The World and Everything in It — March 5, 2021

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

A Christian adoption agency relents and begins placing children in households with same-sex couples.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk about that today on Culture Friday.

Also today a film about one of the bravest firefighting crews in U.S. history.

And editor in chief Marvin Olasky on the lessons he’s learned after five days without electricity and running water.

BROWN: It’s Friday, March 5th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

BROWN: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: White House defends president’s “neanderthal” remark » The White House on Thursday defended remarks President Biden made a day earlier that angered some governors. The president said we’re close to having vaccines for all Americans and…

BIDEN: The last thing, the last thing we need is neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine. Take off your mask. 

With COVID-19 case numbers plummeting, some states are lifting their mask mandates. 

Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters…

PSAKI: Look, I think the president, what everybody saw yesterday was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation. 

Top health officials in the Biden administration, including CDC Dir. Rochelle Walensky, have warned against relaxing safety measures right now. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is among those lifting statewide mandates. And Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker said that doesn’t mean all mask mandates are going away. 

WICKER: He’s left it up to local governments and that’s a conservative principle. Take it away from the folks at the capital city and leave it up to individual cities and locations. 

Unaccompanied minors surging to U.S.-Mexico border » Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick hit back harder after reports that more than 100 people who entered the country illegally and tested positive for COVID-19 were released into the state of Texas. 

PATRICK: I call neanderthal thinking allowing people to cross the border illegally with COVID, tested positive and put them on a bus!

Traffic on the border continues to rise. Particularly concerning is the number of unaccompanied children.  

An official with the Department of Health and Human Services told the news site Axios—quote—“We’re seeing the highest February numbers … we’ve ever seen in the history of the [Unaccompanied Alien Child] program.”

And border officials are reportedly bracing for a surge that could peak in a couple of months with up to 13,000 unaccompanied minors in May. That could exceed the 2019 surge that led to a humanitarian crisis at the border. 

Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar said he’d like to see the Biden administration moderate its immigration and border strategy. 

CUELLAR: They can not only listen to the immigration activists advocates. They also need to listen to the communities on the border that I represent, the mayors, the judges, the NGOs down there. And with that they can come up with a balanced approach. 

Court raises bar for some immigrants to avoid deportation » Meantime, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling on Thursday that will make it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid being deported. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In a 5-to-3 decision, the justices ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the country illegally and has lived here for 25 years.

Authorities in Nebraska had charged Clemente Avelino Pereida with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job. He was convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation.

Not all criminal convictions inevitably lead to deportation, but Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime.” He said Pereida had not done that. 

The court’s three liberal justices dissented. 

Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

House cancels Thursday session due to threats » The House of Representatives cancelled its Thursday session over threats to the U.S. Capitol.

Police disclosed a possible plot by an unidentified militia group to attack the seat of government on Thursday. Some online conspiracy theory groups have discussed the possibility of former President Trump returning to power on March 4. That as the day the Constitution set for the presidential inauguration until the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said playing it safe was the right call.

PELOSI: If in fact there’s any trouble makers around, it made sense. 

The Senate met on Thursday as planned, but the House decided to conclude its weekly business Wednesday evening as a precaution.

Capitol law enforcement has greatly stepped up security since the Jan. 6th Capitol riot. 

Video footage of Myanmar crackdown shocks world » Video footage of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar sparked global outrage on Thursday—one day after security forces killed 38 people. 

Videos showed police shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators in the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1st coup.

The United States called the images appalling, the U.N. human rights chief said it was time to “end the military’s stranglehold over democracy in Myanmar.” 

The U.N. Security Council will meet today to discuss the crisis.

Despite the shocking violence the day before, protesters returned to the streets Thursday to denounce the military’s Feb. 1 takeover.

AUDIO: [Protest]

The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: a Christian adoption agency caves to cultural pressure.

Plus, Marvin Olasky on last month’s historic Texas snow storm.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, March 5th, 2021.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

The New York Times reported this week that the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services would begin placing children in homes of same-sex couples. Bethany is one of the biggest Christian adoption agencies in the country.

