11/6/2023 Virginia (International Christian Concern) – U.S. Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, recently issued an Executive Directive protecting the beliefs of people of faith, including Christians.
Executive Directive Six creates an actionable plan, coordinating with Virginia law enforcement agencies and educational institutions to combat threats of violence against religious communities. The Directive responds to the rise of anti-religious bigotry seen across the country following Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel in early October.
At the release of the directive, Gov. Youngkin said, “As Governor, the safety and security of all Virginians is my paramount concern. Virginia is the birthplace of the freedom of religion in America, and protecting the community centers and houses of worship of the Jewish people is paramount. But this commitment extends to all religions, including those of the Muslim [and Christian] faith, who are increasingly concerned about backlash.”
The directive highlights recent incidents of antisemitism and ethnic-based prejudice observed across college campuses and in recent public demonstrations – of most concern being a protest in Richmond where supporters called for the “extermination of the Jewish community in Israel.”
Students at Virginia Commonwealth University also destroyed memorials and tributes made for children held hostage by Hamas, and Jewish students at William & Mary faced verbal abuse as they grieved the loss of loved ones.
Governor Youngkin’s directive now requires the Secretary of Education to work closely with public and private university presidents to protect students at risk of religiously based violence.
For the Christian community, this directive provides a breath of fresh air as Christian students across the country face increasing pressure for their religious beliefs.
One example comes from Southern Illinois University, where a graduate student was issued a no-contact order with fellow students after expressing her religious beliefs on social media. Another Christian University in Arizona was banned from participating in a student-teacher program at a public school after the district cited the school’s religious belief as a “threat to its students.”
ICC is hopeful that Virginia’s recent directive will set an example for other states to protect religious communities and people of faith nationwide.