Wednesday, June 5, 2024

It’s Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

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

Part I

Mexico Elects First Woman and First Jewish President: Major Worldview Questions Behind the Headlines of Mexico’s Election

Well, Mexico is going to have a new president, and that president is going to be the nation’s first woman president. It turns out there’s more to the story, but that’s what the headlines are telling us. In this case, the winning candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, is the winner by a significant margin, she defeated another woman. But the point is Mexico is going to have its first woman president. That turns out to be very important in terms of politics and in terms of worldview because in this case, the new president is coming from the political left, and a continuation of the leftist government that had been in power for the last several years, led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Now the Mexican president serves for a six-year term and cannot be reelected to the office, and so this is as close as the Mexican voters could come to reelecting President Obrador. And so it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens. Most of the speculation, most of the interest in the media has been about the political direction of Mexico. And of course the big story that has been trumpeted all around the world is the fact that Mexico now has its first woman president, almost assuredly at this point.

It appears that Claudia Sheinbaum won with about a 40% margin in the vote. That is absolutely massive and it’s much higher than anyone had expected. And so even as Mexico’s preparing for a new president, it’s first woman president, and even as there are big ideological issues that are at stake, we’re talking about a very liberal government that’s going to be put in place in America’s nearest neighbor to the South, it’s also important to recognize that there is something else to this story that the press hasn’t necessarily just ignored, but they’re pretty sure this must be insignificant. And that is the fact that the newly elected president, now president-elect Claudia Sheinbaum, is not only the first woman to be elected president of Mexico, but the first Jewish person to be elected president of Mexico.

But most of the mainline media pointed to the fact that she is Jewish in terms of her ancestry, but she is something of an agnostic or an atheist, and she speaks of Jewish being her family background, and she doesn’t deny that in the least. But she implies that Judaism has no ongoing role in her life. And frankly, she was raised by very liberal, indeed, socialist, atheist or agnostic parents.

It is really interesting to look at this. The New York Times, to its credit, did run an article with a headline “Mexico hits another milestone, its first Jewish president.” And the reporters in this case, Simon Romero and Natalie Kitroeff, they point out that even as the nation will have its first Jewish president, and remember it has an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, we are told that she is not very Jewish when it comes to her thought, nor to her religious life. She said in an interview in 2020, “I never belonged to the Jewish community. We grew up a little removed from that.” The next paragraph tells us, “Ms. Sheinbaum’s parents were both leftist and involved in the sciences, and she was raised in a secular household in Mexico City in the 1960s and 1970s, a time of considerable political agitation in Mexico.”

Alright, very interesting. Later in the article, we are told that the president-elect is a story of Mexican migration “as the descendant of Jews who immigrated to Mexico in the 20th century.” But it goes on to say that even as that was not very unusual, there is not a great deal of Judaism in the background when it comes to the president-elect’s worldview.

Well, there are a couple of very interesting things here. Now, for one thing, you have the reality that what is represented here is a form of secular Judaism, but you’ll notice that Judaism is something that has an ethnic component in a way that is not true of Christianity. So in this case, she is still identified as being Mexico’s “first Jewish president,” even though she doesn’t claim any real religious identity and continuity with Jewish identity. So that’s interesting in and of itself. It’s very interesting that in this case, it’s another example of the fact that when you look at Jewish patterns of immigration, it has often led in western nations into involvement with politics, and that politics has often been on the political left. It has often been in movements like communism and in socialism. It’s often been very much involved in the Democratic Party.

And that leads to some very interesting more recent developments where the Jewish people in the United States who are more seriously Jewish, they’re facing a very interesting realignment in the culture, because they increasingly have more in common with more conservative candidates than more liberal candidates. But it’s a complex picture and it is really interesting. And in Judaism, you have very liberal forms of Judaism. You have conservative forms of Judaism, mostly associated with the movement known as Orthodoxy. That’s easy to understand. And then you have middle movements with Reconstructionism and also what’s called Conservative Judaism, which increasingly isn’t all that conservative.

