The World and Everything in It - February 25, 2022
How are Christians in Ukraine handling the Russian invasion?; on Culture Friday, the latest religious liberty challenge out of Colorado; and the new Dutch film, My Best Friend Anne Frank. Plus: Listener Feedback, and the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Russia has begun its long-expected invasion. We’ll find out how Ukrainians are faring.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Also Culture Friday. We’ll talk to John Stonestreet about another religious freedom case from Colorado before the Supreme Court.
Plus a new movie about the young Jewish girl whose diary has helped generations of young readers better understand the Holocaust.
And your listener feedback.
BROWN: It’s Friday, February 25th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
BUTLER: And I’m Paul Butler. Good morning!
BROWN: Time now for news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Western leaders respond as Russian invasion of Ukraine advances » AUDIO: [Explosion]
An explosion rocked the Melitopol Air Base in northeastern Ukraine Thursday as flames and smoke billowed into the sky.
Russian troops and tanks continue to pour into the country this morning. Ukraine’s Health Ministry said at least 57 Ukrainians were killed on day-one of the invasion. And the bloodshed is likely to multiply many times over in the weeks ahead.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova told reporters…
MARKAROVA: Make no mistake, it’s not a military operation or whatever it was called yesterday. It is a war against Ukraine.
Russian troops reportedly seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken said last night he’s convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to overthrow the Ukrainian government and that he has ambitions beyond Ukraine.
President Biden said he’ll send 7,000 more U.S. troops to Germany to strengthen NATO’s defenses. And he detailed more sanctions against Russia.
BIDEN: Putin chose this war, and now, he and his country will bear the consequences. Today, I’m authorizing additional strong sanctions and new limitations on what can be exported to Russia.
Biden said “We will limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen to be part of the global economy.”
And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared…
JOHNSON: In concert with our allies, we will agree to a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.
Other European powers and Japan are also levying sanctions.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said deploying tougher sanctions is the right thing to do, but that won’t stop Putin.
MCFAUL: Doesn’t matter if we sanction the oligarchs or the people close to him. He’s still going to move forward. But over time, hopefully, those sanctions will incur some cost within Russian elites and within Russian society.
Protesters condemned the Russian invasion on Thursday. Demonstrators gathered across the globe, including in Washington…
AUDIO: Stand with Ukraine!
AUDIO: [Paris protest]
And even in Russia where protesters shouted “no to war!”
AUDIO: [Russia protest]
Russian police reportedly arrested nearly 2,000 protesters.
Over half of U.S. abortions now done with pills, not surgery » More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery. That according to a new report. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In 2020, pills accounted for 54 percent of all U.S. abortions. That was up from roughly 44 percent in 2019.
The preliminary numbers come from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights research group.
Use of abortion pills has been rising since 2000 when the FDA approved the main drug used in abortions. And the pandemic likely accelerated that trend.
Last December, the FDA announced a permanent policy shift, allowing women to get abortion pills by mail.
A pair of abortion-inducing drugs, typically used in succession, is authorized for use within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. But some abortion providers also offer it in the second trimester.
Three states have banned mailing abortion pills to patients. They are Arizona, Arkansas, and Texas. And more than a dozen state legislatures have proposed bans or restrictions on drug-induced abortions.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Fewest Americans collecting unemployment aid since 1970 » The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in a half-century after another decline in jobless claims last week.
The Labor Department says 232,000 people applied for unemployment aid. That was down 7 percent from the week before. And that’s the lowest number of claimants since 1970.
It was the third straight week of declines after rising for more than a month at the height of the COVID-19 omicron wave.
Officers found guilty of violating Floyd’s rights » A federal jury on Thursday found three former Minneapolis police officers guilty of violating the rights of George Floyd.
Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao were the other officers on the scene when senior officer Derrick Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck, leading to his death in May of 2020.
Acting US Attorney George Kovats said the guilty verdict was the correct verdict.
KOVATS: These officers had a moral responsibility, a legal obligation and a duty to intervene. And by failing to do so they committed a crime.
The former officers testified during the civil rights trial that they deferred to their senior officer during the incident.
But prosecutors argued the three violated their training by not getting Floyd help sooner.
The former officers face a possible sentence of life in prison or even death, though that is extremely unlikely. They are scheduled to be tried on state charges later this year.
Chauvin has already been convicted of murder.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Russia’s advance into Ukraine.
Plus, your listener feedback.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday the 25th of February, 2022. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. First up: fighting for freedom.
BROWN: After months of waiting, Ukrainians are now facing the reality of war. While some people are trying to evacuate to safety in neighboring NATO countries, others are stepping up to defend Ukraine against the much larger, and better equipped, Russian military.
BUTLER: Joining us now to talk about the situation on the ground is WORLD correspondent Jill Nelson. She recently spoke with Christians in Ukraine who are facing some difficult decisions. Good morning, Jill.
JILL NELSON, REPORTER: Hey, good morning, Paul.
BUTLER: I appreciated your report yesterday on WORLD Digital. Tell us about your early morning conversation with Oleg Magdych on Thursday. Who is he and what was he doing when you guys talked?
NELSON: Well, Oleg is a former pastor who lives in Kyiv with his wife and two kids. And since 2014, he has been taking supplies to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines who have essentially been fighting Russian backed forces there off and on for the past eight years. So they deliver things like helmets, food, medicine, bulletproof vests. And when I spoke to him in the early hours of the Russian invasion, which began yesterday, at about four or five in the morning, Ukraine time, he was still a bit shaken by what he experienced there. He and his friends had stopped at a gas station outside of Kharkiv, that's in eastern Ukraine, when the shelling began, and he could see it coming from three different directions. So they called the soldiers on the front lines, who told them to turn around. And as they scanned their evacuation options, they could see fire and smoke in one direction. And they could see artillery fire aimed at Russian planes that were bombing the area.
BUTLER: In your story you wrote: “In some ways, [Magdych] looked fearless in his camouflage shirt, goatee, and armored vehicle with a muscular comrade by his side. But his hazel eyes projected worry and a measure of fear.” When you spoke with him, what did he say?
NELSON: Well, you know, he acknowledged his fear in this situation. And, you know, we've all seen these troops building up on the Ukrainian border, but many people wondered if Putin would really have the audacity to invade on multiple fronts. So he said it was a bit surreal. He just did not expect an encounter with rockets when he woke up early that morning. But he really hoped this kind of fear would mobilize Ukrainians to fight for freedom. He said they did not want to live under Putin's Russia. And he knows there will be casualties in this war, but they are going to fight. And he also had a few things to say about the West’s reaction to Moscow's assault. He said they they don't want American soldiers on the ground dying for their country. But he pointed out something that others have pointed out to me as well, including Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institute, who was a former ambassador to Ukraine. Back in the 1990s, Washington convinced Ukraine to get rid of its nuclear arsenal, which was the third largest in the world at that time. And the U.S. signed what was called the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, along with Great Britain and Russia. And all three countries committed to respect Ukraine sovereignty. And so Ukrainians, including Oleg are wondering what the West is going to do about this because right now, it just does not seem like we are willing to make some of those hard decisions that would change the trajectory of this invasion.
BUTLER: When you interviewed Magdych, he was headed back to Kyiv to help his family evacuate. Did you hear if he made it? And what does he plan to do next?
NELSON: Yeah, it was about a three hour drive to Kyiv. And he was able to get his family out of the city. They were planning to head somewhere northwest of Kiev. And then he and his friends were planning to return to the frontlines to deliver those much needed supplies.
BUTLER: What else are you hearing from people you’ve spoken to over the last few months? How are they doing?
NELSON: One person I've spoken to is a missionary with Mission to the World, MTW, named Bob Burnham. And he's lived in the southern city of Odessa for about 25 years. And that's where some of the explosions were heard when this invasion began. And when I spoke to him at the end of January, he and his family were staying put in Odessa. There were about 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine at that time, and the U.S. had not issued a mandatory evacuation for everyone at the embassy. But that situation, of course changed last week and Burnham and his family moved to a city near the Romanian border, about a three hour drive west of Odessa. And I believe they drove back to Odessa for church on Sunday and to pray with two of their congregations there. And then when I touched base with him yesterday, he was in transit, evacuating his family to Romania, and then planning to drive to the Lviv where a lot of churches have been mobilizing, and really preparing for a massive wave of refugees heading their way. And then another friend I spoke to who lives in Kyiv was supposed to fly with his family to Turkey today, of course, now flights are all canceled. He was trying to figure out a way to cross the border and catch a flight from Poland or Moldova but of course, there is some concern about those long lines at the border crossings.
BUTLER: You’ve spent a lot of time in Ukraine and know the country well. Tell us a little bit about the Ukrainian people. What are they like and how does that affect their response to this invasion?