How big is this change? Rachel Aldrich—reporting for WORLD—says the decision applies nationwide. 

Prior to it, Bethany had served same-sex couples, but only in jurisdictions that required it in their contracts—Michigan, for example. 

When the city of Philadelphia made it a requirement back in 2018, Catholic Social Services fought the city. The group sued for the legal right to continue placing children according to its Biblical values, but Bethany declined to get involved. That case is now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.

BROWN: It’s Culture Friday and so let’s welcome John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

EICHER: John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick. Good morning, Myrna.

BROWN: Morning!

EICHER: So, what do you think? Is this Bethany saying this what’s best for children or are they just trying to stay out of trouble?

STONESTREET: No, I think it’s a preemptive sort of thing. I think we can kind of give the best intention behind this, but I think it’s a terrible decision. 

There’s not a live threat here. Now, I think it’s a live threat in the years to come, but why give up? I mean, why give up the 50-yard line before you have to? Bethany Services gave up the touchdown before they had to. And that’s what just is so hard to understand.

EICHER: Let me dig into this one other way. Our colleagues are working on a story even as we speak, but trying to see it Bethany’s way for a minute: Why is it not a legitimate thing to do to say, look, in the future Bethany Christian Services is not really going to be the “go-to” for gay couples looking to adopt. And to the extent that a few do, well, that’s how it goes. 

Maybe they’re saying we don’t want to make waves. We don’t want to give up our ministry to these vast numbers of children and husband-and-wife households over this issue. Is that not an honorable way to go?

STONESTREET: It’s not, if one time you have to say that same-sex parenting is okay. That’s the fundamental problem with this decision from Bethany Christian Services. It grants something that is not true. And we can’t just compromise to those categories. 

We don’t have to be mean about it. We don’t have to be rude about it. We don’t have to be snarky or even sarcastic about it. We can just be straightforward about it. But to cave in on these categories, even in the name of doing something good, is a devil’s bargain. You can’t win this one. 

The other problem with this is that Bethany’s decision— whenever a Christian organization caves, it makes it that much harder for the next Christian organization to stand. It gives the justification for those who want to target people of conscience the justification in saying, “So you can be a Christian and agree with our categories because, look, they did. And look at all of the things they do.” I’m not saying their motivations were wrong. This is fundamentally a terrible decision. And it hurts other organizations and institutions. And for a good cause? Okay. But one of the earliest Vacation Bible School songs I remember learning is “It’s never right to do wrong to do right so do what’s right to do.” 

So, this is an example — Did you follow all that? It’s never right to do wrong in order to do right. In other words, good intentions don’t make a wrong decision right. This is a well-intentioned wrong decision and it’s tragic and it’s not the time to do it.

BROWN: Well, let’s talk about what time it is. We’ve got the Equality Act having passed the House. This is a draconian piece of legislation that amends the civil-rights act—the civil-rights act—to include all manner of LGBTQ provisions. Now, I’ve heard you use the term tsunami to describe what it would do, but this isn’t really likely to pass right now, right? What are you thinking?

STONESTREET: I think it’s unlikely to pass the Senate as-is. So the numbers just aren’t there. 

But here’s what we need to know: When I call it a tsunami, here’s why I’m calling it that. First of all, the effect of the Equality Act, if it went through, would be tsunami-like. It’d be hard to identify very many aspects of the cultural landscape that it wouldn’t sweep over. 

The other thing that makes it a tsunami is that I guess I’m a little worried. I’ve been talking about the Equality Act for four or five years. Other people have been talking about it way longer. And so it’s easy to think, well, he’s crying wolf. And I think this is more like the boy standing on the beach saying, “It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming. The wave’s getting higher.” 

