The World and Everything in It: September 12, 2023
Mexico decriminalizes abortion nationwide; a member of Finland’s parliament is back on trial for “hate speech:” and families making a joyful noise to the Lord on YouTube. Plus, commentary from Daniel Darling and the Tuesday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is brought to you by listeners like us. I'm a pastor's wife Cheryl from Carrizo, New Mexico. I'm her brother, Mike, a retired missionary living in southern California. We are here today with our siblings for a family reunion. We hope you enjoy today's program.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! A battle for freedom of speech in Finland.
RÄSÄNEN: If I'm convicted, I think that the worst consequence is not a fine…it would be the censorship.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also, Mexico decriminalizes abortion. How will pro-lifers respond?
And, they say the family that prays together, stays together. Well, what about the family that sings together? Might it cling together? Myrna Brown has a review of three Christian music groups.
And WORLD Opinions commentator Dan Darling on The Great Dechurching. (It’s not quite as bad as you think.)
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, September 12th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Time now for news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Iran deal » The Biden administration has sealed a deal with Iran to free five American citizens.
In exchange, the United States is freeing five Iranian prisoners and unfreezing $6 billion dollars in Iranian cash has been tied up in South Korea under sanctions.
Washington and Tehran outlined the agreement weeks ago, and it was widely expected.
Many Republicans say while they celebrate the freedom of the American prisoners, the move sets a dangerous precedent, calling it a “ransom” payment.
Earthquake update » International rescue teams in Morocco are searching for survivors of a devastating earthquake that rocked the country last week. WORLD’s Lauren Canterberry has more.
LAUREN CANTERBERRY: Rescue crews from Spain, Britain, and Qatar are on the ground digging through rubble. And countries around the world are promising to send humanitarian aid.
Authorities have confirmed that more than 2,600 people died in the 6.8-magnitude quake and weekend aftershocks.
Thousands of Morraccans are wounded and many of them are also now homeless.
Friday’s earthquake is the strongest to hit the country’s center in more than a century.
For WORLD, I’m Lauren Canterberry.
Libya flooding » Meantime in Libya, authorities say more than two thousand people are dead in the northern coastal city of Derna alone after a massive storm triggering widespread flooding over the weekend.
Two dams near the city reportedly collapsed, unleashing walls of water than entirely submerged some neighborhoods.
MOSMARI: [Speaking Arabic]
Military spokesman for Libya’s eastern government Ahmed Al-Mosmari says thousands more are missing in the city.
The United Nations has pledged diaster relief help.
Google antitrust » Google is heading to a federal courtroom today at the start of what some are calling the biggest monopoly trial of the digital era. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER: The Justice Department and a coalition of states sued Google back in 2020.
Google controls roughly 90 percent of the internet search market, and the suit claims the company stifled competition. It says that among other things, the tech giant paid device manufacturers and internet browsers to make Google their default search tool.
Google contends that it has not broken any antitrust rules, that it does face competition, and it is not a monopoly.
For WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
Kremlin confirms upcoming Kim visit » The Kremlin has confirmed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will meet face to face with Vladimir Putin in Russia.
U.S. State Dept. Spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington believes Putin wants to buy ammunition from Kim for the war in Ukraine. He called it a sign of Putin’s deperation.
MILLER: No only has he failed to achieve his goals on the battlefield, but you see him traveling across his own country, hat in hand, to beg Kim Jong Un for military assistance.
The meeting could happen as early as today.
Miller said an arms deal would violate UN Security Council resolutions. And he said the United States will continue to ratchet up sanctions as needed.
Harris refuses to support any abortion limits » Vice President Kamala Harris this week refused to say if she believes there should be any limits at all on abortions in America.
CBS’ Margaret Brennan asked Harris:
BRENNAN: What is it that you believe? I mean, what week of pregnancy should abortion access be cut off?
HARRIS: We need to restore the protections of Roe vs Wade.
Brennan then mocked conservatives who note that some Democrats support having zero restrictions on abortion.
BRENNAN: They say that allows Democrats to perform abortions up until birth, which is statistically not accurate.
HARRIS: Which is ridiculous. And it’s ridiculous.
BRENNAN: I understand that.
But when Brennan repeatedly asked Harris to refute conservative criticism by stating exactly when she thinks abortion should be illegal, she would only repeat that Roe v Wade should be restored.
