The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Monday, August 29, 2022

It’s Monday, August 29th, 2022.

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

Part I

Orwell Put on Hold? Department of Homeland Security Disbands "Governance Disinformation Board"

Well, every once in a while, when government does a dumb thing, it gets caught at it and eventually has to correct it. Now, you would’ve thought that one big blunder would’ve been corrected some time ago. And in order to understand this, we have to go back to earlier this year when the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was establishing what it called the Disinformation Governance Board. Now almost immediately, there was enormous outrage coast to coast because this was in effect the Biden administration fulfilling the dark prophecies of the novelist George Orwell in the middle of the 20th century when he talked about official speak.

Now you remember his novel in 1984, or at least many of you do, when a part of the central evil of the evil system was an official ministry of truth undertaken by a totalitarian government. Now let’s be clear. It is not fair to talk about the United States and its government as totalitarian. It is to say that totalitarian government do, in every way, seek to have a ministry of truth and constitutional republics that honor the freedom of citizens, the freedom of thought and the freedom of speech profoundly do not.

Alejandro Mayorkas who is the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security had touted the new Disinformation Governance Board as a great advance. And furthermore, there seemed to be not only no embarrassment and no shame, but no sense that there would be outrage at the United States government creating through one of its bureaucratic agencies an official ministry of truth. But that situation turned out to be even more complicated because the woman who was announced as the first director of this board turned out to be someone who had a legacy of extremely partisan and ideological tweets and other postings on social media. She backed out. Interestingly, the idea of the Disinformation Governance Board was put on some kind of pause, but Secretary Mayorkas went on to say he was still convinced it was a good idea.

Now we’re talking about it today because just at the end of last week, the Department of Homeland Security had to announce that it was officially terminating the service of this governance board, which by the way never actually met. So in political terms, what we have here is a misfire that was put on hold and eventually recalled by the administration. But there’s still a lot to be learned here. For one thing, just the basic moral, constitutional and political reality that government should not be able to control truth. Government has a voice. As a matter of fact, constitutional conservatives have been concerned for a matter of centuries that the problem is not the government does not have a voice. The problem is indeed the government will misuse its voice and effectively try to create an official party line monopoly on power, a monopoly on voice. And that’s exactly what many people saw as threatened by this Disinformation Governance Board.

There’s another worldview perspective here. Number one, we believe in the reality of absolute truth. Christians believe that truth and error are not just compliments or criticisms that we throw at ideas, but rather that the truth is true precisely because it truly corresponds with an objective external reality or an eternal truth. And the false is inherently false because it fails to be true or it contradicts the truth. And that’s an objective statement, not just a statement of aesthetics or a statement of politics or a statement of personal judgment. So to be clear, Christians do believe that there’s a distinction between information and disinformation. Furthermore, we believe that disinformation is dangerous, but we also believe it is incredibly dangerous, even more dangerous, to give the government, or for that matter, say, one corporation or a handful of oligarchs the power to determine for all the rest of us what is information and what is disinformation.

Actually, as messy as it is, we believe that the best way to find out whether a news report, for example, or a posting on social media is true or false is to be able to look at it from many different perspectives, to have many different voices in the free marketplace of ideas. There’s a better chance of determining what is true than if government or, for that matter, any other solitary power has a monopoly on telling all the rest of us what is information and what is disinformation. Or to put it another way even more bluntly, politicians would have every reason to try to classify whatever they want people to believe is information and whatever they don’t want them to believe as disinformation. And that’s not just an idol argument. That’s exactly what we have seen playing out in American national politics particularly over the last 10 years.

Reporting on this story, the Wall Street Journal’s Dustin Volz tells us, “The Department of Homeland Security has terminated a government board formed earlier this year to combat online disinformation after a range of critics said it could stifle free expression on the internet and had an unclear mission.” Now here’s the next sentence, “It encountered widespread criticism from conservatives, civil liberties advocates and some current and former officials.”

Now, I just want to point to something interesting here, because what’s missing from that list of those who were concerned and offended by the creation of this group were liberals, political liberals or progressives in the United States. Now to be fair, some of them undoubtedly were very concerned about the creation of this Disinformation Governance Board. But the fact is, there has been a major shift on the political landscape of American politics. The right, that is to say conservatives, are now more concerned perhaps than ever before with the danger of government speech at the very same time that the left over the last several decades have been leading the charge warning against government speech. Now, all of a sudden in an age of cancel culture, thinks that maybe government speech control is not such a bad idea.

