The World and Everything In It — April 2, 2021

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

A major class-action lawsuit targets hundreds of Christian schools across the country … but one of its goals is to shape the debate over the Equality Act.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We will talk with John Stonestreet about that today on Culture Friday.

Plus a new Christian film perfect for watching with kids—especially if they enjoy summer camp and singing.

And Ask the Editor. This month, Marvin Olasky answers a question about Judaism.

BROWN: It’s Friday, April 2nd. 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: Up next, Jill Nelson has today’s news.

JILL NELSON, NEWS ANCHOR: President Biden holds first cabinet meeting » President Joe Biden held his first official Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

His $2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure plan dominated the agenda. The president tapped five Cabinet secretaries to champion the proposal.

BIDEN: Working with my team here in the White House, these Cabinet members will represent me in dealing with Congress, engage the public in selling the plan, and help work out the details as we refine it and move forward.

The outreach team includes the secretaries of Transportation, Energy, Labor, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed the president’s legislative push.

PELOSI: President Biden is undertaking something in the tradition of thinking big, being transformational, and creating jobs for America.

But Republicans aren’t buying it. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said it was a stretch to call the package an infrastructure bill.

KENNEDY: As best I can tell, just being charitable, about 15 percent of this bill is addressed to infrastructure. The rest is climate subsidies and social welfare spending.

Pelosi said she hopes to hold a vote on the measure by July. President Biden says he wants to win bipartisan support for at least some of the bill. But if not, Congressional Democrats could use the budget reconciliation process to push it through without any Republican votes.

California shooter knew his victims » Police in Southern California say a man who shot and killed four people at an office complex south of Los Angeles on Wednesday knew his victims.

Orange Police Lieutenant Jennifer Amat told reporters Thursday this was not a random act of violence.

AMAT: The preliminary motive is believed to be related to a business and personal relationship which existed between the suspect and all of the victims.

The youngest victim was a 9-year-old boy. The gunman also shot and killed a man and two women. A third woman survived but was injured.

The gunman evidently planned the attack ahead of time, including ways to slow first responders who would eventually arrive at the scene.

AMAT: It appears the suspect used a bicycle-type cable lock to secure the gates from the inside, on both the north and south sides of the courtyard. Two officers engaged the suspect from outside of the gates, and an officer-involved shooting occurred.

Police identified the gunman as 44-year-old Aminadab Gonzalez. He survived but remains hospitalized. After arresting him, police recovered an automatic handgun and a backpack loaded with pepper spray, handcuffs, and ammunition.

Problems with Johnson & Johnson vaccine production » The company blamed for ruining 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has a history of quality control problems.

The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly cited Emergent BioSolutions for problems with employee training, cracked vials, and mold and other contamination around one of its facilities.

Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that a batch of the vaccine made by Emergent at a factory in Baltimore had to be discarded. It said the finished product did not meet quality standards.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CBS This Morning the system for catching problems worked.

FAUCI: You know, human errors do happen. And you have checks and balances. That’s the reason why the good news is that it did get picked up. As I mentioned, that’s the reason nothing from that plant has gone into anyone that we’ve administered to.

Johnson & Johnson partnered with Emergent a year ago to manufacture its vaccine. Before that, the Baltimore facility was a contract testing laboratory that did not manufacture products for distribution.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson downplayed any potential disruption and said it still planned to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of June, and possibly as soon as the end of May.

Basketball coach Roy Williams retires » Hall of Fame college basketball coach Roy Williams announced his retirement on Thursday.

During his 33-year career, Williams won more than 900 games and three national championships. He won those titles with the North Carolina Tar Heels, in 2005, 2009, and 2017. Before coming to North Carolina, Williams had a long and successful run at Kansas.

At the end of his team’s season, Williams reflected on what he called a “difficult year.”

WILLIAMS: It’s been a hard year to push and pull, push and pull every other day to try to get something done. But how can you be any luckier than Roy Williams is coaching basketball?

