do that.
WARD: For me, it feels like encouragement is a tool in my toolkit to help keep fellow Christians on the right path and moving forward. I just want to do what I can to tell everyone that I can: “Hey, you’re doing a good job.” And so I’m blessed to be a part of telling people when I see what God’s doing in their lives, and there is something powerful about a handwritten note too, when I take the time to do that.
It’s important at the office too. The most effective managers find that personal notes are a powerful tool for morale and team unity.
BUTTS: Boy, isn’t it amazing that a kind word spoken can make such a difference.
Bob Butts currently serves as chief operating officer at Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
BUTTS: I think the reason, or one of the reasons, that I like to do that, is simply because it’s a lost art. It’s a dying art. And it means more to people than I think we realize.
He’s not perfect. He admits there are many times he’s missed opportunities.
BUTTS: And I wish there were times where I had written notes. The time got away from me and I didn’t take the time to write the note. It’s disappointing when I look back on how many missed opportunities there were, and yet, we only have the time that we’ve been given. So I try to do better.
While he’s sent many hand-written notes to employees over the years, he recently received one that still sits on his desk from a new hire.
BUTTS: Wow, he didn’t need to take the time to do that. But that he did, I still have that note on my desk and I intend to put it in a file that I keep of notes that I receive, that I occasionally will go back to and reference because they meant something to me when I received them.
Professor Quentin Schultze also keeps a file of personal notes. It’s an added benefit he says to this kind of communication—the potential for long lasting effect on the recipient.
SCHULTZE: I go to that file. And look at that, and remind myself what God has accomplished through me in my life, because those letters are like a mirror of God’s work in my life.
Some of the notes he displays on what he calls “a gratitude board” in his office.
SCHULTZE: These notes mean a tremendous amount to me as encouragement, in a time where we all desperately need encouragement.
So how do you start? Get yourself some blank cards or postcards, a broad tip pen or marker, and then, watch for ways people show kindness to you or others: a gift, an encouraging word, a thoughtful act. When you see it, write them a note.
SCHULTZE: Even if you write one note a week, to somebody else, maybe four or five sentences, I’m writing to thank you for x or y or z. I really appreciate you as a friend, as, as a husband, whatever it is, and then send that off. Don’t make it long. Don’t give all kinds of explanations directly to the point from your heart. That will mean a lot to the recipient.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday January 26th. Good morning! We’re so glad you’ve joined us today for The World and Everything in It. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on fighting the right war.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: January 6th may be another “day that will live infamy,” but the 4th wasn’t exactly a sleeper, either. That’s when Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a Methodist minister, opened Congress with a prayer that covered all the bases, including an appeal to the Hindu god, Brahma.
January 4th was also the day lawmakers passed house rules for the 117th Congress, with some amended to strike gender-specific references from their text. Words like father, mother, sister, brother. No longer would the codex of terms that governed members of the previous 116 Congresses do. Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats had their way.
So, in retrospect, the Brahma thing and the gender-neutral stuff sort of prepared me for what happened on the 6th.
I was thumbing through a rack of sweaters marked 75 percent off when a son called from halfway across the country, interrupting my shopping reverie. “Look at the news,” he urged. I did. The image of the horned rioter roaming the hallowed halls of the Capitol was shocking. But it just added to a score of recent shocks to my sensibilities. Like a pandemic patient who’s lost her sense of smell and taste, I think I’ve lost my ability to react.
More importantly, though, I’ve lost my angst. I think it happened somewhere along Highway 24.
That’s the path I took to a ladies Bible study the day after those riots. An hour fifteen one-way—but I set the alarm and cranked the car because I was hungry for food that does not perish. Second Peter satisfied.
And at some point in the discussion about steadfastness and self control, the pronoun business at the Capitol came up. I raised my hand and asked a question: What do I do with the Nancy Pelosi in my life?
Everyone looked puzzled.
“You know,” I blurted out, “the one who insists I not say man-made or mankind, because it’s sexist. The one who’s pushing capital M, lowercase x instead of Mr. and Mrs.”
A woman to my left nodded. I guess she has one in her life, too.
Our wise leader responded like someone who’s taught the Bible for decades should. The understated, uncelebrated, un-tweeted answer went something like this: “How you conduct yourself with your Nancy Pelosi, that’s what will matter.”
We all knew what that meant. The hard stuff—fruit of the spirit kind of living. Things went quiet for a moment. Just the sound of iron sharpening iron.
It’s dizzying, this cultural shift we’re experiencing, but I’m realizing clever retorts and calling my senator isn’t going to stem the tide. For most Christians, the war isn’t in Washington. It’s within. It’s the battle to remember that love isn’t arrogant or puffed up. It’s the battle to know how to say what’s good for souls, and to say it with the law of kindness on our tongue. It’s the battle against anger and against angst—that hopeless, anxious feeling that has no place in the Christian heart.
I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: President Biden has big plans on the economy. And it involves some big spending. We’ll talk about it on Washington Wednesday.
And, we’ll introduce you to an Alabama grandmother who’s become a social media sensation.
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.
The Psalmist reminds us: The sum of (God’s) word is truth, and every one of (His) righteous rules endures forever.
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!