The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

It’s Wednesday, January 5th, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

‘Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely’: Our Constitutional Order Is Intentional … And Endangered

It is no small thing that the United States of America operates as a constitutional republic, rather than as a direct democracy. Now we use the word democracy and it’s not wrong. If you divide all the nations of the world between those that are more democratic and less democratic, well the United States historically leads the pack among democracies.

But the word democracy actually implies direct mass democracy, everyone going into the public square, everyone, in order to decide everything. Now clearly that’s not what happens. Instead the United States is a representative democracy. We elect representatives. We elect governors. We elect state legislators, mayors, city councilmen. We also elect, of course, a president of the United States, and we elect Congress. Two houses of Congress, a lower house known as the House of Representatives and the upper house known as the Senate.

The framers of America’s constitutional order weren’t operating off of a blank sheet of paper, they were looking at centuries of political experience in Western civilization. They were looking back to classical roots in Greece and in Rome. They were looking most approximately to the system of government in a constitutional monarchy in the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England. Looking at the English speaking tradition, you see a commitment to representative democracy.

Now, the reason for that is quite simple, the Western civilizational project came along hand in hand with Christian understandings of the danger of concentrating too much power in too few, when it comes to individuals or sources of power and authority. That’s based upon the Christian understanding of sin. Lord Acton famously said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A constitutional order, a representative democracy is a good faith effort to avoid that kind of absolutism.

But when it comes to the United States Congress, you might say, why have two houses? Why have the larger, but shorter tenured House of Representatives and then the smaller, longer tenured Senate? Why those two different approaches? Well it’s because even as you look to political history and the political history that gave birth to the United States, in Britain you have two different houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. One was hereditary, the other was elected.

Now, just to point out, when you’re looking at the House of Commons, you’re looking at terms that roll over and over and over again. When it comes to the less numerous House of Lords, you are looking, at least historically, at the period of the American founding, at an aristocracy. Why did England have those two houses? It was because the upper house, the House of Lords, was to serve as something of a break or a restraint upon the passions that might break out in the House of Commons.

When you look at the framers of the United States Constitution, those framers established two different houses in the United States Congress, the House of Representatives, more numerous, each serving two year terms, and with the proportionality of representation based upon the various population of the states. And then you had the upper house, the United States Senate… By the way the word Senate was borrowed of course from classical sources in Rome. You had the Senate serving six year terms with fewer in the terms of its composition and with equality among the states. The more populous states have more members of Congress, but every state, regardless of its population size, has two, not less than two, not more than two, members of the United States Senate.

Now that, by the way, was a part of the bargain that was struck between the more populous states and the less populous states, all of them needed in order to ratify the Constitution. We would not have the government we know now under the constitution we know now, had more populous and less populous states not both signed on to the constitutional order. The price for those smaller states joining the union was the fact that there had to be an assurance of equal representation in the Senate.

When the founders were explaining why the Senate was necessary, the metaphor of a cooling saucer was used. The same reason that you have a very hot cup, that’s the House of Representatives, you also need a cooling chamber such as the United States Senate. Both the House and the Senate must approve any major legislation, but they also have special delegated responsibilities. Budget bills must begin in the House of Representatives, treaties are ratified by the United States Senate.

Why are we talking about this today? It is because the very worldview that gave birth to America’s constitutional order and that constitutional order itself, they’re under attack, and they’re under attack mainly by the political Left. We need to ask the question, why? Why is there such criticism about the Senate? Well, for one thing, you have equal representation among the states, that’s the very essence. And so California, with such a large population of tens of millions, it has right now, two senators. It’s always had two senators, so does Rhode Island, a very, very small state.

You have all those states that the liberals consider flyover country, states like Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Montana. You go down the list, every one of them has the same number of senators as far more liberal and more populous states, such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York. That has frustrated the Left in the United States, going all the way back to the period of Woodrow Wilson, early in the 20th century.

And you’re looking at this, you realize that many people say, “Hey, it’s anti-democratic to have a Senate.” Well remember the founders and framers of our constitutional order never intended to create a mass or direct democracy. Indeed, they intended to do something very different because they knew what would happen if the United States was premised upon direct democracy. First of all, it would never work for a populous nation, it would never work for a continental nation, it would never work for long in any nation, it never has.

