The Briefing

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday, Aug 9, 2018

Tags: Audio, Hollywood, Religious Liberty, Scarlett Johansson, Sexual Revolution, University Of Iowa

Transcript

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

It's Thursday, August 9, 2018. I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part

Another collision between religious liberty and sexual liberty: Lawsuit filed against University of Iowa for expelling Christian student group

An old Chinese proverb was repeated in different forms by both Harry Truman and Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill put it this way, speaking of those who would dangerously ride the tiger to and fro but in his words, "Dare not dismount". That's the way it is with revolutions and often with revolutionaries. A revolution has begun, but even the revolutionaries are eventually consumed. When you look at many of the revolutions that have so shaped the modern world, many of the revolutionaries have ended up on the wrong side of the judgment of their own revolution. One of the lessons to be learned here is that it is very difficult to stay on the leading edge of a revolution. The revolution often outruns the revolutionaries, and furthermore it's extremely difficult to stay revolutionary in the midst of a revolution. Evidence for this comes from so many modern revolutions, but never more so than in the revolution we call the sexual revolution. The revolution for which right now the leading edge is the LGTBQ issues.

Evidence for his is abundant even in the last several days. For example, just two days ago the paper in Iowa City, Iowa. It's the Press Citizen. It ran an article with a headline DC based firm bankrolls another religious freedom lawsuit against the university of Iowa. That university was established in the year 1847, and the Iowa legislature located it in the city known as Iowa City. For the last several decades, like so many major Midwestern public universities, the University of Iowa has been considerably to the left of the population of the state.

One of the claims made by the university is that it was the very first in the year 1970 to officially recognize an LGBTQ student organization. In that case the language was a bit older. That newspaper article that ran two days ago would seem by its headline to insinuate that the most important dimension of the news at the University of Iowa in recent days is that a DC-based organization is, in their words, bankrolling yet another religious freedom lawsuit against the university there.

The headline would indicate that the newspaper thinks that the legal firm in this case is more newsworthy than the actual issues at stake. Reporter Aimee Breaux writes quote, "Describing it as a fight for the right to ask its leaders to be Christians, a student group has plans to sue the University of Iowa for stripping it of official recognition. The suit, we are told, expected to be filed Monday, is the second lawsuit launched on behalf of a student group by Beckett. That's shorthand in this news article for The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, identified as a non-profit law firm based in Washington, D.C. This time, the paper tells us, the firm is representing InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, one of 38 student groups expelled from the university following the firm's initial lawsuit, Business Leaders in Christ v. The University of Iowa." End quote.

Now wouldn't you think that the newspaper in Iowa City would consider the fact that The University of Iowa has de-certified 38 different student organizations to be both more noteworthy and more newsworthy than simply the identity of the law firm filing yet a second case against the university? Well, evidently not. But the paper does give us a bit of background. Quote, "The university stripped Business Leaders in Christ of its official recognition in 2017 because the group denied a leadership position to an openly gay student to refuse to reject homosexuality. That Christian organization was able to obtain an injunction, But following the injunction we are told, quote, 'The university then set out to proactively enforce its human rights policy in January and February. The university reviewed constitutions from 513 students organizations and found that 356 did not feature a full and correct human rights clause. The bulk of the groups we are told were given until June 15 to remedy their constitutions.'"

Well, the bottom line in the story here is that The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was one of dozens of organizations that for one reason or another could not or would not comply with the new policy. The university then de-certified The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. But in the pleadings that are now entered into the case it becomes clear that not only did InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's leadership there at the University of Iowa tried to comply with the policy to some degree, but the officials for the Christian student organization went to the university officials and asked if they might possibly merely urge the leaders of the organization to hold to Christian Biblical doctrines rather than to require it.

Now, from a Christian perspective, that's rather problematic. But understand that the University of Iowa said no even to that request. But attorneys for The Beckett Fund, working on behalf of The InterVarsity Chapter point out that the policy manual of the University of Iowa speaking of student organizations says that they are existing to quote, "Organize and associate with like-minded students" and quote, "Any student who subscribes to the goals and beliefs of a student organization may participate in and become a member of the organization." End quote. Note that the official document here for the university includes the words "subscribes to the goals and beliefs of a student organization." Thus, the attorneys representing the InterVarsity Chapter are accusing the university of violating its own documents, not to mention the principle of religious liberty.