Because this is the closest the Equality Act will get to passing. And it is the most extreme version of the Equality Act that we’ve ever seen. And that’s what we have to understand. And we have a president who has said, you know, look, if something happens and the numbers go through, I’ll sign it in the first 100 days. So, in other words, more pieces are lining up politically to make it happen. But that’s because more pieces have lined up culturally to make this piece of legislation thinkable. And that’s the real thing. 

There’s no cultural forces right now that are providing any sort of obstacle or speed bump, much less an actual impediment to this sort of way of thinking from going forward, right? 

So, the clear example is the response culturally to the questioning of Rachel Levine by Rand Paul, in which Rand Paul basically said, “what makes what you’re proposing or what you believe is OK to do to little kids different than genital mutilation that’s happened at the hands of fringe religious groups or fringe religions for years and that all liberals say is barbarism. What’s different?” And the fact that Levine was not forced to answer the question, that a punt like he did was accepted, and Rand Paul was the bad guy for asking the question tells you all you need to know that the wave is getting bigger and the wave is coming. 

So, there’s nothing culturally right now that makes me think that there’s anything in its way. It’s not going to come this time, but it’s coming and it’s not going anywhere. So that’s why I use the tsunami language.

BROWN: If I could follow up just a bit. People of course have heard of the Equality Act and I think that there’s a sense of helplessness. But you touched on that exchange between the senator, Senator Paul, and the president’s nominee to head up an important part of Health and Human Services—touted as the first transgender nominee—but that whole exchange came around to the issue of children and that’s even what we’re talking about in the Bethany story—the effect on children.

STONESTREET: Right. Mmm-hmm. 

BROWN: So who’s going to stick up for them?

STONESTREET: That’s a great question and I don’t know what it’s going to be. I just know we don’t have an option on this one. Look, the LGBT issue disproportionately affects and victimizes children. That’s always been the MO of the sexual revolution. But these latter chapters of the sexual revolution have gone from harmful ideologies to early sexualization to downright physical mutilation—and taking something that leads little ones to despair and suicide and promising them an answer, knowing full well by data that it doesn’t provide. So this is a new level of the victimization of children. 

Throughout history, Christians who have taken the gospel to pagan societies have always found themselves protecting children. You can start with Amy Carmichael. You can talk about Wilberforce. You can go down the line. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I do know this, that for a church that has so struggled to stand up to these different chapters of the sexual revolution in one way or another, if we don’t stand up to protect children we are absolutely out of step with the history of the church.

That said, I mean, I think there are remarkable — we have to remember that the Equality Act would be a federal piece of legislation not unlike Roe v. Wade. And Roe v. Wade was “the law of the land” until it’s not, right? Because of the state level ability to push back, to regulate, to carve out exemptions and all kinds of things. And I think the state work is what’s going to be really important to do and we should put as much of it in place. And some states are putting it in place—protecting women’s sports, protecting girls’ privacy, protecting children’s rights. 

These are all real things that we can do. And you also have to remember on a cultural level we’ve just gone through the Me Too movement and it’s not over yet and we have a heightened awareness of things like sexual trafficking, sexual victimization in particular areas. In other words, this superstructure of sexual freedom that’s been built-up because of these bad ideas, it has some real cracks in the foundation. The ideas about sexuality that the progressives and the left and sexual revolutionaries have been touting for years are unsustainable. They violate what is true about life in the world, not to mention human nature. 

So, this isn’t going to go on forever. There’s going to be a whole lot of ruined, hurt, broken lives between now and then. But this isn’t the end of the story and I think we need to remember that this is God’s world with God’s moral values that we’re taking the stand on, which makes it all the more unconscionable, all the more scandalous when Christians who claim to believe in God and the way He created the world won’t protect the victims of these bad ideas.

BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

EICHER: Thank you John.

STONESTREET: Thank you both.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Last summer, 7-year-old Liza Scott opened up a lemonade stand at her mom’s bakery near Birmingham, Ala.  She spent her earnings on, well, exactly what you’d expect would strike the fancy of a 7-year-old girl—new toys and sequined high-heels. 

Months later, the bouncy little girl is still in business, but now the money is going toward something entirely different. Listen carefully here, you’ll hear a reference to a “brain thingy.”