Smuckers to buy Hostess » The Smuckers company, known mostly for peanut butter and jelly is adding some legendary sweet treats to its roster. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports:
KRISTEN FLAVIN: Smuckers says they’re acquiring the food giant Hostess Brand company, makers of the iconic Twinkie, Snowballs, Ding Dongs, and more.
The deal will reportedly top five-and-a-half billion dollars. Or enough to buy about one-and-a-half billion boxes of Twinkies!
Hostess shares shot up almost 30 percent on news of the sale. But stock of Smuckers has dipped, as some investors think the price tag for Hostess was too high.
For WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: New challenges to protecting the unborn in Mexico. Plus, Making a joyful noise to the Lord…on YouTube.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 12th of September, 2023.
You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
First up on The World and Everything in It: Abortion in Mexico.
While the U.S. legalized abortion in 1973, Mexico continued to protect unborn life for decades. More liberal states in Mexico and Mexico City legalized abortion starting in the early 2000s. But most of the country maintained laws that criminalized abortion.
REICHARD: That started to change in 2021, when the Supreme Court of Mexico overturned a state law that punished with imprisonment women who got abortions.
And then last week, the Supreme Court in Mexico decriminalized abortion across the country.
EICHER: So what are pro-lifers in the majority Catholic nation going to do?
Joining us now to talk about it is Alison Gonzales. She is former director of the Mexico March for Life and is now an organizer for the upcoming March in Favor of Women and Life.
REICHARD: Good morning, Alison.
GONZALES: Hello, Mary. It’s a pleasure.
REICHARD: What did the Mexican Supreme Court decide? Is it similar to the now-overturned Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court?
GONZALES: I would say it's similar in a way, just because they couldn't do it through the Congress. So they are pushing through the Supreme Court. Roe, on the other hand, I think was a landmark decision of the USA Supreme Court, in which the court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protected the right to have an abortion. It's a little bit different in Mexico because we're not talking about legalizing abortion yet. We're just talking about a protection that was granted to women who belong to this Feminist Association who can get get an abortion and not get the penalty of the crime. It is also true that the Supreme Court are asking Congress members to regulate the federal penal code. So it is not unconstitutional. But we are not talking about legalizing abortion yet.
REICHARD: I see. Well, in 2021, the Mexico Supreme Court issued a series of rulings just devastating to unborn babies and their pro-life advocates. How were those rulings different in effect from this most recent development?
GONZALES: In September 2021, the Supreme Court declared the invalidity of the Article 196 of the Coahuila penal code, that's one state of Mexico, in which stablished that prison sentence for a woman who voluntary performed and abortion or anyone who included induced her abortion with her consent, as it violates the right of women to decide. So this is the first time the court decides on this matter, without considering the causes of abortion, by causes of abortion, I mean rape, the health of the mother, the health of the of the baby. This is the first time they are talking about abortion in general terms, even not considering the weeks of pregnancy.
REICHARD: What are your next steps for protecting unborn life in Mexico now?
GONZALES: Well, I strongly believe that the protection of human life starting with the unborn, but continuing with all human lives, in all stages of life, is going to be possible only we build a culture of life, in this sense. The March for Life needs to take place every year, we need to go out as citizens not only to put pressure on authorities, but also as a way to show new generations how to protect life. And the best way to do it is through our testimony. We also need to continue with with the efforts of helping pregnant women in crisis. But this time with a lot more resources now that the laws are not being so helpful. We need to take care of women who are in need. They don't deserve to feel alone, and they should enjoy their pregnancy as much as possible.
REICHARD: You used to lead the March for Life and now you’re working on the March in Favor of Women and Life. What’s the difference and why does it matter at this point?
GONZALES: Yeah, so March for Life focuses its efforts specifically in this situation, where pregnant women are facing crisis, right. And some people push abortion so March for Life raises its voice for in favor of pregnant women. And, of course, the babies inside of the womb. And the March in Favor of Women and Life is a march that started two years ago in 2021. This is the third national March in Favor of Women and Life. And we are working really hard to not be considered as an anti abortion march. We want to raise our voices in favor of women, pregnant and not pregnant women in all stages of life, where we need to raise our voices for our women.
REICHARD: Are there any aspects of this story that you think the mainstream media is overlooking or ignoring?
