Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Thursday, November 15, 2018. I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news ad events from a Christian worldview.
Transgender rights trump protecting women as Anchorage women’s homeless shelter comes under fire
From time to time we come across a headline news story, and once you read the headline, it turns out that the story is not nearly as interesting as the headline. But we're going to start today with a story that is anything but following that pattern.
The headline is this: Anchorage Shelter Seeks to Exclude Transgender People. It's an Associated Press story, it's by Rachel Dioro, and it begins in Anchorage, Alaska, with these words, "A faith based women's homeless shelter in Anchorage, is suing to block the city from requiring it to accept transgender women, which it said would violate its religious beliefs."
Now again, looking at the Associated Press headline, it simply states, Anchorage Shelter Seeks to Exclude Transgender People. Now let's just look at those words for a moment. Anchorage is the city, the verb here is seeks, seeks to exclude, that's a very interesting way to put this.
You might state it another way as you look at the actual story. Here you have, a Christian based shelter, which is a ministry for women that is saying that it ministers to women and provides shelter for women, but not for men who claim to be women.
But the headline here is simply, Anchorage Shelter Seeks to Exclude Transgender People. Seeks to. That also implies that this particular ministry has been seeking to make some kind of statement.
But it turns out, the story reveals it's anything but, you simply have a shelter who says that it's ministry of trying to help women is going to be compromised if it does not know and can not minister on the basis of what it knows a woman to be. Or, you might say further, not to be.
The AP story continues, lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion in federal court seeking an injunction to stop the city, that's the city of Anchorage, Alaska, from applying its gender identity law to the Hope Center Shelter in Anchorage.
The conservative Christian law firm we are told, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, says homeless shelters are exempt from the local law, yet the city has used that law to investigate, harass, and pressure the downtown shelter.
Now what's the associated press going to do with this story? Well here's how it continues. The statement that was made by an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom was this, "the injunction would mean that Anchorage can't apply the ordnance to the Hope Center in order to force the Hope Center to allow men to come in the shelter and sleep and undress alongside these vulnerable, homeless, women."
Now as you try to look at the story, you put all of this together, here in Anchorage, Alaska, let's just say that's a strategic place of ministry for the homeless, there is a Christian ministry that seeks to provide shelter and care for homeless women. And it also seek to protect those homeless women from any kind of injury or any kind of threat.
The story also makes clear that, that would include the fact that there have been abusive husbands, there have been abusive men and there is a need to be able to shelter women as women, especially given the fact that this shelter has the kind of residential facility that would include sleeping and undressing, and well, the other things that would take place in this kind of a shelter.
The Anchorage center is simply saying, it does not fit our ministry, it doesn't fit out theology, it doesn't fit our understanding of reality, and it certainly doesn't fit our ministry to be told that we have to receive those who are identified here as transgender women.
But here's where the story gets even more interesting. We are told that the Anchorage Equal Rights commission had launched an investigation of the Hope Center because it had received some kind of complaint. To the credit of the Associated Press, it tells us a good deal more of the story.
Listen to this, “The plaintiffs, that's the Hope Center, said that the individual, that would be the individual who launched the complaint, identified only as Jessie Doe, showed up inebriated after hours in January and was not turned away because of gender, the shelter officials even paid for a taxi cab ride to a local hospital for the individual, who had a forehead wound from fighting at another shelter to do the loving thing rather than involving police. Center officials did not call for an ambulance, because the wound did not appear to be an emergency. The same individual showed up the following day and again was denied entry."
Now let's just try to understand what we're being told here. The Associated Press report tells us that an individual, identified as Jessie Doe, who is identified also as a transgender woman and that means, born biologically male, showed up at the center after hours inebriated, having already been injured from a fight in another shelter and was denied entry.
The person came back the next night and was also denied entry, and this, now you have this cause of the equal rights commission there in the city of Anchorage, which we are told has not concluded its investigation yet. And you have the intention of the Hope Center to ask for a preliminary injunction in federal court to keep the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission from taking any action, punitively, towards the Hope Center, or coercing the center to violate its own convictions and its own sense of mission and its own understanding of reality, by requiring the shelter to receive those merely who identify as a woman, regardless of their biological sex, thus confusing and compromising the entire ministry of this homeless shelter for women in Anchorage run by a Christian ministry.
