The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

It’s Tuesday, February 22, 2022.

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

Part I

San Francisco Voters Recall 3 School Board Members in Stunning Message to Left Wing Ideologues

We will wait until tomorrow to look at a review of some of the issues unwinding in Ukraine, but there are some issues we need to discuss as we are awaiting those clarifications. For one thing, we need to turn to look at a very big development on America’s political landscape. Now, it might not seem like that big a story, but upon reflection, I think you’ll recognize it really was.

Just a matter of days ago, voters in San Francisco went to the polls to decide an interesting question. Should there be a recall of three members of San Francisco’s school board? Now, again, I’m telling you, this is simply a massive story. Doesn’t sound like it. Doesn’t sound like a big story with nationwide implications when you’re talking about a recall election for three school board members in San Francisco, until you’d remember this, San Francisco is one of the most liberal communities in the United States. It is the bluest of blue.

Furthermore, it is in the state of California. Again, the capital state of blue. Yet, this was a recall election in which the question was recalling three liberal members of the San Francisco school board. They were recalled with a vote that came very close to an 80% vote to recall these three liberal school board members on the city of San Francisco school board. It’s a huge story. It’s made headline news on both sides of The Atlantic. The headline in The Wall Street Journal, “San Francisco backs school board recall.” The headline in The New York Times, “Voters force out three on San Francisco education board.” What’s going on here? It is huge and it’s part of a bigger picture.

The Democratic Party, over the course of the last four decades, has had a divide very similar to what we looked at yesterday, the divide between the knowledge class on the one hand, an intellectual, cultural elite on the one hand, and what you might consider to be the common citizen of the Democratic Party, the common Democratic voter. That divide has been getting wider and wider. Now, there are many who’ve simply left the Democratic Party and now identify as Republicans. That’s the big story in the 1970s, ’80s ’90s.

By the time you get to the 1990s, and President Bill Clinton, a Democratic president, you had Bill Clinton and his allies declaring the need for a third way in the Democratic Party, a way that would assume certain of the realignments forced by the Republican Revolution, even the Reagan years, and yet would push things in a more liberal direction, a more progressive direction in the culture. Now, Bill Clinton represented that in himself. The same way on the other side of The Atlantic, Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair represented the very same effort to try to forge a new identity.

But here’s what you need to watch. As the Clinton years came to an end, many of the Democratic Party, particularly the idea people in the Democratic Party, believed that Clinton had been a failure because he had accommodated too much to the right. He had moved too close to the center. They did didn’t ever want that to happen again. Bill Clinton was followed by George W. Bush. George W. Bush was followed by Barack Obama. Now, Barack Obama served two terms, and Barack Obama was significantly more liberal than Bill Clinton had been as president.

The times perhaps gave him the opportunity, but Barack Obama was forging a new Democratic identity. But what you need to think about right now is that the leadership in the Democratic Party, the energy in the Democratic Party thinks that Barack Obama was too moderate and is trying to move the party to the left. But what has taken place in San Francisco is, as simply has to be recognized by any honest observer, an absolute pulling of the rug out from under the progressives in San Francisco who simply went too far.

The three board members who were recalled, and again, it wasn’t close, it was absolutely massive, they were recalled because of three major issues. Number one, the schools are closed. They were closed for so long. Children were forced into a virtual learning situation, and the concern seemed to be far more for the teachers’ unions and their demands than for the needs of children, and people in San Francisco can see the wreckage of so much of that decision-making.

The other issue is that in the midst of COVID, when you had schools shut down, so there aren’t even students in the schools and the entire civilization is facing a crisis, what did the San Francisco school board do to gain so many headlines? They started taking the names of presidents of the United States, founders of the United States, and others they consider to be morally out of line off of schools.

Now, where the voters of San Francisco are on that issue at any given time might be an open question, but here’s the issue. It looked exactly like what it was, a bunch of left wing ideologues who are trying to prove themselves to be as politically correct to progressives as possible without any obvious concern for the children who were supposed to be in those schools in the first place.

But the third issue is also very, very interesting, and it is leading to parental protest and unrest on both sides of the country, in cities like New York and Boston and Washington, DC, as well as in San Francisco and elsewhere. This has to do with elite public schools, in particular elite public high schools. As you think about San Francisco, recognize that private schools are at an incredible financial premium. They’re just incredibly expensive, not only in tuition, but in total costs.

But over the course of the last several decades, we’ve seen the emergence of so-called magnet schools or whatever they might be called in a particular school system, which are particularly advanced academic programs for children and students who simply have to qualify usually by a form of testing in order to gain admission. Those schools become very prestigious. Diplomas of graduation from those schools become a stepping stone towards success elsewhere, and so a far larger percentage of graduates of those schools get into prestigious universities. You can pretty much draw the arrow in society from there.