MAN: So what’s the money going to go for?
LIZA: For my, uh, brain thingy, whatever it’s called.

Yes, what she’s talking about is the brain surgery she’s having next week at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Turns out, Liza had been suffering a series of seizures, and doctors determined cerebral malformations were causing them.

Her mom, Elizabeth, said Liza wasn’t expected to help out with costs. She just wanted to. 

Her little stand has brought in more than $12,000 in a few days—nearly all through donations.

And her efforts have helped to raise broader awareness of her situation. Friends, family, and others who have been touched by Liza’s story have already donated more than $300,000.

BROWN: So touching.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, March 5th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MRYNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: fallen heroes.

Remember the story Wednesday by Sarah Schweinsberg? She told the story of Brendan McDonough. He was the lone survivor from a team of firefighters who battled the deadliest wildfire in Arizona history.

EICHER: Well, we are listeners, too. Megan Basham listened and hearing McDonough tell the story in his own words prompted her to return to a 2017 movie about it.

CLIP: Alright we’ve got a new start up by Granite Mountain. We’re looking at the Doce Fire, started up 8 miles southwest of town. Kicked up big last night. How big? Over a thousand acres burned already. Burned through dry brush straight towards town. 

MEGAN BASHAM, REVIEWER: By virtue of the extreme danger people like police officers, soldiers, and firefighters often face, movies about them can tend to sameness. Yet, so long as the stories focus on the humans behind the heroics, their courage never fails to move us. Such is the case with Only the Brave, a film about the real-life Granite Mountain Hotshots who risked their lives battling one of our nation’s deadliest wildfires. (It’s rated PG-13 for language, including some lewd locker room dialogue, and a flash of one team member mooning the rest of the crew.)

Director Joseph Kosinski spends a significant amount of screen time providing backgrounds to the individual men and how they became the first municipal hotshot crew in U.S. history. Until Granite Mountain, previous crews were run by federal agencies. Headquartered in the high desert of Prescott, Arizona, the team spent years working as a second-line clearing and mop-up crew, taking a backseat to elite hotshot teams from California.

CLIP: How y’all doing? Eric Marsh, Crew 7. My captain, Jesse Steed. Well this fire’s gonna shift down here. I figured you and your crew should go down and prep that creek for a burn. I don’t mean any disrespect to you California boys, but I was watching this line for a few days now. The fire’s gonna shift, probably jump over to that neighborhood right over there. Okay, let me stop you right there. Marsh, is it? Yeah, its Marsh. Yeah well you guys are type two. And we are Hotshots. 

That changes when supervisor Eric Marsh, played by Josh Brolin, finally sees his years of lobbying bear fruit: The federal regulators agree to give his group a chance to qualify for hotshot rank.

CLIP: Yeah this is Marsh. What’s up? Just running a deployment drill. What you got? New start in the Chiricahua Mountains. Ate up 9000 acres since yesterday. They ordered up a type two SES team so mount up. This is it Eric. Game time. What do you mean? I called in a favor with an IC who owes me. Hayes. You’re being evaluated. I’ll hit you with the details. Good luck. Got some news. We’re heading to a fire down south. And we’re getting a eval on it. Settle down, settle down. And remember, when we do this, act like we done it before.

Each of the men is there for a different reason. Some are second-generation firefighters. Some have a deep love for the land and want to protect it. And one, Brendan “Donut” McDonough, played by Miles Teller, is a recovering drug addict hoping to be the father he never had to his unborn child. 

CLIP: How long have you been pregnant? Five months. Five months, are you serious? Dude, were you not even gonna tell me. Because I don’t want to hear it. I don’t. Look, I deserve a say in all this. Okay, then what do you wanna say? I called you. Say something. You don’t care about me. You never did. You broke up with me with a text. Look, I didn’t know. Yeah, and what if you did? What would you have done? Marry me? All right, look, that is part mine. It is, so I’m gonna be responsible for it. You’re not responsible for anything.

