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From Hurricane Florence to Hurricane Kavanaugh

Analyzing the two September storms that hit America

From Hurricane Florence to Hurricane Kavanaugh

Protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court on Sept. 24 to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

“Let’s tear this world apart and build a better one,” actress Anne Hathaway said on Sept. 15 while accepting an award from the Human Rights Campaign for her support of LGBTQ efforts. As Hathaway spoke, Hurricane Florence was tearing apart the Carolina coast. At least 43 humans, 5,500 hogs, and 3.4 million chickens died, mostly because of widespread flooding.

Meanwhile, Washington hands were tearing apart Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court—and further destroying already-declining confidence in the Court and its fairness. In July psychologist Christine Blasey Ford privately alleged that Kavanaugh assaulted her in 1982, when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17. Her public accusation on Sept. 16, and Kavanaugh’s prompt denial, launched a thousand “Who do you believe?” columns.

As of Monday, Sept. 24, Ford and Kavanaugh were scheduled to testify on Thursday, Sept. 27. If their testimonies are diametrically opposed, as they appear to be, and there are no corroborating witnesses, I won’t be speechifying about guilt or innocence. But I can read what the Bible at least six times says about the evidence needed to declare a person guilty. 

Deuteronomy 19:15 states, “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:1 declares, “Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” First Timothy 5:19, recognizing our tendency to tear down leaders and aspirants to leadership, adds, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

A witness in our modern age can be DNA evidence, such as that which made Bill Clinton admit to sex with intern Monica Lewinsky. It can be photographic evidence (now-retired Sen. Al Franken’s hands on a sleeping woman) or taped boasts (like those that almost sunk Donald Trump in 2016). Sometimes, tough judgment calls are necessary: What about stretching the Biblical definition of witness to include someone told right after sexual assault? What if a particular incident has only one witness, but there are many incidents?

We can assess nuances, but the principles are clear, and as of Sept. 24 it was clear that the last-minute barrage against Kavanaugh from Ford and another just-surfaced accuser, Deborah Ramirez, was falling far short of the Biblical standard. The two accusers say offenses took place in rooms at parties where others were present, but none of those others were backing up the accusations. Should Supreme Court justices be exceptions to evidentiary requirements because they serve for life? Remember that they don’t: If Kavanaugh gains a seat and proof that he lied comes out later, Congress could and should impeach him. 

Why not delay now? Please forgive me for being a bit cynical about the timing of these new revelations. “Democrats Are Coming After Kavanaugh on Abortion” was the headline of a Sept. 5 article in liberal journalism’s crown jewel, The Atlantic. That didn’t stop the nominee, so a week later Democrats started coming after him on a sexual accusation that some of them had known about two months before. Let’s not reward them. Republicans are also acting politically, of course, but this time Biblical standards concerning witnesses are on their side.

AS KAVANAUGH WAS LOSING HIS REPUTATION, some South Carolina residents were losing their lives. Mark Carter King, 63, and Debra Collins Rion, 61, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from running a generator indoors. Two mental health patients, Wendy Newton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43, drowned when floodwaters swept away the van in which deputies were driving them. Rhonda R. Hartley, 30, drove her pickup truck into standing water near Gilbert, S.C., lost control, and hit a tree. Michael Dalton Prince, 23, died after the truck he was riding in landed upside down in a flooded ditch. 

In North Carolina, a 3-month-old baby boy died when a large pine tree fell atop a mobile home, splitting it in the middle. A mother and her 8-month-old child died when a massive tree crushed their brick house in Wilmington. One man, 78, died from electrocution in the rain while trying to connect extension cords for a generator, and another, 77, died when he went outside to check on his hunting dogs and was blown down by strong winds. A 46-year-old man in Brunswick County died when a tree he was cutting fell on him.

Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Firefighters and rescue crews in Wilmington, N.C., pray outside the house where a fallen tree killed a mother and her 8-month-old baby during Hurricane Florence. (Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Thousands of Carolina residents had to move from flooded homes to emergency housing and hotels. Farmers just before harvest time lost lots of sweet potatoes and peanuts, which grow beneath the soil and are particularly susceptible to flooding: “This hurricane couldn’t have come at a worse time,” North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten said. Five of North Carolina's top six farming counties are within the hardest-hit areas in the eastern part of the state.

The likely loss of a third of this year’s North Carolina tobacco crop will not be hazardous to health, but a possible flow of coal ash from a Duke Energy plant into the Cape Fear River is potential trouble for humans, fish, and wildlife. National Guardsman Luis Ocampo also faced a hazard: After helping battered New Bern for 10 days, he returned home and found his laptop, gaming system, large TV, and other objects stolen. Then a GoFundMe page for Ocampo reportedly raised nearly $15,000 in one day.