One of the tragic lessons of history is that mass democracy becomes mob rule. If it’s just a matter of numbers, then whoever gets the numbers, gets the power and can do with that power anything that is wished. That’s extremely dangerous, it’s downright deadly. But as you’re looking at the frustrations of the political Left right now, recognize how much attention is all of a sudden being given to the United States Senate, even to just one or two senators, just consider West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

How many of those on the Left now demand to know, how is it that one senator of a relatively small state can hold up massive legislation? Well, it’s a good question, but it’s exactly the question that the framers of our constitutional order intended to make clear. Let’s put it another way, let’s put it bluntly. Without the United States Senate, if all we had was the United States House of Representatives, politically West Virginia just wouldn’t matter. Neither would Kentucky or Wyoming or Montana, Rhode Island, you could go down the list. States with a small population, and especially when you consider how massive some of the populations of respective states are, those smaller states would simply disappear from the political map.

They are kept on the political map because of our constitutional order. They’re kept on the political map because of the Electoral College and its role in electing presidents. They’re on the map because of the United States Senate. Every state has exactly one 50th of the United States Senate. So again, why are we talking about it today? We’re talking about it because the current democratic majority leader of the United States Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, has said that the Senate itself must evolve. He also announced that by January the 17th, on or before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he will call for a vote in the Senate to change the rules, which means to eliminate or significantly subvert the filibuster.

That requires another bit of conversation here. Why the filibuster? Why is it important? The filibuster is not written into the United States Constitution, it was a deal arranged in the form of a rule by the majority in the United States Senate. Why did they do so? They did so because the only way business can move through the Senate, given the fact that there are two parties, there are now 100 senators, two from each state, is if there is some process of bargaining whereby you get a significant majority so that the legislation actually stands.

If you turn the Senate into just another version of the United States House, you could have that House flipping over, the Senate flipping over, legislation being reversed over and over again. That’s almost what you see happen in some situations related to the British parliament, which has one party rule. The filibuster requires 60 votes in order for any legislation to get to the floor of the Senate. Now, when I say any legislation, there have been changes to this over time, but in the main, if you want your bill to pass the Senate, you need 60 votes in order to vote.

That doesn’t mean that you’ll get 60 votes for the legislation, because there could be senators who would say, “This bill deserves a vote, but I’m not going to vote for it,” and so there’ve been situations in which a vote has achieved cloture, that is 60 senators saying, “Yes, we should vote on this,” and the bill has either gone down or gone on to be passed with less than 60 votes. It could also be passed, of course, with more than 60 votes, but the point is, if you can’t get 60 votes to call for a vote, your bill won’t hit the floor, and that’s exactly what has so frustrated Democrats, especially when it comes to trying to get some of their major social legislation through.

Now, politically there’s something else going on here and you simply have to look at a little math in order to understand this. There are 100 United States senators. I mentioned you have the current Democratic Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer. How are the Democrats in the majority? They currently have only 50 members of their Democratic caucus in the Senate. There are 50 members of the Republican caucus in the Senate. How do you then have a majority?

Well it’s because the current administration is a Democratic administration and the vice president is the tie breaking vote. She, Vice President Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker, that created a democratic majority of one. But here’s the point, the Democrats can’t do anything with Republican opposition, unified Republican opposition, anything that requires 60 votes. And thus Chuck Schumer is saying we need to change the rules in order to break the log jam.

But here’s where a little political analysis and honesty will go a very long way. Just consider the fact that before the end of the year, the biggest Democratic legislative purpose, that was the Build Back Better bill, massive social spending, being presented by President Biden, it didn’t pass the Senate, but it didn’t pass the Senate not because of the filibuster, but because they couldn’t get 50 Democratic votes for the bill, that’s the real political issue here. Chuck Schumer is embarrassed because he can’t deliver even 50 Democratic votes, and so he is changing the subject to talk about eliminating the filibuster and he is using not the Build Back Better bill as his impetus, but rather voting rights and also other issues, including what is now before the Senate and will be for some time, the Equality Act, which represents the greatest threat to religious Liberty in my lifetime.

But there’s something else we need to note and I’m speaking today, January the 5th, 2022, we know that January the 6th and the anniversary of the insurrection in Washington, DC, is coming tomorrow. Chuck Schumer brought that up, saying this in his letter to the Senate, “Let me be clear, January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness, an effort to delegitimize our election procedures and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our Republic, or else the events of that day will not be an aberration, they will be the new norm.” Now there’s a lot to talk about as we think about the anniversary of January the 6th, but we’ll do that tomorrow on that anniversary.

But what we’re looking at here is a crass political effort to try to make changing the rules of the Senate, which would be a radical move, something that is to make sense because of something else that happened a year ago that had nothing to do with this issue. So we’re talking about big politics here, we are told by the Senate majority leader that a vote on the Senate rules, including the filibuster, will come up in just the next couple of weeks. But we’re also talking about vast issues of worldview significance because our constitutional order, our constitutional republic was not just something drawn on a napkin, it was something thought out in the war of ideas, ideas based upon a specific worldview.