In announcing the termination of this group, and once again, we were told at least that it had never met, Secretary Mayorkas went on to say that the cause goes on, in his words, “The department will continue to address threat streams that undermine the security of our country consistent with the law while upholding the privacy civil rights and civil liberties of the American people and promoting transparency in our work.”

Now there’s little to complain about there with the plain sense of his words, but it is going to be something we’ll have to watch to see if indeed Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden administration try actually to put back in place something just like the Disinformation Governance Board, but known by a different name. Or to put it another way, the only way to out Orwell would be to name something like the Disinformation Governance Board for it to meet opposition and then for the government to retreat only to create it again, but this time to name it something innocuous so that in effect it might pass under the radar.

Part II

Google Takes Sides on Abortion: Company Says It Will Label Abortion Providers in Search Functions — And That Means Leading Users Away from Crisis Pregnancy Centers

But next, as we’re talking about social media, the internet, language and big issues, how about this for a headline? Again, from the Wall Street Journal, “Google to label abortion clinics in searches.” The Wall Street Journal reports, “Google said it would identify healthcare facilities that provide abortion services in its maps and search functions amid pressure from employees to do more on the issue in the wake of the Supreme court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.” We are told that Alphabet, the parent company to Google told its employees, “We’re now rolling out an update that makes it easier for people to find places that offer the services they’ve searched for, or broaden their results to see more options.”

Now, if that sounds innocuous or innocent to you, understand what’s really going on here. For one thing, you have the liberalization of so many of these companies where you have young workers particularly in Silicon Valley such as the workers for Google who are really absolutely committed to a very left word direction for the country. And they are ardently insistent upon companies towing their line when it comes to moral issues including abortion. So that’s one part of this. This is worker pressure from inside Google, and we’re told that right up front.

But the pressure comes down to the search terms that are used in internet searches on Google but also in the directional program of Google Maps, the navigation program. In both cases, here’s the issue. What we are told is that Google, under pressure from its employees, is now going to limit searches having to do with certain kinds of services and issues to entities actually performing those services. If that sounds innocent to you, understand we’re talking about abortion. And what this really means is cutting out crisis pregnancy centers, Christian ministries that are seeking to minister to women considering abortion, and to isolate out only abortion clinics actually performing abortions to show up in searches and to navigational aids such as Google Maps.

The journal report makes that clear under this language, “Under the updated labeling system, the company said it would add a ‘provides abortions.'” That’s put in quotation label, “to places where such services are available. It said it will also label a facility with ‘might not provide abortions’ when it has been unable to confirm such services are offered there.” Interesting last sentence here, “Last month, Google said it would start automatically deleting visits to abortion clinics from user’s location history and make the erasure the default setting.”

So again, these things might look rather minor innocuous, but once you understand them, this is Google putting its corporate reputation and its corporate program and policy behind anything that its employees demand in order to support abortion, to demand abortion rights, to facilitate abortion, and even to isolate out access on the internet or on Google Maps as a navigational aid, anything that might deal with abortion that is not an entity actually performing abortions at the time. In other words, this is a radically pro-abortion act. It is a radically censorious or canceling act towards pro-life ministries.

You need to know, just as a matter of one angle of thinking about this, that Google does not apply this kind of principle in other dimensions of its search engine or in other dimensions of its mapping software. Just to give an example, and I say this as an evangelical theologian, it would be interesting if you actually had, say, on Google Maps, if you were to insert the word church, only churches or congregations that would show up as actually providing the gospel or actually believing in the authority and trustworthiness of the word of God.

And of course, if we were to demand such a thing, we would expect, given the way of the world, for Google to respond, “That’s outside our competence, and furthermore, isn’t the proper role of a search engine or a navigation software” to which we’d have to respond, in this case, “Exactly. Right. Listen to your own argument.”

Part III

A Parable of the Liberal Ethos and Postmodern Party Culture: Finland’s Prime Minister in Controversy after Videos Emerge of Her Participation in Partying Scandal

But now we’re going to shift the scene entirely. We’re going to go to the nation of Finland. Today we’re going to consider something I never actually thought we would consider on The Briefing. And this has to do with the apparently semi intoxicated and rather free-wheeling dancing undertaken by Finland’s partying prime minister. Finland’s prime minister is a 36-year-old woman identified as a leather jacket wearing regular at rock festivals. She is one of the youngest leaders ever to head a European government. And even as Finland’s prime minister, she has been considered rather activist in many areas. And for that matter, showing increased cooperation, say, with other Western nations given the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

But that’s not what’s making the headlines right now. What’s making the headlines is the prime minister’s partying, indeed video that was released and posted throughout much of social media showing Finland’s prime minister in what in another context might be considered to be a mind altered state. The word here I will simply use is a participle. Partying, well, it turns out that is something that came as a great shock to people in Finland and elsewhere. Finland as a nation is at least somewhat embarrassed by the whole thing. The nation’s prime minister had to basically apologize for the embarrassment before the Finnish people. And she also offered to take a drug test, which came back negative. But nonetheless, she is unapologetic about the fact that as a representative of young adults in Finland, she considers herself to have every right to party hard.

