The Briefing 09-19-14

The Briefing 09-19-14

The Briefing


September 19, 2014

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


It’s Friday, September 19, 2014.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Prevention of Islamic State plot in Australia reminder of inability to know hearts of men

Australia has just undertaken its biggest national security operation in terms of counterterrorism in the nation’s history. Over 800 police officers were involved, including Australia’s top SWAT units; the level of deployment was unprecedented in the nation ‘down under,’ and it led to the detainment or arrest of 15 people. Why? Because the Australian government came to the conclusion that there was a very credible threat of action insight Australia by the group known as Islamic State; and the action that was threatened is exactly what has taken place on the now notorious and infamous videos that have spread around the world. It appears that the Islamic State was in direct contact with agents within Australia, suggesting that the group should then move to an active plan to kidnap civilians and behead them on video to demonstrate the power, the intimidation, and the reach of Islamic State far beyond the Levant, far beyond the Middle East, right into the heart of Australia – and as the Australian government had made clear to other Western nations, the plot was also to involve kidnappings and beheadings elsewhere in the advanced West.

The Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s leading newspapers, reports that the top terrorist recruiters name is Mohammad Baryalei – he is now believed to be behind the plot by the Islamic State to murder Australians on video. The paper reports that the Australian police, including their advanced deployment of SWAT units, had begun to respond to this, swooping down – according to the paper – amid fears of public safety after Baryalei allegedly spoke by phone with a man known as Omarjan Azari. That took place just this past Tuesday, in which the federal government there in Australia intercepted a conversation in which the recruiter spoke to his recruit in Australia discussing a plan to kidnap and murder, by beheading, a random person on camera. The footage of that beheading was to be posted online by the Islamic State’s sophisticated powerful propaganda wing.

Several people around the world have been noticing something of tremendous interest, if not a small amount of irony here, a very dark irony. The Islamic State’s vision is not into the future, but into the past. The Islamic State is basically a medieval organization, going back to the military code and the moral codes of Muslims in the Middle Ages. Furthermore, and on the other hand, is using the most advanced digital technologies and in a very sophisticated way. The videos, now infamous, of the executions of these Western hostages that have been taken are very well produced by production standards. They have been released in ways that social media experts say it revealed a level of sophistication. And so here you have a group whose ideologies not only deeply evil, but deeply medieval, and they’re using a technology that is radically modern – and their using recruiting strategies that are just as modern. But the most frightening thing about the reports coming from the international press about the police action in Australia is the fact that it appears that the Islamic State is becoming increasingly successful in recruiting Muslims from Western nations to join its terrorist efforts. There is now evidence of a pipeline, in terms of this recruitment, from cities like Minneapolis into Somalia and beyond; especially from cities such as London – an extremist Islamic mosque there that had been well-known for well over a decade for fostering this kind of Muslim terrorism – now it’s known that similar things are happening in Belgium, in Germany, in France, and especially now in Australia. And if Americans have been waiting for a wake-up call about whether or not the Islamic State poses a threat to this nation, this is that wake-up call. We’re talking about the response of the Australian government to what is now recognized across its political spectrum as a legitimate threat. There were those in the beginning of the effort who are accusing the Prime Minister there in Australia of grandstanding, but now virtually all political parties, facing the evidence, now recognize that the government had to take this action.

From a Christian worldview perspective, one of most important things to consider here is the fact that your eyes simply can’t tell you who, in the heart, may be radicalized towards this kind of Islam. There are now people in Minneapolis who are told that some of the young men they had known in high schools there have been recruited for the Islamic State; there are people all over England and in London in particular, who had known young men who now know they’d been recruited by the Islamic State. And when it comes to Australia, the scariest thing that has been indicated by the law enforcement officials there is that some of the people, who are now believed to have been radicalized and recruited by Islamic State, are people who would had never been recognized by their neighbors as being so.

