They have so many degrees; they are teaching our children and, yet, they are so stupid. So agreed I with an old friend of mine, now a law professor, as we pondered the incredible light-weightness of the Canadian Council of Law Deans, which has launched a publicity campaign against Trinity Western University’s bid to found a law school.
Or a “religious law school” as Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun put it in an article barely concealing his own hostility to TWU and its “anti-gay” regulations.
His wording makes it seems like TWU is teaching “religious law.” But it would be a Christian law school teaching the same law as every other school, which is: Canadian law and, presumably, international law. And its regulations aren’t anti-gay. Todd, or his headline writer, begs the very question the law deans raise. Is it anti-gay to promote orthodox Christian morality? Yes, pretend the deans. Yes, chimes in the Vancouver Sun. No, ruled the Supreme Court of Canada 2001. But, hey, it’s just the Supreme Court.
The law deans and their supporters are making so many fundamental errors in thinking about this it is shocking but not, sadly, surprising, for we are used to this visceral hatred for Christianity from academe.
First, how has TWU offended? It requires students to agree to abide by Christian sexual morality while enrolled: no sex unless married; and only heterosexual marriages allowed. The deans say, in effect, that this violates the spirit of equality among all sexual persuasions and gender choices that now reigns supreme in Canadian rights jurisprudence, which is certainly accurate. and that, therefore, TWU’s request for approval of its law school should be rejected, which doesn’t follow at all. Because, regardless of the spirit of equality gone wild which pervades our law schools, Canada’s courts continue to be ruled by the actual content of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.,
(|The Despotic Deans are appealing to the law societies of Canada, who will decide whether to accept TWU law grads for articling, on the basis of the syllabus TWU presents them.)
The Supreme Court decided on this issue in 2002, on this very issue at this very school, I might add: back then, the B.C. College of Teachers, controlled by our leftward thinking, politically correct, and very pro-gay teachers union, rejected Trinity Western University’s application for its already existing teachers college to finally be accorded degree-granting power. Not for a minute, said the College of Teachers. TWU’s insistence its students follow Christian sexual morality meant its teacher-graduates would go forth and oppress gay students in the public schools.
The courts, including the Supreme Court, in 2002, overruled the College because (1) TWU had already been training teachers (but sending them on to SFU for their final year and their degree) and these teachers had triggered zero (0) complaints about their conduct towards homosexuality or gay students. Nor was there any evidence from the syllabus at TWU of gay attitudes. (2) As the Supreme Court found, the College of Teachers , in its finding that TWU teachers posed a threat to equality rights of gays, had simply ignored the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’s protection of the freedoms of religion, of association, of expression, and of conscience. As a Christian university, TWU was allowed to require its students follow Christian morality. Finally, by an 8-1 vote, the Court found that the requirement that students refrain from homosexual and unmarried heterosexual intercourse was itself not discriminatory but rather a commitment to live by a formal statement of Christian values. Here it is, by the way: http://twu.ca/studenthandbook/twu-community-covenant-agreement.pdf
The counter-arguments of the deans and their supporters are that (1) times have changed, gay rights are more important than they were in 2002 and now trump religious freedom; and (2) because TWU views the world through “a single narrow lens” it is incompatible with academic freedom, which is the cornerstone of the university.
The stupidity involved in this is that these folks are trying to suppress TWU in the name of diversity and academic freedom. Nothing, in fact, more illustrates the need for a Christian law school than the unanimity which the law deans of Canada voted to suppress that law school. We need TWU’s law school for precisely the reasons the deans invoked to prevent it: diversity and freedom.
Some other recent examples of the same Doublethink:
• The Carleton student who destroyed a “free speech wall” because of pro-life and pro-heterosexual marriage views there among all the others.
• The Manitoba law professor who calls for the “queering” of all Canada’s Catholic and religion-based elementary and secondary schools. Meaning, prohibiting their teaching Christian sexual morality. (The United Farmers government did this in the 1930s in Saskatchewan when they fell under the influence of the Ku Klux Klan. Catholic schools established by the legislation creating the province were forced to remove their religious pictures and their teacher-nuns were forced to dress in secular clothing).
• The Canadian Association of University Teachers’ attack on TWU for requiring professors to agree to a Christian values and beliefs statement. Similarly to the BC College of Teachers action, CAUT had absolutely no evidence, that is, no complaints, zero, that academic freedom was being denied anyone.
Less than recent examples that I personally covered in my journalistic career:
• The opposition to the creation of Edmonton’s King’s University College, because religion and academic freedom were allegedly incompatible.
• The opposition to the creation of a Chair of Catholic Theology at the University of Victoria for the same reason.
This argument that religious belief and freedom of thought are incompatible can only be advanced in ignorance of history: our university system in “the West|” was founded by the Catholic church. Scientists from Europe’s scientific age were not merely deists, they were believers and their belief in the rational, law-giving Creator the Bible told them about led them to expect to find laws of nature, where contrary theological beliefs in the Middle and Far East led to a different understanding of the physical world and no progress in terms of scientific knowledge.
Virtually every university in Canada older than 60 years was founded by one or another Christian denomination: Windsor by the Catholics, McMaster by the Baptists, U of Toronto by several denominations federating and so on. Even the University of Waterloo, founded as late as the 1960s, and now a leader in computer science, comprised Catholic, United, Anglican, and Mennonite colleges as well as the secular arts, science, math and engineering schools, without anyone complaining about intellectual freedom.
And, of course, those who believe that secular universities do foster freedom of thought have only to consider the hostility of the law deans and the CAUT to TWU.
Still, maybe the deans are not so stupid. After all, they are professors. Maybe they just think we are stupid.
And maybe we are: I mean we Christians typically stay in our silos when attacked. We Catholics say nary a word when evangelicals are targeted, as is the case now, even though we are as vulnerable as they.
Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver doesn’t shoot from the hip as Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary does: he took a few days to respond but happily made my journalistic deadline for my story on TWU to get into the National Catholic Register.Here is an excellent statement from him.
Vancouver Archbishop supports TWU law school
A recent pastoral letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops pointed out a disturbing trend –worldwide and in Canada – of bias, prejudice, hate propaganda, discrimination and persecution of others because of their religious beliefs.
Efforts to deny Trinity Western University the right to a law school on the basis of its religious principles are an example of the threats to freedom of conscience and religion that are becoming increasingly common in this country.
In this case, a university that professes its religious faith publicly and requests that its students respect that faith freely would be punished by those responsible for the training of professionals in the field of law.
The irony of the situation – with those who are at the forefront of the legal profession trying to penalize an institution for embracing and openly practising its convictions – is disturbing.
To attempt to bar faith from the development of those who would practise the law is to undermine the foundations of conscience and integrity that in fact contributed to the modern Western legal system .
In the tradition of St. Thomas More, who chose to serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice, our society needs more legal practitioners who are willing to serve the law of conscience in the face of compromising demands.
The Supreme Court of Canada and the B.C. Appeal Court have both recognized that Canada has a “religiously inclusive” public sphere and that religious institutions are free to hold to their religious beliefs.
Canada’s common good benefits when a religious perspective is infused into our cultural, social, political and economic institutions. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, religious institutions must be “free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions” if the contributions they make to society are to be realized.
I pray for the success of Trinity Western University’s initiative to establish a law school, for the good of society, for believers and non-believers alike.
—Archbishop Michael Miller, Vancouver Archdiocese