The Briefing 09-17-14

The Briefing 09-17-14

The Briefing


September 17, 2014

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


It’s Wednesday, September 17, 2014.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Obama declares Ebola epidemic a national security crisis and global responsibility for the US

The President of the United States can choose just about any place as the location for making a speech, and when that speech is moved outside of Washington – specifically outside the White House – the president is making a point. And President Obama made quite a point yesterday in going to Atlanta, Georgia to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control to give a major administration speech on behalf of the issue of Ebola. And the President addressed the issue of Ebola as if he was announcing a military campaign, and in effect that’s exactly what he was doing. In the President’s speech yesterday he acknowledged four major goals of the national strategy. He announced the first the goal is to control the outbreak, more about that in just a moment. The second goal was to address, what he called, the ripple effects of local economies and communities to prevent a truly massive humanitarian disaster. Third the President said the United States will coordinate a broader global response. And last, the President said the United States will help African nations to build a public health infrastructure to help to prevent this kind of epidemic from happening again.

The most important foreground to the President’s speech is the fact that the outbreak of Ebola, that is now several months old in West Africa, is threatening to break out into a worldwide epidemic. That point was made very candidly in the pages of the New York Times this past Tuesday when David Brooks cited Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is the president of Liberia, who said, “At this rate, we will never break the transmission chain, and the virus will overwhelm us.”

Similarly, yesterday’s editorial page of USA Today indicated something to the velocity of this particular epidemic. As the editors wrote, “The first 1,000 cases took more than four months to spread. The next 1,000 accumulated in just one month. Since Aug. 13 — just a month ago — 2,800 cases have been added.”

We now know that at least 4,800 persons have caught the disease, half of them have already died. And we also know that the disease that began in Guinea and Liberia has now spread to Nigeria, and Senegal has has reported now one case. There are suspicions that other cases that have been misdiagnosed as other diseases may well be indicators of the spread of Ebola into yet other nations. The point being made by the president was this, Ebola, he now says, is a national security issue – not only for Africa, but also for the United States. And the President made a compelling point, because as he pointed out, when you are looking at the situation in Africa, we live in a global community where nothing can be limited, nothing on this scale can be limited to one region.

Furthermore, the United States has a particular responsibility in this because we are the only nation with a public health infrastructure capable of coming anything close to addressing this. That’s a point that we need to ponder for just a moment. Once again, we are reminded that this kind of cultural achievement is just that – it is an achievement. The fact that here in United States we have such a comprehensive public health infrastructure is a sign that there were centuries, decades, generations, of contributions into building that kind of systematic structure. It wasn’t just in one generation that such a massive infrastructure was born. When we look back to the founding of the United States of America, America’s public health system was no better than what’s in Africa now – it was assuredly worse. As a matter fact, when United States was founded as a nation most people didn’t even believe in germ theory, and certainly didn’t know about viruses. All that has changed now, and the United States is the epicenter of world health in terms of its modern representation. And the United States, as the President acknowledged yesterday in Atlanta, is the only nation that can really respond to this.

Furthermore, we should have a special burden for Africa in a different light. Africa as a continent has been making significant strides and developments just in the last generation. The American president most often credited with helping Africa to begin an accelerated development is President George W. Bush. Remembered around the world for many other things, but remembered in Africa for the very personal interest he took in that continent. But of course Christians looking at this recognize that our main concern isn’t economic, and isn’t national security, it’s humanitarian. It’s the fact that the people who are now catching this disease, developing it’s a horrifying symptoms, and dying of it, and all of those who are among their loved ones and in their communities, are people made in the image of God. And we have a special burden to understand that where we can help, we should help. Christians wondering about all this should remember, if nothing else, the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remembering that when we see a need we can meet, everyone is our neighbor – especially, including now, everyone in Africa.

2) Government’s integrity undermined by pervasive abortion services billed under Obamacare

Back here in United States our public health infrastructure deserve a closer look on a very important issue, and the issue is abortion. Stephanie Armour reporting for the Wall Street Journal yesterday indicates that at least some insurance plans that are available through Obamacare, known as the Affordable Care Act, are breaking rules aimed at ensuring federal funds aren’t used to cover most abortions. That was in a federal report that was released to Congress by the demand of the House of Representatives just in recent days. Now I want you think back to when the Obamacare legislation passed. You’ll recall that it passed without a single Republican vote, and it passed, so very narrowly, because some pro-life Democrats were convinced that there would be protections built into the legislation that would prevent a single penny, a single dime, from going towards payment for abortion. And now a report comes out saying that that very thing has happened, and not only has it happened, it appears to be pretty pervasive. As Armour reports,

“A review of 18 insurers found that 15 of them [that’s 15 out of 18] didn’t itemize the premium amount associated with the abortion services and didn’t send a separate bill for that premium amount.”

