Toronto, ON August 16, 2018 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) acknowledges the Trinity Western University (TWU) decision to no longer require students to sign its Community Covenant as an inevitable compromise that removes a point of contention that will now hopefully lead to the actual pursuit of a Christian law school.
The TWU board of governors released the following statement effective August 9
In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.
Robert G. Kuhn, president of TWU, stated that TWU, “will remain a Biblically-based, mission-focused, academically excellent University, fully committed to our foundational evangelical Christian principles.” He noted that staff and faculty would still be required to comply with the Community Covenant.
The League notes that the change to the TWU policy comes following the 7-2 decision of the Supreme Court on June 15, upholding decisions of two law societies in refusing accreditation of future TWU law school graduates, based on the Community Covenant’s assertions on traditional marriage.
It is hoped that TWU will proceed eventually with its application to open a law school, which will serve both Christian students and other stakeholders, by infusing the study of law with Christian witness, as in other professional faculties at TWU. The addition of law school focused on pro bono and smaller legal practice environments would fill a niche in current law school options across Canada.
Canada will be well served by a Trinity Western law school and its prospective students should reasonably expect that upon graduation, they will be recognized by law societies in all provinces and territories.
On the negative side, we have witnessed the impact of three Law Societies, but not all, which have chosen to redact from a Christian university certain commitments of its faith claims in higher education.
Further, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has overturned a previously understood constitutional matrix, especially as it applied to religious freedoms. Rather than apply an approach of genuine pluralism, and an acceptance of difference between competing claims, the majority accepted one set of claims over others, a process of allowing LGBTQ claims to “Charter values” to trump recognized religious freedom rights of a private institution.
The CCRL and Faith and Freedom Alliance (FFA), in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Vancouver, submitted throughout its involvement in three provinces, and ultimately before the Supreme Court of Canada, of the importance, and recognition, of authentic pluralism, meaning that Canadian law and society is comprised of differing viewpoints, and dissentient views should not be excluded from participation in the public square. The proposed TWU law school was an expression of such authentic pluralism, by providing a dedicated Christian approach to law and to the future practice of lawyers pursuant to shared faith commitments.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
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