NELSON: Well, the Ukrainian people are no strangers to hardship. I mean, their history is marked with great sorrows and difficulties. And in some ways they've been living in the shadows since 2014. And I think Oleg really captured this when he described what he saw in Kharkov as the attacks began. He said some Ukrainians were driving fast, fleeing to safety, and others were just going to work. I mean, they clearly heard the explosions and were just going on with their day. And this mirrored what he saw in 2014 on his first trip to the frontlines. They were driving in an armored vehicle wearing bulletproof vests, they could see black smoke in front of them. At the same time, there were kids playing in the streets of villages and guys were fishing in the local river. So he describes it all as a bit surreal. And he, you know, he summed things up by agreeing with the words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. If there's a full scale war the Russians will see their faces not their backs.
BUTLER: Jill Nelson is a WORLD correspondent based in southern California. Thanks for joining us today.
NELSON: Thanks for having me, Paul.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Up next, Culture Friday.
The Supreme Court this week agreed to take up a major religious liberty case from Colorado. It involves a web designer from the Denver area by the name of Lorie Smith. She calls her business “303 Creative.” She’s a Christian who is looking to expand that business into creating wedding websites. But—and you can probably guess where this is going—she’s wanting to make it clear she has Bible-based objections to same-sex weddings and plans to state plainly that she would refuse service.
And that of course is the clash.
BROWN: It is. The state of Colorado has an anti-discrimination law. And the way the state’s attorney general reads that law is that it requires wedding-based businesses to serve same-sex weddings. Lorie Smith’s lawyers claim the law unfairly targets dissenting views and creates a clear violation of First Amendment free speech and religious rights.
The Supreme Court plans to examine only whether a law that requires an artist to speak a particular message—or stay silent—violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The court is expected to hear arguments in the fall.
BUTLER: Let’s bring in John Stonestreet. He’s the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast and he joins us now. Morning, John.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
BUTLER: I know you’ve been following this one closely, John, and we’d like to get into the particulars of the new case in a moment. But first, explain why you think this case is even a live controversy wasn’t this already dealt with in the Jack Phillips case?
STONESTREET: Well, it’s a live controversy because the courts have made it a controversy. You go back to the penumbra that was found in the Supreme Court decision about us having the right to, you know, choose our own meaning of the universe and meaning of existence. All of that is the backdrop of this, as is a cultural shift in which sexuality went from being an issue of behavior to being an issue of identity on the same level as racial identification. Specifically, in Colorado, what you have is a very aggressive Civil Rights Commission and other very aggressive state forces willing to really drive home this non discrimination law.
What happened in the Jack Phillips Masterpiece Case at the Supreme Court was that the court was asked to really make a decision on, you know, whether religious freedom indeed has any sort of space left in corporate America and for private business owners. As we embrace this new thing that the Supreme Court also gave us, which is same sex marriage.
What they ended up deciding on instead, was that religious freedom, at least has to be respected. This goes to Justice Kennedy's—former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's—lifelong crusade, or at least the last part of his term against animus. He didn't want anybody to have animus against anybody else. So he promised us in the Obergefell decision that this could change America without animus. And then in this court case, trend to smack back the other way, he told the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that they were guilty of the animus.
And they were. I mean, they were clearly cruel to Jack, they clearly treated his religious convictions differently than they treated other concerns. So what was never addressed, was anything having to do with freedom of speech. And really the balancing out of religious convictions and this new embrace of sexual freedoms into civil rights law that deals with public accommodation. And that's what remains unaddressed.
BUTLER: So John, if the Phillips case decision was based primarily on the rough treatment by the State of Colorado, do you think that this time around the Court will have the courage to actually deal with the First Amendment question?
STONESTREET: Well, that's a great question. I mean, it’s not clear what the Supreme Court will do. They have shown themselves to be very, very hesitant to do any sort of settling of these big cultural debates. If there is a clause, or a nuance, or a technicality that can keep the ruling from being as dramatic as this issue now requires—and one thinks here, right at about this time of our friend, Baronelle Stutzman who was set up for this by the court and then the Court refused to hear a case, eventually they're gonna have to settle these issues.
These aren't issues that need to really exist, certainly didn't need to exist in the cultural war sort of way that the left now is waging on people who have sincerely held beliefs in marriage, and want to live their lives. There's not an issue of public accommodation where somebody can't find a hotel room or, you know, other service providers, as was the case when the civil rights law was passed in the 60s.
So the Supreme Court gave us this issue. They need to settle it. The upside here on the 303 case with Lorrie Smith is that web design has already been determined by plenty of court precedence that it fits into that category of speech.
And freedom of speech means, not only that I can say what I want—within reason—but I'm not forced to say things that I don't believe. I'm not forced to produce speech that I don't hold to. That was the case that the Alliance Defending Freedom folks made for Jack Phillips, that was the case that was attempted to be made with Bernal Stutzman as well.