And they are furthermore arguing that the university has singled out Christian or religious groups for this kind of discrimination. Now on what basis might they make that kind of claim? Well, the non-discrimination language that the University of Iowa requires of all student organizations requires no discrimination on the basis of gender or sex. Or for that matter, sexual or gender identity. But what about sororities and fraternities? They're given an exemption. Why? Well, because it is argued the very nature of a sorority or a fraternity implies the ability to discriminate on the basis of gender. In the is sexually confused age, that's problematic enough, but that's something for the universities to handle. The important point here is that the university itself has granted the exemption. And not only to sororities and fraternities, but even to other groups such as a male extreme frisbee club or team.

Several student organizations were notified on Friday, July the 20th of 2018, that they had been de-certified or in the language of the University of Iowa, "de-registered as official student groups." Which means they can't organize on campus officially. They lose all kinds of privileges that are extended to recognized student groups. Included with InterVarsity were groups such as The Christian Pharmacy Fellowship, The Chinese Student Christian Fellowship, The Geneva Campus Ministry, The Imam Mahdi Organization, The J. Reuben Clark Law Society, The Latter-day Saint Student Association, and The Sikh Awareness Club. What seems to distinguish these student organizations is that they to one extent or another are connected to a claim of Divine Revelation that stipulates a certain ordering of their life and their understanding when it comes to gender, marriage, and sexuality.

One of the most important issues for us to face here is that what we see is a revolution that is devouring far beyond what was initially promised or threatened. We are looking at a sexual revolution that is now proceeded to the point that there is that inevitable collision between the newly-defined sexual liberty and religious liberty. To the extent that right in the Heartland of America on the campus of a university like the University of Iowa, one of the most venerable names in Christian campus ministry, The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, has been de-registered and told that it is no longer welcome. This has led to the case that has now been filed by the organization and eventually this will go all the way up we can expect through the courts.

But the issue is actually been there before. Going back to the first decade of the 21st Century a similar Christian organization, The Christian Legal Society, brought a case against the University of California Hastings School of Law on similar grounds. That case was lost by the student Christian organization in a 5-4 decision for which the majority opinion was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That decision was handed down on June the 28th of 2010. It was both a remarkable and a very damaging blow against religious liberty. Not only for Christian law students in California, but for Christians. Or for that matter, those who hold to religious conviction or identity anywhere. Especially on a public university campus.

Just consider recent parallels we've discussed on the briefing at Harvard University. Or think back just a couple years to events at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the leaders of what was then the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Tish Harrison Warren, wrote a very illuminating piece in Christianity Today that was published in August of 2014. Looking back to the controversy at Vanderbilt, ominously similar to the current controversy at the University of Iowa, Warren wrote quote, "I thought I was an acceptable kind of Evangelical. I'm not a fundamentalist. My friends and I enjoy art, alcohol, and cultural engagement. We avoid spiritual cliches and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice." End quote.

But then she continued in her article, "Then two years ago, the student organization I worked for at Vanderbilt University got kicked off campus for being 'the wrong kind of Christians'." The title of the article in Christianity Today was The Wrong Kind of Christian. Well, note the irony in this article. Here you have a young woman who described herself as doing her very best to be the right kind of Christian in the minds of this very liberal university. She defined that in no uncertain terms. She thought that that meant that the university would accept her. Except for one thing. The university fellowship could not accept all the demands of the sexual revolutionaries. And it came right down to the issue of leadership as it is now at the University of Iowa. Vanderbilt University de-certified the InterVarsity Chapter. That was back in 2011 and 2012.

One of the other dimensions we need to keep in mind is that even as we think of the revolution consuming the revolutionaries, we also need to understand that even some of those that began or initially supported this kind of revolution had no idea, or say they had no idea, that the revolution would extend this far. At the beginning of the LGBTQ revolution, we were assured that it would never come to this kind of point, this kind of impasse, this kind of conflict. And furthermore, many of the people who gave that revolution oxygen and support early on now say, or at least want us to believe, they never intended this kind of conflict to eventuate. But eventuate it has, and it's not over. Not by a long shot.

Part

What’s missing from the coverage of Hollywood’s failure to make progress on diversity?

But there's more as we think about this revolution. USA Today reported on August the 2nd, a headline story and I quote, "Hollywood fails new diversity study." The sub-head in the article, "No progress in 10 years for women or minorities." The article's by Andrea Mandell. She writes quote, "The chants for equality in Hollywood are in need of a bigger megaphone. That's because the film industry is still getting an F for inclusion." The next paragraph, "No progress has been made in the past 10 years of popular movies in terms of including women and under-represented groups. According to a new study from Stacy L. Smith and The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism."

Smith said quote, "Despite all the conversation and the activism around issues of inclusion in Hollywood, the needle hasn't moved for women, people of color, the LGBT community, or people with disabilities." End quote. Similarly, Brent Lang writing for Variety, that's the insider periodical most influential in Hollywood, wrote quote, "A deep dive into the 1100 highest-grossing films from 2007 to 2017 reveals that women, minorities, and peoples of the LGBT and disabled communities rarely grace the big screen." End quote.