GONZALES: We see that in the case of abortion in Mexico, they have repeatedly given false information. One of the cases that most comes to mind is the number of women imprisoned for having abortions. According to the media, there are hundreds even thousands of women who have been imprisoned for this matter. In reality, we have consulted the information transparency Institute In 2021, there were 107 people imprisoned. Of those only six were women, 101 were men. How can that be possible? How can a man be in prison for an abortion? Well, they ended up in jail for having forced women to have an abortion because they, of course, they cannot have an abortion. So this is what we're trying to do, that media are saying the wrong numbers are pushing abortion through their narrative. So yes, it is not helpful for the cause for protecting life.
REICHARD: Alison Gonzalez is now an organizer for the upcoming March in Favor of Women and Life. Alison, thanks so much for joining us.
GONZALES: Thank you very much!
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: free speech in Finland.
Last week on Culture Friday, we talked about a member of Finland’s parliament who was taken to court by the state in 2019. Why?
Because she dared to call homosexuality sinful according to biblical standards.
Back in 2004, Päivi Räsänen co-authored a church pamphlet about the legal and ethical concerns of mainstreaming homosexuality.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Fifteen years later in 2019, she tweeted her concern about the Lutheran church celebrating Pride month. Her post included a picture of her Bible open to verses in Romans 1 that say one of the consequences of turning from God is embracing homosexuality. And six months later in December, she spoke out about her concerns with talk show host Ruben Stiller.
PÄIVI RÄSÄNEN: [Speaking in Finnish]
ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Yes, in my opinion, it is quite clear that God did not originally create man as a homosexual. He created them heterosexual. He created man and woman and intended marriage between the two and clearly it was against God's will and a sin if we are in some other sexuality.
EICHER: For saying this, she was investigated and interrogated by police, and then charged with criminal hate speech.
Last Spring, the Helsinki District court tried her case and dismissed all four charges.
But the state appealed, and Räsänen had to go back to court just a couple weeks ago.
So now she waits, again.
Here’s Räsänen talking with Alliance Defending Freedom International.
RÄSÄNEN: If I win the case, I think that it is a very important step for the freedom of speech and religion…If I'm convicted, I think that the worst consequence is not a fine to me or even the prison, it would be the censorship…because then the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, it is, it is narrowed.
REICHARD: So what’s going on in this case?
Here to talk about it is Evert van Vlastuin. He’s a journalist and Managing Editor of CNE news and joins us from the Netherlands. Good morning, Evert!
VLASTUIN: Good morning.
REICHARD: Let’s get some context here…Päivi Räsänen’s beliefs aren’t some new radical right-wing theory. They are tenets of the faith that gave Europe its moral framework for over a thousand years. If anything, it’s the world around Räsänen that’s changed. How quickly has Finland in particular shifted on issues of sexuality?
VLASTUIN: I think that, much like the other Western European countries in the period after the Second World War, we have had the so-called Sexual Revolution in the 60s. And we are in a sort of transition era, if it comes to the legality of all this. And on that transition ground, we find Mrs. Räsänen. With her court case, it has to do with non discrimination, on the one hand, non discrimination of homosexuals and on the other hand, the faithfulness to the old ethics of Christianity.
EICHER: Finland’s government brought charges against Räsänen of “agitation against a minority” under something called the Finnish Criminal Code’s laws against War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. How does the state justify applying laws like that to Räsänen’s case?
VLASTUIN: Well, war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the hate speech law was developed after 9/11 in the era of so to say, anti-terror legislation. And my idea is that at the time, the idea was that hate speech is sort of a security threat. And in that light, seeing the things that Räsänen has said, is the threat of the Finnish security, which is a quite peculiar idea, but this is how it is.
REICHARD: Alliance Defending Freedom International counseled Räsänen’s lawyer . What defense did they advise?
VLASTUIN: The basic defense is quite simple, that Räsänen has the right for her religion and her religious beliefs about sexual ethics. And she has the right to free speech. And she has said nothing to insult sexual minorities or other groups. And that's basically her, her defense and her Finnish lawyer has voiced that as well.
REICHARD: In the U.S., we are realizing the growing cost of affirming Biblical truths about human sexuality…but I think we might miss how the connection between church and state in countries like Finland matters. What’s the difference, and why does it matter in cases like this?