The good news amid this bad news is that many had the opportunity to love their neighbors as themselves. Hurricanes and some politicians tear the world apart and leave a worse one, but storms also bring forward heroism and love. Individual boaters rescue stranded residents. Churches open their doors. Christian relief organizations send teams to help. On this we have the testimony of thousands.

—with reporting from the Associated Press

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

Comments

  • KeithT
    Posted: Mon, 09/24/2018 07:24 pm

    With all the comments on all the articles World has published on the Kavanaugh accusations, I don't recall seeing any comments drawing parallels to any of the excellent articles World had just published on ministerial sexual abuse.  I have wondered how the writers and editors of those articles feel.  Ignored?  Did anybody read the articles?   I think if we who have commented objectively compare ourselves to how people in the various church scenarios reacted, we'll all find ourselves in those articales. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 12:47 pm

    Great article with a couple notes below.

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 07:54 am

    I keep seeing articles and comments from Christians quoting the Bible about the necessity of multiple witnesses to find someone guilty. The curious thing to me is that the Bible actually does specifically address a he said/she said situation relating to sexual assault with no corroborating witnesses, and in that circumstance demands that the accusing woman be held innocent and requires that the accused man be executed (Deut 22:25-27). I am not suggesting that this law be imported whole cloth into modern criminal law, but at the very least people do need to stop acting like the Bible excuses their refusal to take uncorroborated accusers seriously. 

  • Bob C
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 09:42 am

    Hans, I think you make a good point but we should not take Ms. Ford seriously because of the following:

    1. They were kids not adults. Legally, there is no case? 

    2. Why was she in the bed room to start with?

    3. Were there any drugs or alcohol influencing these kids at this party?

    4. Nothing actually happened. Fear of being a victim does not make the possible attacker guilty.

    5. Why has she waited over 30 plus years to make this accusation? If Judge Kavanaugh was not up for the Supreme Court Ms. Ford would have never said anything.  This is all being driven by the Dems desperate to stop the nomination.

    There is no case to responded to, no matter what Law, Civil or Biblical you look at!       

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 12:54 pm

    This law assumes the woman’s innocence and does not assume their guilt! They error on the side of mercy to protect women! So when a man has a lifetime of exemplary living, we should be very careful about accusations! The Democrats have a history of dragging out unscrupulous women the last minute and we cannot be naive to it. In fact, any “political hit job” we need to be very careful when elections are involved because the Democrats have shown themselves to be untrustworthy! We cannot be naive even when witnesses are brought forward. If the Democrats know that is the point where we “give in” they will be sure to manufacture them the next time! This happened with Judge Roy Moore where he never had a sexual accusation brought against him before in his career and a month before the election they brought forward women (most who had no valid accusation). Two women with more serious accusations were willing to testify but their accusations were suspect as well as their character: they did not follow up on the charges after Moore’s defeat! It also seems they received compensation for coming forward- having a house loan paid of, etc. We cannot be naive! 

  • Brad Cain
    Posted: Wed, 09/26/2018 12:34 am

    No - earlier in Deut 22, "evidence of virginity" is reliable in lieu of the corroborating witness (parallel to modern forensic evidence) and would be reliable in the case of a young girl who comes back from open country no longer a virgin, and a guy who was known to return from same open country at same time.  

    In Judge K's case, the accuser says there were corroborating witnesses present - the witnesses are named by the accuser - and when asked, each of the three "third party" witnesses do not corroborate the accusations.

  • Woodman
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 09:39 am

    Deut 22:25 isn’t a he said she said. It says the man actually raped the woman...., But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Tue, 10/02/2018 06:32 am

    Hans, have you read those verses recently? They address a situation where there is no one anywhere nearby (no one in earshot to hear the scream), not a situation where there were many others at the alleged event (some in the same room), none of whom corroborate her story.

  • West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 10:34 am

    Thank you to Keith T and Hans. I truly appreciate your sensitive comments.

    I would just like to point out that the Republican controlled Senate refused to act upon the Democratic President Obama's nomination of a Supreme Court Justice for 293 days, simply because they didn't want to. Obama nominated Merrick Garland on March 16, 2016. They stalled on Garland not because they found fault with him. They didn't even look. They simply chose not to act on "any" nominee until after the November elections. I don't remember the "wicked Dems" screaming and carrying on like the Republicans are.

    How can we as Christians condemn a political move by Democrats of which Republicans are equally or even moreso guilty?

    Bob C, your heart appears to be hardened toward the imbalance of power between women and men. Do you recall the adulteress whom the religious opposition threw at Jesus' feet? The law required that they both be stoned--male and female--yet the male wasn't even apprehended, let alone accused. Somehow, you remind me of them.