But nonetheless, there’s another big story here that most people have missed, certainly most in the mainstream media seem to be unaware of it, disinterested in it. And that is the question as to why Jewish people went to Mexico, and originally, why has there been a Jewish presence in Mexico going all the way back to the 16th century? It’s an interesting question, and it’s a question that has to do with patterns of immigration due to religious persecution in Europe. Due to very intense religious persecution in Europe, much of it led by the development known as the Spanish Inquisition, you had patterns of Jewish immigration and they were looking for places to go that would be safe.

And so it’s really interesting to note that at the same time, roughly the same historical epoch when you’re talking about Christians such as the pilgrims as we know them, leaving England under the threat of persecution, going first to Amsterdam and then going to the United States, remember sailing on the Mayflower, as you look at that, you recognize there’s some common stories here that turn out to be very, very interesting. And when you look closer, it turns out to be even more interesting than you may have thought.

So remember that New York didn’t start out as New York. It started out as New Amsterdam, which is to say that New York there, on what we know as the island of Manhattan, was established in terms of the age of exploration, largely by Dutch explorers. And they were doing big business. The Dutch government was involved in starting many businesses. And of course, you had the birth of capitalism in a very real and demonstrable way, at least in part in places like Amsterdam. And thus you had a Dutch empire, and you had all kinds of reasons for there to be sailing travel going across the Atlantic. And thus, you now have a religious reason. And the threat of religious persecution, the reality of religious persecution, you have Jewish folks coming from Eastern Europe and also from the south of Europe going to the New World in order to escape persecution. You have the Puritans doing the same thing as Christians. And then you have other waves of religious immigration.

And of course, that’s the history of the new world. It’s the history of American colonies. But as I say, it’s more interesting than most people may know because one of the places where some of these Jewish people went and some Christians went, one of the places they went, including some original Protestants, was to central and South America as they are now known, and in particular to places such as Brazil.

Now, remember that Brazil was an extension of the Portuguese Empire. And on the Brazilian Atlantic coast, you had different groups who came, including Jewish groups, including some Protestant groups. One of the first Protestant missionary efforts was actually undertaken, and the missionaries were sent to Brazil. But then came the Spanish Inquisition. And the Spanish Inquisition was in particular, well, it was most heated at first. It was the greatest threat at first to those regions directly under the control of the Spanish Empire. And so Ferdinand and Isabella, it’s easy to remember all of this, where the Spanish empire spread, the Spanish Inquisition also went.

But increasingly, the Inquisition gained ground elsewhere, and that included in Brazil. So this is where things get really interesting. So you have a pattern of immigration in which you have Jewish people who had left to the old world to come to the new world, but now it’s very dangerous in the new world, they had to go somewhere. Well, the most famous place where religious toleration was well known was Amsterdam. But getting all the way across the Atlantic, again, to go back to Amsterdam was more of a challenge than many of these communities could face. So where else might they go? Maybe you figured it out. If they could not go back to Amsterdam, then they would go to New Amsterdam. They went to New York.

So when you look at the massive, very influential Jewish population of New York, a lot of it has to do with a story, very much like the story that brought the Jewish people to Mexico and eventually even brought the parents of the newly elected president of Mexico from Europe all the way across the Atlantic, in this case, to Mexico.

But here’s where you do have that very interesting phenomenon. This article just goes out of its way to point out that the president-elect there in Mexico, or at least the one who is declared to be the president-elect at this point, it’s expected that’s going to hold. As you look at her life, it is a life. She has not been running on her Jewish identity. If anything she’s been running from it in one sense. And she has been at pains to say, that when it comes to theology and her religion, she’s really not identifying as Jewish, but she’s also not denying its ethnic background and heritage.

On the one hand, it is rather remarkable that this woman was elected the president of Mexico as the first Jewish president, as well as the first woman to serve as president of the country, when in Mexico, we are told that the population includes about 59,000 Jewish people in a country of 130 million. So you look at those numbers, this does turn out to be rather remarkable.