VLASTUIN: Well, America is a place where there is separation between church and state, and America might be very church-going but the state does not have influence on the church, not direct influence. That's different in Finland. The church in Finland is still officially a state church. It is a national church, a People's Church, of which 70%. So 70% of the people is a member of, so the overall majority is connected to the Lutheran church and Finland and is baptized. But state churches are usually more influenced by the state than that the state is influenced by the church. So the Lutheran Church in Finland is very politically correct, is not the type of a counter cultural or critical influence. It is very much on the contrary, that it is the voice of the society and voice of politics. So in that sense, Räsänen is not voicing the idea of the church in terms of sexual ethics. It is the other way around, that Räsänen actually is speaking against the church.
EICHER: Do you have a sense of how the public leans in this case?
VLASTUIN: Well, this is very difficult to say. It is clear that both sides, there's strong support for. Finland is, is a country where there's room for homosexuality and gay marriage and things like that. On the other hand, there have been demonstrations for Räsänen. And they were stronger than demonstrations for the for the state and the prosecutor. So it's very difficult to say, but it is clear that Räsänen does have support and sees a Member of Parliament as she was reelected earlier this year in her seat as well. So she is not without support. No, not at all.
REICHARD: Evert van Vlastuin is Managing Editor of CNE news, and he lives in the Netherlands. Thank you!
VLASTUIN: It's a pleasure. Thank you very much.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Typically you find Pink Flamingos in warmer climes: Florida, the Caribbean. But here lately they’ve been spotted in other parts of the U.S., including Ohio:
JEANETTE WALKER: Pretty unusual. So that’s why we’re going to take that opportunity to try to catch a glimpse of them.
Jeanette Walker and her son took a couple of opportunities to catch a glimpse in a state park near Dayton in hopes of seeing a pink flamingo. Audio here from WCPO channel 9:
WALKER: We heard about the flamingos, so we wanted to see if we could spot them.
Scientists believe the flamingos ended up so far inland because of the Hurricane last month. They weren’t trying to get away from the storm, rather the storm blew them that far off course.
So Mary, what do you call a group of flamingos?
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Let’s see, there’s a gaggle of geese, so a flock of flamingos?
EICHER: Alliteration is the right idea … try a FLAMBOYANCE of flamingos.
EICHER: It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, September 12th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: singing, family style!
Whether it’s sibling harmony or a husband and wife duo, there’s just something about the way voices blend when members of the same family sing together.
WORLD’s Myrna Brown has been listening to music produced by three music making families and has this review.
MUSIC: It is well, it is well. With my soul, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.
MYRNA BROWN, CORRESPONDENT: Brackin and Lindsay Kirkland recorded the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”, from the bottom of an abandoned 30-foot silo. The husband and wife duo live in the North Carolina Mountains. Married for 18 years, they have seven children, six boys, the oldest 13 years old and the youngest, a baby girl. Together they make up the Christian family music group, Sounds Like Reign – that’s reign spelled r-e-i-g-n. Their music is inspirational, acoustic folk rock, though Lindsay’s head covering gives the videos an Amish feel.
MUSIC: Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
Silo Sessions is the sixth of nine albums the family has recorded over the past seven years. Most of the albums feature Brackin and his wife singing hymns and modern praise songs set to simple vocal harmonies, accompanied by guitar and other folk instruments. Here’s one Brackin wrote for his kids to sing with them.
MUSIC: Hallelujah, He is risen. He reigns. Hallelujah He is risen He reigns
But not all of their music is as delightful and singable. Early albums are especially rough. But they are getting more polished, and although the couple haven’t revealed their doctrinal or denominational ties, by and large, they sing songs that any Christian could appreciate.
From the mountains of North Carolina, to the coast of Jamaica…
AUDIO: Hi Everyone! Welcome back to a day in the life of the Foster Triplets. Woo Woo!!!
Malaika, Mahari and Mikaili are the Foster Triplets.
MUSIC : How deep the Father’s love for us. How vast beyond all measure. That He should give His only son. And make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss. The Father turns His face away. As wounds which mar the chosen one. Bring many sons to glory.
Born and raised in Jamaica, the 20-year-old triplets began harmonizing when they were just two years old. They’ve been singing professionally since the age of five and have recorded two full albums and numerous singles. Their genre of choice is hard to nail down. They move with ease from Southern Gospel...
MUSIC: Hallelujah He’s a promise keeper. What He says, that’s what He’ll do. I’m a firm believer, Hallelujah He’s a promise keeper.
…to black spirituals…
MUSIC: Precious Lord, take my hand and lead me home.