But if we’ve shocked by that, we need to go back no further than September 11, 2001. Where, if you will remember, those terrorists who boarded those airplanes with murderous intent and effect had lived among other Americans for matter of months and sometimes for longer; blending in, watching American movies, going to American department stores, hanging out in American malls. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, many people said about young men they had known to be their neighbors, ‘I had no idea that was in his heart or in his mind.’ As a matter fact, several novelist actually applied that very plotline after 9/11, suggesting that Americans should be at least alerted to the fact that people may be living right around us, within our own neighborhoods, who hold worldviews that are diametrically opposed to our own and even murderously so. But Christians looking at this can hardly now claim to be surprised, or at least to be shocked, because the Scripture itself tells us that there is murderous intent within the human heart. When it comes out in this kind of raid undertaken on Australia, we sometimes are surprised by the scale of it; but we shouldn’t be surprised by the substance of it.

2) False god of diversity valued by California university system cheap substitute for genuine pluralism

In recent weeks we’ve been looking at the California State University system’s decision to ‘de-recognize’ the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and now other Christian organizations; organizations that could not sign on to the universities so-called “all comers” policy. That “all comers” policy means that all groups on campus, all recognized student groups – with the exception of fraternities and sororities – must accept all who come, and not only in the membership but also, at least as candidates, for election to leadership. Christian organizations on college campuses determined to remain, in any way, authentically Christian obviously can’t sign on to those kinds of policies. You can’t have a Christian organization if you do not have Christians that are leading it – that’s just common sense. But its common sense that has eluded so many in a secular society, they are absolutely determined to put the new moral regime in place by whatever coercion is necessary. Sometimes it’s very helpful to have someone outside the Christian movement look at this and try to take its measure. That took place this week in the pages of the magazine Bloomberg BusinessWeek and in this case the columnist is Virginia Postrel, She’s not writing from an evangelical Christian perspective; she is writing however from her perspective that affirms pluralism, ideological pluralism, and she says what’s going on in California and in similar school systems is not really about pluralism, it’s merely about diversity. And to her credit, she understands the distinction, and so should we. She begins her essay in the magazine by writing,

“American colleges often praise “diversity” as one of their highest values. The term is, of course, a well-understood code word for diversity not of thought or values but of race and ethnicity. The assumption is that people of different backgrounds and experiences, including ethnic backgrounds and immigrant experiences, will naturally bring with them diversity of thought and values and, hence, enrich campus cultural and intellectual life.”

She makes a very important distinction here; the diversity that the average prestigious American college or university says it is absolutely committed to, even idolatrously so, is a diversity that doesn’t include intellectual or ideological diversity. This is demonstrated in the fact that if you look at the voting patterns amongst American college and university faculty, they are overwhelmingly in the liberal democratic direction. If you look at the reports about campaign contributions from university faculty, such as Harvard and Yale, you will see that to describe them as being imbalanced is a grotesque understatement. You’ll also understand that this kind of imbalance in the ideological or intellectual diversity is seen to be something that the university is absolutely unwilling to part with, even as it claims to be a high temple of diversity. Virginia Postrel is absolutely right when she says that kind of diversity is actually a very cheap substitute for ideological pluralism. If American colleges and universities were truly committed to diversity, they will be committed to that kind of intellectual diversity to what we might call worldview diversity. But the Christian worldview is now being sidelined, marginalized, and in some ways, absolutely – well their word is – de-recognized from the entire official campus culture. And Virginia Postrel, writing from a libertarian standpoint, not a Christian standpoint, comes back to say Americans should see that’s for what it is – it’s a form of coercion, it’s a form of discrimination, and it is done so under the false guise of what the University claims is diversity.

But Virginia Postrel also very intelligently points to another problem with this kind of policy. The policy again is known as in “all comers” policy and the idea behind it is that is absolutely wrong under any circumstance to discriminate on any basis towards anyone who might want to be elected to the leadership of one of these student organizations. Well in order to test her question, Virginia Postrel actually addressed the question to a university administrator, asking the question, does this policy actually deliver on what you seem to promise? And the administrator backed up, quickly arguing that the policy really wouldn’t have the effect of Christian organizations electing non-Christian leaders. Why? Because he says, the Christian members of the Christian organization can continue to elect merely Christians using social pressure, if not policy – there can be no creedal or confessional requirement, but after all, the students could vote for whomever they decide to vote. So Virginia Postrel intelligently then turns it back on the administrator, then does the policy actually mean anything? Or are you asking Christian organizations merely to sell away their soul in order to make you able to claim that you’re more diverse than you actually are? The false god of diversity demands continual sacrifices, the false god of diversity is never satisfied, and the false god of diversity is never diverse when it comes to worldview, and Virginia Postrel has done all of us a great service by pointing that fact out.

