Monday, June 12, 2023

It’s Monday, June 12th, 2023.

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

Part I

America on Trial: The Trump Indictment and the Trial of the Rule of Law and the American Order

It’s just a plain fact now that the United States of America is basically on trial, our rule of law on trial, our democratic political culture on trial, our political understanding of the role of presidents and former presidents on trial, our confidence in federal investigative authorities and the federal courts on trial. But our challenge and indeed the crisis is actually at an even more foundational level because it has a great deal to do with whether we as Americans see one another as Americans as part of a common political and cultural, even civilizational project.

And like it or not, realize it or not, that’s now all on the line and it went since it has been building as a crisis for some time. On the other hand, it goes back to about seven o’clock last Thursday evening eastern time when Americans came fully to understand that a special prosecutor serving for the Department of Justice had brought an indictment of several counts, very serious charges, against a former president of the United States.

This sets up a criminal trial. We are looking at a massive indictment, 37 felony counts. And furthermore, some of them are violations of the Espionage Act, one of them as a counter obstruction of justice. Other counts relate to misleading federal authorities. All this from someone who at one point was the president of the United States, head of government, head of state, and the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, also the commander in chief of American military forces. We’re looking at this civilizational crisis we’re facing now simply because we have reached the point where either rightly or wrongly, a federal prosecutor serving on behest of the nation’s Department of Justice has brought this indictment against a former president.

Now, just to put this in a global historical perspective, nothing like this has ever happened in the United States of America. It came closest to happening during the Watergate crisis of the 1970s. But Richard Nixon, despite his flaws, and there were many of them, he basically gave way to the rule of law rather than trying to prevent the rule of law from having its way throughout the courts.

When you’re looking at the current situation, it is something very, very different. There is also another big difference going back to the 1970s. Had there been an impeachment of President Richard Nixon, it would’ve been a bipartisan impeachment. Had he been convicted in the Senate, it would’ve been a bipartisan effort. Richard Nixon did not leave office. He didn’t resign because of democratic opposition. He resigned because he lost the support of his own party in Congress.

I want us to understand what we’re facing here, the worldview implications of this massive historical development. This is something entirely new in the American experience. I want us to understand what’s at stake. I want us to understand the political and the moral context. I think it’s important to recognize that even a newspaper like the New York Times, very much opposed to Donald Trump, very much representing the liberal left.

Nonetheless, Peter Baker on the front page of yesterday’s edition wrote these words, “History’s first federal indictment against a former president poses one of the gravest challenges to democracy the country’s ever faced. It represents either a validation of the rule of law principle that even the most powerful face accountability for their actions or the moment when a vast swath of the public becomes convinced that the system has been irredeemably corrupted by partisanship. “

The indictment itself is massive. It’s 49 pages long. It includes 37 felony charges, as I said, against the president, one against one of the president’s aide. But we also need to recognize that the response to this on the part of defenders of Trump and opponents of Trump tells us a great deal about where we stand. As for the former president, he simply dismissed the indictment. He used the words ridiculous and baseless. He went on also to tell his supporters that the indictment is just another witch hunt, he said. And the President warned his supporters, “In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you.”

After his indictment on other charges that brought by a New York prosecutor under New York law, after that indictment, the president actually turned the indictment to what appears to be a political advantage, immediate surge in polling numbers, and especially in fundraising as well. Is that going to happen in this case? Well, time will tell. We simply don’t know yet. But we do need to recognize that the indictment is not ridiculous or baseless. Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought the charges is a skilled prosecutor. In bringing these charges against the former President, Smith released what is known as a talking indictment.

Now, in a talking indictment, the prosecutor goes beyond what is necessary. So a federal prosecutor can simply drop an indictment that says, “These charges are now alleged against this defendant.” There need not be any commentary whatsoever. The prosecutor’s not required to go into any elaboration of the charges. The prosecutor’s not required at that point to bring forth any argument or evidence. But in a talking indictment, the prosecutor understands that the public is watching and the investigator, now the prosecutor, wants to bring forth enough evidence to make very clear why the indictment was brought.

In this case, Prosecutor Jack Smith’s talking indictment is a virtual shout. Our legal system will have to sort all this out by the rule of law. That’s why it exists. But the evidence put forth before the public, including matters known before the charges were filed, by the way, presents a damning portrait of malfeasance. What we see here is recklessness, bizarre showmanship, and likely obstructions of justice, or at least one formal count of the obstruction of justice, all of which has endangered the nation’s defense and risk international consequences.

The evidence already known to the public known right now taken by itself reveals the former president’s failure to guard the nation’s safety and security. It also reveals Donald Trump’s unwillingness or inability to separate his personal interests from the nation’s interests. This is also not a witch hunt.

On the other hand, there are other dimensions we have to remember. So just consider the optics. Just think about this for a moment. If you are inside the nation or outside the nation, you’re looking at this picture, what do you see? Well, here’s what you see. Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced off in the 2020 presidential election. Trump lost the White House to Biden, but then he contested the outcome in an unprecedented series of actions.

Now just jump from that, say January of 2021 to what is now June of 2023, and a special prosecutor who serves as an extension of Biden’s Department of Justice brings almost 40 criminal charges against the man who at this time is not only the candidate he defeated in 2020, but is by many considerations the most likely opponent in the 2024 election. So get the picture again. The sitting president’s administration will now prosecute his former and potentially future opponent who’s also the former president of the United States. Now, all that might make for good fiction, but it’s disastrous in real life. And remember this, the world’s watching.

Now, all that’s interesting enough, urgent enough, even a sufficient emergency for our consideration. But wait, there is more. The same president, Mr. Biden, was also found to have retained classified materials after leaving office as vice president. Some infamously found near the now president’s prized Corvette. A separate investigation is looking into the Biden documents, but no hint as of yet of any charges.

And what about Hillary Clinton, the defeated 2016 Democratic nominee who was found to have compromised national security by using an independent email server for thousands of communications, including many that were marked classified? All this had to do with the years that Ms. Clinton served as the US Secretary of State. The FBI after the investigation decided that it would recommend no criminal charges be brought against Ms. Clinton and none were. There haven’t been even unto today.

Now, these considerations don’t mean that the case of Hillary Clinton, the case of Joe Biden, and the case of Donald Trump are equivalent, but it does mean that in our political culture and at this very urgent moment, it is the US government, and in this case that means the Department of Justice, and that means special prosecutor Jack Smith who have the responsibility to show that this is a legitimate prosecution brought on necessary grounds and that it is not just an exercise in raw politics.

Now, I want to draw our attention to a warning that comes in an assessment by the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. The journal editors wrote this, and I think they’re surely right when they declare with due consideration given to all these concerns, “If prosecutors think that this will absolve them of the political implications of their decision to charge Mr. Trump, they fail to understand what they have unleashed. Further,” said the editors, “the greatest irony of the age of Trump is that for all his violating of democratic norms, his frenzied opponents have done and are doing their own considerable damage to democracy.”

Christians need to understand all the vast implications of what’s taking place in the president, but we also need to understand how we built the political culture, how we established the rule of law, how we came up with our commitment to these mutual norms and why it is important to continue them and why it’s very dangerous to subvert them. When we are talking about a prosecution, in this case, undertaken by the federal government, it is inescapably political. Is it valid?

Well, the burden is now on those who brought the indictment to prove the point. And this is where Christians need to understand that now we can only pray that the American commitment to the rule of law lasts long enough and remains firm enough to get us through long months ahead.

And if we fail this test, God help the United States of America.

Part II

An Engagement Ring Recession and Future of Marriage: A Decline in the Purchase of Engagement Rings Tells a Bigger Story

But next we’re going to shift to the issue of marriage. And here’s where I want to say to Christians. Many people listening in the world would think that if we shift from politics to talking about the health of marriage, we’ve talked about something more important and now we’re talking about something less important. Christians are among those who know that given the order of creation and God’s purpose, we understand that the future of marriage is actually more important and even more basic than say the future of the rule of law in the United States of America.

So I want to make reference to an article that may surprise you both in terms of its venue and what it actually reports. In terms of where it appeared, it appeared in a business section. In this case again, at the Times, and what it tells us is that there has been a downturn both in the net sales of wedding rings or engagement rings and in the average value of the rings that are sold. Now, I’m less concerned with the average value. That’s something that if you’re a jeweler, you’re very concerned about. But I’m concerned about what this says about marriage because even as the economists are looking at this, they say at least in part, this reflects a recession in marriage.

Now, that’s a long-term trend that we’ve been observing because you have several things that are playing into this. Number one, you have the sexual revolution which decoupled marriage from sex, and thus many people are deciding they can get along without marriage. You also have the problem of the delay of marriage. Marriage as an expectation of reaching adulthood has now gone into its own recess in such a way that many Americans, millions of Americans are marrying but later.

Instead of marriage being a capstone of reaching adulthood, it is now something that is considered a career success, once you’ve reached a certain point of stability, you have a certain income. Now, as we discussed on The Briefing, this actually does a great deal of injury to marriage because it means you have two adults who consider themselves pretty fully formed adults who formed themselves apart from marriage.

The biblical pattern certainly appears to be that adulthood is actually reached as a common achievement by the husband and the wife, by the man and the woman in the covenant of marriage. So the decline of marriage on the one hand, the delay of marriage on the other hand, but now you have economists and you have the jewelry business understanding that we’re talking about something that can be measured just looking at the immediate past few years.

