'We are increasingly no longer safe': Seminary head sounds alarm on record rise in murder rates

A man rides a bicycle past a burned-out building after a night of protests and violence on May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The National Guard has been activated as protests continue after the death of George Floyd, which has caused widespread destruction and fires across Minneapolis and St. Paul. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The head of a prominent American seminary who served as both a lawyer and judge is warning that a surge in murders among Americans — particularly in the black community — since the  “defund the police” movement began is yet another sign that America is in dire need of spiritual revival.

Judge Phil Ginn, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, pointed to federal government data released last fall that found that murders jumped by roughly 30% between 2019 and 2020 in the largest single-year increase on record.

And among the black community, the murder rate rose more than 32%.

Ginn, who served for over a decade as a superior court judge in North Carolina's 24th Judicial District, told The Christian Post this week that he thinks reductions in police funding are a significant factor in increased crime. But he believes that “the end result of defunding the police is more of a socioeconomic issue than it is a racial issue.”

He identified one of the ways to address the increase in crime as pouring additional monies to adequately fund the police and boost their presence in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

But Ginn also urged policymakers to “look at early intervention into particularly the lives of young people, who need to see both a deterrent for crime, but also a redemptive avenue of being able to become a productive member of society.”

Ginn contends that while COVID certainly played a part in the crime increase, too many “folks are quick to blame the pandemic.” Describing the pandemic as “a convenient place to hang our hat,” he doesn't believe it "tells the whole story.”

“The first real test of any government is how well it protects its citizens," he stated. "The foremost right given to us by Almighty God as acknowledged in our Declaration of Independence is that of ‘Life.’ When people are not safe in their homes or in their communities, then all the other rights simply don’t matter. The truth is that we are increasingly no longer safe in America.”

“If you feel secure in your community, it’s simply because the violence and the lack of respect for life has not reached you … yet!" he added.

When asked to elaborate on that stark warning, Ginn replied: “When I say that the lack of a feeling of safety has not reached into all neighborhoods as [of] yet, I simply mean that there will be a continuing spillover of violent activity from larger cities into more urban and rural areas.”

“At some point, there is a law of diminishing returns for criminals, which simply means that you cannot keep robbing, assaulting and robbing the same people over and over again within the confines of a small geographical area,” he stated. 

“Also, as the rule of order evaporates from our country as a whole, a more chaotic climate continues to grow and spread. Ultimately, if unchecked, this will lead to a despotic government obtaining power under the guise of keeping people ‘safe.’” 

Ginn expressed concern that faltering respect for law and order fuels the rise of what he calls “intercultural crime.”

“You see that also when police officers are wounded or killed in the line of duty, or they are accused of excessive force during an arrest,” said Ginn. “As the lack of respect for the laws of this country [grows], then we should expect to witness more of these intercultural crimes, which I believe is already beginning to take place.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed a significant jump in police murders as part of an overall increase in violence against police in 2021 during an appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last week.

Wray reported that in the last year alone, “officers were being killed at a rate of almost one every five days.”

FBI data reveals a nearly 60% increase in police killings in 2021, including the murders of 73 officers.

“Violence against law enforcement in this country is one of the biggest phenomenons that I think doesn’t get enough attention,” Wray told “60 Minutes."

The FBI director said many of the officers who fell victim to the violence were killed in ambushes or while out on patrol simply because of their position as police officers. 

“​​Wearing the badge shouldn’t make you a target,” Wray asserted in the interview.

Ginn warns that the crisis is much bigger than just one community and calls upon the church of Jesus Christ to step up and step out to reach those who may seem to be furthest from help. 

“Christians need to learn to be Christ-followers,” he stressed. “There have been many programs created through Christian channels to not only prevent crime, but also to help in the rehabilitation of those caught in the web of crime with an emphasis on the victims of crime first and then the accused secondarily." 

Ginn encouraged churches to “provide programs for evangelism, discipleship, literacy, real mental health assistance, job training and life skills with real-life jobs at the end.” He concluded that while “only God can change the heart of an individual,” Christians must “be about getting our hands dirty and not totally relying on a government who seeks to do good without God in a very bumbling way.”

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