August 24, 2017
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Thursday, August 24, 2017. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Today we’re going to come to understand that states are preying on their own people in terms of the Powerball lottery, and we’re going to be seeing the fact that Oregon has now adopted the most radical legislation on abortion in the nation’s history, and we’re going to find out that there are schools in California and Minnesota, just as an indication, that are now using even kindergarten as a way of indoctrinating children not allowing parents to opt out and not even letting the parents know that they’re not going to be able to opt out.
As the Powerball jackpot soars, states reap reward by preying on most vulnerable citizens
Many people look at state-sponsored gambling as something that’s basically not so morally significant. They see it as innocuous and voluntary. But of course one of the realities we have to face in the Christian worldview is that states’ governments take responsibility on themselves by how they treat their own citizens, how they turn to citizens not only for income from taxation but to entice them in the gambling and the moral effects that they bring about by means of something like a state-sponsored lottery. You go back in history about 50 years and it would’ve been unthinkable for any major American state to be involved in preying on its own people by means of a state-sponsored lottery. But once the cat was out of the bag so to speak the virus began to spread state-by-state. Even states in the so-called Bible Belt that had been resistant to any form of state recognized gambling began to recognize that people were going across their state borders to an adjoining states and, well this is the way government works, they began to understand that was lost revenue. And the argument came, well it’s voluntary, and furthermore, it’s just a matter of a few dollars for a lottery ticket.
But now we know there is plenty of evidence, undeniable evidence that lotteries prey upon those who are actually least able to buy lottery tickets. It is the poorest, the most economically disadvantaged that are targeted for the maximum advertising and also the maximum number of lottery sales outlets in those communities. So the very people who are at the very worst position to risk their money on something like the lottery are those that are often enticed into doing just that.Show Full Transcript
But then there’s a story that appeared just this week in the Washington Post. Again, it looks somewhat innocuous in terms of the headline. The headline on the online edition was this,
“How Powerball manipulated the odds to make another massive jackpot.”
But as you look at the story by Alex Horton, it’s actually a lot more important than the headline might indicate. He writes,
“At $700 million, Wednesday night’s Powerball prize is the second-largest lottery jackpot in its history, and the math is working out in favor of lotto commissions. Two years ago,” he says, “your chances of becoming an instant millionaire were 1 in roughly 175 million. Now, the odds are 1 in roughly 292 million.”
So here we’re being told that even as the massive jackpots in the Powerball lotteries are being broadcast and advertised in an effort to insight people to entice them to buy lottery tickets, the odds have actually shifted against the buyer of the lottery tickets and in favor of the state lottery commissions. How? Well as the Washington Post explains there were tweaks to the game in October 2015 that increased the total number of balls from 59 to 69 from which the players need to pick five. Alex Horton’s exactly right when he tells us that,
“It may seem like a modest change, but the odds of winning the jackpot plummeted.”
It’s a simple matter of math and probability. When you increase the number of balls from 59 to 69 and you maintain the pattern of the five numbers that have to be in a specific order, you have just, well he gets it right, astronomically increased the chances of any one lottery ticket winning the Powerball lottery jackpot. So with that being the case, how do states expect to expand their lottery business with Powerball? Well it’s because even as it makes it astronomically less likely that someone will win those giant payouts there are more numerous smaller payouts. And evidently the evidence is also pretty clear here. People will continue to buy lottery tickets because there is the perception that there are larger lottery winnings, but they’re not actually larger. They’re just distributed differently.
The psychology behind this is also made clear in the Washington Post report when they say,
“The final figure of $700 million will probably balloon by Wednesday morning because of what Tabor called ‘jackpot chasers,’ the casual lottery players who join in when the Powerball reaches astronomical heights.” She says, “That’s really driving up sales right now.”
We’re also being told here very candidly, and I’m reading directly from the Washington Post report,
“States, not necessarily players, are reaping the rewards of the sales surge. National lottery ticket sales in 2016 totaled more than $80 billion, according to figures from the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries cited by the Associated Press. That’s more,” we are told, “than was spent last year on movies, video games, books, music and sports tickets combined.”