But in this case, politically, the president-elect is really a political protege of, and a product of, President Obrador who brought a leftist government to power and has been pushing a leftist agenda. And if anything, the president-elect is believed to be probably even more liberal than President Obrador. Now, there are also some very interesting things going on. For one thing, you’re going to have the legislature there seated in Mexico, before the new president is put in power. And that means the President Obrador may actually try to force through some really significant constitutional changes that would basically move the country, even by its constitution, in a more liberal direction. And that would include the fact, that you would have changes to the court, changes to the legislature, and changes to the way the government is comprised and to the way the government is constituted.

But here you have the fact that there’s interest in Mexico and the reality that they have not the but the Jewish, but then along comes the New York Times to report from Mexico City, “The granddaughter of Jewish immigrants who fled Europe. She rarely discusses anything Jewish or almost anything about her personal life,” colleagues say. Well, this is a way of saying that Mexico not only has its first woman president, but is almost assuredly going to have his first Jewish president. But this new president, though Jewish, in one sense is not very Jewish when it comes to Jewish beliefs. So what in this case you really have is an expansion of secularism rather than a sudden development of, say, Judaism in the presidential office there in Mexico.

One of the realities we need to watch in a secular world is that you do have this nagging question of religious identity. So even among people who declare themselves to be secular and in a society that’s unquestionably secularizing, you still have people who say, “Well, you know, that is interesting.” And then the big question is, do Jewish beliefs come into this at all? And the answer in this case from the candidate is no. I guess time will tell.

But the other thing is you need to recognize that if she has said yes, there might well be an allergy to this. Because in the increasingly secular nature of our age, people do want to reduce religion to something like an ethnicity. They are largely resistant to it, particularly among the elites when it comes to a worldview.

Part II

CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and a Parable: The Disintegrating Middle of Media Reporting

But back here in the United States, talking about how society works, and while we’re talking in liberal and conservative terms, there’s been a recent report, the New York Times deserves credit for one of these reports, about what’s going on in major media. And I’m going to talk about two entities in major media today. I’m going to talk about the television network, MSNBC, which is a part of the larger family of NBC, and then I’m going to talk about the Washington Post, both of them in headlines. And when the media make headlines about themselves, well, that turns out to be pretty interesting.

And in this case, we’re starting with MSNBC. So MSNBC is a cable news network that was started when NBC decided that it wanted to transform itself from a television network into a constellation of different networks. And this was an acknowledgement, now a generation ago, of the fact that there were big changes coming in the media landscape. And of course in technologies, you had cable television, eventually you had satellite, you have streaming. And so, there was definitely space for some new news entities. And the most famous of them, of course, was CNN, the Cable News Network. And even as many conservatives would think of CNN as being pretty liberal, you now have the fact that MSNBC came on the scene. And one of the most interesting turns in MSNBC is that very quickly, it really turned in a liberal direction. It developed a liberal identity. And that didn’t mean necessarily that it attracted a lot of viewers until lately when all of a sudden it does.

So in terms of the ecology of cable news, and they’re also, of course, every single one of them, they’re big streaming platforms, and frankly, they’re recognized brands, and so you really are looking at these three brands in terms of the cable news that are now also streaming. You have CNN put it in the middle, and then Fox News, put it on the right, and then put MSNBC on the left. Okay, I think you know that ecology, you figured that out. You have that map pretty much in mind.

But as you look at ratings, that is to say where the viewers are, the big winner there is Fox. Fox has been in that position for quite a long time. But for a long time, CNN was in the slot number two and third belonged to MSNBC. But in more recent times, MSNBC has now jumped ahead of CNN. Okay, what does that tell us? Well, it tells us that when you’re looking at the liberal conservative dichotomy in the United States, what in these times becomes smaller is the supposed middle. That’s informative to us.

I think it’s pretty much predictable, isn’t it, when you think about how worldview develops and over time enough issues start arriving on the scene, that you have a liberal side and a conservative side, and pretty soon you see a great divide in the middle. And if you’re trying to broadcast from the middle, I think it’s fair to say you’re talking to a decreasing percentage of the population. And that’s not to say that there’s not a room for someone to show up in the middle. It’s just to say that, “That room, I think, is going to get smaller and smaller.” The map of the continent conservative and the map of the continent liberal are going to encroach upon the continent undeclared.