Though Marsh has little reason to take a chance on Brendan, he sees a bit of himself in the younger man and decides to test him out.

CLIP: You got a record? Yeah. Felony larceny. You ever do any time? Three days. And I’m on probation right now. What are you doing here? If you give me a chance I won’t let you down.

Unlike many past films about firefighters, Only the Brave offers fascinating details about how the various ranks work. For viewers with little knowledge of the actual business of firefighting, the team’s progression and the physical exertion required at each step is exhilarating to watch. It’s made more so by fantastic performances from the rest of the cast, including Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly, and Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch. 

The portrayals seem at once stereotypical and authentic. We’ve seen rowdy bunches like this before, but that’s because it takes a certain kind of man to take on such a dangerous job. They bond and blow off steam in ways we expect but find no less endearing for its familiarity. By the time we reach the fateful Yarnell Hill Fire, our affection for these men is intense. And so is our admiration.

I liked Only the Brave when I first saw it three and a half years ago, but Sarah’s story gave me new appreciation for just how true-to-life the film was. Nearly every detail McDonough mentions in his interview finds a place on screen, making it, I believe, a great companion piece to Sarah’s great reporting.

I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, March 5th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Editor in chief Marvin Olasky fields questions every month about WORLD’s news coverage. But during the last few weeks, many listeners have written to ask about a story you haven’t heard: his own account of the snow and ice storm that plagued so many Texans last month.

BROWN: So for today’s Ask the Editor, here are all the frigid details.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: WORLD members have asked how my wife and I did during the hard freeze that left millions of Texans without power during the third week of February. We did fine. We were without heat or electricity for five days, so the temperature inside our house dropped into the 30s. I’m taping this while waiting for a plumber to arrive: We have been without running water for two weeks. But it has been OK physically and good spiritually.

Some of you might wonder why a half-foot of snow and ice was a big deal. The problem in Austin, Texas, is that we are used to a slight dusting of snow once every five years. It’s been 31 years since we had single digit temperatures. Houses here have minimal insulation. Utilities are unprepared for long hard freezes. A “snowplow”? What’s that?

Happily, my house has a fireplace and I had a woodpile, so during most of our powerless week we sat by the fire dressed in layers of clothes that made us look like the Michelin man or the Pillsbury doughboy. We also used a gas-powered stovetop for tea and soup. We ran our car twice a day to warm up and recharge our cellphones and computers. We piled on the blankets at night. 

Most important, we had each other and God. Sadly, my prayers often overload on the supplication end, but that week we had a lot of thanksgiving for food, fire, and marriage. Other people had it much worse, but our Christian-led Austin Disaster Relief Network came through. Hundreds of volunteers with 4×4 vehicles drove people to shelters and hospitals. They distributed food and water. At least 10 churches became clean and safe shelters.

We had to turn off our water when a pipe in the crawlspace under our house burst. Austin’s plumbers have been booked up with thousands of more difficult situations where pipes burst indoors. So our lack of running water during the last two weeks has also given us a taste of pioneer life. I have a 100-gallon tank filled with rainwater from the roof, so I haul water in buckets to make our toilets work. We’re running through about 25 gallons of stored water for drinking. We have showered at a neighbor’s house.

So, lesson #1: Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Lesson #2: Be prepared with at least a couple of weeks of food, water, wood, matches, flashlights, etc. Lesson #3, which I can say emphatically after 45 years of marriage: It is not good for man to be alone. 

I’m Marvin Olasky.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It takes a team to put this program together and deliver it to you each morning. 

Thanks are in order:

Maria Baer, Megan Basham, Anna Johansen Brown, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, Les Sillars, Cal Thomas, and Emily Whitten.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are audio engineers. Leigh Jones is managing editor. Paul Butler is executive producer. And Marvin Olasky is editor in chief, even when he’s shivering.

And, thanks to you. Because of your support, you’re helping make it possible to bring Christian journalism to the marketplace of ideas. 

As the Psalmist says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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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