And that means that 15 out of 18 were finding a way to bill for abortion under the Affordable Care Act. And we’re clearly not talking here about exceptions, we’re not talking about outliers, we’re talking about 15 of the 18 insurers that were studied in this report. John Boehner, the speaker the House of Representatives said,

“Today’s GAO [that’s Government Accounting Office] report confirms that under the president’s health-care law, abortions are being paid for with taxpayer funds by more than 1,000 exchange plans across the country.”

So the report doesn’t just say that 15 of the 18 closely considered plans included abortion payment, but that it appears that similar kinds of malfeasance are present in over 1,000 of the qualified plans across the United States of America. Now this is one of the things that can quickly get sidelined by liberal media, something that can quickly be ignored by those who pledged that this wouldn’t happen, couldn’t happen, and now you have even those who are running the Affordable Care Act saying that perhaps there needs to be a closer monitoring.

Ben Wakana, a spokesman with Health and Human Services said,

“[We] will work with stakeholders, including states and issuers, so they fully understand and comply with the federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions,”

But even as he made those assurances in light of this government report, this is the very administration and the very departments that made those assurances at the very beginning – and now we know those assurances were worth nothing. In terms of political integrity here something to watch for, in terms of political integrity here’s a big question; how many of those who voted for the Affordable Care Act, while claiming to be pro-life Democrats, and they voted for only after they had these assurances, how many of them are now going to stick their necks out to assure that their assurances are assuredly true? That’s a tougher question of course when we know that they surely were not true as verified now by the Government accounting office. It is stories like this that make the phrase “government accountability” or “political honesty” appear to be oxymorons – words that simply can’t credibly be combined.

3) Birthrate radically reshapes political demographics of Jewish voters

On The Briefing we often come back to the issue of birth rate as being very, very important in demonstrating worldview. The fact that one decides to have a child, and especially multiple children, is a very clear sign; first of all, as we have seen that is correlated with belief in God – theistic belief and birthrates are among the most closely correlated statistics to be found. Furthermore, the decision to have a child is a statement about the future, and in contrast the decision not to have children is also a statement about the future – certainly when you broaden it to an entire community; that what make an article in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times very important. Joseph Berger writes that liberal Jewish voters in New York may be a thing of the past. Why? Because liberal Jewish communities in New York have an atrociously low birth rate, and very conservative, even hyper orthodox Jews in New York, have an abundant birth rate. As he writes,

“A 2012 demographic study by UJA-Federation of New York found that 60 percent of Jewish children in the New York City area — the Jewish center of the United States — live in Orthodox homes, which suggests that in a generation [now he writes here a single generation] a majority of the city’s one million Jews may be classified as Orthodox.”

Now if that doesn’t sound like blockbuster news to you, you haven’t been following the history of the Jewish community in New York City – which is emblematic of the Jewish community in the entire United States of America. New York City has been associated with a very high concentration of a Jewish population for the better part of more than a century, and that Jewish population, mostly drawn from Eastern Europe, became overwhelmingly identified with the Democratic Party and with political progressivism and liberalism in the United States. And for the better part of the last half-century, the Jewish population in New York City has trended towards the most liberal, and even increasingly secular, variance of Judaism. But the birthrates are going to change all that. Cause as it turns out, the more liberal or secular Jews stopped having babies. In the meantime, the most Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, including the ultra-orthodox and the Hasidim, they been having very large families and their very large families spawn even more large families. And this means that if you’re a Democratic politician in New York, and you’ve been building your vote count on liberal Democratic votes, you’ve got about a generation to shift because as this article in the New York Times no less makes very clear, the Jewish population in New York is almost assuredly going to be a conservative population when it comes to voting patterns in just a generation. And it’s not that there has been a conversion from one political perspective to another, this is not vote shifting or party shifting – this is a birth rate issue, plain and simple. Those who do not have babies are going to give way to those who do, and in this case the Jewish population of New York City is a microcosm for what’s happening in the larger nation as well. And the same principle pertains; the ones who are having the babies own the future.

