The implications of the Canadian Supreme Court’s refusal to accredit the Trinity Western University law program.
Trinity Western University, a Canadian liberal arts university, planned to open a law school as part of its vision to prepare Christians to serve in public and civic life. It wasn’t long before their plan triggered the ire of provincial law societies.
In the end, this case ended up before the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that provincial law societies could refuse to admit TWU law grads from practicing law. Their ruling was based on their objection to the university’s community covenant: It requires students to agree to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman.”
Why Does This Matter?
Let me share a few reasons I believe this is important for Christians both in Canada and beyond.
First, it shows how a country’s top court can render a verdict in favor of human rights but biased against religious freedom. When the two ideas butted heads, religious freedom was the loser.
Second, it makes short shrift of the model that within a diverse society a plurality of ideas and beliefs can exist together. This is a huge loss. And when Canada, known for its democracy and public fairness, takes this road, we lose an important example of how pluralism functions.
In today’s cultural, religious, and ethnic stew, to respect and get along with each other is as basic a formula as I can imagine. Justices opposing the majority noted,
The state and state actors [and in this case, provincial law societies] – not private institutions like TWU – are constitutionally bound to accommodate difference in order to foster pluralism in public life. . . . Canadians are permitted to hold different sets of values.
Third, it keeps faith from being public. I hear …