The reporters behind this article, Jeanna Smialek and Jason Carrion tell us, “Aftershocks from the Coronavirus pandemic continued to rumble across the U.S. economy, and Signet Jewelers signaled a surprising one this week, the company is selling fewer engagement rings this year because it says, ‘Singles who were stuck at home during lockdowns failed to meet their would-be fiances in 2020.'”

Virginia C. Drosos identified as the chief executive at Signet, which by the way owns Kay Jewelers and Zales often found in malls, she said, and I quote, “As we predicted, there were fewer engagements in the quarter.” And then she went on to say, “resulting from COVID’s disruption of dating three years ago.” And then nonetheless, hear this paragraph: “In a way, the engagement ring has become a sparkly microcosm of the American economy. The bridal jewelry business is being buffeted by the delayed effects of the pandemic, rapid inflation that is squeezing consumers, and a growing sense of nervousness among shoppers.”

Now, I wanted to present that just the way I did for you to understand that there is a recession of wedding rings, and you’ll notice that the jewelers are saying, “Man, this must be about the pandemic. What else could it be about?” But then you look at statistics on marriage and you come to understand that engagement in marriage go together. And the buying of an engagement ring, it is simply part of a romantic progression that indeed relationally we as Christians would hope under the right circumstances would lead to marriage. If it doesn’t lead to marriage, you never need the ring.

The bigger problem in the recession about wedding rings is the recession about marriage. The fall off on the number of weddings, it indicates just the most recent statistic about the fall off on the importance of marriage. As a society, we’ve been marginalizing marriage and we’ve been trivializing marriage. We’ve been separating marriage from the goods that it has represented not only in terms of the conjugal relationship and the gift of children, but also in terms of the civilizational achievement of reaching adulthood.

Once you begin to define that merely in terms of individuals, once you decouple this from a moral context, then guess what? You’re not just going to lose sales and engagement rings. You’re going to lose the coherence and the health and the flourishing of your culture.

Part III

‘A Scientist’s Sexuality Shouldn’t Matter’: Theoretical Physicist Makes Important Argument Regarding Effects of DEI on Science as a Field of Study

But next, let’s shift to a different issue. In this case, a very interesting argument appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal, the headline, “A Scientist’s Sexuality Shouldn’t Matter.” Now, wait just a minute. You don’t usually put together the two words, scientist and sexuality when you mean the scientist’s sexuality, but Lawrence Krauss does in this piece, and it turns out to be very important. By the way, Lawrence Krauss is identified as a theoretical physicist, president of the Origins Project Foundation, and author of The Edge of Knowledge: Unsolved Mysteries of the Cosmos.

But many Christians will recognize the name Lawrence Krauss as representing the kind of scientist who has been particularly militant against belief in God. He’s a particularly militant secularist in this sense. He’s written a great deal about the universe as simply a fact unto itself. And in many ways, he’s presented himself as something of an opponent to conservative Christians in the larger cultural context.

But in this case, again, the headline of the article is that a scientist’s sexuality shouldn’t matter. And what we see here, by the way, is something very interesting. We’ve seen it in other arenas as well. When you get to the LGBTQ+ revolution, when you get to the T, well, it turns out a lot of people who might have been considered on the left of sexuality and marriage issues, when you get to T, all of a sudden they’re on the wrong side of history. Just asked J.K. Rowling. Just ask Martina Navratilova. and in this case, ask Lawrence Krauss.

But Lawrence Krauss is not writing out of a personal injury here. He’s writing out of concern for science. He begins by writing, “The survey of earned Doctorates is an annual census of new post-graduate research degrees. The National Science Foundation, a federal agency collects data on academic discipline, sex, race, ethnicity, debt burden, disability, and citizenship.”

The results are used by government, universities, and industry to track the demographics of women and minorities in S-T-E-M or the STEM disciplines, science, technology, engineering and math. “The sex and race data, the latter’s been collected since 1975, was initially useful in efforts to overcome barriers to women and minorities in academia. Those barriers he says have largely disappeared, yet quotas and preferential hiring have persisted. After such a concerted effort, demographic disparities,” he writes, “are less likely to point to systemic biases in academia rather than to underlying societal factors.”

By the way, he wrote that, and many readers are just going to pass over that as if that makes perfect sense. That’s actually a pretty thunderous denunciation of the larger academic culture that prevails because what he’s actually saying here is something that got another Lawrence in this case, Lawrence Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and former president of Harvard University, he was basically forced out as president at Harvard because he said there are reasons why there are more young men who go into the hard science fields than young women and has to do with preferences.

That’s what Lawrence Krauss here is talking about as societal factors that got Larry Summers ousted at Harvard, but this is not actually even the point that Lawrence Krauss is writing about in this article. Instead, he’s talking about the fact that now you have another set of questions in this NSF or National Science Foundation questionnaire, and it has to do with the new LGBTQ+ issues.