4) Coercive feminism gains political ground in Sweden evidences spiraling sexual revolution

One of the trajectories we been noting on The Briefing is the fact that when you start a sexual revolution, you discover something very quickly – it’s easier to start than to stop. Furthermore, it’s very hard to tell where the current sexual revolution, or gender revolution, might stop or even if it can stop. And the suspicion increasingly grows that it cannot stop, so the only question is: where does it go next? And that’s why the article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Anna Molin is very interesting. The headline is “Feminist Party Gains in Europe’s Model State for Equality.” It might not look like a spellbinding headline, but the story is really interesting. She writes,

“As the country that gets the European Union’s best marks for gender equality heads to the polls on Sunday, a top election issue is gender inequality.”

Now let’s pause for just a moment. Gender inequality in Sweden? Sweden is recognized almost worldwide as the most gender equal nation on earth. What is remaining to be done? Well, just buckle your seatbelts. According to Anna Molin, Sweden, like his Nordic neighbors, has long been known for its policies to get women into the workforce and into decision-making roles. Women today outnumber men in government, and the country’s day care subsidies and parental leave policies are among the world’s most generous. Now let’s pause for a moment again, we’re talking about a nation that might be compared only with its neighboring nation of Norway in terms of the progress that it has made towards its cultural goal of gender equality. And we’re also talking about a nation in which women now outnumber men in many businesses and even in government. And we also have a nation that has tried to do it’s very best to equalize the genders, in so far as it has the economic power, by offering subsidies, day care, all kinds of things, in order to facilitate women going into the workplace. So what hasn’t been done yet? Well as I said stay tuned.

It turns out that that’s not enough for the nation’s political leaders, and in particular for a group of feminists who are going to be a major factor in Sunday’s upcoming election. They formed a party known as the Feminist Initiative that’s now, according to Molin, at the center of Sweden’s election debate. In May the party became the first to win a seat in the European Parliament as a feminist ticket. It now has a chance in this upcoming Sunday election to become the only feminist party with legislative power in Europe. So what is it pushing for? It’s pushing for what it calls feminism 2.0. And this feminism is coercive. And it’s coercive in some very interesting ways. As a matter fact, if you add together what a husband and wife, now just a minute that’s anachronistic in Sweden, when a man and a woman, who are parents of a child, are given, in terms of paid parental leave, it amounts to more than 480 days. You put the two together, the mother and the father, more than 480 days – that’s well over a year of paid parental leave. But right now it’s up to the couple to decide how that leave is distributed – how much the father takes how much the mother takes. And now this new party, that is expected to have of vast amount of support coming this Sunday, says the government must mandate it. In order to mandate absolute equality men must be forced, by law, to take just as many parental leave days as are the women, the mothers.

Lena Wängnerud, political science professor at University of Gothenburg said,

“It is no longer enough just to have a number of women in parliament and in other positions,”

She said, according to Molin,

“Sweden’s history of promoting gender equality has created a breeding ground for feminist ideals. ‘Even when comparing with the other Nordic countries, the equality debate is much more radical in Sweden and focuses more on the remaining inequalities than on the progress made so far,’”

Cited in the article is Cerese Olsson, a 30-year-old finance administrator for the Women’s International League For Peace And Freedom, who said she’s going to vote for the party because she’s “fed up with not living in an equal society.”

But we need to recognize that this party’s platform is calling for a form of gender equality that can be brought about only by coercion – this is no longer about rights, this is about coercion, a forced equality according to this feminist vision. And by the way, by the time you reach the end of this article it’s clear that this feminist party has far broader goals than just requiring men and women to take equal parental paid leave. For instances as Molin writes,

“It wants to scrap the country’s defense because it says an arms buildup perpetuates violence and the idea that men are agents of violence, which it says leads to more domestic violence.”

So now you have this party that is expected to gain legislative power in the election coming up in Sweden on Sunday; it has already won one seat in the European Parliament, and it calls for an end to national defense – because that just privileges males. You might think that a party with this kind of radical platform wouldn’t have any political chance, but then you wouldn’t be talking about Sweden, and you might not be talking about Sunday – we’ll see what happens.

5) Removal of leader from Thai history books reveals importance of history for shape of future

Finally let’s think about history for just a moment. You know, when you think about the discipline of history, the subject of history, a lot of people just roll their eyes. But we need to recognize something that is very important from a biblical worldview. This is something that comes out in both the old and New Testament, perhaps most directly even in the Old – and that is the importance of history, and of getting history right, and the one who owns history, well like the birth rate, owns the future. Because the one who tells the story, identifies where the story should go. That’s a very important issue and it has been understood by every government, by every king, by every dictator, and every autocratic in world history –  the one who gets to write the history determines where the history should go, where the story begins, how we got to where we are now; if you own that part of the story, you have enormous power in suggesting where the story should go from here. That’s why just about every ideological force on earth wants to get to history.