Well, as you look at the articles in the mainstream media about this report, blockbuster as the report seems to be, there's something that seems to be missing from the coverage. You have to wonder if it's intentionally missing. The implication in these articles is that Hollywood is failing. Hollywood is failing at the key issue of inclusion. Which we are told is simply not acceptable. And Hollywood gets an F, this report says, because of the failure of inclusion. But later in the article we read that the study was made of 1100 of the top grossing films. We are told that particular attention was given to those films defined as blockbuster films.

But that causes us to pause for just a moment. Because the films that are rated are measured by the gross sales or box office revenue. Those that are defined as box office are really not telling us so much about Hollywood. It doesn't tell us even about the movies or films that have been made. It tells us instead about the movies and films that have been watched for which tickets were bought. So even as the headlines would indicate that the accusation is against Hollywood, understood rightly the accusation is really against the people who are the consumers of Hollywood's products.

But there's another major problem here in a study of a 10-year period, the period 2007 to 2017. That's because this sexual revolution has accelerated so much in just last the several years. Or for that matter, just the last several months. There's a particularly hypocritical dimension when you think about Hollywood in this regard, because Hollywood has just had its own MeToo movement or moment you might say in the course of the last 12 months or so. In reality, Hollywood has done its very best to accelerate this sexual revolution and now this study comes along that gives supposed documentation for Hollywood even to increase and intensify those efforts.

Part

The sexual revolution consumes its own: What we can learn from the backlash to Scarlett Johansson’s casting in, then withdrawal from, transgender role

But as you're thinking about Hollywood and the revolution consuming even the intended revolutionaries, just think back last month, to the month of July and a headline that appeared in The New York Times. The headline, "Scarlett Johansson withdraws from transgender role after backlash." Amanda Svachula reporting to The New York Times tells us quote, "The actress Scarlett Johansson has withdrawn from her role in a newly-announced movie after facing a backlash, mainly from transgender actors for taking on the role of a transgender man. Ms. Johansson we are told made the decision because of the ethical questions raised surrounding her casting. This according to what she said to Out Magazine in a statement. Online, actors raised the issue", according to The Times, "that hiring cisgender, that is non-transgender people, for transgender roles takes acting opportunities away from members of marginalized communities."

Well, if you think about how these revolutions unfold and the speed at which they unfold and consume their own, just consider the fact that it's very recent in Hollywood history that Hollywood was patting itself on the back and handing out awards for the television program Transparent in which a non-transgender man was playing the part of a transgender person. Scarlett Johansson no doubt thought that she was being quite progressive in agreeing to take the risk of this kind of role, only to face backlash because it is now out of bounds for a non-transgender actress to play a transgender character. That's how the revolution has changed, how it's intensified in just a matter of months.

Further proof for that comes with the controversy that followed an article at Business Insider by Daniella Greenbaum. She had written an article against the backlash against Johansson and she cited a tweet posted by Trace Lysette, who is a transgender actress on the television program Transparent. Criticizing Johansson, she had said quote, "And not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity, but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived. So twisted. I'm so done." End quote.

Now, the interesting part of this story is that the article was taken down by Business Insider, who then apologized. Here's how the revolution again consumes its own, which then apologized to the transgender ... The entire LGBT community for insensitivity for running an article that criticized the backlash against Scarlett Johansson. Business Insider pledged that it will adopt new policies to make sure that it doesn't run that kind of offensive article again.

Part

Lithromantic, aliagender, and dead name: Introducing the new, never-ending, always-expanding glossary for the gender revolution

But finally on this score, we also have to understand that when a revolution is set loose, inevitably vocabulary has to be changed. This reminds me of what took place during the French Revolution when those revolutionaries, unwilling to have any even historic vocabulary tie to either religious tradition or to the monarchy, actually changed the calendar, renaming and rescheduling the months in order to create an entire new vocabulary. So even by date, they wouldn't have to refer to ideas or traditions that were now forbidden. Of course, when you think about it, there is no illustration in recent centuries quite so clear of a revolution devouring its own revolutionaries. Many of those who began the revolution ended the same was as the monarchs they deposed and executed. The revolutionaries were executed by other revolutionaries with the claim that they were not revolutionary enough.

But as you're thinking about how the vocabulary is now changing, how demands are being made that it must change, understand that even the revolutionaries can't keep up with their own vocabulary. Consider for example a new glossary that was released at Refinery29, identified as "a modern woman's destination for how to live a stylish, well-rounded life." End quote. We are told that this new glossary was released not only by Refinery29 but it did so in cooperation with GLAAD, a major LGBT rights organization.

