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The most important win for religious freedom in decades

Lorie Smith, owner of the website design company 303 Creative, speaks outside the United States Supreme Court following oral arguments in the case 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, Dec. 5, 2022.
Lorie Smith, owner of the website design company 303 Creative, speaks outside the United States Supreme Court following oral arguments in the case 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, Dec. 5, 2022. | The Christian Post/ Nicole Alcindor

For those of us who are ardent supporters of the First Amendment to our U. S. Constitution, it certainly is a cause for celebration, not just because of the outcome of several important cases, but also for the good logic and strict construction of the Constitution exhibited by the six conservative members of the SCOTUS.

In perhaps the most important win for religious freedom in decades, the case of 303 Creative v. Elenis stemmed from Colorado where that state was attempting to force a Christian wedding web designer to create web pages for homosexual weddings even though her faith caused her to be opposed to them. Up until this ruling, the state had been fairly successful in doing so.

Justice Gorsuch writing for the majority in this momentous decision had this to say: “In this case, Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance.” He then added, “But tolerance, not coercion, is our Nation’s answer. The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands. Because Colorado seeks to deny that promise, the judgment is reversed.”  Justice Gorsuch’s logic is correct, and it emanates from an originalist viewpoint that realizes the First Amendment states clearly the intent of the Founders of America in establishing both the freedom of speech and the freedom of religious thought and action. It further shows a simple yet profound understanding that a government has no right to discriminate against one of its citizens simply because someone’s feelings may be hurt by the opinion.

On the other hand, Justice Sotomayor, as good a lawyer and justice as she is, in her dissent fell into the trap in which many young lawyers find themselves. By determining the desired outcome in the beginning and trying to find evidence to back up your position, your logic can become skewed in its origins. The learned Justice calls the majority position “a new license to discriminate” and that the “symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.” Do you see the failed logical position just in the words “symbolic effect?” Also, as part of her dissent, she erroneously links the Pulse gay nightclub shooting which had been quickly discounted as an attack on homosexual activity in the original investigation.

Justice Gorsuch was quick to point out the fallacy of the dissent saying it “reimagines the facts” from “top to bottom” and misses the point entirely — that point being “can a state force someone who provides her own expressive services to abandon her conscience and speak its preferred message instead?” Justice Gorsuch went on to add that “a commitment to speech for only some messages and some persons is no commitment at all. By approving a government’s effort to eliminate disfavored ‘ideas,’ today’s dissent is emblematic of an unfortunate tendency by some to defend First Amendment values only when they find the speaker’s message sympathetic.”

Thankfully there are still wise and prudent justices on the Supreme Court who can recognize this matter for what it is — a blatant governmental attack on the freedom of speech and freedom of religion of its citizenry. 

Obviously, the traditional Christian perspective on homosexuality and other adverse sexual practices may be headed toward a minority status in our country. At Southern Evangelical Seminary, we have watched as the radical left has made encroachments on religious liberties. Not only that but we have attempted to be a lighthouse of warning to Christians and freedom loving people everywhere about the consequences to America if our precious First Amendment freedoms are eroded, or God forbid, lost. The day of the 303 Creative ruling is one of celebration and a milestone in the fight to preserve these precious freedoms.

However, the battle is not over.

For now, we should take heart for, at a minimum, we have an extended opportunity to preach and to live out the Gospel before our fellow Americans and the world. It is imperative that we not let this moment go to waste by not utilizing every effort to proclaim the Good News of a God who loved us so that He sent His only Son to die in judgment in our stead. The message of “whosoever will, may come” is just as real today as it was over 2,000 years ago, and it will remain so until Jesus breaks back in history to call an end to time as we know it. Our prayer at Southern Evangelical is that God will preserve America long enough for many to hear and respond positively to the Gospel.

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. Over the course of 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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