During a news conference Thursday, Williams said after two difficult seasons in a row, he no longer felt he was the right man for the job.

The Tar Heels lost to Wisconsin in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament. It was Williams’ only first-round loss in 30 tournaments.

I’m Jill Nelson.

Straight ahead: LGBT students sue Christian colleges.

Plus, Marvin Olasky answers a question about the Talmud.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, April 2nd, 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.

A seemingly significant federal class-action lawsuit this week.

A group known as the Religious Exemption Accountability Project on Monday filed suit targeting hundreds of Christian colleges and universities that have policies the group says are anti-LGBTQ. The goal of the suit is to force the schools to give up essentially their statements of faith and codes of conduct or lose federal money.

But another goal is to highlight a debate over the Equality Act—should it come before the Senate. This is a measure that would add LGBTQ priorities into federal civil-rights laws. One debate that may come up is over whether to exempt Christian colleges and universities from these laws, much as they’re exempted now in federal law on grounds of religious freedom.

The Washington Post quoted the head of the group that filed the lawsuit, and he said it was the prospect of religious carve-outs from the Equality Act. I’ll quote him: “Many mainstream LGBTQ groups aren’t committed to fighting. We want to say: ‘Don’t negotiate us away.’ Don’t bargain away these students, who are really being damaged with taxpayer money. I’m worried they will be cut out of the Equality Act protection.”

Well, it’s Culture Friday, and John Stonestreet joins us now. He’s president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. John, good morning!


EICHER: This is quite a lawsuit, and you see a number of sympathetic faces and I think this is the point of it, to put human faces and names on the coming debate over the Equality Act and whether there ought to be some kind of compromise scheme that’s been floated, so-called “Fairness for All.” So it seems like a smart strategy on the part of the gay group to present these students who say they were felt badly treated at this or the other Christian school.

But the practical effect is basically to force Christian institutions to choose between holding to basic Biblical doctrine or receiving federal funds in any form. Is it an exaggeration to say this could be the biggest threat to Christian institutions to come down the pike?


No, I think this is actually exposing something else. I mean this is really not, in a sense, a reaction to the Equality Act. It’s a reaction to the potential compromise solutions to the Equality Act, like Fairness For All. The Equality Act already puts any claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity over any Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, right?

So in other words, you can’t be protected by RFRAs.

Now of course, the religious exemption of institutions is a little bit more deeply ingrained and a little bit stronger than just RFRA laws, uh, but that was the idea of those who advanced compromise solutions like the Fairness For All legislation. I think this just demonstrates that that sort of compromise, uh, is, a strategic mistake.

Um, first of all, to say that we’ve reached a compromise with LGBT groups. This group in and of itself is exposing, “well which groups are willing to compromise with you?”

Says who?

This isn’t a random group of college students that got together online. You had students featured in this article from Bob Jones and Baylor. They don’t hang out with each other! I mean, that’s just not you know, the k- You know, they’re not gonna run into each other in the NCAA tournament, right? This is not what’s happening here. This was a fabricated group of students that was specifically targeted to say religious exemptions aren’t going to go forward.

Now as I’ve said before, the religious exemption of institutions protect us but not the rest of us. It protects you know, maybe Christian colleges and churches, if you can negotiate those, but it fails to recognize the religious freedom that people in our part of religious institutions also have.

And also, you know, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the courts. And it’s gonna be interesting what kind of protections we’re gonna have.

You know, I kinda feel like that meme of Michael Jackson, sitting there at the theater eating the popcorn during the Thriller video. Like, there’s a whole lot of movie left to be had. We’re gonna see some more.

EICHER: Yeah, [laughs] well, John. Everybody is talking about these Satan shoes. Sneakers that are said to contain a drop of human blood in the sole of this product that’s being promoted by this rapper. I’m not gonna say his name. But he has amassed a very young audience. And he’s also released a video of himself giving Satan a lap dance in hell. It’s incredibly disturbing for sure, probably by design. But is it culturally significant? And if so, what’s culturally significant about it?