3) ‘Myth’ of sex-selection abortion problem in US turns out to be fact

For the better part of the last three decades it has become increasingly clear the gendercide is a reality. Gendercide is a word coined about the intentional murder of those who were either born or unborn of one gender, and in this case it refers to the abortion or infanticide of girls – almost always girls. Around the world there is a huge imbalance in the number of young girls, there are approximately 34,000,000 more Chinese teenage males and young men then there are women. These are referred to as ‘the broken branches’ – there will be no family tree. The imbalance, in terms of gender, in nations such as China and India is simply so massive that it is now even understood as a national security threat by at least the Indian government, if not yet the Chinese. China’s infamous one child only policy is only added to the very evil context of this reality – the reality of gendercide. The preference for boys on the part of Asian families is so strong that in China and in India one of those dangerous and difficult conditions for humanity is being a young, either unborn or recently born, girl.

But are sex selection abortions actually going on in the United States? At least eight states in the US have banned abortion for sex selection. There’s no particular enforcement mechanism that works in this case, but at least the law states that it is morally wrong – indeed evil – to abort a child based on its gender. Other states and jurisdictions are considering similar kinds of legislation, but just in recent days David Chiu, a San Francisco supervisor – that is a city supervisor – had initiated a resolution to oppose bans on sex selective abortion. Now let’s get the language right, he’s opposing a ban on sex selection abortion. Now what kind of moral agenda could be behind an effort to oppose a ban on sex selection abortions? Well Rachel Lu writing at the Federalist makes the point very clear, it’s because at least some in the Asian-American community claim that it’s a form of racism to suggest the sex selection abortions is taking place. And as a matter fact, David Chiu and others are doing their very best to argue that it isn’t taking place, arguing that sex selection abortion isn’t a problem in the United States, it’s all just a racist ploy. But then she writes,

“There’s just one problem with this argument. Sex-selective abortion does happen here, and the evidence has been bolstered by, ironically, the very study Chiu and others have cited as their primary source of data. Another day,[she says,] another reminder that maybe somebody (at least an intern?) should actually read the study before we all get on our high horses about it.”

The study that was cited by this San Francisco city supervisor, and others, in opposing bans on sex selection abortion actually makes the point that sex selection abortion is taking place here. As Rachel Lu points out, evidently in citing the study, they cited it without reading it. As she writes,

“The evidence is already before us that sex-selective abortion does happen here. Sunita Puri published a study in 2011 in which she interviewed 65 Indian immigrant women, all of whom had pursued fetal sex selection. Her study revealed that the women, like so many mothers abroad, had been shamed and sometimes abused for conceiving too many girls, and that nearly half of them had aborted daughters in the past. Among those study participants who were carrying girls, 89 percent chose to abort.”

That’s virtually 9 out of 10. Rachel Lu then turns to look at demographic data worldwide and the data, they are simply horrifying. It turns out that when it comes to a first child there is now a mild imbalance toward boys, indicating that where there is the opportunity of future children, at least some Asian parents are deciding to allow the girl to be born. When it comes to a second child, the gender imbalance is more remarkable. But then she says,

“The really significant finding concerned third births in families who already had two daughters. Among these children, there were 151 boys for every 100 girls. [The researchers] drew the obvious conclusion: when expecting for the third time, a significant number of Asian parents preferred an abortion to a third daughter.”

The University of Chicago’s International Human Rights Clinic has put out what it claims to be the new definitive word on sex selection abortion – its databases is much larger and more recent than the one cited in terms of the other report. Rachel Lu also says,

“It also wears its political agenda on its sleeve, presenting a list of “myths” (used by the pro-life movement to justify laws against sex-selective abortion) and replacing them with “facts” (meant to show that such laws are unnecessary).”

The report includes myth number six,

“The primary motivation behind laws banning sex-selective abortion in the United States is to prevent gender-based discrimination”

They then replace that with fact six,

“Restricting access to abortion is the primary motivation for sex-selective abortion bans.”

