The Erosion of Religious Freedom

by Judge Phil Ginn

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Missouri case where potential jurors were dismissed from hearing a trial due to their biblical beliefs on homosexuality. Justice Samuel Alito in a clear warning that this sort of discrimination poses a “danger” to religious freedom, chose to issue a five-page statement, “reluctantly” agreeing not to hear the case over a procedural issue.

If you recall, it was the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case (Obergfell v. Hodges), which recognized the full governmental rights and benefits of marriage between homosexual couples, was then hailed by the alphabet sex group as a breakthrough in civil liberty for a “downtrodden” minority. Unfortunately, what many Americans do not realize is that the decision also laid the groundwork for discrimination and persecution of those who recognize homosexuality as a sin, namely those who hold to a biblical worldview. It was Justice Samuel Alito who initially voiced the clarion warning of the impending, dangerous ripple effect of the decision when he noted in his dissent that the holding of the majority opened the door for the ultimate betrayal of religious liberty. Justice Alito was right as usual in his assessment of the severe and irreversible damage to our rights as Christians to adhere to biblical teachings.

This ominous cloud of hostility toward traditional Christian beliefs recently reared its head in a report by LifeNews concerning a non-descript case arising out of the state of Missouri. The case involved a woman “identifying” as a lesbian who claimed that she was discriminated against in her employment with the Missouri Department of Corrections because she presented as “masculine.” The major attack on religious liberty occurred during jury selection when Finney’s lawyer asked potential jurors whether or not they believed homosexuality was a sin. Two prospective jurors ultimately were removed for cause from the panel even though they promised to follow the law and stated that their views of homosexuality would not impair their ability to be fair to both sides. The trial judge, upon motion by Finney’s attorney, decided to “err on the side of caution” and grant the motion to remove these jurors based on their biblical viewpoints. The rationalization given by the court was that the prospective jurors were not removed because of “their religious status but because of their religious beliefs.” Talk about splitting hairs!

It just so happened that Ms. Finney won her case and was awarded the sum of $275,000.00 in damages for her discomfort. The matter was appealed by the state of Missouri and eventually found its way onto the SCOTUS docket. The highest court ultimately had to dismiss the appeal and uphold the lower court verdict because the state of Missouri did not properly preserve an objection to the trial court’s ruling on this issue. While the final result may be technically correct based on the intricacies of proper trial technique, the final result should send chills down the spine of every Christian who holds to traditional family beliefs.

Again, it was Justice Alito, who reluctantly voted with the majority on the court regarding the procedural grounds for dismissal and who reminded everyone of the dangers involved in this line of judicial thinking. In a blistering five-page concurring opinion, a reluctant Justice Alito stated, “I am concerned that the lower court’s reasoning may spread and maybe a foretaste of things to come…. The judiciary, no less than the other branches of State and Federal Government, must respect people’s fundamental rights, and among these are the right to the free exercise of religion and the right to the equal protection of the laws. When a court, a quintessential state actor, finds that a person is ineligible to serve on a jury because of his or her religious beliefs, that decision implicates fundamental rights.”

Justice Alito concluded, “Jurors are duty-bound to decide cases based on the law and the evidence, and a juror who cannot carry out that duty may properly be excused. But otherwise, I see no basis for dismissing a juror for cause based on religious beliefs.” Justice Alito also reminded his readers of the admonition found in his dissenting opinion in Obergfell: “[This] holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges . . . namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver added further to the dangerous implication of the lower court decision when he stated, “Disqualifying a juror over religious beliefs is a serious threat to religious freedom. Just because jurors oppose murder does not disqualify them from serving on a murder trial.”

At Southern Evangelical Seminary we have vigilantly watched as the current anti-Christian culture that exists not only within our culture but also at every level of all three branches of our government, has crept slowly but surely to the point of being hell-bent on destroying traditional Christian beliefs. It is not the intent of this crowd to silence us, but rather to wipe Christianity and its influence from the face of the earth. There is already blood in the water, and the sharks are gathering. You need look no further than the radical indoctrination of our educational system, which is opposed to anything that might even give a hint of a biblical worldview. Then there is the IRS, FBI, DOJ, and various state child welfare services who have made a point to single out those who hold to the beliefs of Christianity, not only for prosecution based on ludicrous actions but also to intentionally harass those who in another time would have been revered for the founding of this nation based on the natural law and the morality of God himself. Now even the judicial branch has also firmly planted itself as a player in this hostile arena.

SES is content to rest on the sure knowledge that our ultimate protection and victory is not dependent on any governmental action or law but solely on the providence of Almighty God. However, it is not in our DNA to sit idly by as American citizens and go quietly into the dominion of the satanic forces at work in our midst. So, you will not only find us proclaiming the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but if you are observant, you will also see us calling out these attacks on religious freedom and on our traditional national way of life. When it comes to these basic freedoms that we hold dear and which allow us to freely proclaim the Gospel without hindrance, you will find that the breakwater of religious freedom will be forming just behind Southern Evangelical Seminary—our ultimate victory as Christ’s followers is assured by the surety of our salvation. Unfortunately, the future of our nation does not necessarily fit into this same category of protection. With that in mind, we will be asking God to preserve our ability to tell our nation and world about the saving grace of Jesus Christ and, in His mercy, to save our nation. This is not only our prayer, but also our battle cry!

Originally published at Townhall.

After a distinguished career as both a lawyer and a judge, Judge Phil Ginn retired as the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for the 24th Judicial District in North Carolina. Throughout his 22-year judicial career, he was privileged to hold court in almost 50% of the county seats in North Carolina. Currently, Judge Ginn serves as the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (





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