STONESTREET: You know, uh, this is an interesting topic. I’m glad you brought it up for a number of reasons. Number one, is I think Satan is much more clever than jumping out and going “boo.” So these kind of shock things are shocking. And we shouldn’t indulge in them and we should definitely keep kids, who tend to be attracted to just being shocking for the sake of being shocking, away from it.

But we shouldn’t think that that’s the primary way Satan is working in our world. Uh, you know, Satan has been working far more effectively at shedding innocent unborn human blood than putting drops of blood in a particular sole of a shoe.

I’m not saying that makes it okay. It’s still ridiculous and absurd and awful.

The point is, is that culture has this dual role. Not everything that gets said or done in culture is embraced as normal, right? Um, you know, when, when professional athletes do some things, it’s very, very popular in culture. You know, when they do other things, it gets soundly rejected as being you know, racist or you know, drug abuse or you know, mistreatment of women. That’s the role that culture has.

And so it’s interesting how widely the condemnation has been of these shoes, right? You can kinda think back that Marilyn Manson who was accepted by a very small, subgroup and culture but pretty much widely and soundly rejected.

This is what you have to look at in culture. Sometimes culture serves a role of embracing new thing. A lot of times, it will reject new things. Uh, and then it will make a big noise but it really won’t go forward.

Which is one of the reasons, I think the scriptures tell us to be wise to serpents. Uh, because not everything that’s noisy is important. We’ll see if this one is.

EICHER: You know, speaking of Satanic, we’ve had a spate of stomach-turning acts of violence lately. From two mass murders, one case said to be based on a young man’s sexual disorders and another said to be based on a young man’s paranoia and explosive rage.

Then a carjacking captured on video, you hear more than you see, but the owner of the car tried to save his car and ended up losing his life.  And a young girl is seen more concerned about retrieving her cell phone than about the man she’s likely responsible for dragging to his death.

Then in New York, another attack captured on security video. For absolutely no other reason, apparently, than that the woman was an older Asian woman. She’s walking to church. The assailant kicks her to the ground, then kicks her twice more, allegedly says, you don’t belong here. And from the security tape, you see a security guy in this building, just shuts the door, no care for the woman lying on the sidewalk. Thirty one, according to NYPD, hate crime incidents against Asians versus 11 at this same time last year. That’s not satanic shock entertainment. That’s real life on the streets.

STONESTREET: No, it is Satanic. And we’ll see, uh, you know, when the numbers come in is you know, whether we’re seeing an overall rise in violent crime or acts of violence. And whether it’s everywhere and you know, what’s the relationship between that and you know, the police and all that sort of stuff. But I, but I do think we’re seeing, uh, an uptick in two things. And we know one thing is statistically verifiable and that’s the deaths from despair.

The other category I call acts of desperation. Just when people feel like, they’ve got nothing left to do except act out in some sort of way, that’s either self harming or others harming. And I put into that category certain, certainly acts of mass violence, you know, irrational blaming of people. Uh, for example, Asian Americans for, for COVID-19.

But, but we gotta look at it in that 30,000 foot view. This reminds me of just a few months ago when Bill Maher on his show, was talking about the Capitol riots with an African American conservative on the program. It got a lot of attention because African American conservative said, look, 2020 was the year of rioting. The rioting didn’t start in January of 2021. It, we have a whole trend of rioting that has taken place over the last 12 months. If we look at this as an isolated event, as opposed to asking, what has gone wrong in our culture that has created so much unrest, we’re gonna miss the story.

And I think, what we’re seeing is, our narratives right now, on these acts of violence are failing us. They’re proving themselves too small to handle all the facts.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. John, appreciate you.

STONESTREET: Haha, thank you both.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Andrea Lessings works at a Goodwill thrift store in Norman, Oklahoma.

