Judge Phil Ginn: ‘Freedom of religion (not the freedom from religion) is at the bedrock of our nation and should be protected’
June 6, 2022
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Religious leaders across the nation are celebrating a new law recently signed by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Virginia House Bill 1063 now protects any religious actions and expressions from discrimination. Furthermore, the law defines the word “religion” as meaning “any outward expression of religious faith, including adherence to religious dressing and grooming practices and the carrying or display of religious items or symbols.” While Virginia law forbids discrimination on the basis of religion, it previously failed to define the actual term “religion,” leaving Virginians to interpret this as they saw fit. Youngkin’s new bill clarifies the term, allowing Virginians to practice their own religion however they choose.
Judge Phil Ginn, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu), commented on this step towards true religious freedom, claiming this new law should be just the start towards the end of governmental persecution towards Christianity.
Ginn stated, “If there is one fundamental right given to us as Americans in our Constitution and Bill of Rights that is close to being as important as the right to life, it is the right of religious freedom. The pertinent portion of the First Amendment in this regard reads as follows: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’
“While some of the folks in Washington and in various seats of state government have no problem in protecting the rights of the followers of Islam and other non-Christian religions to display the accoutrements of their faith, this same privilege has not been made as readily available to Christians in promoting our faith. In reality, while some interpret the First Amendment as the ‘freedom from religion,’ what they really mean is that the government has the right to push an agenda for a consensus framework of a secular religion that they believe should be the mainstream belief of all of us. These non-sequitur beliefs that they are trying to enforce on the populace in effect would negate any aspect of any other faith system — including Christianity — that might dare to disagree with one of the basic tenets of their secular religion. Such an agenda is in direct contravention of the First Amendment.”
Ginn continued, “At least there has been some movement in the state of Virginia, ironically a bipartisan one, to define ‘religion’ in such a way as to offer some protection for those of us who wish to be free to fully practice our faith, whether it be Christian or some other belief system. The new law will in effect offer some hint of hope and a clear movement toward true religious freedom. Perhaps the tide is at least now momentarily turning in favor of our right to freely proclaim the Gospel without fear of retribution from the government even when our faith is in direct contravention to the published ‘norm.’
“As we approach the celebration of the 246th birthday of our great nation, we at Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College believe that the freedom of religion (not the freedom from religion) is at the bedrock of our nation and should be protected, even at great cost, just like the right to life. Therefore, we will continue to pray for all of our leaders as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 directs us to, so that ‘we may lead quiet and peaceful lives, godly and dignified in every way.’”
Judge Phil Ginn was appointed president of SES in April 2021 after a distinguished career as both a lawyer and a judge. He holds a B.A. from Appalachian State University, a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Doctor of Ministry from Southern Evangelical Seminary. Prior to his appointment as SES president, Judge Ginn served as SES Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
The mission of SES is to train men and women, based on the inerrant and infallible written Word of God, for the evangelization of the world and the defense of the historic Christian faith. SES offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees (along with several for-credit certificates) that uniquely integrate theology, philosophy, and apologetics to build a complete and systematic Christian worldview.