But the controversy about these schools is just a subset of the larger controversy about what’s going on in our Ivy League universities and major, very competitive public and private universities, the public and private Ivies as they’re called. The controversy is this. As you are looking at the entry class, there is not a direct proportionality in terms of ethnic and racial identity. That is to say, and this is specific, there seems to be a far greater likelihood of Asian students qualifying for entrance to these schools. In particular, you have the accusation that these schools are too white and too Asian at the expense of others. The accusation further is that the testing process and the process for qualifying in these schools on academic grounds simply excludes too many other minorities.

But as Thomas Fuller of The New York Times points out, the recall in San Francisco, well here’s the headline, “Recall of San Francisco school board members was fueled by Asian ire.” Now, I’m convinced there is more to the story than that, but there’s not less to the story. This really is something. It comes down to an understanding of justice. It comes down to whether or not, when you’re looking at entry into these competitive schools, whether at the college or at the high school level, the reality is there’s a pattern.

Furthermore, there are multiple patterns. Here’s what these patterns point to. There is a predictable and very clear difference, at least in terms of the percentages, not every individual, but in the percentages, students who grow up in a two-parent home where those parents put a lot of emphasis on academics, children who grow up in a context of the expectation of academic excellence and advancement tend to demonstrate advancement and excellence to a far greater degree than children who grow up in homes, either without those two or without parents who are particularly inclined to push them academically.

In the name of equity, what you have are many people saying, “Then you have to remove the advantage that those children have, that those children have an unfair advantage in their parents,” or, and here’s something else that’s far more controversial and that’s why it is rarely said out loud, “there must be an advantage to certain cultural patterns, say the cultural pattern of Asian parenting.” That’s actually an accusation that is now coming from non-Asians. In one sense, it’s also something that is bragged about even in bestselling books, for example, describing Asian tiger mothers.

Now, the Supreme Court has recently agreed to take a case about affirmative action in which the accusation is that affirmative action is now prejudicial against certain groups, and in particular Asian groups, because in the goal of trying to have a student body, an entry class in terms of an incoming class each year, that they claim would be more representative, there actually appears to be discrimination against many Asian applicants who simply on academic terms or, for that matter, the larger terms of the portfolio would actually have been accepted. “There are too many Asians in our schools,” is what some of the universities are saying.

Now, they couldn’t say that out loud but, trust me, the Asian community is getting the message, and thus the headline in The New York Times. But there’s a larger message when it comes to the left being sent a very clear signal here. That larger message is, even when it comes to citizens in a city like San Francisco, there are limits to just how liberal, just how progressive these families, these voters are going to be when it is understood to have a negative effect on their own children. This is a wake-up call for the left, or at least it should be.

An editorial on The Wall Street Journal said, “The woke get a wake-up call as voters recall three school board members.” Again, the woke get a wake-up call. Here’s the question? Do they hear it? Are they going to heed it? The evidence says they won’t. They won’t because the party is now largely in the hands of the ascendant left, and the left is angry that it isn’t getting more. It’s certainly not going to be satisfied with less. Furthermore, the argument is now coming, and you see this in democratic publications. The argument is now very much before us, where the left in the Democratic Party says, “Look, we tried moderation with Clinton. We tried moderation with Obama. We’re not trying it again.”

Now, interesting in all of that is that Joe Biden basically presented himself as a moderate. But once elected, he hasn’t presided as a moderate. He has given the open door to the left wing of his party basically to try its best to bring about a revolution. It should tell us a great deal that The New York Times, again, the very liberal New York Times recently ran an article by David Leonhardt with the headline, “Signs of progressive overreach abound.” He looks at cities like Minneapolis, where an effort to replace the police department with some other agency failed overwhelmingly.

He talks about events in cities like Seattle and San Francisco, again, very liberal cities where people tend, on the basis of common sense and common experience and concern for their families and children, to be rejecting progressive as causes and candidates. That class divide in the United States we’re talking about shows up in Leonhardt’s article, where he writes, “Class seems to be at least as big a dividing line as race. College-educated Democrats who dominate the ranks of politicians, campaign staffs, and activist organizations tend to be well to the left of working class Democrats. By catering to its well-off base, the party creates electoral problems for itself because there are more working class Americans than college graduates.”

Part II

Woke Wake Up Call for The Left: Will Democrats Heed the Warning of Their Own Party That They Are Moving Too Far Left?