LESSING: Just from working here for about a month and a half, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of weird things that have been donated.

And she told KFOR News that she recently found a really weird thing among the donations: Two sweaters wrapped together, around what she thought were books. But that’s not what she found.

LESSING: Stacks of just envelopes and it just contained $100 bills. My first thought was – it’s fake.

But the $100 bills were real, and there were 420 of them. That’s right, $42,000 in cash.

Being human, Lessings said, sure, it was a temptation. But she did the right thing. She brought it to the attention of a manager, and they were able to track down the person who unwittingly donated the cash.

And the rightful owners of the cash decided to reward Lessings for her honesty. Goodwill’s Vice President of Donated Goods, Frank Holland presented that reward.

HOLLAND: They asked us if we would give you $1,000 that came out of that money and give that back to you. [Lessings cries]

An emotional Andrea Lessings said she planned to spend much of it on birthday presents for her 6-year-old.

A story of good will in more ways than one.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, April 2nd.

Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a new Christian movie sure to get the whole family singing. Here’s reviewer Megan Basham.

CLIP: Looking for a reason roaming through the night to find my place in this world, my place in this world…

It will be easy for cooler-than-thou types to sneer at A Week Away, a new jukebox musical that puts a spiritual spin on the classic summer camp movie. But that will only be because they’ve forgotten the freedom the middle school years offer to fully embrace innocent entertainment.

CLIP: Well, today’s your lucky day. Good news, this is Kristin. She’s one of our foster parents, and her son.

The story starts with troubled teenager Will Hawkins, Kevin Quinn from Bunk’d.

CLIP: Will, you are going to summer camp?

He’s an orphan in need of community and comfort. Enter a foster family willing to take him in and send him off for a week of fun on the lake with their own teenage son.

CLIP: I’m George. Um, hi. Nice to meet you. You too. 

The PG film debuted March 27th on Netflix. And it clearly owes something of its existence to Disney’s High School Musical franchise. But this is one time the faith-based facsimile outdoes the secular original.

CLIP: Started out the morning in the usual way…

As a guitar-playing delinquent and his good-girl love interest, Quinn and Bailee Madison from Bridge to Terabithia offer moderately better singing and much better acting than Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in their Mouse House heyday. And even adults will chuckle at David Koechner, best known for Anchorman and The Office, and 30 Rock’s Sherri Shepherd in their roles as camp directors.

CLIP: Look, here’s Will Hawkins’ file. Oh right. Social services put everything in there. What’s this? Is this real? He tried to sell his high school on craigslist? Uh huh, that boy got three offers. Okay, so is this kid something I got to be worried about? I seem to remember a certain bad boy back in the day. Will will be fine.

But, of course, one of the most important elements in any musical is the songs. And in that category, it’s hard to argue that A Week Away doesn’t have it all over the Disney and Nickelodeon competition.

CLIP:Come on let’s go, I’m diving in, I’m going deep, in over my head I want to be…

Hits from Steven Curtis Chapman, For King and Country, Amy Grant, and Michael W. Smith coexist alongside new tunes from Fixer Upper’s favorite house band, Johnnyswim. I personally would have loved to see a couple head-banging numbers in the style of Petra, but still I dare believers who came of age in the 80s and 90s to resist singing along.

CLIP: So sink or swim, I’m diving in. I’m diving in, I’m going deep, in over my head I want to be. Caught in the rush lost in the flow…

In fact, if there’s any gripe to be had with A Week Away, it’s that the production feels a little too brief. Just when we start to get a handle on the central conflict of the story—whether our main character will let the Christian teens get to know the real him—the problem is resolved with a kiss and kickin’ talent show performance.

CLIP: There’s nothing better…

It’s a shame because, with a bit more time and development, the movie could have offered its target tween and young-teen audience something deeper.

CLIP: For I know the plans I have in store for you declares the Lord…

Still, when one character references Jeremiah 29:11—for I know the plans I have for you—she does so not from a place of prosperity, but of loss and suffering.