    I believe the current Supreme Court fight is a good example of why the Christian mission, as defined by its Leader, cannot be fought on the political battlefield. Quite frankly, in a democratic political system, Democrats have the same rights as Republicans, no matter how abhorrent their views may seem.

     

     

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 12:46 pm

    Not voting on a candidate because an election will take place shortly is far different than manufactured accusations and false witnesses by Democrats! Their motivation is to secure abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other bad precedent that they have managed to push through making the courts into a legislative body rather than a judiciary! The Democrats will stoop to new lows to maintain power, for they are about their father’s business! 

  • West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 09/25/2018 01:08 pm

    In response to Cyborg3: I think that my main point is that Republicans demonstrate failure to put the shoe on the other foot. Your letter is a case in point.

    First, the election was not "shortly" in the future, not as the midterms are. The election the Republicans stalled for was 8 months away!

    Second, the Republicans controlled the Senate then, just as they do now. Democrats do not have the option to just say "no," we're not even considering your nominee. The Republicans didn't even consider the merits of Merrick--they just said "no," we don't want anyone the Democrats nominate. This is democracy?

    Third, from the point of view of a hypothetical Democrat, how is the Republican desire to "stack" the court any less of a legislative action than theirs?

    Fourth, you write, " The Democrats will stoop to new lows to maintain power, for they are about their father’s business!" That may be true, but believe me, they say the same things about the Republicans. One of the main points I stated in my original comment is that Jesus' commission to his followers was NOT: Use political means to secure the country where you live as solidly Christian--then go convert the world. No, Jesus was not political. He said love your enemies, and go make disciples of all nations. He did not say, Go do politics.

    I think Christians err greatly when they see the United States as a Christocracy. It isn't; it's a democracy. I see no difference between the methods employed by the Republicans when compared to the methods employed by the Democrats. In this period of our country's history, both are extremely reprehensible.

  • Brad Cain
    Posted: Wed, 09/26/2018 12:10 am

    Biden was the one in 1992 who said the President and the Senate should not consider a Supreme Court nominee in an election year - thus the named "Biden Rule" that GOP used as their reason to stonewall Obama/Garland - Biden is the reason Democrats had no grounds to scream about Garland.  And that is how you, as a Christian, must condemn politically-motivated Democrats who "bear false witness." (not to mention, you should condemn them because they are breaking the 9th commandment)

    It is interesting that Deuteronomy 22 was wisely protective of the young woman. Earlier in Deut 22, there is clearly a reliance on "evidence of virginity" In lieu of a second witness.  Not that I understand that evidence, but it is biblically reliable evidence.  Without such help, women could never afford to go anywhere alone!

    Since you recognize "abhorrent" Democrat views, and since God has ordained that his people in this land are allowed to vote either to allow or disallow those abhorrances, we should joyfully exercise our votes for justice and virtue - as in Leviticus "you shall not favor the rich, nor the poor" when it comes to governance.

    If Christians would vote to diminish the power of the welfare state, they'd be in a financial position to exercise the Christian mission of mercy - and surely would be far more merciful than the pagans. 

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 06:28 pm

    Gramma,

    The Republicans were simply keeping with the Biden rule and Senate decorum. That said, I would have preferred that they had taken up Garland's nomination and voted it down. Politics is about power. The Democrats are already threatening to expand the number of Supreme Court Justices from 9 to whatever they need to give themselves a majority when they take back the Presidency and Senate. I have no doubt they will do that. "For after all these things do the Gentiles seek."

  • Brad Cain
    Posted: Wed, 09/26/2018 08:14 am

    Sometimes, tough judgment calls are necessary: What about stretching the Biblical definition of witness to include someone told right after sexual assault? What if a particular incident has only one witness, but there are many incidents?

    Mr. Olasky - at least in criminal cases or church discipline cases, NO, the biblical definition of witnesses should never be stretched.  In the non-criminal case of judging Judge K, the Biblical principle should form our public opinion; ultimately public opinions are the "courts" where Judge K is judged "fit or unfit" (not "guilty") by the Senate.  What does the preponderance of the evidence say (the timing, the lack of corroboration, Judge K's supporters)?  It all points to slander - for which all his accusers should be criminally judged - using the very high biblical standards for evidence.

  • Brad Cain
    Posted: Sat, 09/29/2018 01:37 am

    Mr. Olasky,

    Did you consider Joseph and Potiphar's wife? (defining a witness as someone told soon after a sexual assault?) You think that's a legitimate witness?

    Do you think the Bible was just plain wrong on Joseph? Maybe Joseph and Judge K are both guilty!! 

    Brad Cain

    Greenville, SC