In the cover story the New York Times magazine just about a week ago, the New York Times revealed that Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is trying to reform the nation’s history curriculum, especially in the public schools. And, even the New York Times, at least raising the issue, if that’s a good thing. Furthermore, you have debates over history in all kinds of arenas now, but one arrives all the sudden by surprise in the pages once again of the New York Times in a story about Thailand. The reporter for the story is Thomas Fuller, the headline is this: “Loved and Hated, Former Premier of Thailand Is Erased From Textbook.” Now this reminds us of something that was certainly true of the Soviet Union, and its attempt to sanitize its history. If you look to successive editions of what was known as the Soviet Encyclopedia, you’ll discover that people moved in favor and out-of-favor by the fact that they moved in photographs and out of photographs. Sometimes the Soviet editors were so clumsy that they would leave a hand, as in a common handshake, while removing the individual whose hand was originally in the handshake. Sometimes they would move people in and out of photographs with no concern that anyone with eyes to see could look at successive editions of the same Encyclopedia and discover that that person wasn’t there when the photograph was taken. But then, if you’re going to play with history that way, how do you know that anyone in the photograph was actually there or not there?

But as an example of how people try to control history, you can hardly top what’s going on now in Thailand. As Fuller writes,

“His legacy is inseparable from the past decade of political tumult in Thailand, but high school students will not find the name Thaksin Shinawatra in the history textbooks that the country’s military junta recently ordered schools to use. Mr. Thaksin’s name was scrubbed from the book by the Ministry of Education, said the textbook’s author, Thanom Anarmwat. ‘The officials at the ministry just deleted it, cut it,’ he said. Mr. Thaksin elicits love or hate in Thailand and not much in between.”

To members of the Bangkok establishment, now in power by military coup, he is so odious they don’t even want to mention his name. But to many populous in Thailand, he’s a figure of great popular support. But the education ministry’s order last month, according to the report, that all public high schools use the new textbook as part of a broader effort to instill patriotism in Thailand youth, and the current regime thinks that the way to tell the story of Thailand in a patriotic sense for the teenagers in that country is to cut out some recent history – even to cut out the man who was the Prime Minister, such that they’re simply going to give students a gap in terms of history. So even as this New York Times story makes very clear that Thailand’s government is very clumsy in trying to rewrite history, even writing out a recent Prime Minister, we need to be reminded of the Christian responsibility to tell our story and the tell it well and to tell it right, and to make sure we tell that story to our children.

The story in the New York Times brought to my mind the text that is found in Deuteronomy chapter 6 beginning in verse 20 where we read,

20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’”

And so, the Lord spoke through Moses to tell the children of Israel: get history right, and not only get history right, but tell the history to your children – not just so that they will know it, but so that they will be who God intended for them to be, and they will find themselves in that story – as we all do.

The one who controls the story, controls the future.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information go to my website at you can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to For information on Boyce College just go to I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.


Podcast Transcript

1) Obama declares Ebola epidemic a national security crisis and global responsibility for the US

Read his speech: Obama visits Georgia, CDC for Ebola updates, WJCL (Christopher Buchanan)

Goodbye, Organization Man, New York Times (David Brooks)

Ebola speeds up, world stands still: Our view, USA Today (Editorial Board)

2) Government’s integrity undermined by pervasive abortion services billed under Obamacare

Watchdog Finds Insurers Not Following Health Law’s Abortion Rule, Wall Street Journal (Stephanie Armour)

3) Birthrate radically reshapes political demographics of Jewish voters

Are Liberal Jewish Voters a Thing of the Past?, New York Times (Joseph Berger)

4) Coercive feminism gains political ground in Sweden evidences spiraling sexual revolution

Gender Gap Fuels Swedish Feminist Party’s Rise Ahead of Election, Wall Street (Anna Molin)

5) Removal of leader from Thai history books reveals importance of history for shape of future

So Bill Gates Has This Idea for a History Class …, New York Times (Andrew Ross Sorkin)

Loved and Hated, Former Premier of Thailand Is Erased From Textbook, New York Times (Thomas Fuller)



R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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