It was the Christian worldview, that to a tremendous degree, gave the impetus and the shape to what we now know as our constitutional order. A change in that order, and let’s be clear, that doesn’t just mean something like eliminating or changing the filibuster, it means trying to redefine the Senate, which many on the Left are now calling for, that represents not only a change in our political structure, it would represent a repudiation of the worldview that gave this nation it’s birth.

Part II

At the Reunion of the 20th Anniversary of the First Harry Potter Movie, the Most Notable Missing Person? Its Author — Missing Due to the Fury of the Transgender Movement

But next we’re going to shift to a very different issue and that is the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter movie.

Now that came up a matter of weeks ago, but it is still something that is ongoing in national conversation, you could say international conversation for that matter. The first of the series of Harry Potter films brought to together a very interesting artistic company based upon the Harry Potter books that had been written by J.K. Rowling, and you also had something else that was interesting. You had this young ensemble of actors and you had the fact that America and the world basically watched them grow up through their teenage years by watching these movies.

A reunion is kind of a natural thought upon this kind of anniversary, and there was a 20th anniversary Harry Potter reunion. It’s a special that, as according to USA Today’s Hannah Yasharoff, “Brings back most of the big stars associated with the juggernaut wizard franchise,” but then the next sentence is important, “One notable absence, series author, J.K. Rowling.” The article in USA Today by Yasharoff explains the absence this way. “Rowling, 56, has been a source of controversy after making headlines last summer with multiple posts online voicing opinions on the transgender community that conflated sex with gender and defended ideas suggesting that changing one’s biological sex threatens her own gender identity. She has doubled down even after the posts were widely perceived as transphobic, misinformative and hurtful.”

Now, the interesting thing here is that you have the Harry Potter reunion without the author of the entire series. That’s a reunion that has the absence most important, right at the center. But J.K. Rowling would not be welcome at this reunion now because she is, you’ve heard this phrase over and over again, on the wrong side of history. Now she’s on the wrong side of Harry Potter. 20 years is an interesting anniversary here because that tells you how much the world has changed. Had J.K. Rowling made the statements that have now caused her to be canceled, so to speak, at her own reunion, had those statements been made 20 years ago, just about everyone in the world would’ve said, “Yes, that’s right,” if they had even understood the categories. That just shows you how much change has taken place in such a short amount of time.

In 20 years, the world has been turned on its head, and here we need to know something else. J.K. Rowling, who is primarily known as a billionaire author who wrote fiction, she’s in trouble here not because of fiction, but because of the truth. It’s those who are calling for the transgender ideology to be made universal, they are the ones who are writing fiction. They’re writing the fiction that it doesn’t matter that you’re born male or female. They’re writing the fiction that sex and gender are not inescapably, inextricably linked. They’re the ones who are writing the fiction, but J.K. Rowling, the fiction author behind Harry Potter, is now absent from the reunion of that very series and its first movie, precisely because she is now radioactive. They can’t touch her. If she showed up at this reunion, much less were featured at it, it would be a disaster for the entire enterprise.

Just as if to make that point clearly, a performing arts school in Britain that had named one of its student units after J.K. Rowling, took her name off. It said it did so because of concerns that had been raised by students, parents, and others. That unit has been now named for someone else, J.K. Rowling’s name has just disappeared. Here’s an interesting observation. When you think about the taking down of statues and the taking off of names, just think about the San Francisco public schools in recent months, you’re generally talking about people who’ve been long dead. J.K. Rowling is only really a worldwide name here for something like 25 years.

The movie series only goes back 20 years, but already she’s so much on the wrong side of history, her name is off of the school’s unit and she is absent from her own reunion.

Part III

Liberal Parental Activism Groups, LGBTQ Think Tank Research Centers, and Journalistic Showcasing : A Lesson in How Intersectionality Works

But next, just looking at how this particular revolution has moved so quickly, an article that isn’t about it directly, ends up underlining that point.

USA Today’s network in Florida offers an article that was published just yesterday in the ledger. It’s in Lakeland, Florida, the headline, “Pro-mask parent group pushes for more.” This is a development that took place here in Florida, in Brevard County, where we’re told that a group named Families for Safe Schools began in April, largely as a response, taking the example of conservative parent groups, such as we saw had demonstrated so much influence in the State of Virginia and in the Virginia gubernatorial election.