Now it’s interesting here that the Washington Post cites as a source the Associated Press. That’s another interesting little insight from the media here. There is a dependency upon prior sources, and here you see it even in a newspaper as noteworthy as the Washington Post. It is clear that there has been a rather significant increase in the total number of lottery tickets sold. By one estimation here in the Post, you’re talking about a $10 billion increase between 2014 and the present,
“In other words: The rule change reaped big rewards for states and makes it harder for players to win big.”
The Washington Post then summarizes,
“Lottery ticket sales, defended by state commissions as a way to help fund education and veterans programs, have drawn fire in recent years. HBO’s John Oliver delivered a scathing segment in 2014 questioning the potential harm for addiction and some dubious claims of how much revenue actually reaches state programs.”
The Post then concludes,
“When it comes to modest numbers, the recent rule changes technically make it easier to win a prize because of a reduced number of red balls, known as the Powerball.”
The Christian worldview dimensions of this come down to two big unavoidable issues. The first has to do with the actual morality of gambling. The Bible presents gambling, any kind of effort to make a game untied to labor or investment, as being unwise, speaking for instance in the Scripture as a man who carries his coins in a purse with holes. But we also have here, the reality that it’s not just the morality of gambling. The biblical worldview validates and honors income that is tied to savings, that is tied to labor, and is tied to investment. But in this case, what you have in the lottery is a disincentive to do the right things with money and incentivization coming from the government to do the wrong things with money. And of course the government only gains if the citizens upon which it preys lose. And that’s the second dimension.
Here you have government that is supposed to be for the people that is actually turned on the very people it is supposed to serve. And not only that, we now know is turning upon the most vulnerable in terms of its citizens. It’s not those who are identified here as lottery chasers who every once in a while buy a lottery tickets that are the main victims. It is those who out of economic desperation invest money they do not have to lose in an ill-conceived hope and irrational hope as is made clear by the math of gaining this massive jackpot. And of course as we reported last year in another story having to do with the Powerball jackpot, in terms of plain and simple math, your odds are more likely that you will be killed by a coconut falling on your head then that you will actually win a Powerball jackpot.
Oregon enacts nation’s most radical abortion law, making all taxpayers complicit
Next we shift to the issue of abortion in the state of Oregon. Just several weeks ago we talked about the fact that the Oregon Legislature had passed what by any estimation is the most liberal law on abortion in the history of the United States of America, but on August 15 even though it was not well publicized at the time, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law. What does it represent? It represents not only the generality that it is the most liberal abortion law in the history of this country – it actually puts every single citizen and taxpayer of the state of Oregon in the position of paying for abortion, regardless of their own moral concerns. And furthermore, it requires all recognized insurance coverage in the state not only to pay for abortion for any qualified person but to pay for it in such a way as ABC News makes clear that there is no shifting of the actual expense to the employees even in terms of buying the insurance coverage.
So what you’re looking at here is the fact that when you look at a map of the United States, you are on so many these issues not looking at one moral reality. You’re looking at different moral realities. Just consider the fact that if you take the states of Alabama and Oregon, you are talking about just with reference to the issue of abortion two radically distinct worldviews. But it’s the state of Oregon that’s the standout in this case, and as even the mainstream secular media have made clear, this means that every single taxpayer in Oregon is now paying for abortions and is doing so in such a way that the abortion coverage must include abortion for any reason, which as even CBS News noted, would include late abortion and sex selection abortion.
Now just go back with me to 1973. That was the year that the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its infamous Roe v. Wade decision mandating legalized abortion on demand in all 50 states. What would Americans then have thought if they knew that the day would once come that American citizens in this case citizens of the state of Oregon would be coerced into paying for abortion just by the fact that they are taxpayers within the state? As the Associated Press reporter Andrew Selsky tells us,
“The bill passed in July by the Legislature requires insurance companies to cover abortions at no cost to the patient.”
That was that bill that Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law without drawing much attention to it on August 15. We are also told that Oregon then becomes the first state to codify no-cost abortion coverage by state statute. Under the bill insurers would be prohibited from shifting costs from those mandates to enrollees, deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments. The report then adds these words,
“although the measure offers some religious-based exemptions.”
A look at those exemptions indicates two things. Number one, I’m afraid they are likely to be for short duration, and secondly they are already so slender that they only actually cover explicitly Christian organizations and institutions and churches. This has nothing to do with protecting the religious liberty and the convictions of individual Oregon citizens.