Now something here very important to note, if you’re doing demographic analysis – this isn’t the kind of conclusion you reach. This is an ideological assertion, and the myth, at least what they claim to be the myth, that sex selection abortions are actually happening, turns out to be the fact – as indicated in their own report. Rachel Lu then writes that even in this new report there is this statement,

“‘Our study of pooled ACS data confirms Almond and Edlund’s study with regard to the third births of foreign-born Chinese, Indian and Korean families that have already given birth to two girls.’ [Rachel Lu then writes,] Wait, what? This wonderful, up-to-date study confirms the very point that was most critical to the pro-life argument all along? So… then… what are all these pro-choice advocates [she says] so excited about?”

Well, as she suggests, they probably didn’t even read the study closely – they just cited it, not recognizing that it makes the opposite point than the one they were claiming. Instead of indicating that sex selection abortion isn’t a problem, it documents the fact that it is a problem and for that matter a growing problem – certainly growing when you add the number of pregnancies. Rachel Lu then summarizes,

“Now, in a way, I can sympathize. It’s got to be frustrating when you bring together a lot of important-sounding organizations to do a big, splashy study, and it ends up confirming the piece of data that most sticks in your craw.”

But what most sticks in my craw is this, the list of supposed myths and facts presented by a supposedly scientific organization at the University of Chicago – and it turns out that there myths are facts and their facts are myths.

4) Excitement over iPhone 6 reveals dissatisfaction of human heart with anything less than newest marvel

Finally in terms of worldview: our desires, our consumer demands, reveal a great deal about us – so do long lines. And even now, it is expected that very long lines are forming, or have already formed, outside Apple computer stores. Why? Because today the new iPhones are going to be released as the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6+, both of them larger than the iPhone 5 that came before it. And of course, if you’re doing the math you realize that the iPhone 6 is going to be replaced by the iPhone 7 in fairly short order and there will be lines likely in the same places just a matter of some months later for the iPhone 7 – and of course the 8, the 9, and the 10 coming after that. We can presume with new advances in technology and what we now created in this hyper-technological age is the fact that many, many sane people believe they simply can’t do without this – even for a matter of days or weeks.

The new technology comes with a sense of urgency that is almost idolatrous. I’m not suggesting that there are long lines of idolaters; I’m simply saying that the urgency behind it is something that Christians ought to look at with some skepticism. Because after all, the iPhone 5 is a pretty smart, smart phone, and the iPhone 6 is only marginally bigger and only marginally faster – maybe a little marginally better, marginally clearer. But we’re living in a time in which we’re almost embarrassed not to have the latest in our hands; and when Apple just a few days ago made the announcement of the iPhone 6, it appeared that what you had was the entire world waiting for the great oracle to hand down a vision of the future. It turned out to be an interesting vision if you’re really looking to smart phones, but not a very expansive future if you thinking about meaning. And perhaps the most important lesson for us all, whether or not we have a smart phone or if our smartphones is an iPhone 4,5,6 or even 6+, there may be someone right now even waiting in line outside an Apple Store for the smartphones – but let’s all consider this, every one of these smart phones, even the dumbest of the smart phones, every single one of them has more computing power than NASA had in order to accomplish the launching of a rocket that took men to the moon and returned them. What we’re looking at here is a marvel, but we’re living in an age in which having marvel is not enough. We need the even more marvelous marvel and whether you’re in the line or not, that’s a lesson for all of us, about all of us, in this hyper technological age.

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 on Monday for The Briefing.


Podcast Transcript

1) Prevention of Islamic State plot in Australia reminder of inability to know hearts of men

Australia terror raids are a reminder of the jihadists Down Under, Washington Post (Ishaan Tharoor)

Who is Mohammad Ali Baryalei, the man accused of conspiring to behead a stranger in Australia, Sydney Morning Herald (Rachel Olding and Megan Levy)

2) False god of diversity valued by California university system cheap substitute for genuine pluralism

Campus ‘Diversity’ Puts Religion on Probation, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (Virginia Postrel)

3) ‘Myth’ of sex-selection abortion problem in US turns out to be fact

The United States Has A Femicide Problem, The Federalist (Rachel Lu)

4) Excitement over iPhone 6 reveals dissatisfaction of human heart with anything less than newest marvel

With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Aims for Versatility, New York Times (Farhad Manjoo)

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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