The national and international media have been a buzz about this. One of the things you need to note in this kind of story is that there generally is an initial story that’s followed up with a lot of complexity that comes back to certain realizations that this is either a bigger story, or in some senses, a less important story than it was first recognized. In the case of the dancing prime minister there in Finland, it turns out that upon reflection, this just might be a bigger story than people thought. For one thing, the prime minister herself, who by the way announced that she was going to live this kind of a lifestyle before she took office as prime minister, she herself has broadened the story to the fact that even though she apologizes for the embarrassment that came to the nation by that one video, she doesn’t really intend to change her behavior. She spoke of living in dark times and the need to party seriously.

When we’re talking about partying here, you don’t have to watch the video to have a pretty good idea of what we are talking about. The prime minister said she had done nothing wrong as USA Today reported. She called the demands for a drug test unjust and “said she was spending time with friends during a weekend with no planned government meetings and didn’t do anything illegal.”

Now, those things are not irrelevant, except for the fact that as the head of government, the prime minister cannot be expected only to be sober and able to conduct affairs of business and affairs of state when there is a scheduled government meeting. Just ask Ukraine, they didn’t schedule a Russian invasion. But in worldview analysis, there have been some really interesting arguments made. One of the arguments, and this one is made over and over again in the United States as well as in Finland is, look, if you’re talking about young adults, they’re going to act like young adults. And a part of being a young adult is adopting a kind of party culture that just goes with the picture. Some have gone so far as to say, “Look, other people her age were not out outraged or concerned about this.” And except for the fact that at least many people her age were rather embarrassed by this.

It’s one thing for, say, your average 20 or 30 year old to be found in an embarrassing video, but we are talking about the prime minister of the country. Predictably, the story did fall closer to home than might have been expected. More news always comes out. And the very day that the prime minister’s drug test came back negative, and it’s important that it did come back negative, the same day however, the New York Times tells us that a photograph surface “of two women exposing their,” I’ll say body parts, “and kissing in the press room of the prime minister’s official residence during another party,” as the Time says, “rekindling the outrage.” So this time it’s not just the prime minister. It’s a party being held in the official prime minister’s residence there in Finland. And now we’re talking about something that goes a little bit beyond just some interesting and perhaps suggestive dancing. This is of another order entirely.

A considerable number of feminists around the world have said this is unfair, after all, a male prime minister or agist, an older prime minister, and put it together, an older male prime minister, would not be given so much criticism for such activity. Except for the fact I just don’t think that’s true. I cannot imagine that many prime ministers or other government leaders would get by with this. Well, some people say, “Well, look at Boris Johnson. He got by with it.” Yeah, he got by with it until he didn’t. Actually, Britain’s prime minister, not long after winning a landslide parliamentary election had to resign as prime minister precisely because of controversy over parties that he had participated in, including some at 10 Downing Street, the official residents of the British prime minister. So holding up Boris Johnson saying he got away with it when Finland’s prime minister didn’t is betrayed by the fact that she is at least right now still in office and he’s headed out.

Now in political analysis, there’s another interesting point here. Just to remember that prime ministers are not directly elected by the public. The public elects members of parliament and the parties elect party leaders who are eventually recognized. So the leader of the winning party or the party that puts together a winning or effective coalition is eventually tapped or asked to be prime minister. And so the voters in Finland are unlikely to have an opportunity directly to express their judgment on Prime Minister Sanna Marin but nonetheless, it’s going to be interesting to see how this turns out.

There is another dimension of this, which comes up and has to do with the secularization of Western cultures, but in particular the secularization in Scandinavia, which is actually progressed, and most sociologists and historians have long recognized this, faster than in much of the rest of Europe. In one of its reports, the New York Times cited an author by the name of Roman Schatz, who said this, “In the space of one generation, Finland has changed from a joyless buttoned up Protestant society into something very modern and digital.” Fascinating. This scholar went on to say, “Sanna Marin is part of that new Finland. We’re seeing the birthing pains of Finland 3.0.”