Here you see the insanity that is being openly embraced throughout our society. You also see, in this Associated Press story, the impossibility of coming to any sane, moral, adjudication of this issue, if you're going to buy the logic of the moral revolution and the LGBTQ activists.
For one thing, that T, as we pointed out so many times before, in LGBTQ, is different than the other letters, and even the theorists who say they know exactly what you're supposed to do, as you are joining this revolution in morality, they're having a very hard time coming up with exactly how you would handle specific situations.
And of course you will note, in this case, they appear to be willing to allow a compromise or a damaging of a ministry that provides assistance and shelter for homeless women in Anchorage, because so many in this society are far more committed to this revolution in morality than they are to any sane, responsible way of helping people. Or in this case, even protecting women.
Repeatedly on The Briefing, we have pointed to the inevitable collision because traditional, ideological, liberal feminism, and the transgender revolutionaries. Why? Because modern feminism was built, if nothing else on the presumption that we know who a woman is, who as a woman could file suit in court about discrimination, who as a woman could claim a certain kind of protection from those previously identified as male. How in the world does a society hold any kind of sanity when you see a headline like this, followed by a story like this and of course you understand, it is still an unfolding story.
The death of free speech in Berkeley: Students call for resignation of student senator who dared to challenge transgender orthodoxy
But even as this story comes from Anchorage, we then need to turn to another headline, this time it comes from Berkeley, California. Now, anyone of a certain age in the United States, hears Berkeley, California with a certain cultural ring. Back in the 1960s, Berkeley, the home of the University of California's flagship campus, it was the very epicenter of the moral, sexual and cultural revolution of the 1960s.
Specifically, it was often a site of student protest, of unrest, of demands for a complete transformation of American society, it was the home of various radical movement, including, this is what's most important in this case, the free speech movement, which was actually born on Berkeley's campus.
But now you have the Berkeley campus. The campus of the University of California, where you see the student body, the very student body that once protested and rioted in support of freedom of speech, now you see that very same student body in the name of this sexual revolution, turning extremely hostile to any kind of freedom of speech.
An article that appeared just a few days ago in the San Francisco Chronicle, the reporter is Nanette Asamov, runs the headline, "UC Berkeley Campus Senator Abstains from a Vote, now Students want her out." As the Chronicle reports, "A student senator, the University of California Berkeley abstained from a vote supporting transgender rights last week, then took a moment to explain her thinking. Now, more than 1,000 people, that means primarily students, have signed a petition demanding that she resign from the student government or face a recall."
As the story in the San Francisco Chronicle continues, hundreds packed a senate meeting Wednesday night, this would be about a week ago, to insist that she go. On social media, students labeled her a horrible person and a mental imbecile.
Her campus political party severed ties with her and the Daily Californian, that's the daily student newspaper, at the University of California Berkeley "ran an editorial critical of her statements and refused to publish her written defense."
The Chronicle report continues that the uproar began back on the last day of October, when the Queer Alliance Resource Center asked the student senate at University of California to pass a bill condemning the Trump administration for considering a legal definition of gender that would require it to match a person’s sex at birth, that's the very text of the report as published in the Chronicle.
The story continues. The proposal would change the federal Title IX civil rights law and potentially remove its protections from 1.4 million transgender people, and here the San Francisco Chronicle cites the authority of The New York Times.
But then we are told that the student resolution at Berkeley "also urged the university to step up support of transgender, non binary and gender non conforming students and the campus groups at Berkeley that help them.
But of the student senators, a 20-year-old young woman named Isabelle Chow abstained, and then she explained her abstention. “Reading a five paragraph statement explaining her decisions, Chow told her 18 fellow senators who all voted for the bill, that discrimination is never, ever okay. She condemned bullies and bigots. She said she abhorred stereotypes, and she called the LGBT community valid and loved. That said,” said Senator Chow, aged 20, a junior at the university, “voting for the bill would compromise her values, and force her to promote groups and identities she disagrees with."
In the statement, “As a Christian, I personally do believe that certain acts and lifestyles conflict with what is good, right and true. I believe," she said, "that God created male and female at the beginning of time. And designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman. For me to love another person does not mean that I silently concur, when at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual."