CLIP: Plans for giving you a hope and a future…

It’s an opportunity to remind kids that sometimes trusting God’s plans means trusting the pain He allows in our lives for our good.

CLIP: I just want to say I’m glad you’re here, Will. That’s it. That’s why I called you out here. Glad you’re here. Well, thanks. Hey, by the way, what’s with the name Aweegaway? Yeah, no no, it’s Aweegaway. You guys are taking a week away from your lives to hang out with us. Oh, yeah, that makes more sense. And bonus, every once in a while, somebody finds out they’re a week away from an experience that changed everything for them. That’s my favorite part. 

You can probably guess how Will’s story plays out from here. But light as it may be, A Week Away is still a sweet confection. And it’s the perfect new film for families looking for something fun to watch this weekend. It will provide a wide open door to lend their own voices to great worship songs on Easter Sunday.

CLIP: Our God is an awesome God, he reigns from Heaven above. With wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God. 

I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, April 2nd. 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.

It’s time now for Ask the Editor. This month, WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky answers a question about Judaism.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: We’re approaching the end of Passover, which began on March 27 and ends on April 4. Since a lot of WORLD members know I’m a Jewish Christian, some have asked me, What’s the Talmud? I hear Jewish people study it a lot.

That’s true: Many Orthodox Jews spend more time studying the Talmud than the Bible. Orthodox Jews believe God gave Jews a written law (the Hebrew Scriptures) but also an “oral law” passed down from Moses through the generations and written down in the Talmud. It’s a huge and fascinating repository of analysis and story-telling recorded between 200 and 500 A.D.

The Talmud includes some parallels to New Testament teaching: “When a man is dangerously ill, you may break one Sabbath on his behalf, that he may be preserved to keep many Sabbaths.”  Other parts offer good advice: “I would rather be called a fool all my days than sin one hour before God.” Here’s another good one to remember: “Repent one day before your death.” Since we don’t know what day that is, it means repent every day.

The Talmud includes attempts to harmonize Bible passages that seem contradictory. Deuteronomy 23 prohibits marrying Moabites, but in the Book of Ruth Boaz marries Ruth even though she’s from Moab. Christians understand why: God is showing that He will extend his covenant to non-Jews. The Talmudic rabbis did not acknowledge that, so one stipulated that the Deuteronomy passage was just to keep out Moabite men: Male Israelites could marry Moabite women.

The Talmud has a lot of theology that Jews take seriously, but there’s also humor that will feel familiar to anyone who has watched Seinfeld. Here’s a Talmud statement about bigamy problems: “A man had a young wife who plucked out all his gray hairs so he might look young, and an old wife who plucked out all his black hairs so he might look old.” Or how about this: “Three creatures—dogs, roosters, and sorcerers—make trouble. Some say strange women do also.”

Some WORLD members complain that we have no heroes anymore, I recommend this passage: “Rabbi Chanina could put on and off his shoes while standing on one leg only, though he was 80 years of age.” I aspire to that.

I’m Marvin Olasky.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, today is Good Friday. Many Christians around the world gather to hear and reflect upon the passion of Christ: His last supper, prayerful preparation, garden arrest, trial by night, crucifixion, and burial in a borrowed tomb.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Many Good Friday services end with draping the altar in black, or lowering the lights as people leave in silence—soberly awaiting Resurrection Sunday. We’ve decided to end today’s program in a similar way.

EICHER: Last year, most churches across the globe cancelled their usual Good Friday and Easter services. So one musical group in Kottayam, India, recorded a virtual choir rendition of a well-loved hymn.

BROWN: Here are 80 members of the Kottayam Mixed Voices with Isaac Watts’s 18th century hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

AUDIO: [song]

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

Thanks are in order:

Megan Basham, Anna Johansen Brown, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, and Whitney Williams.

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

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

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Have a wonderful Easter weekend of worship with your brothers and sisters.

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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