But this is a liberal group, they’re operating from the Left. They’re taking the playbook of the Right, they’re borrowing, at least in part from the example of a group known as Moms for Liberty, and they’re pushing from the Left. The headline again, pro-mask parent group pushes for more. Pro-mask, these are parents in Brevard County, Florida, pushing for a mandate for students in the public schools to wear masks.

Now, if you’ve ever been to Brevard County, Florida, you know that is not going to be a popular proposition, but one of the things we need to think about in worldview analysis is the fact that we understand the issues are related. You’re not just looking at something, like I said, a marble set on the floor as all these individual issues that just might bounce off of one another. No, worldview analysis means we understand that the fundamental presuppositions that shape a worldview mean that on any number of issues, people on the Left, people on the Right, people who operate from worldview A and people who operate from worldview B, are going to be in different positions.

Now I raise this because of one paragraph in this article that really does tell us something, “As they talked to each other, the parents,” remember on the Left, “found they had other common interests and concerns. They shared worries about the rights of LGBTQ students and gun safety. They feared that the quest to ban critical race theory from classrooms could prevent their children from learning the full history of the United States.” Now, I don’t like the way that’s written just from a journalistic perspective, but what I want to point to is this. Here you have the fact that these parents came together in order to demand that students in the public schools wear masks, but as they gather together, they noted, “Hey, we really agree on a whole lot more.”

Now this doesn’t mean that everyone who wants to wear a mask is supporting LGBTQ rights. It does mean that a parents group like this, organized on this basis and identified with the Left, eventually is going to have to make the LGBTQ array a central issue of its concern, or it won’t even be accepted on the Left. It’s also interesting that, even as the mask issue is in the headline, the subhead just drops the masks altogether, stating, “Parents counter Moms for Liberty, work for gun safety, LGBTQ rights.” That’s just how fast all these issues are being thrown together.

But then when you consider the media promoting the LGBTQ revolution, USA Today serves as the example of the newspaper that just about never surprises by its enthusiasm for LGBTQ causes. Just also in yesterday’s edition of that newspaper, we find a headline trans adults go hungry as part of COVID’s collateral damage. Bill Keveney is the reporter in this story who tells us, “Transgender adults are having a much more difficult time than the overall population in getting enough nourishment during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study shows. The study is from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law,” and we’ve mentioned that organization before, it’s a think tank that is really devoted to LGBTQ activism, but we’re told that its report, “Finds that transgender adults were three times as likely than other adults to face food insufficiency,” that’s in the context of COVID, “defined as not having enough to eat in the past seven days, between July and October.”

Presumably that would mean any seven days during that period, but there are two big points to be made here. First of all, there is no suggestion of causation here. And what we’re looking at is the fact that this is basically propaganda. It’s basically public relations trying to say that once again, it’s animus against transgender people that lead them to not having enough food in the context of COVID, as compared to others. But there is actually here, more transparent than anything else, an effort to try to just push the transgender identity and the need to change the entire society in order to encourage those who identify as transgender by any means possible, taking advantage of any context available, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now there might be something to this, and of course we want all people to have food, but it also turns out that some of the stories told in this article really relate to the fact that there are people who are trying to defy nature and they are demanding that civilization simply get in line. But there’s something else here and that is the fact that intersectionality shows its head. And remember, intersectionality is the combination of identity politics and you also have the ideology of revolution, critical theory, and intersectionality points to what is claimed as the intersection of different points of identity and oppression.

You might say that in this case, someone who’s a racial or ethnic minority is at a disadvantage, according to this theory, and someone who is then also that and LGBTQ, is at an even greater disadvantage, and someone who could add another identity marker would be even more disadvantaged, that shows up in this statement. A person who identifies as a Black transgender woman, and the head of an activist organization said this, and this explains how intersectionality works. Listen carefully, “A White trans person absolutely is going to experience harm and depression because of their gender identity, but at the end of the day, they still have their whiteness to protect them. As a Black trans woman in this world, the oppression does not decrease, it just increases.”

That’s the real purpose of this article, it is to try to mainstream that critical theory, identity politics, sexual revolution, and intersectionality, throughout every article, in every issue, taking every opportunity and packaging things with what is supposed to be the authority of a research center and something that might even be defined as science. USA Today gave that article, by the way, almost half a page in their print edition, that tells you how the revolution is being pushed along, and if you’re not careful, you’re going to be pushed right along with it.

It’s going to take an enormous amount of biblical commitment and theological clarity, and individual and congregational courage to stand against this tide.

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.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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