The glossary begins with these words. Quote, "In case you haven't heard, we're in the middle of a gender revolution. We aren't merely male or female, we're trans. We're gender-fluid. We're nonbinary. We're agender. That is to say, we are told, people are no longer confining themselves to the classification of the bodies they were born with or society's rules for what those bodies can and cannot do."

That's why they said, "We've created the gender glossary." Quote, "As a crowdsourced glossary of gender identity and sexual orientation terminology, this living document is the first of its kind. It's filled with 85 terms (and counting)", put in parenthesis, "defined by people who identify with the terms themselves, and it was created in partnership with GLAAD, one of the leading LGBTQ advocacy organizations in the country." End quote. Wow. 85 new terms, and then in parenthesis in the statement itself, and counting. You can count on the fact you're gonna be counting a good many more terms than merely 85.

Well, to state the matter just as bluntly as I can, you've got a huge problem. A huge problem when you have to issue a glossary for your revolution and the glossary is never-ending, always expanding. You have to have the glossary because no one, even the leading revolutionaries or those who think they are, can't keep up with the changing vocabulary and because you have set loose an absolute mayhem in the entire society in which anyone can basically define their own sexuality and gender and furthermore, things that cannot even be discussed on The Briefing. In any way, he or she ... Well, we can't even use those words anymore, might choose. And no one has the right to say that any word doesn't mean what any single individual claims that it means in terms of that individual's identity. That's explicit in this glossary.

By the way, there are some words here I have never heard before. Such as Lithromantic. Defined as quote, "Someone who can feel romantic attraction toward others and also being in romantic relationships, but only in theory." End quote. No kidding, only in theory. We find the word Skoliosexual. It's about 70 in the list by my count. Identified as quote, "Being primarily sexually, romantically, or aesthetically attracted to genderqueer, transgender, and/or non-binary people." End quote.

The glossary, by the way, provides a very helpful pronunciation guide. There is Aliagender, which means someone who defines their gender as other than a man or a woman. Quote, "It was coined as a way to talk about a third gender without appropriating the term Third Gender from other cultures. Then there's Bigender, which is an adjective. Quote, "Someone who identifies with two different genders such as man/woman or woman/androgyne. Bigender we are told don't necessarily identify with either gender 50% of the time, and unlike gender fluid people, they don't exist on a spectrum, either."

Then we are told of the definition of a dead name. What's a dead name? It's a noun. And it's pronounced, no kidding, according to the article, dead name. Quote, "The name given to a transgender person at birth, which they often change when they transition. It should not be used to refer to them. Use the person's chosen name instead."

The word homosexual is in the glossary. But it's dismissed as quote, "An outdated clinical term referring to queer people that is considered derogatory and offensive." End quote. Now just pause for a moment and recognize that just a few years ago, the word queer was supposed to be derogatory. Now we're told that homosexual is the derogatory term and, well, let's just say, the other term is now largely to be preferred.

By the way, in this glossary, the term sex assigned at birth, which again is spelled out phonetically and then is given the acronym SAAB, quote, "Refers to the sex, usually male or female, a doctor designated a person as after an examination." And this means at birth. This reminds me of the comment from one of the sexual revolutionaries that I quoted in my book, We Cannot Be Silent. She said, and I paraphrase here, that as long as when a baby is born, people in that room cry out, "It's a boy or it's a girl", the sexual revolution faces an enormous obstacle. And, of course, it does. And the obstacle is common sense. And that's one of the reasons why the revolutionaries need this ever-expanding glossary. A glossary which we can only describe as moral insanity.

Well, as we conclude thinking about how the revolution consumes just about everything, including the would-be revolutionaries, just think of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Iowa, where religious liberty is now being denied in the claims of the sexual revolutionaries. Then consider Scarlett Johansson, the actress who thought she was progressive until she had to grovel for being found out as not so progressive after all. But it wasn't she who changed, it was revolutionaries.

Think of Business Insider that's apologizing for ever having run an article insinuating that there's anything wrong with this. And for that matter, then think about the group at Refinery29 and GLAAD. They put themselves on the line you might say for publishing this glossary with these definitions in the year 2018. How long will it be before this glossary is held up as an example of the wrong thinking that has to be overcome by the new or even newer revolutionaries?

Now this is where Christians also understand most fundamentally that if we abandon the Revelation of God in Scripture and we abandon the Revelation that God has given us of ourselves and our bodies, of sexuality and gender in Creation, then there is no end to what will come. The revolution cannot be stopped. Even the vocabulary will not remain new for long.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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