Now the story in the San Francisco Chronicle goes on to say that the aftermath of this has led to calls for the senators resignation and removal, and furthermore, you have the kind of language that is now so common on these liberal college campuses. The campus newspaper as we were told, refused to publish her explanation "the paper also rebuffed Chow's attempt to further explain her views in its pages.
In her rejection letter, opinion editor Sharyon Hendrix, said the paper wouldn't run Chow's comments because her submission reflected her earlier statements, "which utilized rhetoric which is homophobic and trans phobic by the Daily Cal, that's the Daily Californian's standards."
Now just look at what's happening here. You have a young woman who was elected to the student senate there at the University of California. She's a 20 year old young Christian woman, who has stated that she does not want to discriminate in any way and all she did was to abstain from a vote in which it had been demanded that the student senate of the Berkeley campus affirm its unanimous condemnation of the Trump administration's proposed definition of gender.
A simply abstention and her explanation which was based upon a classical, Christian, biblical worldview, it was labeled immediately by the student newspaper, so homophobic, and trans phobic that it couldn't be published in the paper because it violated the papers guidelines.
This is exactly what is happening on so many college and university campuses. Even the zone of discussion is now being drawn so that anyone who holds to a traditional, biblical, Christian understanding of sex or of gender identity is simply out of bounds, simply dismissed as homophobic or trans phobic, ruled out of any kind of reasonable conversation, any conversation on these grounds is actually just completely shut down.
But now we need to step back for a moment, as we're trying to analyze this by the Christian worldview. We look comprehensively at the massive change in morality, reshaping the entire landscape of our culture and we notice that one good often gives way to another good.
One right is often compromised by another right. And in the case of this moral revolution, what we have seen is that for example, religious liberty, an established constitutional right, is often now demanded basically to be eradicated or totally compromised by a society that is now far more committed to a newly invented right of sexual liberty.
But here's something else. What about free speech? Just like freedom of religion, free speech is right there in the first amendment of the United States constitution. It is in the very first paragraph of the Bill of Rights. You would think that on a liberal college campus, where the free speech movement was born in the late 1960s, at least there would be a continuing commitment to free speech, but if you hold to that understanding, you would be devastatingly wrong.
But we need to notice something else. In so many of these confrontations, what you have on the one hand are truth claims being made, a very, clear rational statement being made as by this young student senator, the University of California.
But in response what you get is not so much rational conversation at all. It's not an argument against an argument. It is simply an appeal to emotion. Or beyond that, almost like what you have seen in such events as Marxist revolutions, a claim that a higher morality, which is now employed, means that you can't even admit that you had ever held any previous position.
It's simply eradicated from all kinds of conversation. But here’s where you need to note, that when Senator Chow made her statement, she spoke of her commitment, to what she understood as a Christian, on biblical terms, as what is good and right and true.
In response, the San Francisco Chronicle tells us that a student named Miranda simply stood up in protest against her, and said, "I am Christian, I am queer, and I am good, right and true. And she continued, I demand Senator Chow to resign."
Now mark that exchange very carefully, because this is exactly the pattern we need to understand, what you have over and over again as a rational argument met with an emotional response. An identity based response. We need to understand what's going on there, and we need to understand that this is the limit of the conversation in so far any kind of conversation is actually taking place.
Here's how the pattern works. If you're a young person or you know a young person on a college or university campus, this is exactly the kind of discourse that is marking that campus and increasingly dominating as the only messaging that is heard. You have to listen to the identity language. It is emotional language.
Here again, “I am Christian, I am queer and I am good, right, and true, and I demand Senator Chow to resign.” What we need to note there more than anything else is that the identity language, the “I declare myself language,” the personal autonomy language, matched to the moral imperative of the moral revolution, the sexual revolution around us, it is now a kind of mantra: “I am who I say I am. I am good and right and true, you have no right to say that I am not.”
I can declare myself to be a Christian, that doesn't require any indication of any commitment to historic biblical Christianity, but it's the identity language, the identity language pouched in the power of emotion. That's what's dominating in so many of these conversations, not only on the college and university campus but at other public arenas as well.
As you think about the kind of exchanges that take place on cable news programs, in which you have talking heads throwing arguments one at the other, in so many cases, where you have some kind of argument consistent with biblical Christianity, it is met not with an argument but with a simple, moral, condescending dismissal, pouched with the energy of emotion.