Now, again, I don’t want to just take CNN as being absolutely neutral. I think in much of its commentary it leans significantly to the left. But nonetheless, let’s look at MSNBC. Okay, consider this headline. It’s in the New York Times recently, “Fight at NBC Over Left Tilt From MSNBC.” The subhead “Ratings rise, but some rue a partisan shift.”

Okay, here’s what’s interesting. You have the legacy television networks back in the day of broadcast, you have CBS, NBC, and then ABC. And NBC is now actually less interesting politically than MSNBC. But MSNBC, at least we are told, unlike NBC, is far more liberal in terms of its hosts and in terms of its programming, even what the New York Times notes is a recognizable partisan shift. And that partisan shift is to the Democrats, it’s to the liberal side.

This move at MSNBC is also represented not just by its daily spectrum of programming, but in particular by two veteran hosts who are now back for programs. If they’re not daily, they are at least weekly. And I’m talking here about Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart, both of whom are back, and frankly both of whom are attracting some pretty significant ratings on the left.

But the article here has to do with the fact that at NBC, there’s the concern that MSNBC is coloring the way that NBC is seen. And so the liberalism, which is so apparent, the political left which is so much in the host seat at MSNBC, that’s now also being attributed to NBC. But this article points out that efforts to correct that might not be all that successful.

One of the things I think that should be interesting to us in this account is that you have a base who says, “‘That’s what we want.’ You have a base watching MSNBC, and they say, “That’s what we want. As a matter of fact, we want more of that.” But what we now have is a redefinition of television news. And to be honest, it wasn’t MSNBC that really pioneered this. In some ways, it was Fox News. Fox News understood that there was a pent-up need, a pent-up demand, a pent-up market for a cable news network that would give conservative voices a pretty loud microphone. And that’s exactly what has happened. And in more recent years, Fox News clearly has the largest viewership of any of these networks. And if you are a Republican candidate, if you’re a conservative politician, you had better take Fox News into account. Likewise on MSNBC, pretty much the same thing, but on the other side.

So all of that is just, I think perhaps most importantly, to acknowledge that even the New York Times which is very liberal, writing about MSNBC which is very liberal, acknowledges that the audience has now been built on that liberal reputation. So helps us to define the map.

The second thing I want to talk about is the Washington Post, but the reason we’re talking about the Washington Post today is because the new leadership of the Washington Post forced out the executive editor. In this case, the executive editor was Sally Buzbee. It is Will Lewis, who’s the chief executive of the Washington Post, who basically forced her out. He offered her a lesser position, she didn’t take it. And so new leadership is going to be taking over as the chief editor there at the Washington Post that was announced to employees at the Washington Post. And they’re very upset about it. And it is a man replacing a woman.

And just in terms of the DEI agenda, and the Washington Post is basically pretty committed to that at least in terms of its editorial stance, it turns out that the three big executives now at the Washington Post are going to be three white men. And when it comes to a liberal newsroom, that just might be a problem. And as a matter of fact, there are people inside the newsroom who are complaining about that.

But the reason I want to talk about it is because when you look at the legacy media, and you put NBC in that category, you look at the legacy media, I guess CNN even fits that category now. But you look at the Washington Post, you’re talking about a liberal newspaper, there in the nation’s capital, and it has an outsized influence. But you know what? One of the reasons why this change is being made is because the Washington Post, just in recent years, has lost about half of its readership. It has lost an enormous amount of revenue.

Now, just keep in mind that the Washington Post was bought by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. He saw this as something of a new start. He’d already made billions and billions. He used some of that money to buy the Washington Post as a legacy media outlet, and he very much insisted that he wasn’t going to be personally involved. But of course, he is the owner of the Washington Post so you bet he’s involved at some level. And you have to know it gets his attention when the revenue starts to crash and when the readership is cut basically in half. At this point, you have to wonder if the newspaper’s survivable. And almost assuredly it is because it’s hard to imagine you could have the capital city of the United States of America without a hometown newspaper.

