Patrick Craine

,

Canadian professors’ union ‘bullying’ Christian universities, says petition

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
Image

ANCASTER, Ontario, February 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As a growing body of Canadian professors call on the nation’s leading university teachers’ federation to stop “bullying” the country’s Christian universities, the federation is investigating a fourth institution over alleged violations of academic freedom.

In the last year and a half, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has issued reports against three Christian universities - Trinity Western University (TWU) in British Columbia, Crandall University in New Brunswick, and Canadian Mennonite University in Manitoba - alleging that they are violating academic freedom by requiring professors to sign a statement of faith as a condition of employment.  The three have been placed on a “blacklist,” in the words of TWU’s president, on CAUT’s website.

The organization is now investigating Ontario’s Redeemer University-College (RUC), which also requires a statement of faith.

“It’s not an open-ended inquiry into the truth because it begins with a definition that is self-fulfilling,” RUC president Dr. Hubert Krygsman told the National Post.  “It’s a definition of academic freedom that says it cannot be faith-based. So by definition any faith-based approach strikes them as contrary to their definition. ... All of the other findings are really fodder for their own beliefs.”

In a statement Wednesday, Dr. Krygsman said they will not participate in the investigation, because the findings are a “foregone conclusion.”

At least 140 professors from secular and religious institutions have signed a petition launched two weeks ago calling on CAUT to end the “harassment” of Christian universities.  The petition calls CAUT’s investigations “invasive and unwarranted,” saying they are “inconsistent” with religious freedom.

“The very concept of academic freedom arose historically in religiously founded institutions,” the petitioners point out.  “The missional specificity of religious institutions is not without analogue in public institutions, which may contain within them institutes or research centres with their own acknowledged pre-commitments.”

Critics have pointed out that none of the professors at the targeted institutions have made complaints about academic freedom.

The CAUT issued the first report on Trinity Western University in October 2009, followed by one on Crandall University in July 2010, and another on Canadian Mennonite University in October 2010.  In each case, the report purported to establish that the institution required a statement of faith - even though that information was publicly available on the institutions’ websites.

After the report on TWU, university president Jonathan Raymond questioned CAUT’s process, saying the organization had failed to even discuss the matter with them.  “With us there was no discussion, no exchange,” he said. 

“An institution that includes or excludes teachers on basis of a faith test is antithetical to what a university is supposed to be,” CAUT executive director James Turk told the National Post.  “We’d be just as concerned if a secular university made its teachers sign an ideological statement.”

“This is not an attack on religious institutions,” continued Turk, who was unavailable for comment. “The majority of religious schools do not have a faith test for employment.”

“A university is meant as a place to explore ideas, not to create disciples of Christ,” he added.

Dr. Guenther Haas, a professor of religion and theology at Redeemer University-College, told LifeSiteNews that CAUT’s “campaign” is “simply a reflection of CAUT’s bias against Christian universities. It is their attempt to portray these universities in a bad light in the academic world of Canada.”

“There is no assumption-free knowledge,” Dr. Haas said, arguing that academic study is always directed by a specific framework, whether it’s Christian or a post-Enlightenment secularism.  He said public universities have their own “implicit” assumptions that guide their hiring and research.  “In practice, if not in principle, many would not have the same view of hiring a psychologist who was an evolutionary materialist as opposed to one who held to a view of humans consistent with traditional Christian theology,” he explained.

In fact, the CAUT has supported ideological hiring requirements in the past.  In 1999, their bulletin ran an ad for a University of Toronto tenure-track professorship that specified it was restricted to candidates with a “feminist and anti-racist perspective.”

U of T professor Thomas Pangle said such requirements are “implicit” at U of T.  The ad “makes explicit what I had thought was usually only implicit, namely, that ideological conformity was the chief prerequisite for such a position at our university,” he told the National Post at the time.

Dr. Syd Hielema, an associate professor of religion at Redeemer University-College, told LifeSiteNews that a statement of faith “is an absolute necessity for a Christian university.”

“A statement of faith that has profound meaning for the central identity of a university and is put into practice in dozens of systemic ways is vital for Christian universities to be true to their roots and identity,” he explained.

Since RUC’s founding 28 years ago, said Dr. Krygsman in his statement Wednesday, “we have not had a single instance of a faculty member alleging that their academic freedom has been infringed in any way.”

“By acknowledging that all truth is rooted in God, and by encouraging an exploration of all aspects of His creation, we believe that our faith basis promotes the pursuit of knowledge and understanding,” he said.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Dr. Krygsman by press time.


Find more information on the petition here.

To respectfully voice concerns, contact:

Canadian Association of University Teachers
2705 Queensview Drive
Ottawa Ontario K2B 8K2
Phone: (613) 820-2270
Fax: (613) 820-7244
Email: acppu@caut.ca


Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
LifeSiteNews staff

,

Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
LifeSiteNews staff

,

Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


Advertisement
Featured Image
Tony Gosgnach / LifeSiteNews.com
Tony Gosgnach

,

Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook