Who Is Rachel Mitchell?

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Earlier this evening, the Majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that their “female assistant” hired to asked their questions at the Thursday hearing with Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Blasey Ford would be a Maricopa County, Arizona sex crimes prosecutor named Rachel Mitchell.

It turns out one of the only at-length interviews Mitchell has ever done is with a publication put out by the far right ‘fundamental baptist’ organization Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI), an organization closely tied to Bob Jones University and espousing a range of hyper-traditionalist views on gender, sexuality and sexual ethics.

You can see the interview here. (Additional passages are included here and here.) Mitchell’s comments in the interview are not really controversial. The interview is about helping organizations and particularly churches develop standards and best practices for dealing with child sexual abuse.

What got my attention is how the interview came about. This is a publication and organization that espouses hyper-traditional positions on gender, sexual ethics and sexuality. So it makes me wonder: How did she come to give this interview to this organization and vice versa? It doesn’t seem like a big stretch to think that this may be part of her own worldview.

Everybody is entitled to their beliefs of course. But we’re already in a very odd framework with a totally or largely unknown person called in to handle the questioning in a pivotal encounter with huge amounts on the line for the entire country. It seems worth understanding and entirely reasonable to try to understand what set of beliefs on these issue she may bring to the questioning.

After all, why exactly, how exactly did the Majority on the Judiciary Committee come up with this person? A local prosecutor from Arizona? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But it certainly wasn’t where I thought we were going. I’d figured one of the many DC lawyers with experience relevant to these issues. How did this fall to her? A very reasonable question and one worth hashing out in advance of Thursday.

Here for example is the FBFI’s statement of belief on ‘biblical sexual morality’.

Sexual relations do not alone constitute a genuine marriage (John 4:17–18) due to the fact that sexual activity and relations outside the marriage bond as defined above are always considered to be sinful (Heb. 13:4; Matt. 19:9).

All other forms of sexual activity outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage are forbidden in Scripture, including fornication (“any sexual activity outside of marriage” 1 Cor. 7:2; 1 Thess. 4:3), adultery (“with someone other than one’s own spouse” Exod. 20:14; Matt. 5:28), homosexuality (“any same-sex sexual activity” Gen. 19:5–7; Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; Jude 7), incest (“sexual activity with family members or relatives” Lev. 20:11–21; 1 Cor. 5:1), obscenity (Eph. 5:3–4), pornography (Matt. 5:28; Mark 7:21–22; 1 Thess. 4:5; Rev. 18:9), prostitution (Prov. 5:1–23; 7:4–27; 1 Cor. 6:15–18), transvestitism (Deut. 22:5; 1 Cor. 11:4–15), criminal sexual behavior (rape, molestation, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, pederasty, etc., Rom 13:1–6; Lev 18–22), and impurity (“moral filth in one’s heart and thoughts,” James 1:21; Rev 22:11; Rom 1:24; 2 Pet 2:10).

Again, we should have a better sense of what viewpoints and beliefs she will bring to this questioning.

Here’s an article just out in the Arizona Republic which gives some of her background. It certainly gives the sense that she’s an experienced and respected prosecutor, largely but not exclusively focusing on child sexual abuse. But on who she is and why she might have been picked, it really doesn’t give much to go on.

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