But that then takes us to a fascinating article by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. This, again, is one of those articles appearing in the media that tells us a great deal by the fact that it did appear. Where it did appear? The New York Times. By whom did it appear? Maureen Dowd. The headline of her article, “Can Dems,” that is Democrats, “dodge doomsday?” She cites three people who have long been observers and very accurate observers of American politics, and in particular Democratic politics, James Carville who, as she said, “helped Bill Clinton get elected,” David Axelrod, who “helped Barack Obama get elected,” and also Stan Greenberg who, she says, “was the first to identify the fateful trend of Reagan Democrats.”

She then tells us that all three Democrats are speaking with what she calls startling candor about a coming political apocalypse. By that, she means the midterm elections. She says this. “Many Americans are fed up. The jumbled COVID response has eroded an already shaky trust in government. Inflation is biting. War is looming. Things feel out of control. People are anxious and reassessing their lives. Democrats,” she says, “have to connect with that.” Now again, Maureen Dowd wants Democrats to heed her call and avoid disasters. She’s not trying to make a conservative argument here. She’s trying to save the Democrats from their own left wing obsession.

She writes about the observations of David Axelrod, again, in many ways, the political operative behind to Barack Obama. But Axelrod simply says that Biden, who’s supposed to have had the superpower of empathy, doesn’t appear to be showing it much since he was elected President. Instead, he is now speaking the language of the Democratic technocrats and, of course, constantly saying trust the science, sometimes behind a mask.

She goes to James Carville, sometimes known as the Ragin’ Cajun and always ready with a spicy quote, and Carville in a recent Vox interview, and as she says, elsewhere, as he is now speaking and writing, has warned the Democrats that they must not be defined by their left wing or go after slogans like, “Defund the police.” “They should work not to seem like an urban, coastal, arrogant party indulging in faculty lounge politics that appeal to reason rather than emotion and use woke words like LatinX.” Speaking of the far left in his own party, whom he believes to be driving the party to disaster, speaking of them, he said, “They’re not popular.” He then added, “People don’t like you,” speaking directly to the left wing.

Dowd also points to a recent article, and it is very interesting, that ran at The American Prospect, that is a progressive ideas journal, in which pollster and observer Stanley Greenberg had told the Democrats that they had better not use Barack Obama as a heroic figure as they’re thinking about the midterm elections coming in November. Greenberg then makes the interesting observation that Barack Obama is, right now, too liberal for many working class Americans, certainly when it comes to moral and cultural issues.

Now, again, by the time he ran for reelection in 2012, he was an active endorser of same-sex marriage even though he had been against it when he ran for president in 2008, even as before that, he had been for it as an Illinois state legislator. He was for it. After, he was against it. After, he was for it. Stan Greenberg says that’s going to offend far too many working class voters. But he goes on to say, on the other hand, Barack Obama severely underdelivered to the progressives in his own party during eight years in office, and thus Barack Obama as a name is not going to inspire more conservative working class voters or more liberal ideas class voters. I’m simply making that observation because it is a very interesting predicament for the Democratic Party right now.

Now, this doesn’t mean that there is necessarily going to be a Republican wave election in the fall. There are very few inevitabilities in politics. But it does tell us big ideas are in play, not only in the coming electoral contest between Republicans and Democrats, but in the very interesting contest within the Democratic Party for Democratic identity and within the Republican Party for Republican identity. We are at a very interesting point in the United States when liberalism, progressivism is going to have to define itself, and as conservatism also is going to have to define itself. Christians understand that in this battle of ideas, there is a lot to be gained and a lot to be lost. It’s going to be really, really interesting to be watching this together. And watch it, we will.

Part III

‘Here Comes the Broom?’ New Non-Binary Language Comes to the Wedding

But finally, today comes a very interesting story, and this one comes once again from the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times in the column known as Vows. It’s about modern marriage. This article very frequently gives us an indication of the cultural trends to come. Julianne McShane is the author of this particular column. The headline is this, “And now comes the broom?” Now, wait just a minute. What’s a broom? A broom is a new word which is supposed to be nonbinary when it comes to gender and it is blending bride and groom, broom. In some cases, two brooms, welcome to the wedding.

McShane writes that the lexicon, that is the word list around marriage celebrations, is changing in a more gender-neutral society. McShane tells us, “When Gail Terman and Micaela Godfrey began planning for their wedding in February 2020, Ms. Terman, a 33-year-old software engineer at Broadcom, knew she would call herself a bride. But for Mx. Godfrey, who is nonbinary and uses the pronouns ze and zir, the term bride carried gendered associations of a woman floating down the aisle in a white wedding dress.” “I wanted to deal as little as I possibly could with being misgendered on my wedding day, which is supposed to be this big, happy celebration of us and our love and of us as individuals as well.” We are told that these two chose an alternative label, a broom, that is a combination of bride and groom.