…and contemporary Christian music.
MUSIC: Oh I will sing of the goodness of God
While their songs aren’t chart toppers, their music videos get tens of thousands of views. 260-thousand YouTube subscribers seem fixated on their Jamaican culture and life as triplets.
MUSIC: Your forgiveness is like sweet, sweet water on my lips…
Finally, the Detty family from southern Ohio also features sisters who sing hymns and praise music together. The oldest kids, Peyton and Cadie, began singing in church as early as 2 and 4 years old. Here’s a clip from their 2019 album, In the Meantime.
MUSIC: Let me encourage you, trust and God will see you through. …God’s not through with you yet.
The Dettys, like the other families we’ve mentioned, tend to lean on material written by others. But their pop-flavor and tight harmonies give them wide appeal. One point about all of these families—I do wonder if growing up in the YouTube and Facebook spotlight will be beneficial for the faith of these kids.
One thing we can say for sure today. The Kirkland, Foster, and Detty families are helping thousands of Christian families around the world sing God’s praise.
Reporting for WORLD, I'm Myrna Brown.
MUSIC: Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, How Great Thou Art…
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, September 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD Commentator Daniel Darling now on the post-COVID trend among conservatives to leave the Church. He says, it’s time to invite them back.
DANIEL DARLING, COMMENTATOR: According to a new book titled The Great DeChurching, 40 million people have stopped going to church in the last 25 years. The book’s authors argue this is the largest religious shift in American history, and it continues to have a negative impact on human flourishing, polarization, and the vital social services churches provide.
And yet, there are some surprising details in the data, compiled by sociologist Ryan Burge and two evangelical pastors, Jim Davis and Michael Graham. For instance, the right is dechurching faster than the left. This is likely because left-leaning religious bodies, particularly the mainline Protestant denominations, started seeing erosion years ago. They have few people left to lose.
Of the 40 million leavers, 15 million have stopped attending evangelical churches. The authors label the two biggest cohorts “cultural Christians” and “mainstream evangelicals.” “Cultural Christians” are folks who identify as Christians and live in areas around the Bible Belt but who reject key Christian doctrines. This group of around 8 million folks leans right politically, and over half are open to returning to church if asked.
“Mainstream evangelicals” are the second largest group. They affirm orthodox Christian beliefs but have stopped attending for one reason or another. Interestingly, 78 percent have a high view of the evangelical church, and 100 percent would consider attending again. Many claim to stay home and watch church online. Imagine if churches invited these approximately two and a half million brothers and sisters to return home.
Both cultural Christians and mainstream evangelicals share surprisingly pedestrian reasons for leaving. Things like getting out of the habit, experiencing a major life change, or leaving due to disruptions like COVID. As writer Jake Meador says, “Dechurching for them is either not a big deal because church was never a huge part of their life to begin with or they leave very quietly because they’re actually kind of embarrassed and feel ashamed.”
The largest group of leavers doesn’t cite dissatisfaction about evangelical engagement with conservative politics. This is surprising because it has been the mainstream narrative. To be sure, there is a cohort of “exvangelicals” who have stopped attending due to unhealthy church environments, abuse, or partisan politics. Evangelicals should take these problems seriously and be wary of idolatrous, all-consuming politics. But it’s just not true that voting patterns alone explain the decline in American church attendance.
Another data point from The Great DeChurching shows that folks without college degrees are leaving much faster than those with education. In our efforts to evangelize and disciple those on our left, we should also consider ministry to those on the right. Blue-collar, right-wing people also need Jesus. Our Savior’s ministry reached all classes of society, from respected elites like Nicodemus to despised people such as the man by the pool of Bethesda. The invitation into the family isn’t restricted by ZIP code.
The large number of people not attending church is cause for lament but also a catalyst for action. Maybe it’s time for us to stop imbibing the cynicism that has us not believing our own story. Perhaps it’s time to invite our neighbor to church.
I’m Daniel Darling.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: an update on the 2024 race for President. We’ll talk about recent head-to-head polls on Washington Wednesday.
And, the burden and gift of a woman who survived Ebola in Africa.
That and more tomorrow.
Reminder: Please help The World and Everything in It become more visible. Would you take a moment to rate and review us? You can do it on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts. And thanks for doing it!
I’m Nick Eicher.
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The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Psalmist writes: Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Psalm 68, verse 19.
Go now in grace and peace.
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