LANGLEY, British Columbia, 29 January, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian Council of Law Deans is doing its best to sabotage efforts by a respected evangelical university in BC to open the country’s first law school run by Christians, all because the university requires students to pledge to adhere to traditional Christian sexual ethics.
Canada’s law deans say that Trinity Western University’s (TWU) “community covenant” on sexual purity is “fundamentally incompatible” with the core values of Canadian law schools and the social values of diversity since it allegedly discriminates against gay, lesbian and bisexual students.
TWU’s “community covenant” is a solemn pledge made by all university members to “voluntarily abstain” from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. The pledge also asks that university members abstain from gossip, slander, lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, and drunkenness.
William Flanagan, president of the council of deans told the National Post that “[t]o admit a new law school that has a policy that expressly discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation is something that is very troubling for us.”
Flanagan wrote in a letter to the Federation of Canadian Law Societies that TWU’s “community covenant” is a “matter of great concern for all members.”
But TWU’s president Jonathan Raymond, responding to the council of deans in a November 29 letter, argued that the university’s “community covenant” is “consistent with federal and provincial law”, according to the Vancouver Sun.
Raymond noted in the letter that this is not the first time TWU has been attacked over the standards of living that it asks of its students.
In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the BC College of Teachers could not refuse to approve TWU’s application for accreditation of its teacher education program based on its disagreement with the “Community Standards”.
The Supreme Court ruled that TWU has the right to direct itself according to its legal mandate to be a Christian university based on the principles of “freedom of conscience and religion.”
It found that the “voluntary adoption” of a code of conduct in a private institution is not “in itself sufficient to establish discrimination”.
“TWU is not for everybody; it is designed to address the needs of people who share a number of religious convictions,” the Court stated.
Establishing a law school has been part of TWU’s “strategic plan” for many years, the university’s website states. School officials say the plan “fits well with the University’s mission to develop Godly leaders for the marketplaces of life.”
Last year, TWU proposed to the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to establish a J.D. program for 60 students per year in a three-year program starting in September 2015.
The School of Law at TWU will train students to “see the profession of law as a high calling in the life of service.” The program will aim to develop “servant leaders who believe in and demonstrate a different concept of professionalism than the current marketplace promotes.”
John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, criticized Flanagan, the dean of the faculty of law at Queen’s University, for his views on “free society”.
“Flanagan should know that a free society tolerates a wide range of opinion on all topics, including sexual morality. No law compels anyone to agree with Flanagan’s opinions about sex and sexuality, nor is he compelled to agree with Christian teaching about sex and sexuality.”
“For Flanagan to suggest that all Canadian law schools must comply with one, single government-enforced ideology about sexual behaviour is the opposite of a free society. The imposition of one world view on all institutions is the hallmark of totalitarianism,” he said.
Ted Hewlett, president of BC Parents and Teachers for Life, called TWU’s case “extremely significant” for anyone concerned about “religious freedom”.
“It certainly goes beyond Evangelicals,” he told LifeSiteNews from his home in British Columbia.
Hewlett, agreeing with Carpay’s critique, said that a private institution should not be strong-armed into changing its standards by those in high places who do not agree with what that institution stands for.
“I would like to see TWU get their new Law School if they wish to establish one,” he said.