That’s absolutely fascinating, because here we are told that secularization is exactly what has taken place and secularization produces a Sanna Marin. But you also note something else. Protestantism is described here as joyless. “Finland has changed from a joyless buttoned up Protestant society.” So there you see the liberal ethos that is driving so much of Western culture on the left wing that suggesting that the inheritance of Christianity or an explicit Christian influence is repressive, it is joyless. The contrast there is just immediately clear this author saying, “Hey, you want to see joy? Look at the dancing undertaken and the partying undertaken by the prime minister of Finland now and compare that to the buttoned up at least cultural and social conservatism of just one or two generations prior.”

But there’s even more to this. You might have missed it, but this particular scholar identified as a German Finnish author and observer of Finland, he pointed out, we come back to the fact that what you have in the new prime minister is what he said was an example of Finland 3.0. Now you understand the metaphor that’s being used there, the release of software or an operating system. But think about it for a moment. Wouldn’t you might think that the immediate response would be Finland 2.0? How did we get to 3.0? Well, think about this for a moment. Finland, under the dominance of Christian influence, was according to this structure, Finland 2.0. The new post-Christian Finland is 3.0. Well then, what in the world was 1.0?

Well, the answer to that is you’re talking about pre-Christian Finland. That is in itself an interesting story by the way. But there was a time when Finland wasn’t greatly influenced by Christianity and hadn’t been evangelized in terms of much of its citizenry. And there was a time when it then was. So you’re talking about pre-Christian Finland, Christian dominated Finland in terms of the culture and post-Christian Finland. That’s really, really important because Finland is a very old country, a very old civilization, far older than, say, the United States, because in that sense, you might have a United States of America 1.0 and 2.0, but there’s no 3.0. There never was a period in American history without the dominant influence of Christianity.

All this makes a headline news coming out of Finland all of a sudden even more interesting and part of a far bigger picture than, say, posted video from a party that involved the prime minister. Now we’re talking about the entire trajectory of Western civilization with Finland just as one example. Or Finland in its post-Christian period as Finland 3.0.

Of course, a lot of the speculation, many of the questions hanging over the Finnish prime minister’s whether or not she’s retained enough credibility to remain in office or whether this kind of activity, which after all by her own admission is quite a pattern to which she’s committed, will just be too much for the people of Finland. The fact is right now we don’t know. But that’s another very interesting aspect of our age. If you were to describe many of the activities and much of the language as someone like Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States to an American of just, say, 20 years earlier, it would’ve been incomprehensible that a president could act or speak that way. When it comes to others, for example, the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, and you look at his routine and rather regular problems with truth, well, you would think that would be invalidating.

And then you look at other issues, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who’s been mentioned, and now the Finnish prime minister, well, the political fact is that leaders get away with whatever they can get away with. And there are competing issues when it comes to some of the character and behavior questions or the use of language questions, or in the case of Finland right now, the partying questions.

So at least by any analysis, we are in a very interesting period of moral transformation and of political transformation on both sides of the Atlantic. Regardless of where we are, the choice is made by voters or by political parties in this context will tell you, not only about the party, not only about the individuals involved, but also about the other choices available at the time and the challenges of the moment.

One former political advisor to prime ministers of Finland speaking about prime minister Sanna Marin and said this, “She has become a symbol of what’s acceptable and what’s not.” But at least at this point, in Finland it’s not clear whether her behavior is acceptable or not. But this much is clear. Sanna Marin will not end to the story in Finland and the story won’t end in Finland.

But as I conclude, I have to go back to that statement comparing supposedly Finland 3.0 with 2.0, with 2.0 being described as a Finnish society, a society in Finland that was Protestant. Well, it is really interesting that all of a sudden a theological category jumps back into the headlines and back into prominent international news even in a country that prides itself on being pretty overwhelmingly secularized. But that reminds me of an observation made by other historians and other sociologists looking at the process of a society becoming more secular. And that is when you do go from, say, a more Christian to a post-Christian culture, at least in terms of the cultural ideas, the morality, and all the rest, it is not just that the new secular culture distances itself from the previous Protestant culture, in this case in Finland. It often turns back on it with antipathy and hatred.

Overcoming that kind of Protestant culture in this case is presented as what we’re supposed to see as an obvious liberation, or at least readers of the New York Times are supposed to see a post Protestantism an escape from Protestantism as an escape from oppression, repression, joylessness into a modern secular post-Protestant party culture.

But trust me, you don’t have to see some of the video of the parties in question here to understand that those parties and the culture represented by those parties will certainly not be the end of the story. But for the end of the story, we’re going to have to wait a while.

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’m speaking to you from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).