On this issue finally I want to draw attention to the fact that this issue is going to be headed to the courts, almost assuredly, and that’s because the federal government in 2004 adopted what was known as the Weldon amendment. And that amendment prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services funds from going to states that discriminate against insurance coverage, against healthcare providers that refuse to cover abortions. So here you have the fact that the United States Congress adopted legislation signed into law by the American president that prohibits exactly what Oregon has now done. Amongst the constitutional clashes coming is likely to be the court cases that will come from this Oregon legislation.
But before leaving it to that, let’s just consider what this tells us about the country morally. We now have at least one state that is not only pro-abortion, but is so pro-abortion that it mandates the insurance coverage and payment without any cost at all to the individual of abortion, making every single taxpayer in Oregon involved and complicit in the funding of the killing of unborn human beings in the womb. Thanks to the governor’s signature on August 15 what should be unthinkable is now real in the state of Oregon.
The sexual revolution goes to kindergarten: Schools 'betray' parents, indoctrinate kids
Finally and yet most disturbingly, a report that comes from CBS News in Sacramento California. I read,
“The Rocklin Academy school board is facing tough questions from parents concerned over a controversial incident involving transgender discussions inside a kindergarten class.”
Karen England with the Capital Resource Institute said,
“These parents feel betrayed by the school district that they were not notified.”
Well as you look to the story, you can be summarized in this: here you had a gender reveal, which is actually a transgender reveal, of a student in a kindergarten class in a charter school there in Sacramento, California. And there are two issues in terms of the news coverage. One is the fact that here you had a school that was sponsoring lessons for kindergartners including a so-called gender reveal having to do with five-year-olds in the classroom. That’s problematic enough, but you also have the reality that parents were not told that this was going to happen. And they were intentionally not told, and furthermore, they are not going to be told, according to those who are making the policies.
CBS News tells us, unsurprisingly, that many parents felt “betrayed and blindsided.” One parent said,
“I want her,” speaking of a daughter in the kindergarten, “to hear from me as a parent what her gender identity means to her and our family, not from a book that may be controversial.”
Another parent speaking of another daughter said,
“My daughter came home crying and shaking so afraid she could turn into a boy.”
Several of the parents involved in this controversy in Sacramento divided the issues saying that there’s one question that has to do with what was being taught to the children in terms of the transgender ideology and the second was the fact that parents were indeed blindsided. You might say they were even blindfolded. It was intentional as the school admits that parents were not told, and furthermore, they’re not going to be told in the future. And in addition to that, there is not going to be any parental opt out. There is a parental opt out for sex education, but the school district is saying that transgender issues fall under gender identity, and not only is there no requirement that parents be notified, but the policy is that they will not be notified.
As I said this school in Sacramento was a charter school and this links to another charter school in almost the same controversy. But this one is not in Sacramento, California, but rather it is in Minnesota, one of the most highly recognized charter schools in the nation. As was reported, the Nova Classical Academy has now promised to establish a gender inclusion policy that will not allow parents to opt out “based on religious or conscience objections,” and it is also now agreeing after being sued by a transgender student and the student’s parents “not [to] call parents’ or guardians’ attention to the policy.”
Now it’s hard to come up with words adequate to describe just how subversive all of this is in terms of official school policy in these two charter schools, one in Minnesota and one in California, toward the authority of parents and the ability of parents to interpret these issues for their own children. Time and again we have seen that those who want to bring about a moral revolution know that the first place to go is the schools. If they can get their ideology taught and transferred in terms of the schools, and remember here we’re talking about kindergartners, then they can certainly win this moral revolution. And they have every reason to believe that their winning, and furthermore there are many parents who believe that just because their child is in a charter school that somehow they’re going to have greater parental input on these issues. But here you have in a direct assault upon the very idea of charter schools, the fact that parents are not going to be given an opt out and not only that they are not going to even be told that they are not getting the opportunity to opt out their children.
I’ll be honest this sounds like something coming from a totalitarian government. And increasingly in terms of how these issues are being coerced by policies coming from school boards and sometimes from legislatures in the courts, we now find ourselves as Christians and as Christian parents in a situation in which we are being subverted by the very people who are supposed to be teaching our children on our behalf. But rarely do you see this kind of darkness so clearly articulated in a policy that says parents are not going to be allowed the opt out provision. But even more so, they’re not even going to be told that they’re not going to be able to opt out their children.