But this just points to some of the really big changes taking place in the media. And Christians need to be paying attention to this because this is a part of the national conversation. This is a part of how the national mind is shaped. And it’s no accident that all of this is taking place just as we are entering the white-hot months of a presidential election cycle. Don’t believe for a moment that this is just about money. It is also about big media and big politics.

Part III

Who’s More Likely to Own an Electric Car, Conservatives or Liberals? Liberals — But You Probably Already Knew That

But finally, Christians need to recognize that the larger culture around us tends to be missing a lot of cultural and moral, certainly theological categories. So increasingly everything is politics. But nonetheless, there’s some fascinating developments out there for us to watch. Here’s one, the Wall Street Journal Business and Finance section just in recent days ran a story with the headline, “Personal Politics Are a Roadblock to the Electric Vehicle Transition.” Now, you probably knew this, but it’s going to be interesting to put some numbers to it. Guess who’s more likely to buy an electric vehicle? A Democrat or a Republican? You got that right, the Democrat. Who is more likely to buy an electric vehicle? The liberal or the conservative? You got this right, the Liberal.

The Wall Street Journal offers a graph. First of all, you have conservative respondents to the question. You put it together, 61% of conservatives have either a somewhat or a very unfavorable vision of electric vehicles and hybrids. So that doesn’t leave all that much. You’re looking at something like 28%. But when it comes to liberal respondents, when it comes to electric vehicles, well, you’ve got a lot who are favorable. That adds up to 66%, and only 25% are either somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable. The same pattern basically holds true for electrics, for hybrids, gas powered is the alternative view. The Democrats are less for it, the Republicans more for it.

So this Wall Street Journal article says, “You know what? Political worldview turns out to be translatable even into choices people make about what they are going to drive.”

Now, here’s where you do need to look beyond the headline, because I think it’s easy to understand why this pattern would pertain. But when you look deeper and the reality, one of the reasons why many conservatives are much more likely to prefer a gas-powered vehicle than an electric vehicle is because they’re also more likely to live in a rural area than in an urban area. They’re more likely than the Democrat, than the liberal to be involved in farming and in other endeavors that electric vehicles don’t work all that well for.

Now, that’s not all there is to it because the numbers still hold in a suburb. You come to a suburb where Democrats and Republicans are living together, conservatives and liberals are living together, you see an electric vehicle, particularly an all electric vehicle, it’s less likely to be a conservative garage than a liberal garage.

Now, I think there’s a legitimate question as to whether or not this pattern will hold over time. My personal hunch is that it will lessen over time, but that’s going to be for commercial reasons, not for political reasons. It’s going to be for technological advances, not because of political arguments. But as you look at this, you do recognize there’s something really real underlined here, these differences between Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, when it comes to which vehicles they drive as powered by, say, gas or powered by electricity, it is really an interesting divide. It just goes to show that worldview is a much bigger issue than people want to admit.

And as you’re looking at the politics, you’re looking at the consumer choice, you’re looking at the social location, you’re looking at the transportation, let’s face it, as Christians, we understand all those things are tied to worldview implications. Which is as we close today on the briefing to say that if I know what your basic beliefs are, I can pretty much figure out for whom you’re going to vote for president in the 2024 November election. But if I know those same convictions, I may not know exactly or be able to predict exactly what you drive, but I can pretty much figure out the percentage of how those cars are going to line up in your church’s parking lot. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you may need to go recharge your batteries to think about it a bit further.

Meanwhile, let me ask, are you driving to Indianapolis for next week’s meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention? I’d like to invite you, if you are, to visit Southern Seminary and Boyce College here in Louisville, Kentucky, on your way or as you travel home. Visit our world-class bookstore. You’re going to love it. Meet our faculty, see our newly renovated library, enjoy a drink in our coffee shop, and just come and enjoy being on this beautiful campus and being thankful for what the Lord has done here. We want to thank Southern Baptist for your generous support, for your prayers, and for your faithfulness to this institution. For details, and we’ll also send you a free drink coupon, visit That’s simply I hope to see you here.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter or X 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.

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).