Listen to this. “A pilot project was announced last week to track sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to being asked about their sex now qualified as the sex ‘assigned’ at birth, they’ll be asked if they currently describe themselves as female, male, transgender or ‘a different term’.” That’s also put in quotation marks “a different term”. Then we read, “Whether they consider themselves a ‘gender minority, a sexual minority, and LGBTQ plus,’ and whether they accept one of the dizzying list of labels, consider this ‘non-binary, gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid, gender queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual queer, or other orientation.'”

Now, remember, this is our government at work. This is the National Science Foundation supposedly collecting data in order to understand whether science, and in particular hard sciences, and in particular under federal support, whether those sciences are adequately diverse and representative. Lawrence Krauss is now protesting saying, “Look, we have reached the point of insanity here.” Those are my words, not his. But he’s simply saying that if the sexuality of a scientist is now a matter of public concern, guess what? As a culture, we’re basically doomed.

In making his case, Lawrence Krauss says, and by the way, I consider this a mark of courage on his case, he says, the list of reasons why this is a bad idea as almost as long, for one, he says, “Asking about sexual preferences is a violation of privacy. Will the NSF, the National Science Foundation next be asking how many sexual partners each degree recipient had during graduate school in case promiscuous students are underrepresented?”

Krauss asked the obvious question, “Why is this being done?” And then he cites the, “Chief Diversity Inclusion Officer of the National Science Foundation, Charles Barber, who said that, ‘Collecting these data will help the NSF and other agencies to analyze employer’s policies and procedures for addressing unintended barriers to employment advancement and inclusion.'”

And then Lawrence Krauss comes back, and remember he’s a theoretical physicist, and he asked not just theoretically, but practically, he says, “Does this mean quotas? Because otherwise, what would the collection of this data even mean?” Lawrence Krauss knows something, and that is that when the federal government collects this kind of data, it doesn’t intend to put the data in a drawer somewhere.

It intends to put it to use, and that use is of political use. So it’ll come down to quotas or something very, very similar. Lawrence Krauss is also basically arguing in this article that many of the categories that are used here are not even categories that are meaningful in the face of science. That’s something that makes quite a statement just in itself.

He then goes on to say this, this is really interesting. “If the NSF is going to ask doctoral candidates about sexual orientation or gender identification, then why not ask them about other private matters such as religion or politics? Those would likely yield demographically skewed results as well.”

He says this, really importantly, “Atheists and Jews are surely overrepresented among scientists, conservatives, and evangelical Christians underrepresented. Tongue-in-cheek, but with biting force Lawrence Krauss then ask, “I wonder what the DEI, that is diversity, equity, inclusion officers would make of that.” He then concludes, “By pandering to the loudest new minority so that DEI bureaucrats can expand their definitions of inclusion, the NSF is erecting yet another barrier to scientific collegiality and integrity.”

I just want to back up for a moment and go back to the headline of Lawrence Krauss’s column, A scientist’s sexuality shouldn’t matter. But I guess this is where we need to ask a follow-up question and say, “Well, shouldn’t matter to who or to whom or shouldn’t matter in what context?”

And the fact is it shouldn’t matter if someone operates as a scientist according to what was at least even recently, the standard understanding of both science and the scientific method, because those operated under the assumption that the entire premise of objective scientific research is that it’s not dependent upon any of the variables that might be related to the researcher or to the scientist. It should simply be observation based upon facts in an objective context. And in that case, you don’t have gay science, you don’t have straight science, you don’t have Methodist science, you don’t have Catholic science, you do not have American science and Bolivian science. You have science.

Now, granted, that’s a theoretical and rather normative picture, but that’s the point. Science has largely abandoned its own definition of science. And it’s not fair perhaps to say that’s true generalized across the field of what’s described as science, but it certainly is true where you have the intersection of the modern.

Admittedly, you just have to acknowledge leftist academy where you have government and the power of government coercion, and where you have an ideology like this DEI ideology. You put it all together, and the next thing you know, you have federal officers or at least those with the authority to coerce and compel this kind of information going to scientists, asking them about the most intimate details of their life in order to make certain that science is adequately inclusive. I hope by now we see that this is adequately insane.

On the other hand, it is an honest and quite necessary admission that just about everything these days, at least when you touch upon academia and when you touch upon government, it is inherently ideological. Or at the very least, it becomes an arena of ideological. And thus we understand of worldview conflict.

It’s a sad fact, but it’s an important fact, and one we certainly need to understand. In this case, we’re in strange agreement with Lawrence Krauss with whom we’re in agreement on very little else, and I think he’d be the first person to say so.

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 New Orleans, Louisiana, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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