But it was a little bit more fuzzy when you're talking about cake artistry, or you're talking about flowers, just to what degree it counts as a message, it counts as speech. There's already legal tracks laid that web design counts as speech. And it's time for them to address it because unfortunately, there's been a lot of victims kind of lane along the way that have been run over by this new way of doing things and they haven't found legal recourse.
BUTLER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.
STONESTREET: Thank you both.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, February 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Mryna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: friendship in the shadow of war.
BROWN: And just one note to parents before we go further. This next piece references material that might not be suitable for younger listeners. If you have the kids around, you might want to skip ahead about six minutes and come back later.
Anne Frank and her diary have given generations of young readers a personal look inside the horrors of the Holocaust. But before she became a German prisoner, Anne was just a normal young girl growing up in Holland.
BUTLER: A new movie about Anne shines a light on that time, through the eyes of her best friend. It’s a moving story as well as a cautionary tale.
Here’s reviewer Emily Whitten.
EMILY WHITTEN, REPORTER: Before her diary and tragic death at the hands of Nazi tormentors, Anne Frank was a spirited, funny, and, at times, sinful young girl in Amsterdam, Holland. In the new Netflix film, My Best Friend Anne Frank, we see that Anne through the eyes of her childhood friend, Hannah Goslar.
CLIP: “We’re going to Switzerland.” “Skiing in Switzerland.”
Fair warning. This is a Dutch film, and if—like me—you don’t speak Dutch, you’ll need subtitles or the version with clunky English dubbed over it.
Many Christians will still likely want to watch. The movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes shows that audiences like the film better than critics. That’s partially because this isn’t avante garde storytelling but a tale of two girls’ friendship, expertly filmed, with main actresses who will draw viewers in.
CLIP: Where’s that ring? What ring? The one you put on in class. I’m saving it for my own true love. Don’t be like that!
Their friendship moves on a collision course with the Nazi storm of war and persecution of Jews across Europe. Suddenly, the Franks disappear, leaving behind a black cat and a cover story about an escape to Switzerland. The Goslars hope to escape, too, but before that happens, they hear the dreaded knock of soldiers coming to take them away. Hannah’s father stands frozen in the living room.
CLIP: [RINGING, KNOCKING] “You get five minutes to pack.” “Dad…Dad…Dad.” [KNOCKING]
When Hannah opens the door, Nazi soldiers burst into the room. One shoves Hannah’s father to the ground…
CLIP: Pack your suitcase. Five minutes.
Much of this story is told through flashbacks. In the present, Hannah clings to hope for Allied rescue at a German concentration camp. But she remembers happier times before the war with her family and friends, especially Anne. Near the end, Hannah discovers Anne in the same camp, though on the other side of a grass and wire fence.
CLIP: “Anne?” “Hanneli, is that you?” “What are you doing here?”
The movie draws on the real Hannah Goslar’s story. Over the years, she shared her experience through public speaking and a 1997 book, Memories of Anne Frank. Hannah met Anne in 1934 when both their Jewish families left Hitler’s Germany and resettled in Amsterdam.
Here’s Hannah Goslar speaking in a 2017 video by Christians in Defense of Israel.
GOSSLAR: Several days later, when mother brought me to kindergarten, I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t know the language. And then I saw that little girl from the grocery shop. When she finished with her music, she ran in my arms and that was it. From that moment, we were good friends.
While I do recommend Christians watch this TV-14 film, I want to warn you—the devil is in the details. The version of Anne Frank’s diary I read in the 90s includes edits by Anne herself and later by her father. Those edits included sexually descriptive material. Since then, many publishers put that content back into Anne’s diary—leading some to protest its use in schools and libraries.
Here, filmmakers only briefly reference that offensive material. But they do focus more on boyfriends and puberty than Hannah’s memoir.
CLIP: Hey Hanneli, did you French kiss with Alfred already?
In the most uncomfortable scene, Anne playfully tries to touch Hannah’s breasts. She also forces Hannah to look at a drawing of sex organs, which viewers clearly see.
CLIP: “Ew.” “Hanneli, look.”
Many Christians may think, “Well, that came out of left field.” But it didn’t. It reflects part of Anne’s story that older generations muted but today’s culture celebrates. I don’t recommend we abandon Anne’s story or turn to book burning. But we can be careful to discuss this kind of scene with our teens. Adults may also want to track down the older version of Anne’s diary for young readers.
Despite this nod to cultural trends, filmmakers do tastefully present Hannah’s Jewish faith. We see her family struggle to pray and hold on to God in the midst of so much tragedy.