Liberalism beyond the classroom: New study reveals administrators are even more liberal than professors on college campuses
But now we leave the campus of the University of California at Berkeley and think of the larger context of American colleges and universities, and we look with concern to a pattern that is now documented with academic research and has even attracted the attention of the editorial page of The New York Times.
Samuel J. Abrams is professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College, he's also a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, he ran a article that appeared in The New York Times on October the 18th, the headline even more liberal than professors.
Abrams speaks of research that he had conducted, indicating, that even though American professors by in large are far on the left, how far on the left, so far on the left that when you look at many of the leading colleges and universities in this country and when you look at many disciplines and departments, you actually can't find a single conservative. If you look at the contributions made to political campaigns, that's now public documentation, it's so overwhelming it's not even worth talking about.
But Professor Abrams in this article and in his academic research, he's pointing to the fact that the most liberal influencers on campus are actually perhaps not even the professors, but rather what he describes as the growing ranks of administrators on campus, and in particular, student services or student activities, student support administrators.
Abrams writes, "The problem's not limited to my college, while considerable focus has been placed in recent decades on the impact of the ideological bent of college professors, when it comes to collegiate life, living in dorms, participating in extracurricular organizations, the ever growing ranks of administrators have the biggest influence on students and campus life across the country.”
Today, he continues, "Many colleges and universities have moved to a model in which teaching and learning as seen as a 24/7 endeavor, engagement with students is occurring as much if not more in residents halls and student centers as it is in classrooms. Schools have increased their hiring in areas such as residential life, and student centers, offices of student life and student success, offices of inclusion and engagement."
Abrams then says, "It's not surprising that many of the free speech controversies in the past few years at places like Yale, Stanford and the University of Delaware, have concerned events that in classrooms but in student communal spaces and residence halls. Now, Professor Abrams, backed up with a very solid academic team, in a peer reviewed article, considered the political dimension of the student service administrators on America's colleges and universities.”
He then writes, and I quote, "I found that liberal staff members outnumber their conservative counterparts by the astonishing ratio of 12 to one. Only 6%,” he says, "of campus administrators identified as conservative to some degree, while 71% identified themselves as liberal or very liberal. It's no wonder," he says, "so much of the non academic programming on college campuses is politically one sided."
He says, "The 12 to one ratio of liberal to conservative college administrators makes them the most left leaning groups on campus." That's incredibly telling, and it's consistent with my own observation of higher education in America.
And we are told in this article and in the academic research, which I downloaded and read thoroughly, we are told that one of the reasons is that the people who tend to go into these disciplines, and even more importantly, the people who get to be hired for these kinds of positions, they tend to be those who have already been qualified by the fact that they are avid supporters of the political left, they have bought into the ideology of social liberation, they are themselves, if anything, and that's what's demonstrated in this article, even more liberal than the professors.
Abrams is on to something else here, which is of importance to me as a college president and Christian institutional leader, you have to understand that the personnel who deal with the students, deal with student needs, deal with student contact, deal with residential life, deal with student programming, they have a great deal of influence on the culture of the campus. Their composition, their convictions, their vision, their understanding, their sense of mission in their own jobs is going to have a very great deal to do with what a college student receives.
Many parents and college students considering the opportunities and choices in colleges and universities before them, they think only in terms of the academic program and the professors, but this new research just underlines the fact that it is the total campus culture, and that culture which is driven in so many cases by administrators that has the greatest impact on the actual lives, and here's where Christians understand, the developing worldviews of college and university students.
Now put all this together, and you come to understand, well, that University of California at Berkeley story, it wasn't about anything that took place in the classroom, you can imagine would that would be in so many classrooms at University of California Berkeley, it was rather a story about what took place in a student senate meeting. There's that student life dimension again. And then you just have to step back a few days, just a very few days, to that opinion piece in The New York Times, in which even The New York Times editors thought it was significant that this particular research has indicated that those who are working in the student services, administrative offices at many universities, are, if anything, far to the left of a very far left faculty. And if you look at it this way, it simply reminds us that most Christian college students and most of their parents, for that matter most of their pastures and those who love them, send them off to college with very little understanding of what they're actually going to be up against.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com, you can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albermohler. For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu, for information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'm speaking to you from Denver, Colorado, and I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.