Amy Shack Egan, the founder of a group known as Modern Rebel, a wedding planning company in Brooklyn said, “It’s more accepted now to be bold about breaking with tradition,” specifically, she was referring to the patriarchal tradition that marriage is rooted in. Now, again, later on, we are told that it’s that patriarchal tradition of marriage and so many accumulated centuries of tradition that now has to be overcome with a new wedding vocabulary because the words just don’t work anymore.

Stephanie Coontz, a family observer from the left, and she’s the author of the book, Marriage: A History, director of the Research and Public Education Program at the Council of Contemporary Families at the University of Texas in Austin, she said that the use of gender-neutral language in reference to marriage “makes a public statement that we’re not going to fall into the so-called traditional idea of gender roles.” Yeah, Dr. Coontz, we figured that out.

Then we’re told this, just in case you hadn’t gotten here yet, “Words that are traditional used to describe key figures in weddings, including bride, groom, bridesmaid, best man, and flower girl are also rife with assumptions that may not reflect the gender or sexual identities of marrying people or their guests.” Now, it turns out that this gets really complicated because according to this new gender revolutionary wedding etiquette, it’s not just the people getting married who have the right to use whatever language they want to describe themselves and their placement in the wedding, it is also all the guests who, after all, need to be asked, every one of them individually, what is his or her… No, wait just a minute, ze or zirs preferred pronoun.

Some of the words that are now being used in these nonbinary weddings include not only broom, but marrier, as in presumably one who marries, and partner. Isn’t that romantic? Flower child replaces flower girl and person of honor replaces maid of honor. The bachelor party becomes the bachelorex party. A lesbian couple, as announced in the article, as for now intending to call both of themselves brides, but we’re told that this couple is “always revising what we’re calling our wedding party because it includes people of multiple genders.” I kind of guessed it would.

But as you’re looking at this article telling us that the language is going to have to change, you recognize this isn’t really going to work. This is an effort to try to undo what they claim is patriarchal oppression, but here’s what we need to understand. This is what the original gay liberationist, as they were known, understood. This is what the second wave feminists understood. That is marriage, no matter how you try to revise it, no matter how you try to destroy it, no matter how you try to subvert it, is indeed, along with its wedding ceremony, still going to remain at least reminiscent of those good old days when at a wedding, you did see a bride and a groom, which was a woman and a man, and they were marrying each other.

In worldview terms, there’s another very interesting issue here. The article tells us, “For vendors,” that is people selling things for weddings, “who want to become more inclusive,” one of the persons quoted here, “recommends adopting what she calls the golden rule of LGBTQ+ inclusivity: Never assume anything.” We’re told that this wedding consultant says that “one must instead ask open-ended questions, like what a couple plans to wear on their wedding day, rather than who will be the bride and groom.”

By the way, if you have to ask who’s the bride and groom, you’re already in deep trouble. But the point I want to make is that there is a big insight that is revealed here. It’s not intended as a big revelation, but it actually is, I would argue. That is what I had not seen cited before, the so-called golden rule of LGBTQ+ inclusivity: Never assume anything. In other words, you have to ask everyone everything. Furthermore, you have to ask everyone everything every day in order to keep up with the modern sexual ideologies and this radical ideal of personal autonomy. You can’t assume anything.

Now, I just want to state very clearly that one of the key conservative observations is that society is only possible if you can make certain, absolutely essential assumptions. It is the ideologues of the sexual and gender revolution who are making it, at least by their intention, more and more difficult to assume anything. Here, you have it as a morality, as a commandment, as a rule. Don’t assume anything. But, of course, that assumes insanity because it is absolutely impossible to operate in life without making certain assumptions. The logic of this moral revolution is that no one can be assumed even to be the same person tomorrow or next year or, for that matter, in the next minute.

One other very revealing statement was made by one of the, I guess you could say, partners in one of these unions. It’s actually, at this point in the article, impossible to figure out exactly who is whom. But nonetheless, one of the statements made is that one of the imperatives made in this day of moral revolution is to do what’s described here as the simple thing like, “obviously take gender out of it.” But here’s what I want to note. This article only makes sense, even to the limited degree it does make sense, by the extraordinary efforts made in this article to say exactly who is what by gender declaration. Here, you come full circle. If you take the advice of this person and “take gender out of it,” you not only don’t have a wedding, you also don’t have an article in The New York Times.

We’ll be back to the world scene and looking backwards at the Beijing Olympics tomorrow.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can find 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’m speaking to you from Nashville, Tennessee, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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