CLIP: [GIRL PRAYING IN HEBREW]
I hope Christians see themselves in these families. But like Christ who wept over Jerusalem, we should also say, weeping, that any faith that rejects Christ will not save.
This heartbreaking reality hits home when Hannah tries to encourage Anne a few days before she dies.
CLIP: “God will help us.” “When is He going to help us, then?”
We often view movies about the Holocaust as cautionary tales about anti-semitism or totalitarianism. With Russia and China on the rise, Christian freedoms under threat at home, and growing violence against Jews around the world, we do well to see these implications.
But Christians can go deeper. Because of sin, we all remain under sentence of death. Apart from Christ, Anne Frank’s story will be our story. As Jesus said when he heard of a nearby tragedy, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
My prayer is that Hannah Goslar, now living in Jerusalem, and all her beautiful family might find Him while it’s still called today. He’s the best friend we all need.
I’m Emily Whitten.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Today is Friday, February 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Time now for Listener Feedback.
BUTLER: We’ll start today, as we always do, with corrections. At the beginning of the month, we mentioned Chinese astronauts celebrating the Lunar New Year in space. But they were not in the International Space Station. They were in the Chinese space station, which launched in 2021.
BROWN: In our January 31st History Book we referred to Portuguese explorer King Henry the Navigator. And in doing so, we gave him a pretty significant promotion. Turns out, he was only a prince.
BUTLER: Next, a handful of you wrote in to say that you weren’t going to take it as during our February 14th newscast, we referred to the 1970s and 80s rock band as “Twister Sister,” instead of “Twisted Sister.” And we demoted National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to a State Department spokesman.
BROWN: And finally, a clarification. On Monday’s newscast, we referred to the silver medal won by cross-country skier Jessie Diggins on the last day of the Olympics. We noted it was one of 25 medals won by U.S. athletes this year. But it was not Diggins’ only medal. She also took home a bronze.
BUTLER: On now to your feedback.
TURNER: Hi y’all. This is Sarah Turner in Sugar Grove, West Virginia. I just wanted to give a shout-out to you all for the good work you’re doing. I really appreciate the effective music and sound that your programming has. It conveys the spirit behind your journalism and so I really appreciate that. I just got done listening to another episode of Effective Compassion. And listening to the intro and outro music there. It’s just so raw and gritty, I love it. It really captures my attention, conveys the desperate need that is there. I don’t personally have any musical talent. But I really love and appreciate how music affects our hearts in ways that words alone cannot. And when you all use your music, I feel like you don’t try to manipulate with it, but you do use it for emphasis and to bring attention where attention is needed. So, I appreciate that. I just want a big shout-out to the guys and gals that are working on the sound and music. Y’all do a great job, and it’s such a blessing to me every day.
BROWN: Thank you, Sarah, for that encouragement. Every month we get emails from listeners commenting on the music they hear on the program. Often, they want to know the name of a particular song. We’ve explained our process for selecting music before, and we don’t have time to do it again here. But we are going to link to the previous segment we did in today’s transcript. So if you’d like to hear Carl Peetz explain how he puts the program’s music together, you can check that out.
BUTLER: Sarah mentioned the music for Effective Compassion, specifically. We’ve also heard from many listeners this month who are really enjoying that podcast. If you haven’t started listening yet, we’re about half way through the season, so there’s still time to get caught up! We drop a new episode each Tuesday on the Effective Compassion podcast feed. We definitely encourage you to subscribe to that. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until Saturday, when we release that week’s episode on The World and Everything in It feed.
BROWN: Well, we have time for one more comment. We’ll let listener Brad Shedd in Chesapeake, Virginia, have the last word. He called to express his appreciation for recent interviews and stories that included different perspectives.
SHEDD: I just appreciate that you are including voices that aren’t necessarily strong Christian voices, but you’ve treated them with respect and honor. And you have helped us all have a better understanding of how to connect and reach out to our world. Thanks again for what you do. God bless you.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Time now to thank our excellent team:
Kent Covington, Josh Schumacher, Mary Reichard, David Bahnsen, Nick Eicher, Katie Gaultney, Kristen Flavin, Lauren Dunn, Kim Henderson, Steve West, Onize Ohikere, Joel Belz, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Amy Lewis, Cal Thomas, Jill Nelson, John Stonestreet, and Emily Whitten.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are the audio engineers who stay up late to get the program to you early! Leigh Jones is managing editor, and Paul Butler is our executive producer.
The Psalmist says, The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. (Psalm 145:17 ESV)
This weekend let’s remember to lift up our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.
Lord willing, we’ll meet you back here on Monday.
Go now in grace and peace!
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