Canada’s Supreme Court dealt a major blow to religious freedom last week, ruling that a Christian university’s law school could be denied accreditation because it requires students to affirm and practice biblical sexual ethics.
Trinity Western University’s law school requires students to follow a Community Covenant, which, in part, says “sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.” The law societies of British Columbia and Ontario had refused to grant the law school accreditation on the grounds that the covenant prohibits lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from attending.
By a 7-2 margin, the court ruled that the law societies had not violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"In our respectful view, the [law societies] decision not to accredit Trinity Western University's proposed law school represents a proportionate balance between the limitation on the Charter right at issue and the statutory objectives the [law societies] sought to pursue," the court ruled.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty legal group, said the ruling has major implications.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has abandoned the promise of freedom that led to the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 36 years ago,” said ADF allied attorney Gerald Chipeur. “Individuals will need to turn to their legislators to protect freedom of religion.”
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, the Yukon and Nova Scotia have agreed to recognize the law school’s graduates, ADF said.
The university had won at the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which asserted the case showed how a “well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism, can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal.”
You can watch a pro and con debate of this ruling here:
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/ Pam Menegakis
Publication Date: June 20, 2018
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.